x

Society

Turkey, Russia Deepen Ties amid Troubled Relations with West

April 2, 2018

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Ties between Russia and Turkey are growing closer than ever, as Russia runs into widespread diplomatic fallout from the poisoned spy scandal and Turkey’s relations with its Western allies worsens over human rights issues and its military operations against Kurdish militia in Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin heads back to Turkey on Tuesday, joining Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a symbolic ground-breaking ceremony for a Russian-made nuclear power plant being built on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast at Akkuyu. On Wednesday, Putin, Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are expected to hold a summit in the Turkish capital of Ankara to discuss Syria’s future.

Turkey and Russia have put aside their traditional rivalries and differences on regional issues to forge strong economic ties. In December, they finalized an agreement for Turkey to purchase Russia’s long-range S-400 missile defense system, a deal that raised eyebrows among some of Turkey’s NATO allies. Aside from the power plant, the two countries are also building the “Turkstream” pipeline to transport Russian gas to Turkey.

“Turkish-Russian relations are in a better mood compared with two years before . both parties are working together,” said Mitat Celikpala, a professor of international relations at Istanbul’s Kadir Has University.

“They managed to compartmentalize issues,” Celikpala said, citing Turkish and Russian divisions, including over the divided island of Cyprus and Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. “If you set aside all those issues . they are good partners for the resolution of immediate interests.”

Their warming relations come as ties between European Union nations and Turkey have become increasingly testy.

Turkey’s EU membership talks have stalled and many EU countries have voiced concerns over the Turkish government’s growing authoritarian turn and its crackdown on rights and freedoms, especially following an attempted coup in 2016 that Turkey blames on a U.S.-based Islamic cleric.

Turkey in turn, accuses EU countries of supporting Kurdish rebels as well as the alleged perpetrators of the 2016 failed coup.

Turkey’s relations with the United States have fared even worse, with Turkey accusing Washington of harboring the cleric, Fethullah Gulen, and backing Syrian Kurdish militia that Turkey considers to be terrorists.

Last week, Turkey announced it would not be following NATO and EU allies in ousting Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning in Britain of a former Russian spy. Britain has accused Russia of being behind the nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, prompting nearly two dozen nations to expel over 150 Russian diplomats. Russia has responded by expelling a similar number of envoys.

Turkey condemned the nerve agent attack on British soil without naming Russia, adding that it enjoyed “positive” relations with Moscow.

“Just because some countries took a step based on an allegation, we don’t have to take the same step,” Erdogan said.

Putin and Erdogan have met several times in the past year and regularly speak on the phone.

Russia and Turkey — along with Iran — are also working together to create “de-escalation zones” to reduce the fighting in Syria and bring the sides of the conflict together to negotiate Syria’s future.

The cooperation comes despite their positions on opposing sides in the Syrian conflict —with Moscow siding with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Turkey supporting his foes since the start of the Syrian war seven years ago.

The conflicting interests led to the downing of a Russian warplane by a Turkish jet at the Syrian border in November 2015, which put the two nations on the verge of a direct military conflict.

Russia responded by barring packaged tourist tours to Turkey and halting the imports of agricultural products. The two reconciled after Erdogan issued an apology.

__
By SUZAN FRASER and AYSE WIETING , Associated Press

Wieting reported from Istanbul.

RELATED

There are more coffins than cribs in Greece, which has an incredible shrinking population despite financial incentives being given by the New Democracy government for couples to have children: they say they can’t afford them.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

New York Greek Independence Parade Honors 1821 and Grim Anniversary for Cyprus (Vid & Pics)

NEW YORK – The New York Greek Independence Parade on Fifth Avenue, commemorating the 203rd anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821, was held in an atmosphere of emotion and pride on April 14.

NEW YORK  — The historic hush money trial of Donald Trump got underway Monday with the arduous process of selecting a jury to hear the case charging the former president with falsifying business records in order to stifle stories about his sex life.

ATHENS - The New Democracy's ballot paper was presented at a special event at the Athens Auditorium on Monday.

JERUSALEM  — Israel’s military chief said Monday that his country will respond to Iran’s weekend attack, but he did not elaborate on when and how as world leaders urged Israel not to retaliate, trying to avoid a spiral of violence in the Middle East.

FRANKLIN, TN – After the amazing success of first two Annual Greek Adoptee Reunions in Nashville, TN, in August 2022 and in their homeland of Greece in October 2023, Greek-born adoptees are poised to converge on Louisville, KY, for the Third Annual Greek Adoptee Reunion, June 20-22.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.