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Analytics 2016
Russia-Turkey: before time rapprochement

Russia-Turkey: before time rapprochement

2016 June 01 ( Thursday )  23:23:05
Русский Azərbaycan

It can be said that a high level of confrontation in the official Russian-Turkish relations has been reduced a little after the statement of Russian President Vladimir Putin on desire to resume relations with Turkey. It is noteworthy that the Russian leader made the statement on May 27 in Athens, during his visit to Greece which has more long strenuous agenda with Turkey.

Putin sees the condition for the resumption of relations in public recognition by Ankara the guilt for the downed bomber Su-24 by Turkish fighter. However, this statement should not be regarded as the start of a rapid rapprochement. This is evidenced by the negative reaction of the press-secretary Dmitry Peskov to the response of Ankara's initiative to establish a bilateral working group on the normalization of relations between the two capitals.

But it would be wrong to bind the normalization of relations to certain apology to the Turkish side. Such an apology would be just a countdown towards the restoration of the status quo before the November 24, 2015, when a Russian bomber was shot down. This is due to the fact that the tragic fact cannot be regarded as the cause of reducing the level of interstate relations. Perhaps, this event can be regarded as the category of reasons. Judging by the behavior of both parties (radical insistence on apologies and a refusal of admission of guilt) and the processes taking place in both countries, Ankara and Moscow had their own interests in the escalation of tensions. Strategic moment in this sense for both countries is to consolidate the nation and keeping stability under the context of the current severe economic crisis, which revealed itself in 2014. There are also other related issues of regional   character, as well as conducting institutional reforms in anticipation of the next economic growth.

Economy of relations

The latest not optimistic data on the economies of Russia and Turkey do not promise restoration of relations in full. Neither Moscow, nor Ankara is ready for this from the economic point of view, and it is also important to from the point of view of unresolved domestic crisis problems.

Stabilization and normalization of relations can take place only in lifting the economies of both countries and the establishment of internal stability, undermined by an unprecedented post-Soviet economic crisis in Russia, and a serious decline in the Turkish economy for the first time since Erdogan's coming to power in the early 2000s.

The fact that bilateral economic relations have become a victim of shot downed Russian aircraft  should be regarded as misinformation. Statistical data show that indices of the two countries began to deteriorate sharply in 2014 due to the sharp economic downturn and reduce  of solvency of the population. The volume of turnover of goods and services in the Russian-Turkish economic relations in 2014 amounted to almost $ 44 billion, and already the first 9 months of 2015, i.e. before the incident with the plane,  just $18.1 billion. Of these, $15 billion is a Russian export. At the end of the year this figure rose to $ 23 billion.  Traditionally the Russian export  from year to year exceeded  the Turkish imports by 4 times. So the claim that  for the downed aircraft Moscow donated billions,  especially at a time when the Russian industry is in dire need of markets,  is not true. There is another problem,  the  crisis Turkish economy has reduced the need for imports of manufactured goods, which Russia has supplied. In 2016, according to the  forecasts  of the Russian Economic Development Ministry, the turnover should be reduced at least by  $800 million.

Such a situation  has led to a reduction of participation of Turkish companies in projects in Russia, reduce the need for Turkish goods and services. It was the same in the opposite direction and this is a good example of Russian tourism in Turkey. In the tourist season, prior to November 24, the number of Russian tourists in Turkey has decreased by more than 30%, and according to travel companies, by half. And this trend concerned not only the Turkish direction. According to the Federal Tourism Agency, in the first quarter of 2016  travel of Russian tourists across the board reduced by 40%, including such low cost destinations as Thailand, India. This is an indicator of the critical state of the economy and the continuing decline in living standards of Russians. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April revised in the direction of further deterioration  the forecast for the Russian economy in 2016-2017. In 2016, according to the experts of the IMF, Russia's GDP will  reduce by 1.8%, and will show moderate growth in the range of 0.8% in 2017.

Inadequate rating

Theoretically, such a situation could cause large-scale protests across the country, but that did not happen, and Putin's popularity rating rose  to 90%, which is inadequate under the crisis reality. In previous analyzes of such inadequate reaction of Russian society to the economic crisis,  Turan agency noted that in order to maintain the internal stability  the Kremlin has consistently used in the crisis years  the images of the external enemy and a threat to the Russian state. It was in the years 1998-2001 - the economic crisis, the Second Chechen War, 2008-2009, - the Georgian crisis and the war, 2013 – up to date  - a crisis, and Ukraine, Syria, Turkey.

By means of a powerful propaganda  the Russian  leadership managed to misinform the public, to distract it from domestic problems, mentally consolidate imperial society and those who express the so-called Kremlin's imperial policy, which ensured internal stability during the crisis period.

Turan predicted  that after the intervention in the internal affairs of Ukraine, resulted in the Crimea’s  annexation and establishment of control over the Donbas, the Kremlin will have to look for the next object of attack if the West does not provide the necessary financial assistance to Russia. It is noteworthy that at the time  Belarus, Kazakhstan, the leaders of Azerbaijan, concerned about the actions of Russia in Ukraine and the possible further extension of the range of Russian expansion expressed their concern.

However, Moscow has chosen the Syrian and then the Turkish direction. In the first case, it demonstrated military power, and in the second case the status of power. That was enough to maintain social stability at an unprecedented fall of the economy and living standards.

American interest

The Russian military presence in Syria, in turn, could not be secured without the consent of the United States, which plays a leading role in the Middle East region and in the Syrian conflict.  The US  is playing up to Putin's policies, in particular because of the stable are interested in Russia and Russian institutional reforms that the Kremlin deploys and conducts in a three-fold drop in oil prices. This is evidenced by at least the fact that no Russian aircraft was shot down over the skies of Syria during operations, despite the fact that the LIH has huge financial opportunities for the acquisition of weapons capable of causing at least some damage to the Russian aircraft in the air.

Domestic problems in Turkey

Turkey  started confrontation with Russia after years of non-interference in the armed conflicts in the region, including Iraq and Syria, while the economic situation was favorable to the government of Erdogan, after he came to power in 2002, and brought the country to the leaders of  economic growth after several years of deep downturn.  Just like Russia, Turkey began to feel sustained crisis in 2013 and the threat of growing dissent with undesirable and difficult consequences. In June 2015 the ruling party for the first time since coming to power lost an election that presaged the deepening crisis and growing ochlocratic processes in the society, strengthening of Kurdish separatism and external intervention. Involvement of Turkey in the military and humanitarian operations in Syria and the deployment of large-scale anti-terrorist operation against the Kurdistan Workers Party, led to the consolidation of power and the opposition, relegating to second place serious economic problems. As a result, the ruling party won the snap parliamentary elections in November last year.

Anticipation of the throw

The relations between  Russia and Turkey  are not at the stage of stabilization, it is too early to expect progress towards rapprochement between the two countries. Experts  state that the signs of economic stabilization  will appear  not  earlier that  2017, and  growth  - in the second half of the same year. At this time can begin restoration  of  confidence and friendly status, which can be considered as preparatory. Russian consumer market will begin a marked revival in 2018 that will require the growth of goods and services, including Turkish. The same  is true for the  Turkish market. Both processes are directly linked with the world economy, the general recovery which is expected in a couple of years. By this time,  leaving the international arena  by LIH should come  to an end, and will start  calming of the Syrian and the Iraqi conflict. All of this opens a wide scope for the development of Russian-Turkish relations,  exceeding the scope preceding November 24, 2015. In September 2015 at a meeting with Erdogan, Putin said that the sides decided to increase trade turnover between Turkey and Russia to $100 billion by 2023.

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Turan Analytical Service

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