September 29, 2014

The Turkish Background of the Situation Around Ukraine

Recently, we've been drawing our readers' attention to external factors that determine the development of the situation in the Ukrainian state and around it — Russian, European and American factors. Despite the imaginary “insensitivity” of the Russian leadership and economy to international sanctions, the Kremlin is making every effort to break the foreign blockade. Unfortunately, someone listens to V. Putin's “arguments”, including our neighbours — Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Turkey. Since the position of the Eastern European EU member states is more accessible thanks to the EU's institutions and public statements of their leaders, let us try and analyze some of the hidden aspects of the official Ankara's internal and external motivation.

The former Prime Minister R. Erdogan's convincing victory in the first round of the presidential elections in Turkey (August 10) made possible the beginning of a significant transformation of the Turkish model of state governance in the context of strengthening the presidential power vertical and turning Turkey into a presidential-parliamentary republic. At this, the newly elected head of state since his first day in office has been trying to position himself as “the master of Turkey”, based on the electoral, administrative and financial potential of the ruling Justice and Development Party (does it not look like the Russian model, “V. Putin+ FSB + the United Russia?”).

Based on the “cosmetic” changes to the staff of the new government, headed by a loyal ex-Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, as well as the stated program of restoration of the “New Turkey” (as a continuation of the “success” of the 12-year term in office of the Party of Justice and Development), experts predict that during the first presidential cadence R. Erdogan will try to adopt a new Constitution before the parliamentary elections of 2015 and to complete the construction of a national security system of Turkey, which would allow not only to effectively protect, but also to spread its national interests outside the territory of the TR.

Taking into consideration serious domestic threats to R. Erdogan's regime — further social, ethnic and religious polarization in the Turkish society, as well as the substantial dependence of the Turkish leadership in issues of regional security, foreign investments, ensuring energy security and system transformations in the field of innovation and technological development, including the military-industrial complex, the leader of the TR cannot ignore V. Putin's non-public “calls”. Let explain why.

To achieve foreign policy priorities relating to leveling of the destructive effect on Turkey of the so-called “Regional instability belt” (the situation in Egypt and Syria, expansion of the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” in the southern cross border, increasing of the risk of Turkey's getting involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, deterioration of relations with key Gulf monarchies, especially with Saudi Arabia), — the Turkish leadership has to actively involve diplomatic, financial and military potential of the Russian Federation in the Middle East.

Besides, Ankara's regional ambitions, as well as President R. Erdogan's attempts to concentrate political power in his hands as much as possible, will cause the growth of criticism of actions of the Turkey's leadership by the West. At the same time the Turkish side does not exclude the possibility of the United States and Israel's using the movement “Nurdzhular” to incite the local population's large-scale protests against the formation of authoritarianism in Turkey. In such circumstances, the Turkish government will be forced to make for further rapprochement with Russia, giving in at the same time on the Ukrainian/Crimean Tatar issue. Such specificity will be determining Turkey's use on the Ukrainian direction of the policy of double standards — declaring support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine, Ankara behind the scenes and by “small steps” will resume transport links with the Crimea through private firms, increase the influence on the Crimean Tatar community, and refrain from international sanctions against Russia.

In the economic sphere, the leadership of Turkey is going to use the economic isolation of Russia from the West for creation of favorable conditions for the implementation of the tasks related to the implementation of large-scale projects under the strategic program “Goals 2023”. In particular, Ankara hopes to attract foreign portfolio investments, running away from financial and stock markets of the Russian Federation exactly to the Turkish market (since the beginning of April — not less than 5 billion US dollars).

In the circumstances of actual “freezing” of cooperation between the Russian Federation and Western countries in the military-technical sphere, Turkey can get the best from an economic and technological point of view, concessions made by Russian companies on their participation in the creation and production of medium-haul passenger aircraft, aircraft and tank engines, national fighter, tank, unmanned aircraft, training aircraft and helicopter, car, modern railway locomotive, creating an industrial zone of aerospace industry in the province of Ankara.

In order to acquire new markets, Ankara is considering the possibility of concluding a preferential trade agreement with the created by the Kremlin, Eurasian Economic Union, which allows to arrange favorable conditions for exports of the agricultural sector and agriculture of Turkey and imports of raw materials, products and semi-finished products for the production of high-technological products that will be delivered to foreign markets.

Taking into consideration the long-term plans to increase production to 4 million cars per year and pessimistic forecasts regarding conditions of Turkish and European markets, the Union of Exporters of the automotive industry plans to increase Turkey's exports to the RF of parts of vehicles manufactured in Turkey, based on the possible spread of sanctions on imports of products of automobile industry from the United States and EU, particularly in the passenger car segment.

According to analysts, Turkey can also use the Russian companies' growing interest to investing into the construction, financial (return of capitals to the western markets with using Turkish financial intermediaries) and tourism sectors to improve the situation on the labor market through creation of new jobs. Thus, within the first half of this year, the number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey increased by 13.4 % and amounted to almost 2 million people. Besides, a positive impact on the development of the agricultural potential and improving the situation with unemployment in rural regions of Turkey, will have Moscow's plans to replace food that is prohibited for imports from the EU  (is expected growth of the volumes of exports of fresh Turkish fruits and vegetables by 20-40 %, of meat and dairy products, alcoholic beverages, potatoes and beans).

At the moment, Turkey is considering the possibility of getting economic dividends in case of major problems in the relationship between the Russian Federation and the EU in terms of restrictions in the sphere of transport connection (in the form of sanctions of the West or counteractions of the Kremlin): have been intensified contacts with Moscow to solve the existing problems in the field of logistics as well as in the sphere of sea and land transport (including the increase in the number of permits for Turkish carriers); is worked on a possibility of attracting potential of Russian companies within projects for development of transport infrastructure, in particular, construction of the main road corridors south-north and east-west, cardinal modernization of railway transport and establishment of international rail corridors, forming a network of international logistics centers, construction of long-distance high-speed connection and of urban rail transport.

Because of the threat of decrease in the volume (blocking) of the supply of natural gas, Moscow has perhaps the most “convincing” arguments for influence in the energy sphere, providing up to 60 % of Turkey's total imports of natural gas. Concerned about the possible reduction or discontinuation of gas supply through Ukraine because of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict (now the domestic GTS provides supply of 14 billion cubic meters of Russian gas, or about 27 % of the annual import of this energy carrier), the Turkish government is preparing to limit the consumption of gas by electric power plants and powerful industry, to establish differential tariffs and to increase in October the energy carriers prices for winter 2014-2015.

To enhance its transit potential, Ankara is interested in the project “South Stream” or the second thread of the “Blue Stream”. Besides, Turkey continues to support construction of NPP “Akkuyu” with the participation of “Rosatom” and the Russian company “INTER RAO” it carries out the export of electricity to Turkey (transit from the Russian Federation through the territory of Georgia and directly from Georgia) and owns the modern TPP “Trakya” with the capacity of 478 MW. In its turn, “Lukoil” controls about 4 % of the Turkish market of oil and gas products.

 

So, V. Putin has an exhaustive list of means of influence on Ankara in the politico-military, energy, industrial, agricultural, transit and transport, trade, ethnic-confessional and even in social spheres, making the Turkish government go to the “meeting of the minds” and concessions in the Ukrainian/Crimean Tatar issue.