The diplomatic traffic on the Ankara-Moscow line is indeed a “jealous” kind of some. Especially President Erdogan’s invitation to President Putin to meet at fish restaurant in Istanbul, obviously makes “those ones” nervous. It is very clear who or who is meant by “those ones”: It is about the power that tried to bury Turkey-Russia relations in history on 24th of November in 2015. Call it NATO if you want, or USA. After all, it comes to the same thing.
Here, “the message of Istanbul” is undoubtedly symbolically important in many respects. It activates the historical memory once again. Especially in the context of the search for cooperation between the Ottoman and Czarist Russia. At that time, the search for “Istanbul-Moscow axis” was the greatest nightmare of the West and Western capitals. Today, Ankara-Moscow …
Therefore, the geopolitical repercussions of the “Istanbul invitation” made in Moscow will be much larger. Because this quest is not new, it is a continuation of a process that has been interrupted. In this respect, the Russian President Putin’s statement after the announcement of the S-400 to be delivered in 2019, “Our relations with Turkey are both deepening and enriching with new content and our cooperation is increasing in regional issues and economy”, points to such a commitment.
So, the parties appear in a new “ingenious scaffolding process” (if we set aside the agreement on co-operation Action plan in Eurasia dated November 16, 2001). However, the cost of the Treaty of Hunkar-Iskelesi signed in 1833 which meant the basis of cooperation between Turkey and Russia, had been very heavy, especially for us. Because the gap caused by the “trust problem” between Istanbul and Moscow was filled with the Treaty of Balta Limani in 1838, and it paved the way for today’s “Turkish-West problem” or a “contradiction” in a lighter expression.
Turkey and Russia are once again collaborating against a non-regional actor who threatens themselves through the Middle East. Although the apparent geography of the threat is the Middle East, the source is the same: US/West. It is almost clear that this threat will soon follow a course towards Central Asia-South Asia via Iran (or because of Iran). Therefore, the process has once again highlighted the Anatolian geography.
Critical Questions and Problems Pending Answers in Ankara-Moscow Line!
This inevitably makes the construction of the Turkey-Russia-centric Eurasian axis. But it’s unclear at this moment which bases it will depend on and what course to follow. Because it is more of a “goodwill declaration” for the common threat perceptions and the means-tools used by the “hostile”.
There is also a quest to eliminate the possible crises, the crisis areas, to sabotage the process between the two countries; just like in the issue of Idlib, which has been the subject of intense diplomacy that has been showing itself in recent days. I have discussed this in my analysis titled “Potential Crisis Points in Turkish-Russian Relations” and listed the test fields between the two countries in the following ways:
Determining the zone of influences in the process “New Syria”;
The desire of Russia to establish an influence in the region including Northern Syria which could threaten Turkey’s security and lead to numerous “undesirable” results;
The development of an attitude that favours Assad and Iran in Syria;
The Iranian crisis and the policy that Turkey will pursue in this context.
In addition to the above, I also made the following determination: “Similarly, the “Russian intentions” which do not fit into sacks and the recent heavy weather regarding the cooperation in Syria once again submit the pragmatic approach. Especially, Idlib based developments indicate that Turkish-Russian relations will go through the hoop in the upcoming period.”
And the table we came across at this point is as follows: Turkey and Russia have a number of “current concerns” and “sensitive precautions” that they have to pay extra attention to and how to protect existing co-operation and how to move it to an advanced stage, as well as how they will react to the US demands. These topics have a structural dimension as well as conjunctural.
In particular, “common historical geography” and “inheritance” conceptions here bring the structural dimension into the forefront in terms of the parties. This is the equivalent of “wall of cautiousness” in the relations between Ankara and Moscow. It is not possible to go one step further unless the parties can overcome this wall.
Russia Faces a Second Aleppo Exam!
There is no doubt that the effects of other actors on Turkey-Russia have a rather significant place. Hence there is still a search for a future under the covert motive of the third actors. In such a case the relations are faltering in the “pit of uncertainty”.
The current address of this pit is Idlib. Indeed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the issue of Idlib would constitute the axis issue of the “Tehran Summit”, which forms the third pillar of Astana process of Iran, Turkey and Russia leaders, while Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu feels compelled to say, “the protection of the Idlib de-escalation zone is important in terms of combating terrorism in a humanitarian point of view.”
In fact, in terms of both actors, Iran seems to be the source of this concern. It seems that the Iran’s “clause” to sabotage the search for the Eurasian axis. Therefore, it is very important that Iran does not bury the Astana process in “Idlib pit” in Tehran.
How Effective Will Petro’s Testament Be at the Tehran Summit?
Of course, Russia’s attitude in Tehran summit will be quite decisive for the future of the Eurasian axis construction. Because, as mentioned above, historical skepticism and memory are still active. At least the following two questions are asked: “Where is the testament of the Great Petro in Turkish-Russian relations?” and “How will the Iran-related parts of this testament be decisive at the Tehran Summit?”
Since the developments have so far pointed out that Moscow tends to see Turkey as a part of the Eurasian axis, rather than as a partner. By contributing to the deepening of the crisis between Turkey and the West Russia, at the same time, tends to see Ankara as a “veto center” at the point of blocking the existing-possible operations of the West against itself until the last minute.
This shows us the following: Russia is in search of a “set construction” with Turkey reading the US pressure on Turkey as because of Iran, in a broader sense Astana process and “Eurasian axis”. The Americans called it the “outpost” during the Cold War. It can be either the “US/NATO’s Eastern wing” or “Russia/Eurasia’s Southern wing” …
So, more attention should be paid to the balance factor, historical memory and rationality in the process!