President Erdogan wants to mediate in the Ukraine crisis – politics


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a natural friend of clear announcements, made no secret of how nervous he is. “As an important country in the region, we are concerned about the negative developments between Russia and Ukraine,” Erdoğan said in a recent speech. He knows that another war in Turkey’s immediate vicinity would be dangerous. It would be a war that Ankara neither could nor would want to get involved in, but could easily be drawn into.

Ukraine has already agreed to meet in Turkey for peace talks. But Moscow has not promised to open a new negotiation platform in addition to the previous diplomatic discussion formats. The role of mediator Erdoğan is aiming for is therefore a long time coming. The Turkish head of state not only traveled to Kiev on Thursday as a disinterested broker, he also has his own interests. The conflict between Russia, Ukraine and NATO, which has been heating up for weeks, could become a stress test for Erdoğan’s seesaw foreign policy, which is fraught with conflict.

The Turkish combat drones are considered very good

Turkey sits between all chairs. It maintains close ties with Ukraine, selling weapons and military equipment to the country. Among other things, the dreaded Turkish combat drones. Armed drones are viewed by many military experts as a potentially crucial weapon in future conflicts. And the unmanned aerial vehicles from Turkey are considered very good.

The armaments cooperation goes even further, the states are jointly developing and building new drones and engines. “Our relations with Ukraine have developed a lot in recent years in trade, investment, tourism and defense industry,” Erdoğan said. He positioned himself mediatingly: “We express our support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine. And we invite all parties to exercise restraint and dialogue.”

Erdoğan advocates the inviolability of the neighboring country and has repeatedly protested against Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. The Muslim Crimean Tatars, to whose protecting power Turkey has appointed itself, are a useful reason for him.

Ankara controls important straits

Despite all of this, Turkey remains an important NATO state, albeit an unpopular one at the moment. Turkey is also a Black Sea riparian and even the gatekeeper of the geopolitically important body of water. Based on the “Treaty of Montreux”, Ankara controls the straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus. The passage of warships is regulated in the 1936 treaty for both peacetime and wartime. That gives Ankara weight.

Because in a Ukrainian-Russian conflict, the Black Sea would become one of the arenas where NATO would show its presence and try to contain Russia’s more far-reaching ambitions. Turkey’s relationship with NATO is more Russian because of the purchase S-400-Anti-aircraft missiles burdened: Ankara maintains close armaments-political relations with Russia. It accepts disputes with the USA and the alliance.

Ankara often successfully stands up to allies of Russia

Erdoğan never breaks the thread of the conversation with President Vladimir Putin, despite regular upsets: It is a partnership that does more good than harm for both sides. And that despite the fact that the Turkish side has opposed Moscow’s allies in the theaters of war in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, often successfully. This seesaw policy between the NATO West and the Eastern superpower Russia is made even more difficult by Erdoğan’s openly formulated claim to his own supremacy role in the greater region around Turkey: in the Caucasus, in the Black Sea region, in the eastern Mediterranean and in the Middle East including parts of North Africa.

Ankara’s proactive, often militarized foreign policy and the hodgepodge of alleged Turkish interests that the incumbent ruler has fanned out in recent years, regardless of friend or foe, bothers not only Russia. This policy is – at least in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East – not in the interests of the USA and NATO.

Against this diffuse background, Erdogan tries to bring himself into play as a mediator. Should there really be a war in Ukraine with an increased NATO presence around the conflict area, Turkey would have to fulfill its alliance obligations. And should Kiev’s armed forces shoot down rows of Russian tanks with the drones supplied by Ankara, the partnership with Moscow would be strained. Which is why a role as a successful mediator would be the ideal scenario for Erdoğan. Provided that everyone involved trusts him.


www.sueddeutsche.de

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