Russia and Turkey: Besties Forever!

The Turkish government announced today that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will visit Russia on 9 August, an official state visit. at the highest levels of communication.  The announcement was made by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek thusly (translating from the Russian):

“I think I like you…”

“I think I like you back…”

“Mr. Ambassador has informed us, that our respected President just confirmed, that on the 9th (of August) he (=Erdoğan) will arrive in St. Petersburg (Russia).  Today we find ourselves in the situation where we must, as quickly and expeditiously as possible, normalize the situation and normalize relations (with Russia), which had been disrupted on the 24th of November 2015.”

Everybody knows the backstory:  How Turkey shot down a Russian jet over Syria, and the two nations had a terrible quarrel about it.  And then suddenly, things changed, and now it is time to be friends again.  Quoting Russian Deputy Premier Arkady Dvorkovich, who was tasked with putting together the high-level meeting and its agenda (a process which normally takes months to arrange and organize; so this is very rushed indeed):

“We [presumably he is referring to himself and his Turkish counterpart Şimşek] are meeting on the orders of our leaders for the purpose of setting up the agenda of the talks between Russia and Turkey.  It is necessary for us to establish a substantive foundation for the meeting…”

Russian tourists in Turkey

Obviously, like any neighbors who have had a falling out and are now willing to reconcile, Russia and Turkey have a lot of things to talk about.  Among the items on the agenda, a few are known already, for example, securing the safety of the skies for airline travel, as well as the safety of tourists.  This has been a big issue in the past.  Russian tourists crave to travel to Turkey,  yet do not want to be stranded and abandoned when they get there;  Turkey needs the tourist income; nor does either side want airline travel to become a highly dangerous risk.

Some Backstory, Without a Twist

Political reconciliation between Russia and Turkey began even before the failed coup attempt (July 15) against President Erdoğan.  Back on June 27 President Putin opened his mailbox and found a nice letter from Erdoğan, in which the latter apologized for shooting down the plane and killing the Russian pilot, Oleg Peshkov.  Erdoğan remembered to seal the letter with a little heart sticker, and even drew a little teardrop over the letter “I”.

Russia was angry about Peshkov’s death

Two days later Putin and Erdoğan spoke over the phone and agreed to try to normalize relations between the two countries.  The conversation was stilted at first.  There were some tears and some reproaches.  But then they remembered all the things they have in common, and how they both hate some of the other mean kids in the world.

And then a bunch of stuff happened, including the coup attempt in Turkey.  Erdoğan managed to somersault his way out of danger, and stuck his landing.   The Turkish leader then proceeded on an epic rampage against his enemies.  And in this short amount of time, the vengeful Sultan has removed more kebab than even Ratko Mladić ever dreamed of.

Erdoğan blames primarily the United States and NATO for trying to oust him.  Namely, in classic CIA fashion, using a mild-mannered cleric named Fethullah Gülen, as their catspaw.  Some people poo-poo this theory, they say Erdoğan is just being paranoid.  They believe that the conspiracy must go way deeper than this, circles within circles, and twists within twists, just like some Jason Bourne flic.

On the other hand, Erdoğan is probably right.  This was a reasonably straightforward CIA coup attempt.  These guys do this as a routine part of their daily job.  Okay, so they were just phoning it in this time around, and that’s why it failed.  But sometimes a cigar really is just a cigar.

The Rampage

This other piece in VZGLIAD provides some metrics of Erdoğan’s victory-lap rampage:

On Saturday Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım announced that “the number of people arrested in connection with the attempted military coup is 13,002 people.  This consists of 1,329 policemen; 8,831 soldiers; 2,100 judges; 689 prosecutors.”  [yalensis:  er… I added up these subtotals, and I only got 12,949 people, which leaves 53 people unaccounted for??].  Besides these arrested people, the Turkish Minister of Education announced the firing of 15,200 educational workers who are suspected of having something to do with the coup.  In addition, the Ministry called for dispatching into early retirement something like 1,577 Deans and Professor of State and private colleges.

Supreme Commander Akın Öztürk

This last bit, about the educational purges, reflects the presence, among the coup plotters, of spiritual guides from the Gülen movement, and probably also other radical Islamist groupings who were trying to stir things up.

Ankara has accused a General named Akın Öztürk of being the ringleader of the coup.  But says that the coup-makers were inspired by the ideology of Gülen.  Meanwhile, Gülen is holed up in safety in the U.S. and is highly dubious that he will be extradited back to Turkey.

Winners and Losers

In addition to the United States, which threw the dice and lost, another big loser here is Europe.  That second VZGLIAD piece which I linked, begins with a blistering blast directed by Turkey against the haughty Europeans.

This spat began when Europe (as embodied by Jean-Claude Juncker) emitted a stern warning to Ankara not to restore the death penalty.  See, the Europeans were worried about all this rampaging and how Ankara might put to death some of the coup plotters.  And Juncker warned the Turks that if they did, then they could say bye-bye to their aspirations to join Civilized Europe as an equal partner.

Çavuşoğlu: “Young Juncker, don’t you dare speak to me in that tone of voice!”

Turkey shot back angrily:  Here is Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu  during his interview on the TV channel Haberturk (translated from Russian):

“Europe is not Turkey’s master.  We will not permit Europe to speak with us in the language of threats, nor look down their nose at us.  If the EU has questions about this issue [of restoration of the death penalty], then we are prepared to discuss them.  Already half a century now, they have held us back, at the entry-way to Europe, even though we have always defended European values.

“We have fulfilled all their conditions for removing visa restrictions, we dotted every I and crossed every T.  But just look at how they behaved in the past few days.  Juncker said one thing in the morning, a different thing after lunch, still a different thing in the evening.  The EU representatives may speak with us, they are just not allowed to threaten us.”

So there!

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21 Responses to Russia and Turkey: Besties Forever!

  1. marknesop says:

    ‘h’s’ on the poos, please!!! Poo-poo is something brown and smelly found in diapers, while ‘pooh-pooh’ means to mock and deride.

    Poor Europe! It does not know how to speak to anyone any more, thanks to its strategic decision to crawl to Washington and do whatever the American president wants. Now it cannot make friends, and just reliably pisses people off with its inability to get over itself.

    Maybe Turkey has come to the realization that the EU is just stringing it along, and visa-free travel is not forthcoming at present or in the foreseeable future. But I’d bet Europe could reel them right back in if it just said the right things. I wouldn’t want Erdogan for an ally; it would be bad enough having him for an enemy.

    Like

  2. colliemum says:

    Well, the Turks still have a lot to learn about the EU, don’t they! The first lesson is, never ever listen to Juncker, who may be ok in the morning, but then succumbs to the evil that is drink. That’s why he’s generally known as M Druncker …
    Putin and Erdogan may well find a common basis on which to work out some sort of accommodation. The reason is that Putin has not and never will succumb to the obfuscation about ‘open borders’ and easy immigration, nor to the siren songs of allowing islamic immigrants to establish their own ghettos where sharia law applies. He’s had some pretty powerful words to say about that, IIRC.
    And Putin is not willing to let Soros-paid NGOs to drive his policies.
    With such clear demarcations, there’s no reason why Russia and Turkey should not find a basis for doing business.
    watching this unfold will be very interesting and instructive.

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      Perhaps Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was hinting at Juncker’s drinking habit when he made that crack about “saying one thing in the morning and another after lunch and another in the evening”.
      Probably Juncker starts early, with a couple elbow-benders during lunch, and then continues on throughout the rest of the day. By dinnertime he is completely pickled and should never issue decrees to the plebs after that point.

      Like

      • colliemum says:

        By dinner time he kisses all who are in the vicinity – like the heads of state attending an EU dinner. Yes, even Madame Merkel …

        Like

  3. yalensis says:

    P.S. – I thought everybody might be amused. I found 2 comments in my spambox this morning, from two different guys, proving just how valued my blogposts are out there in the world: Readers are finding “a beautiful value”, “sufficient for them”, and probably even some excellent content:

    Jim:
    I have been browsing online more than three hours nowadays,
    yet I never found any interesting article
    like yours. It’s lovely value sufficient for me. In my
    opinion, if all web owners and bloggers made just right content material as you did, the web will probably be a lot more useful
    than ever before.

    Frank:
    I have been surfing on-line more than three hours as of late, but I never discovered any
    interesting article like yours. It’s beautiful value
    sufficient for me. In my view, if all site owners and bloggers made excellent content as you probably did, the net will likely be much more helpful than ever before.

    Like

    • Jen says:

      They used the same template.

      Like

        • Jen says:

          They both say:
          a) they’ve been browsing / studying your blog for 3 hours
          b) they have never found an interesting article like this one
          c) the value of the “beautiful” article is sufficient for them
          d) the Internet would be more helpful if other bloggers and website owners had content like yours
          – in that order.

          Like

          • yalensis says:

            But Frank is more honest than Jim. When Frank says “you probably [made excellent content]”, that is almost an admission, that he didn’t read it, and and is just falling back on statistical probability!

            🙂

            Like

            • Jen says:

              I guess they could be like Abby and Brittany Hensel, the famous conjoined (Dicephalic parapagus) twins: two heads sharing the one body.

              Like

    • yalensis says:

      Wow! so, if the coup had succeeded, I reckon Gülen would be the figurehead, whereas General Campbell would be the actual Sultan of Turkey.
      I was about to ask, “And why would they do this?” when I saw the next headline following that piece:

      Turkey putschists promised a new military base to the US

      US would have had a military base near Turkey-Syria border, if coup had succeeded, according to a Junta – US military agreement

      It all makes a lot of sense now.
      I like it when things make sense!

      Like

      • colliemum says:

        What also makes sense in this context – always provided that this offer was made – is that the USA simply do not learn from past mistakes.
        From all i can make out, this Gülen person is a bit like a certain Ayatollah Khomeini, who had a huge number of followers in Iran while in exile. we all know what happened next …
        I an see the chances for a similar outcome in Turkey, else why is Erdogan so busy getting rid of Gülenites?
        The USA probably thought they’d get their own private Ayatollah Khomeini, and the Russians would be dissed and sent home once and for all, with a new military base thrown in full of things directed against Russia.
        No, they do not learn …
        The world is not as in their handbooks at the Pentagon and state department, not any longer.

        Like

        • yalensis says:

          “their own private Ayatollah Khomeini…”
          I like that phrase! It sounds like a necessary accessory which every self-respecing superpower should own.

          Like

        • Jen says:

          Except that the old Ayatollah never had a network of private schools, media outlets and pro-free market business associations operating throughout the world promoting his ideas and beliefs. As far as I know, Khomeini recorded his sermons on tape and sent the cassettes back home to his followers. Incidentally several if not most of his grandchildren disavow his views and they are among the leading handshakeable (as Lyttenburgh would say) political opposition folks in Iran.
          http://iranprimer.usip.org/blog/2013/may/29/khomeini%E2%80%99s-rebel-grandchildren

          Liked by 1 person

          • yalensis says:

            True. There is a key difference here. The U.S. supported the Shah, i.e., the existing regime. The Ayatollah was a genuine Opp. He was never supposed to come to power, but he did, against all odds.
            In Gülen’s case, it’s the other way around.

            Like

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