Russian Foreign Policy Expert Bordachev Praises Turkey’s Independent Foreign Policy, Urges Ankara Not To Back Down On Its Demands From Sweden And Finland Regarding The Kurds

 MESOP MIDEAST WATCH MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 10000


In an article titled “Erdogan Bets on Independence”, Timofei Bordachev, program director of the Valdai Discussion Club think tank, and a professor at the Higher School of Economics,  praised Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan for his independent foreign policy

that is guided by his country’s national interests. Bordachev acknowledges that Erdogan is a tough customer, who is massively supplying Ukraine with arms, but he is predictable and a modus vivendi can be worked out with him. In return, Turkey has not signed on to the anti-Russian sanctions regime, and Russian tourists and businessmen remain welcome in Turkey. Bordachev seeks to stiffen Turkey’s resolve to block quick acceptance of Sweden and Finland into NATO in the hope that Turkey’s demands on the two Scandinavian countries will prove an insurmountable obstacle to their joining the alliance.

Bordachev’s article follows below:

“In order to understand the nature of contemporary Russo-Turkish relations, it’s necessary to understand how rare a commodity in the contemporary world is a small or medium-sized country’s ability to make independent foreign policy decisions.

“Turkey under President Erdogan is by no means a convenient or easy partner. Furthermore, over the recent years there have been situations between Moscow and Ankara when military or diplomatic blood has been spilled. Each time we were able to stop on the verge of a clash, which was followed by an exchange of views between the leaders, and bilateral relations returned to a relatively stable path.  This will also be the case in the case of an emergence of a new private conflict. We should have no doubts that Ankara can create a pretext for it.

“But today’s Turkey is now one of those rare cases, in which we are sure that when are negotiating with that state, we are conducting a dialogue with a partner and not with a puppet, whose strings are pulled by a more powerful rival from across the ocean. Against the overall background, this is such an indisputable advantage that it makes it possible to figure the costs of [negotiating with such a partner] from a position of cold-blooded diplomacy. Or, as the head of the Russian state put it a couple of years ago, “it makes working not simply pleasant, but also reliable.” And this is not just about bilateral trade, although that matters as well.

“In fact, the essence of Turkey’s position in international politics is precisely in its independence. There are actually a few countries in the world that make decisions based on their own interests. As a rule, these are the major powers, and not all of them. China, India, a couple of Asian countries. Even Saudi Arabia, though it is behaving more and more confidently towards the US, acts with a careful eye toward Washington. In the former Soviet Union space, only Uzbekistan can pursue such a policy to the full extent, thanks to the partial autarky established during the first decades of independence.

“There are no such states in Latin America, and although Brazil is a member of BRICS, it still cannot seriously cross the US or even Europe. Under the pressure of military-strategic circumstances, as well as their own ambitions, even such developed states as Japan impeccably fulfills all Washington’s wishes.

“What is interesting, is that Turkey’s participation in NATO, is not, as we see, an obstacle to independent behavior. In fact, many in the US would like to get rid of such an ally. However, it’s not an easy thing to do. To formally banish the country from the bloc is a very difficult task, as it would deliver a blow to the bloc’s reputation, to the US’ ability to remain the leader of the most developed states, and would deprive NATO of Turkish bayonets in case of a really tragic turn of events in relations with China and Russia.

“Therefore, the US tolerates Turkey and its decisive leader relying on the hope that his departure [from the presidential office] will sooner or later return this country to the stable of Washington’s reliable allies. But whether such a comfortable situation for the US will be realized is entirely unknown. Turkey, as other countries, experiences a change of political generations, and the new leaders may be even more nationalist than Erdogan himself.”

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