“We are aware of the responsibility that the trust of both parties places on us.” In a message posted on Sunday, March 27. on twitterTurkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is pleased to welcome new talks between Ukraine and Russia during the week. “We hope to achieve a lasting ceasefire and open the door to peace.”
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Russian and Ukrainian delegations are expected in Istanbul (Turkey) on Monday for a new session of face-to-face negotiations, which is due to begin on Tuesday, March 29. The choice made by the belligerents to turn to Turkey to try to find an agreement is not surprising. For several years, Ankara did develop cross interests with both Moscow and Kiev.
As a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since 1952, Turkey has for decades chosen to free itself from Western influence in a concert of nations. “Turkey believes that its membership in NATO in the post-Cold War world is no longer enough and that it must gain a foothold in the camp of the West while maintaining good relations with Russia, China and other countries.”explained at the beginning of the month, Mark Pierini, the former ambassador of the European Union to Turkey, on the air of France 24 TV channel.
To defend its independence from the American alliance, Turkey did not hesitate to turn to Moscow until it acquired Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems in 2017. A choice completely incompatible with the NATO system that offended Washington: “We are against Turkey testing this system, it could have serious consequences for our defense relations”annoyed the Pentagon in February 2020.
On the Syrian or Libyan issue, Moscow and Ankara sometimes strongly oppose each other. But that hasn’t stopped the two countries from moving closer economically: heavily dependent on Russian wheat, Turkey also imports 44% of its gas from Russia and has reached an agreement with Moscow to build its first nuclear power plant in the Mersin region, in the country’s south. Cross. Russians were also the first nationality to be represented among tourists visiting Turkey in 2021.
Turkey has also drawn closer to Ukraine over the years. Since 2019 President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky met at least five times, according to France 24. During the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Erdogan expressed his disagreement, highlighting in particular the presence of a large Turkic-speaking Tatar minority on the peninsula, France notes. Culture in April 2021.
These exchanges quickly developed into a military partnership: since 2019, Turkey began selling its Bayraktar TB2 combat drones to Ukraine, and then allowed Kiev to produce them on its territory. Used in the separatist region of Donbass since 2019, these 12-meter wingspan vehicles capable of carrying four missiles have successfully slowed down the advance of Russian troops since the beginning of the war, the newspaper notes. Cross.
“For Turkey, maintaining good relations with Ukraine was also a way to promote itself towards the European Union and NATO.”transcribed at the microphone of France Culture by Aurélien Denisot, a specialist in Turkey and a doctorate in political science and international relations, in early March.
From the very beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ankara tried to maintain a certain balance in relations with Kiev and Moscow. If he never stops screaming “Turkey’s support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine”Recep Tayyip Erdogan refrained from joining Western sanctions against Russia’s interests and also abstained in the Council of Europe during the vote to remove Russia, Turkish Anadolu news agency reported.
The owner of the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits connecting the Black and Mediterranean Seas, Turkey balanced its position by denying three Russian military installations access to these strategic points on February 27 and 28. “This does not have a serious impact on the strategic course of the operation, because the war in Ukraine is primarily on land, but Turkey wants to prevent a deepening of the war and wants to prevent any spread of this conflict to the sea.”still analyzed Aurelien Denisot about the culture of France.
More than a month after the invasion began, this skillful balancing act allowed Turkey not to be angry with either Kyiv or Moscow, and to be able to welcome the Russian and Ukrainian delegations to Istanbul for a new discussion session. But will this position be viable over time? “We are in the presence of a cautious country whose position illustrates its diplomatic line.analysis for France 24 Jean Marcou, professor at the Grenoble University of Sciences. The big question is whether the country can continue this policy of a big divide in this increasingly polarized world.“