Vladimir Evseev: the process of the expected recovery of the Russian-Turkish relations will be difficult« Back
Consequently, in making the decision by Russia to start the process of rapprochement with Turkey military and political interests dominated. But the economic damage caused by the introduction in relation to the country's own sanctions was taken into account, as well as the response from Ankara.
- Do not you think that Turkey has taken this step under the pressure of circumstances - worsening domestic economic situation, the freezing of international investment projects, strengthening the Kurds positions, complication of relations with Europe, including Germany after its recognition of the Armenian genocide?
I believe that a substantial deterioration of relations with European countries was the main reason that Ankara has gone on improving relations with Moscow. But otherwise it could not be, since Turkey is actually blackmailing the EU on the issue of refugees. German Chancellor Angela Merkel made advances to President Recep Erdogan as much as she could, but it was hampered by a growing resistance on the part of Europeans. A manifestation of this was the recognition by the Bundestag (German Parliament) of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire, which led to a deterioration of German-Turkish relations. And Angela Merkel could not prevent this process, taking into account the growth of authoritarianism in Turkey.
In Turkey, the Kurdish problem has an internal and an external dimension. On the one hand, the suppression of the Kurds in the country allows mobilizing their supporters, but leads to the inevitability of terrorist acts. On the other hand - this creates serious problems with the US and EU. Especially this is true of the Syrian Kurds, which have become to the Americans a major tool in the fight with the radical organization Islamic State. And after establishing control over the most part of the border with Turkey Syrian Kurds became the base for their compatriots in Turkey. This made it impossible to Ankara’s fundamental victory over Turkish Kurds.
Of course, the adoption of this decision contributed to worsening domestic economic situation and the freezing of international investment projects. In particular, Russia has suspended the construction of NPP "Akkuyu" and stopped discussion of profitable for Turkey the construction of gas pipeline "Turkish Stream". And these negative effects could magnify in the future if Moscow prevented Turkey's accession to the Eurasian comprehensive partnership.
- It has been suggested that reconciliation with Russia is part of a large-scale Turkish strategy, which implies the restoration of cooperation with Israel, deepening strategic ties with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, limit the growing influence of Iran in the region, you share it?
Restoration relations with Israel and the beginning of this process in relation to Russia have become of vital importance for Turkey, and for different reasons. Thus, the Turkish army was in need of modern Israeli weapons, and the national military-industrial complex - in Israeli technology. Lack of contacts between special services significantly limited the ability of Turkish intelligence organization "MIT" (in reality it is engaged with counterintelligence). And the opening of the Israeli gas field "Leviathan" allowed after 2018 to reduce its dependence on Russian gas supplies.
Preservation of the Russian-Turkish confrontation could lead to the emergence of Syrian Kurdistan on the borders of Turkey, which will destabilize the surrounding area within the country. Without a significant improvement in relations with Moscow it was difficult to improve the socio-economic situation of the Republic of Turkey.
Deepening the strategic ties with Saudi Arabia and Qatar for Turkey was of more than ephemeral. Firstly, their investments in the country have been limited. Secondly, Ankara could not provide in Syria to protect their national interests. Third, this cooperation strengthened to the internal instability in Turkey due to the terrorist activities of radical Islamists.
It is not so simple in regard to the rise in the region of Iran. Significant investors are waiting for the outcome of the US presidential election and confirmation of the new course of the administration of a gradual rapprochement with Tehran. This decision will be made no earlier than in spring 2017, but in Iran in June its own presidential election is to be held next year, during which supporter of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can come to power. This creates a serious uncertainty regarding both the future of US-Iranian relations, and strengthening the regional role of Tehran.
- Can we say that Turkey continues to use ISIL in their political and economic interests?
Under the current circumstances, Turkey will have to curtail their cooperation as possible with the Islamic state which possibly before the end of this year will cease the organized opposition in Syria and move it to the reconnaissance and sabotage methods of struggle.
In fact, this would mean the organization illegal export of oil will stop and other illegal income from antiques, trafficking, etc. will be extremely limited. This will deprive some representatives of Turkish officials of additional sources of income that previously created the basis for cooperation with the Islamic state.
In addition, Qatar as the main sponsor of this organization is increasingly losing interest in it. In this case, it will be difficult for Turkey to earn on Qatari financial resources. This, of course, does not preclude receiving money for the Islamic state from the private funds of the Arabian Gulf monarchies, but their volume will no longer be so significant. And the political risks of continuing such cooperation will increase significantly in the first side of the US administration. This is due to the fact that President Barack Obama wants to go down in history as the winner of the Islamic state.
- Can we talk about the revision of Turkey's position in the Syrian issue to the side closer to the position of Russia?
I do not think that Turkey will fundamentally change its position on the removal from power of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But it will have to take into account the situation within the country which is not in its favor. Therefore, Ankara will try to minimize the adverse consequences for themselves from the settlement of the Syrian crisis. The main thing for the Turkish leadership will become the avoiding getting autonomy by the Syrian Kurds. Russia in this respect can help Turkey, but only in exchange for the closure of the Turkish-Syrian border (at least partially) for the Islamist radicals. In response, the Russian Federation is ready to soften its attitude to the Turkomans in Syria. In fact, it will mean rapprochement of the positions of Moscow and Ankara on the Syrian issue.
- How, in your opinion, can affect the return of Turkey into the orbit in international relations of Russia on the negotiation process on Karabakh? Can Azerbaijan toughen its position in the negotiations?
Objectively, after preventing Turkish military coup, Ankara is not up to Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh. In particular, it is now necessary for the Turkish government to carry out large-scale cleaning in all power structures and to isolate the active part of the opposition, at least for the period of the country's referendum on the constitutional order. I think that it is clearly understood in Baku, it will help to preserve relative stability in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
In the future, a lot will depend on the recovery of the Russian-Turkish relations. If this trend becomes steady and positive, then it will be an additional factor for Baku to hold military confrontation in the Nagorno-Karabakh.
- Conflict with Russia has somewhat slowed the penetration of Turkey in the South Caucasus, where it has long been playing its own game, do you think that Turkey will renew its "offensive" in the region?
By reducing its activity in Syria, Turkey will try to compensate for this in the Caucasus, primarily due to the strengthening of relations with Georgia. In this area, it is desirable to counteract the creation of a transport corridor Iran - Armenia - Georgia. Given the difficult socio-economic situation of this country, one can hope for a positive development of this cooperation. Its influence on this process will provide the upcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia. Most likely, the coalition "Georgian Dream" will be able to stay in power, but it may change partners. At the same time I do not expect the deterioration of Russian-Georgian relations.
- What are the consequences for Armenia will or may be due to the changes in the Russian-Turkish relations?
The process of the expected recovery of the Russian-Turkish relations, which will be difficult and controversial, does not contain any problems for Armenia. On the contrary there will be new opportunities through increased activity of Russia in the South Caucasus, especially in the economic sphere. In the area of security it will remain all the same: the Russian Federation will remain the guarantor of security of Armenia on the Turkish side.
- Will, in your opinion, reflect the lifting of restrictions on economic relations with Turkey on the implementation of the state import substitution program?
Russian State program on import substitution in the sphere of military-industrial complex (MIC) cannot be changed even in the event of a serious rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara. Both states have their own programs in the field of defense industry, which do not involve any interaction. If the Armenian companies are involved in the production of Russian arms and military equipment, it will not have any relation to Turkey.
In the area of food and light industry the Russian Federation can significantly expand the purchase of Turkish goods, but it is a question of perspective. Now problem about charter flights it is not even solved in respect of Russian tourists. This confidence in Turkey has been largely lost, that would objectively restrict the restoration of bilateral economic relations. The Islamization of the country will prevent this and that may accelerate in Turkey. This will help to maintaining (strengthening) of the Armenian-Russian economic relations.
- Is it possible to restore the Russian-Turkish relations in the same format?
I believe that in the same format the Russian-Turkish relations will not be restored even in the economic sphere. Moreover, it does not happen in the political sphere, as President Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan have stopped trusting each other. In such circumstances, the Russian-Turkish rivalry will continue, but on a limited scale and in a latent form. In particular, it will be shown on the ownership of the Crimea and the problem of the Crimean Tatars.
- Do you think the "stab in the back" may be applied again?
I believe that in the short term "stab in the back" of Russia on the part of Turkey cannot be applied. Further, much will depend on Ankara's ability to remain one of the regional leaders. If this takes place, and the position of Russia in the Middle East will strengthen, in terms of Islamization of the country "stab in the back" of Moscow may again be tempted to be done. In the case of a weakening of the country, including by reason of aggravation of the Kurdish problem, Turkey will not do because of the extreme painful response.
- Who is behind the coup in Turkey? Can the US be involved in it?
There is no doubt that the Turkish army opposition to President Recep Erdogan is maintained. If the latter was incapacitated (killed) in a missile attack aircraft or helicopter, the support would have been much more powerful hand of the army coup. Under certain conditions, it could even lead to the overthrow of the current government. For objective reasons, Americans have been interested in this, as Erdogan was too headstrong, and in the army, pro-American positions have historically been strong. Therefore, Washington followed closely the evolving situation. Realizing the unsuccessful attempt of a military coup, Washington was forced to support the current government.
- Can coup attempts be repeated, and how it can affect the Russian-Turkish relations? How wrong version of the supporters of Erdogan staging a coup in order to strengthen his power and authoritarian regime?
Despite the large-scale purge of security forces in Turkey new coup attempts cannot be excluded. If this attempt is successful, it will lead to deterioration in Russian-Turkish relations only if the country becomes a tool of American foreign policy (such as Romania or Poland). However, this seems unlikely in view of the inevitable preservation of imperial ambitions and the serious influence of Islam on the local population. This will prevent the strengthening of the US-Turkish relations.
I believe that the intelligence organization "MIT" could trigger a military coup attempt to provide the conditions for the success of the referendum in Turkey on the constitutional structure of the country. And it will strengthen not only the personal power of Recep Erdogan and his authoritarian regime, but also the preservation in power of the current "MIT" leadership.
Interviewed by Gregory Anisonyan.