The talks between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in St Petersburg herald a new era in Russian-Turkish relations, as Turks now see Russia as a true friend and admire Russia’s motion to support the Turkish President in the midst of a coup, Hüseyin Bağcı, Professor at the Department of International Relations, Middle East Technical University in Ankara, told valdaiclub.com in a telephone interview Wednesday.
The meeting shows that Russia and Turkey’s understanding of each other’s strategic culture can evolve to prevent in future such incidents as Turkey’s shoot-down of the Russian aircraft in November 2015, he added. During that incident, Turkey reacted to the crisis by calling together a NATO meeting instead of talking to Russia directly.
“Turkey and Russia will create a new page in their history, they will be much more careful in the future not to disturb their relations because of these types of events and there will be more negotiation mechanisms,” Bağcı pointed out.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s voicing of support to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the midst of the coup showed Turks that Russia is a true friend, unlike other countries, Bağcı said, noting that while Turkey is unlikely to shift away from the EU, “it is clear the Turkish president is very angry with European leaders. None of them called him and said ‘we support you’ from the very beginning.”
“Putin proved himself a real friend of the Turks, and this is the viewpoint of the government, the President and majority of the Turkish people,” Bağcı added.
Regarding the rebuilding of ties, and whether relations between Russia and Turkey can be the same as before, Bagci noted that even if the compartmentalization of the Syrian crisis continues, the issue will no longer be as much of a stumbling block for relations, as Turkey’s positions have shifted.
“Russia is indeed compartmentalizing the Syrian crisis, but Turkey can no longer demand that Bashar Assad leaves power. This is not the case anymore, conditions have changed,” Bağcı said.
He added that Russia has become a security provider in Syria, which means that Turkey’s positions have shifted, as increased instability in the area has become a threat to the country.
“Erdogan said to the surprise of all of us that Russia is the biggest and most important player in Syria. We never heard such a statement in the past five years, it came out of the blue. No president or prime minister in the past five years has spoken in such a way. So this is a reason to expect that Turkey could make a U-turn in its Syrian policy,” Bağcı concluded.