By Martin Berger and cross-posted from New Eastern Outlook
It’s been announced that Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan will go to St. Petersburg to hold a personal meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin this Tuesday. According to Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, it will be the first personal meeting of the two leaders since November 2015 that will focus on the restoration of bilateral relations between Russia and Turkey that deteriorated rapidly after the downing of Russia’s Su-24 over Syria. It’s been reported that the two presidents will be holding talks with businessmen and may even discuss the compensation that Turkey will pay for the destruction of the Russian military aircraft.
Last time Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan met was in November 2015 at the G20 summit in the Turkish city of Antalya. Less than two weeks later the Turkish Air Force brought down a Russian bomber over Syria, which resulted in the diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries being frozen.
The importance of this meeting for Turkey is being stressed by the fact that Erdogan is going to leave Turkey to take this trip, in spite of the extremely complicated domestic situation that his country faces. This shows that Ankara is truly interested in the restoration of multi-dimensional partnership with Russia. It’s no wonder that the Foreign Policy would note that the St. Petersburg meeting is more than just another summit – it is the opening ceremony for a broader Turkish tilt toward Moscow. And it’s perfectly logical since Erdogan’s internal policies are making Ankara gravitate towards Moscow with an increasing speed.
Its been noted that for the past two weeks a steady parade of Turkish ministers have flown to Moscow to lay the groundwork – confirmation that the Turkish-Russian relationship, on ice for the past eight months, is headed for a summer thaw. The aftermath of the recent failed military coup, that was prepared by the CIA in a bid to put an end to Erdogan’s political career and, quite possibly, his life has pushed Turkey away from the West and toward Russia From the outset of the coup Putin offered his support for Erdogan, in contrast to Secretary of State John Kerry’s initial equivocations. Predictably, that contrast has only grown sharper over the past two weeks: while Russia has raised no objections to Erdogan’s attempt to locate Gulen’s supporters in the key government institutions, the West has regularly criticized his crackdowns, with Kerry even threatening Turkey’s membership in NATO.
The Week would note that while going forward, we should expect both countries to cooperate even more, while Turkey, a NATO member, will distance itself further from the West. In turn, L’Hebdo, the prominent Swiss media source, rests assured that the West has every reason to fear Putin’s meeting with Erdogan, while NATO states are riddled with anxiety, since there’s little doubt that the meeting of the two presidents will mark the final reconciliation step between Moscow and Ankara. The newspaper notes that Turkey is a pivotal NATO member that occupies a strategic position on the crossroads between the West, the Arab world, the Caucasus and Russia. The 315 thousand men strong Turkish army is the second largest in the alliance, and even if it seems disoriented today, Turkish government would gradually restore its control over this force…