Five Minutes of Common Sense: Can Russia still use Erdogan and Turkish Stream?


July 28, 2016 – 

Ruslan Ostashko, PolitRussia – 

Translated by J. Arnoldski

On August 9th, the presidents of Russia and Turkey will meet in St. Petersburg. They will discuss bilateral relations and, of course, the “Turkish Steam” which has found its way back on to the agenda, along with Erdogan’s apologetic letter. Let’s figure out whether or not we need Turkish Steam now and whether it is worth engaging in similar projects with the Turkish President.

In my opinion, we clearly need this project and we have to work with Erdogan simple because it is beneficial for us. Turkish Stream will help achieve several important strategic objectives. 

First of all, Turkish Stream will allow us to finally destroy the value of Ukrainian gas transit. This will lead to the termination of the yearly blackmail which Kiev engages in. And, if necessary, it will allow us to shut off gas to Ukraine without violating our obligations to European customers.

Secondly, the appearance of a project with an alternative gas pipeline will force Germany to actively promote the Nord Stream 2 project and forcefully lobby its approval through the European Commission. Merkel has already recognized that Nord Stream 2 is a purely economic project and that German business will not forgive her if Germany misses this opportunity to become a major gas distributor in the EU. 

And now a few words about Erdogan’s role. Yes, he is an immoral, bloody dictator, traitor, nationalist, and Islamist. But there are no angels in politics and Turkey’s president could serve as an effective tool for influencing the EU. In his relations with Europe, Erdogan has a wonderful trump card: he can once again send a flood of refugees to the EU which would be a real nightmare for European leaders, especially following the series of terrorist attacks in Germany.

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However, there is no benefit for Ankara in this and Erdogan cannot get any tangible bonuses for blackmail. Sure, he’s been promised billion of euros, but the Europeans have almost immediately ditched him and, what’s more, demanded control over spending. The Turkish leader clearly doesn’t need this. He was counting on the acceleration of negotiations on Turkey’s membership in the EU or at least a visa-free regime. But now it is clear that the EU will never go for this.

In thesw circumstances, Turkish Stream is manna from heaven for Erdogan.

Firstly, Turkey will significantly strengthen its influence on the South of the EU and its position in negotiations with the EU as a whole following the realization of this project.

Secondly, Turkey will draw closer to its coveted role of being a regional gas distributor and will draw in revenue from transit for many years to come. 

And, most importantly, Turkish Stream will be a wonderful tool for restoring relations with Russia.

Erdogan will get all of these bonuses if he can force the European Commission to give a green light to the pipeline. Erdogan’s decision will be able to be judged after his meeting with Putin. He has tools for blackmailing the EU and relations with the Americans, who are against the pipeline, are already so corrupted that the Turkish leader has all the chances of achieving a launch of Turkish Stream. 

This does not mean that we will forgive him for everything. But this does mean that it is worth protecting him from new coup attempts. Emotions aside! We must remember national interests above all else. 

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