TRABZON, Turkey – The Turkish naval base being built on the Black Sea coast will not be directed against Russia, but instead it could reinforce Russian-Turkish cooperation in that region, Turkish Navy Admiral Cem Gurdeniz said.
According to previous Turkish media reports, Turkey’s Ministry of Defense has begun building a new naval base on the Black Sea in the north-eastern province of Trabzon.
The infrastructure under construction will be Turkey’s ninth naval base. The country now has two naval bases in the Mediterranean Sea, two in the Aegean Sea, one in Golcuk, one in the Marmara Sea, one in Eregli on the Black Sea, one in Istanbul and one in Canakkale in the narrow Bosphorus and Dardanelles.
“The construction of the base in Trabzon has no connection, even minimal, to a hypothetical opposition to Russia. Our relations with Russia are now the best, possibly since the days of Ataturk,” said Gurdeniz.
Building this base is very important not only for Turkey but also for Russian-Turkish relations, because both countries have been conducting joint exercises in the Black Sea since 2004, and the emergence of a new base will support such cooperation, he said.
According to the Turkish admiral, the construction of the base of the Turkish Navy in the Black Sea is also not related to NATO.
“It is a necessity for the Turkish Navy that was already felt for many years. Such a project appeared even in times of the Cold War, when Russia and Turkey were in different camps,” he commented, adding that the lack of financial resources and other priorities prevented the project from being carried out.
However, this project had to be carried out sooner or later because in the Black Sea, where Turkey has the longest coastline, there is only one base in the west of the country, he said.
According to Gurdeniz, Turkey currently does not have in the eastern Black Sea base for patrolling and ensuring national security, there are only a few small boats and corvettes of the coast guard, which is unacceptable for a naval power like Turkey.
The admiral added that the construction of the base has no relation to the Russian-Ukrainian incident in Kerch, where three Ukrainian ships that violated the Russian border were detained. If Turkey intended to build a base taking into account the development of the situation in the region, it would have done so even ten years ago, after the armed conflict between Russia and Georgia in 2008, Gurdeniz explained.