By Kostis Pitsilloudis
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is drastically changing the geopolitical landscape of the world and especially of Eastern Europe and our region. The power relations, the economy and especially the hot topic of energy, are changing. In this newly formed scenario, Turkey is seeking a leading role for the region and seems to be winning it, not only because of its geographical location, but also because of Erdogan's political moves and maneuvers. Yes, Turkey is inside the Western camp, but at the same time, it maintains stable relations with Russia, bearing in mind that the current situation in the Black Sea could be threatened.
At the same time, with the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian War, there is an opportunity for the normalization of relations between Turkey and Greece, as there is a possibility that they will realize that their security and their interests are largely aligned. At the same time, the energy crisis should be seen as an incentive for the Republic of Cyprus and a change of attitude, becoming more compromising. Otherwise, our neighboring states will isolate us.
Based on this context, “P” asked the assistant professor of Ottoman and Turkish History Antonis Hatzikyriakou and the political scientist and internationalist Thodoros Tsikas , to submit some of their own views. :
Turkey is a state that, at the moment, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, its geopolitical plot has increased its value. “It's a state bordering on both Russia and Ukraine, so why & # 8217; this has great value, in everything that happens in this area. In addition, Turkey controls the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits, data that are very critical for the correlations in the Black Sea “, said to” P “the political scientist – internationalist Theodoros Tsikas.
Therefore, he added, Russia-Ukraine need Turkey and will obviously play a prominent role. Based on the data, but also on the movements of Turkey, it tries to play the role of mediator. Therefore, Turkey wants to maintain good relations with both Ukraine and Russia.
Mr. Tsikas cited the recent visit of the UN Secretary General to Turkey, where he met with The President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the country, before meeting with the Presidents of Ukraine and Russia.
The visit shows how important Turkey's role in the Russia-Ukraine War is: “Turkey is a power in the Black Sea, and if the Russian army succeeds in cutting off Ukraine from its southern coast, the Black Sea Sea becomes a & # 8216; semi-Russian & # 8217; sea, “he said. In other words, power relations in the Black Sea are being overturned and this is worrying Turkey, as a regional power.
At the same time, Turkey, with a dose of delay, closed the Bosphorus Straits, while providing significant military equipment to Ukraine. Turkish drones are a key part of the Ukrainian defense. Also, 90% of the helmets of the Ukrainian army are made in Turkey.
Some characterize Turkey as a neutral neutral, we observe, to answer: “We see that Turkey has strengthened the side that accepts the invasion. Therefore, it can not be described as a neutral force. “
Commenting on the EU sanctions against Russia and the non-alignment with Turkey, Mr. Tsikas said that he is not a member of the Union in order to have to implement them.
Turkey and Greece can realize how small their differences are in relation to a global crisis and lead to a normalization of relations and, why not, to a process of resolving Greek-Turkish disputes .
“This can be achieved either through political negotiations or through the Hague Tribunal,” Tsikas said.
We should not worry as Greece and Cyprus, as they have nothing in common with us. “It has nothing to do with us,” he said.
The current situation could help resolve the Greek-Turkish dispute, and perhaps the Cyprus issue. Our next question was: “And Turkey, despite having an increased role at the moment, feels some they are to some extent common with Greece “, he observed.
An example of the above is the destabilization that is created in the wider region, which negatively affects both Turkey and Greece. In addition, we have the economic and energy crisis, but also the potential refugee waves.
Asked if energy security could bring the two countries closer, he said: “Since no one is serious about building EastMed, other ways must be found to channel gas,” he said. .
On the other hand, Israel and Egypt are not waiting with folded arms for a solution to the Cyprus problem. As he emphasizes, “Israel wants to export its natural gas, while Egypt is in dire need of food. We should see the current energy crisis as a motive for resolving the Cyprus problem. “
However, the Greek Cypriot side and Greece are needed in this plan. If they remain in a negative mood for the resolution of the Cyprus problem, will they be left out of the energy game? “If Cyprus can not even enter into an agreement on the settlement of energy in our region, it will be bypassed,” he concluded.
Economy and embargo
For his part, the Assistant Professor of Ottoman and Turkish History at the Department of Political Science and History of Panteion University Antonis Hatzikyriakou , in his statements to “P”, stressed that the Russo-Ukrainian War strengthens the regime financially and politically Erdogan noted that despite the fact that Turkey is on the West side of the issue of Ukraine, the Turkish economy is benefiting from the Western embargo, which it is not enforcing because of its relations with Russia. thus keeping some balance.
This is due, on the one hand, to Turkey's political and economic dependence on the EU and the US, and on the other, to its economic and military dependence on Russia.
“Turkey remains in the Western camp, despite the fact that it is not liberal in nature. Turkey has more in common with Russia in terms of governance. “The fact that he chooses to stay in the western camp is a very important fact,” he explained.
The war in Ukraine is a lifeline for the Turkish government in a time of economic instability. “Official inflation is around 60%, while other estimates raise it to 100 and 150%. “These serious economic problems directly affect the daily lives of Turkish citizens,” he said.
“Erdogan's vision is to make Turkey a viable regional power. “Thus, it assumes the role of mediator in various issues, such as the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian War,” he said.
A pillar of the Turkish economy that emerges victorious from the Russo-Ukrainian War, said Dr. Hadjikyriakou, is the pillar of the tourism industry.
He found that, through the EU embargo on Russia, many more Russian tourists will be directed to Turkey.
“We also see various Russian tycoons moving their funds to Turkey because of the embargo. Through the devaluation of the Turkish lira (it lost 40% of its value against the US dollar), the Turkish government is trying to attract foreign investment. This means that labor costs are reduced, eroding the quality of life inside as a collateral loss. “Government officials are celebrating because Turkey has the lowest labor costs in the entire region,” he said.
Another dependence of Turkey on Russia is the purchase of S-400 missile systems, but also the construction of a nuclear power plant in Akkuyu with Russian know-how, adding that the construction of a second nuclear power plant is underway. “This shows the importance of energy self-sufficiency as Turkey's goal,” he said.
The military industry
A very important factor for the Turkish economy is emerging military industry.
“Especially after the failed coup (2016), the Erdogan government had set itself the goal of detaching itself from foreign weapons systems,” he said. Karabakh (2020), increased their orders by exporting to Ukraine, Poland, Ethiopia, Morocco and the Philippines.
“For example, Ukraine maintains factories producing these drones. “As a result, Turkey is entering a globalized market for the sale of its military equipment,” he said.
“The military industry and to some extent the Turkish economy are gaining ground from the Russian invasion, while its political-diplomatic role is being strengthened. “These help Erdogan to project inside the image of an autonomous and voluntary powerful force, trying to absorb the serious economic shocks that the country is experiencing,” he added.