"Breakthrough" in relations with Turkey is possible only on condition of free trade zone’s agreement’s signing—expert

"Breakthrough" in relations with Turkey is possible only on condition of free trade zone’s agreement’s signing—expertAccording to official reports of the Presidential Administration, Petro Poroshenko is attending Turkey with official visit on the 9th and the10th of March. During the visit it is planned to hold talks with Poroshenko’s Turkish counterpart Regep Tayyip Erdogan. The Head of the Ukrainian state also to meet the Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu and Chairman of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Ismail Kahraman. Another important point in the framework of the visit is the fifth meeting of the High Level Strategic Council between Ukraine and Turkey.

It should be remembered that the President of Ukraine has agreed with President Erdogan about the visit to the country at the end of November 2015, during a meeting in Paris. "I have had a very interesting and substantive conversation with the President of Turkey, Regep Erdogan. It was about preparation to my visit to Turkey, which is to be held in the first quarter of 2016 and we expect this visit will be a real breakthrough." - said Poroshenko after the meeting in Paris. However, the visit became known to the larger public only when the first quarter was coming to the end.

Why doesn’t Ukraine hurry in going deeper in the relations with its southern neighbor? You will come to know about it from our next conversation with the first Ambassador of Ukraine in the Republic of Turkey Igor Turyanskij.

Igor Mefodevich, in your opinion, what are the minimum and maximum plans of the President depending on the ultimate goal of this visit?

Honestly, it is not quite clear for me why this visit had required such a long period of preparation. Because there are two points. The first is that our country doesn’t have time to waste. And the second one is that it is necessary to look at the dynamics of bilateral relations. And during this time gap between the moment when agreements were reached by the Presidents and the actual visit, two events already happened: the visit of the Foreign Minister of Ukraine Pavel Klimkin in Istanbul on January 29 (the main purpose of the visit, according to media reports, was just preparation for the 5th meeting of the High Level Strategic Council under the joint chairmanship of the Presidents of Ukraine and Turkey - Ed.), and the arrival in Kiev of the Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu Turkish Republic on the 15th of February 2016. It is clear that the lion's share of issues during the meetings was occupied by the preparation of Poroshenko’s visit to Ankara. As for the announced "breakthrough" in relations between the two countries, I will tell you frankly, I have been expecting this breakthrough for more than ten years, and it is still not obvious. While, it is true, that some revival in the relationship is relevant and it is very likely due to the worsening of the Turkish-Russian relations. But I would like to underline once more, that the preparation for the visit of Poroshenko was very slow, such things (for example, diplomatic response to changes in the foreign policy vectors of the neighboring countries - ed.) must be done as quickly as possible. For example, an agreement on signing the Agreement on creation of free trade zone between Ukraine and Turkey was reached in Paris, then why is it still in limbo? So, answering your question about what to expect from this visit, I would say that at least we should expect the signing of the Agreement on the establishment of the Free Trade Zone.
"Breakthrough" in relations with Turkey is possible only on condition of free trade zone’s agreement’s signing—expert

If this signing is delayed once again, then, then I'm sorry, but what should be considered as a "breakthrough" in relationships?

Let us also discuss another area of cooperation - military-technical. For example, on March the 3rd a close dialogue between the General Staff of Turkey and Germany took place. Can Ukraine now be useful to other States in the field of security of the Black Sea region?

Ukraine and Turkey are two countries separated only by the sea. Therefore, the security problem will always be a key one. In fact, the cooperation between the Ukrainian and Turkish militaries has been taking place since the first years of Ukraine's independence. With regard to regional security, the project "BLACKSEAFOR" (English BLACKSEAFOR: Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group) has been successful for the long time.

Over the years, warships of "BLACKSEAFOR" participants have conducted joint naval campaigns, training, visited the ports of each country. However, the Russian-Georgian war of 2008 sowed distrust among the participants. Georgians could not pretend that they would be able to continue their cooperation with the Russians, the state media of Russia had already started to glorify the actions of its fleet in the "war against the aggressor."

Read also: Turkish president: 'Russia's interventions in Syria, Ukraine unjust'

After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Ukraine also doubted, if it would be possible to continue to participate in the annual operations of "BLACKSEAFOR". Ukraine remained among the participants only formally. That is, when we talk about security in the Black Sea region, you should always remember about the strongest player in the region: this is the Russian Federation. By the way, in this respect one very important issue is the problem of security of the straits - the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. Since the time of the Russian Empire, the representatives of Moscow treated the matter of exit of the Black Sea with extreme attention. Today, the Convention of Montreux of 1936 is still in force, which retains the freedom of passage the merchant ships of all nations, both in peacetime and in wartime. However, warships’ passing mode is different with regard to the Black Sea and non-Black Sea States. However, the Russian Federation has long been dissatisfied with this regime, and the Russians would not mind to control these straits more tightly in order to ensure the presence of their warships in this geographical point.

"To ensure the freedom of military and commercial maritime traffic" – this could be the official reason for the presence of Russian warships in these straits. Even I tell you in other words, the question of the presence of Russian troops in the straits was, is and will always be in the minds and hearts of those who sit in the Kremlin.

Translated by Maria Kryzhanovska
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