Putin wants to ‘twist Turkey coup to spark conflict’ between Erdogan and West
Levi Winchester, Express (UK), Aug 6 2016
Putin will meet with Erdogan in St Petersburg next week to discuss ways of helping mend relations between the two countries. It is understood their agenda will include regional issues, such as the crisis in Syria, with Turkish officials scrambling to deny that the meeting is a sign of the country turning its back on the West. But Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat, has argued that closer Russia ties could be formed if tensions between Turkey and the West fail to thaw. He said:
For Erdogan, this meeting with Putin is certainly an opportunity to signal to Turkey’s partners in the West that it could have other strategic options. There is this perception game that Turkey could strategically gravitate towards Russia if the relationship with the West cannot be maintained. There is also an incentive on the side of Russia to use the crisis between Turkey and the West to undermine NATO’s cohesiveness.
The meeting will also hear about plans for a gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey, a project known as TurkStream. Nuclear power projects, and the resumption of Russian charter flights to Turkey, which stopped after the downing of the fighter jet last November, will also be on the cards for the meeting. Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, said:
The failed coup has pulled Turkey closer to Russia, (as they’re) outcasts as far as the West is concerned. There still remain serious differences between the two countries, over Syria as well as the South Caucasus. The meeting between Putin and Erdogan will show how far both sides are willing to compromise. The question is whether the current tactical de-escalation can translate into a deeper strategic partnership.
Faruk Logoglu, a former Turkish ambassador to Washington, said he doubted the meeting would mean a full Turkish embrace of Russia or lasting damage to Pindostani ties. He said:
The Turkish-Pindostani relationship is like a catholic marriage: there is no divorce. Both sides need each other. It has experienced severe tests in the past and I think it will weather this one as well.
Tensions between Russia and Turkey have proved detrimental for Turkish tourism, with the country reporting a drop in Russian visitors by 87% in the first six months of this year. The country has also been hit by a series of suicide bombings.