Expert assessed the cooperation between Russia and Turkey in the year of the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations

02 June 2020

Russia and Turkey are celebrating the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations in the context of established multilateral and multi-factor interaction, which prevails over differences over Syria and Libya, Vladimir Fitin, the head of the Center for the Near and Middle East of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies told TASS.

"During the interaction of the two presidents - Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin - relations have acquired both versatility and multi - factoriality," he said. "This is a plus because when there are issues of mutual interest, it brings relations closer and makes them less tense in general, especially if these are large-scale projects that determine future cooperation: gas pipelines, a nuclear power plant, and the first breakthrough in terms of arms and military equipment supplies - I mean the S-400 contract."

Fitin added that the constant influx of Russian tourists is of great importance for Turkey since tourism makes a significant contribution to the country's foreign exchange earnings, and Russia last year took the first place in the number of guests - more than 7 million.

"As for the problems, of course, they exist," the specialist continued. - "First of all, in the Middle East-this is the situation in Syria, where we actually take the opposite positions. Russia, as you know, supports the legitimate government of Bashar al-Assad, and Turkey has been advocating regime change since the beginning of the civil war, continues to take a categorical position of rejection of the current government and at the same time is fighting with the Syrian Kurds, who have always been citizens of this country."
The approaches of Russia and Turkey also differ on the situation in Libya.

"The Turks actively support one of the parties to the conflict, that is, the Government of National Accord led by Faiz Sarraj, and Russia is trying to take a relatively neutral position, maintaining contacts with both Sarraj and his opponent,  Marshal Khalifa Haftar," Fitin said.

At the same time, the expert noted that difficulties should not be dramatized, since the parties are still able to find a common language in Syria, and the development of cooperation in the trade and economic sphere contributes to further interaction of countries.

"Trade relations are developing, and, apparently, they will develop if there are no emergencies. This is cooperation in the energy sector, including nuclear. This is possible cooperation in infrastructure projects, including on Russian territory with the participation of Turkish companies. And if the contract for the S-400 is fulfilled properly, then further cooperation in the military-industrial complex is possible," he added, speaking about the prospects for further cooperation between the two countries.

In Syria, according to the expert, a real clash, despite the difficult situation near Idlib, does not threaten the two countries, since it does not meet the interests of either Moscow or Ankara.

"I think both sides will seek to continue cooperation in Syria," he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recalled the upcoming anniversary last year when Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan visited the international aviation and space salon in Zhukovsky.

"Next year we will celebrate the centenary of diplomatic relations between Russia and Turkey, so the relevant departments, parliamentary circles and public organizations of the two countries are working on drawing up a large - scale plan of solemn events," the Russian President said at the time after talks with his Turkish counterpart.

Among such events, for example, an exhibition of historical documents prepared for the beginning of March in the State archive of the Russian Federation and a photo exhibition at the Russian Embassy in Turkey, which is currently being held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On June 2, 1920, the People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs of the RSFSR, Georgy Chicherin, on the instructions of the Chairman of the Sovnarkom, Vladimir Lenin, sent a letter to the Turkish government under the leadership of Kemal Ataturk. It stated that the Soviet government supported the right of nations to self-determination and " follows with the keenest interest the heroic struggle waged by the Turkish people for their independence and sovereignty, and in these difficult days for Turkey, it was happy to lay a solid foundation of friendship that should unite the Turkish and Russian peoples."

Later, Moscow provided financial assistance to Ankara. In 1921, A Treaty of friendship and brotherhood was signed between the two countries. Moscow's support and diplomatic recognition helped Ataturk win the battle against the British-Greek invaders and proclaim the Republic of Turkey in 1923.

However, relations between Russia and Turkey have a much older history and go back to the end of the XV century, when the Moscow Grand Prince Ivan III wrote a letter to the Ottoman Sultan Bayazet II on issues of maritime trade. They were interrupted only briefly by revolutionary upheavals in the two countries.


GSV "Russia - Islamic World"