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Turkey versus Russia: Emergency Relations’ Normalization

Turkey versus Russia: Emergency Relations’ NormalizationThe rapidly developing story with the “urgent” normalization of relations between Moscow and Ankara is really amazing. Moscow eagerly took advantage of Erdogan's apologies - and without delay launched multiple response signals of Russia’s willingness to move closer.

After the explosion at the Istanbul airport, which claimed 42 lives, the Russian side immediately expressed its condolences, and - the first in the last six months! - the telephone conversation between Putin and Erdogan had place. Let us remember that the latter complained in November (after the destruction of the Russian Su-24 bomber on the Syrian border) of not being able to "get through to the Kremlin.

On the 1st of July 2016 the meeting of Heads of foreign ministers of both countries is held in the framework of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation summit in Sochi. The prospects of a personal meeting of Putin and Erdogan are being actively discussed.

In the Russian media, Turkey is quickly transformed from the worst enemy of the Russians in their good neighbor, a country that deserves sympathy in connection with the terrorist attacks. Besides, despite the growing threat to the security of citizens, Turkey is described as the traditional resting place of the Russians.

Apparently, the political decision to close the "Turkish front" has already been taken. Now the Kremlin is working on the scenario of the relations’ normalization, which could be acceptable to both sides.

In parallel, propaganda explanation of the events will be developed. In both countries, the citizens must be confident that their leadership acted courageously, resolutely and without losing face. Both Moscow and Ankara called the last events as a victory - that, in fact, only confirms the old thesis that a bad peace is better than a good quarrel.

We have already wrote about the reasons that have pushed Erdogan to negotiate with Russia (read "Turkish friendship" in №69 dated 29 June). The Turkish president is trying to strengthen his position in the negotiations with the EU after the "Brexit" using the so called "Russian turn" - a potential willingness of Turkey to consider Moscow as the priority partner. It still remains unclear why the Kremlin so enthusiastically seized the opportunity to negotiate with its neighbor.

After all the response gestures of courtesy it seems that Moscow has now become the principal agent of the "new friendship", offering Turkey more and more favorable negotiation formats. In addition to the phone call, condolences and other things, we should pay attention to the fact how the President's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov was genius to find in the ornate Erdogan’s letter the hidden apology.

Still, the original text of the letter has not been made public neither in Russia, nor in Turkey – so it is difficult to evaluate what expressions the Turkish leader actually used. It remains a mystery. The Russians found what they were looking for, but could have looked completely for the different idea.

The reasons for Russia's new love for Turkey is unlikely to lie in the economic plane. Business operating in the two countries, says that in six months both sides did not have time to quarrel: the frozen infrastructure projects have not been broken, Turkish builders are ready to return to Russia in a few weeks, the fruits and vegetables supply can be developed even faster. Numerous groups of the Russian tourists may arrive to the favorite Turkey beaches even before the end of the season - the tour operators never have bet on the long-term closure of the tourists’ market.

The only obstacle to the speedy establishment of the old economic ties may be our lobbyists concerned with the idea that the Crimea should be priority direction for tourist destination and domestic agricultural products should not have foreign competitors.
Turkey versus Russia: Emergency Relations’ Normalization

The main reason for the unprecedented progress in the negotiations with Turkey lays in the Kremlin's military-strategic risk in the Middle East and Black Sea regions. Hostile Turkey weakens the Russian presence in Syria - in addition to Assad, Moscow does not have more allies there. The second largest regional player, except Turkey - Saudi Arabia – surely will not become a close Kremlin’s partner in the coming years. So, the agreement with Ankara now means to get additional insurance that can be used in any development of the situation: from the final Russia’s withdrawal from the Middle East to a new escalation in the confrontation with Islamist groups.

But the situation in the Black Sea region is even more alarming for the Kremlin: Russia is unrecognized by the international community and the territory of the Crimean peninsula does not have allies. Turkey as a partner is needed by Moscow in order to reduce the risks associated with the status of Crimea.

Relations’ normalization with Turkey should be welcomed. It seems that Russian strategists now understand that the idea of an all-out confrontation with all the Russian’s neighbors did not pay off. The total degree of propaganda intoxication will inevitably decline, when we recall that to the south of Russia instead of "evil Turks" there are multiple welcoming all-inclusive hotels. But for all the domestic public it will be presented as yet another "geopolitical victory" of Russian authorities' wisdom: we took a tough stance, they sent an apology, and so the justice has been restored. Well, let it be. The key point is not the propaganda trick.
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