Turkish Stream in exchange for Syrian president’s quitting?
Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 21
By Rufiz Hafizoglu - Trend: It seems that Russia's dream - Turkish Stream project is already moving off dead center. Before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Moscow, Ankara signaled that Turkey may resume negotiations on the Turkish Stream construction.
President Erdogan will visit Russia on September 23. During the visit, President Erdogan will meet with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. According to the Turkish media, President Erdogan has prepared a special package of proposals for discussing the Turkish Stream.
Earlier, Russia stated that in exchange for the Turkish Stream implementation, Moscow is ready to make a 10.25 percent discount on the gas supplied to Turkey. The fact that the Russian Federation imposed this discount was the reason that Ankara refused to deliver its territory to transport Russian gas.
The Turkish Stream construction and the discounts for Russian gas are expected to be discussed as two separate issues during President Erdogan's visit to Moscow.
Even if the sides are unable to agree on a discount for Russian gas, it is not be ruled out that Moscow and Ankara will come to an agreement on the Turkish Stream construction.
There is no coincidence in politics. Russia will have to pay for the Turkish Stream implementation. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's leaving the office will be the price.
Turkey and Russia have close economic ties and the trade turnover between the two countries reached $31.1 billion in 2014 but the two countries greatly disagree about Middle East policy, namely, the settlement of the Syrian crisis.
While Moscow is actively supporting Assad's government and actually managing the foreign policy of Syria, Ankara sees the future of this country without President Assad. As opposed to Moscow, Ankara considers President Assad as the main cause of the conflict in Syria.
At a time when anti-government protests broke out in Syria in 2011, Ankara called on Bashar Assad to carry out large-scale reforms. However, in July of the same year, the protests escalated into an open armed confrontation, and Turkey urged Assad to resign.
Syria's government has been for the past four years arguing that the country's army is about to destroy the terrorists, but it is not able to control the situation in the country even with a support from Iran and the Lebanese movement Hezbollah.
The continuing military conflict in Syria and the growing refugee numbers first of all does not correspond to the interests of Ankara. But even if Ankara puts forward the Turkish Stream's realization in exchange for Assad's resignation, Moscow wouldn't accept such a thing.
Currently, for Russia it is much more important to have soldiers of its navy in the Syrian city of Tartus rather than getting a route for gas transit through Turkey's territory.
This is the only way for Russia to have an access to the Mediterranean region, and Moscow knows well that even if Bashar Assad leaves office, no peace will come to Syria. And if all the terrorist groups are destroyed and a new government is created in Syria without Assad, Russia will completely lose control over the Mediterranean.
Therefore, it can be said that Ankara and Moscow are unlikely to agree on the settlement of the Syrian crisis or on the Turkish Stream's construction.
The only thing the two sides can agree is to the discount for Russian gas delivered to Turkey. However, on the other hand, if no discount is provided by Russia for the gas delivered to Turkey, Moscow can simply sacrifice its relations with Ankara.
Edited by CN
Rufiz Hafizoglu is the head of Trend Agency's Arabic news service, follow him on Twitter: @rhafizoglu