War the Opportunities Lost for Working West of Turkey

Before traveling to Moscow last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with Taip Erdogan and stopped in Ankara to praise the diplomatic efforts of Turkish leaders to end the war in Ukraine.

Less than two hours after the two shook hands, most of the goodwill that Ankara created in the West through her unique role as an intermediary between the parties to the war was canceled, giving her a chance to take advantage of Turkey’s defrosting relations. Was damaged.

Turning point was in 2013 in an anti-government protest by an Istanbul court against philanthropist Osman Kavala, contrary to a Western call to release him in a cautious case that many consider political motivation. It was when he was sentenced to imprisonment for his role. Read the full text

A Western diplomat, surprised to see Headline land on his phone on April 25, said the ruling, despite gaining political points against Ukraine, was the government of Prime Minister Erdogan. He emphasized that he was “unreliable on some issues.”

Another envoy called the verdict the “worst scenario.”

Eight diplomats told Reuters that the ruling had hit Turkey’s ambitions to heal frayed economic and political relations with Western nations while staying close to Moscow. Prime Minister Erdogan opposes sanctions against it.

It also chilled Western hopes for reconciliation, they said.

This is a reversal for Turkey, which hosted wartime talks between Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers and peace negotiators. Ankara wants the West to prepare for the end of the war, including the gradual lifting of sanctions, and the lifting of restrictions on its defense industry.

It also wants to work with NATO allies, including the United States, France and Italy, and hopes to ease existing tensions with the West towards elections amid rising economic hardships.

Warnings about boosting Erdogan ahead of the 2023 election, which suggests that Erdogan could be defeated in recent polls, include progress in renewal of the European Union Customs Union. Some diplomats also said that it also undermines the potential for meaningful trade or investment transactions.

Prime Minister Erdogan and officials say the war has recognized the geopolitical importance of Turkey to its allies, and Ankara’s balanced policy towards Ukraine has been welcomed and even praised. The diplomats interviewed shared the assessment.

The West understands Turkey’s position on sanctions, and Turkish officials added that Ankara would not be a refuge to avoid sanctions.

Over the weekend, Erdogan spokesman and foreign policy adviser Ibrahim Karin suddenly visited Kieu to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky. He later said he had discussed how to end the war.

Things can get harder

If Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues into the summer, Turkey, which has NATO’s second-largest army, is likely to see increased pressure from Washington and Brussels to strengthen its support for Ukraine, diplomats said. ..

It sent an already armed drone to Kieu, blocking the passage of the Russian Navy into the Black Sea and banning Russia’s flight to and from Syria.

A third diplomat said Turkey’s stance to facilitate negotiations with Moscow and oppose sanctions, in principle, “cannot last this long.”

By shifting to Ukraine in the conflict, Russia could punish Turkey’s economy by reducing the flow of tourists and / or energy, he said, and opportunities could turn into a crisis for Ankara. Emphasized that there is.

Soaring energy costs from the war have already exacerbated Turkey’s currency crisis, raising inflation to 61% and complicating Erdogan’s outlook for the mid-2023 elections.

Some analysts said the court’s decision on Cavalla, which some critics believe was influenced by Erdogan, helped warn opponents prior to voting. They added that the president may have been bolded by the diplomatic cover that the war gave him.

“Prime Minister Erdogan does not want to be excluded from the West, but he wants to accept him as a Turkish powerhouse,” said Virol, a non-resident scholar at the Washington-based Middle East Institute. Baskan said.

Throughout the second of Erdogan’s 20-year powers, Western leaders have criticized Turkey’s crackdown on rights and objections. Germany summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Berlin over the Cavalla verdict, which Washington called “unjustified,” and urged Ankara to summon the German ambassador accordingly. Read the full text

Turkey states that the courts are independent and have taken steps to improve the rule of law, but have dismissed national and international criticisms of the judiciary as interference with domestic affairs.

Sanctions and weapons

Turkey’s attitude towards war, such as allowing flights from Moscow, is a prime destination for Russian citizens, funds, and even licensed assets such as oligarch yachts.

Three Western diplomats said this could lead the United States or Europe to adopt “secondary sanctions” on those who do business with Moscow. Read the full text

“We are asking Ankara to enforce sanctions. If it becomes clear that they have been broken, secondary sanctions are likely to occur,” he said.

Another potential tension is Turkey’s desire shared by the United Nations, hoping that the fighting in Ukraine will end immediately and that Ankara will return as much as possible to a world that balances Western-Russian relations. increase.

The United States and several other countries instead want the war to end under the right conditions. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last week that he wanted to see Moscow “weakened” so that Washington couldn’t invade again.

Still, Turkey is expected to rethink its relationship with Russia.

Ankara’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 defense facilitated US sanctions and calm relations with Turkey in 2020.

Still, coupled with cooperation over Ukraine, last year’s request for 40 US-made F-16 fighters could pave the way for a compromise on Washington’s request for Turkey to abandon the S-4003. The diplomat of the person said. Read the full text

They said that strengthening negotiations on the possibility of purchasing Eurosam’s SAMP-T missile defense in France and Italy also reflects NATO’s new and more focused cooperation. Read the full text

(Reuters) War the Opportunities Lost for Working West of Turkey

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