The meeting that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin held with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Saint Petersburg has nearly attracted as much media attention as the Rio Olympics.
Erdogan arrived in Saint Petersburg during the afternoon hours of August 9, and the initial talks were immediately followed by negotiations with various ministers, along with a press conference, after which the two leaders met with the representatives of Russian and Turkish business circles.
The meeting had more than 200 members of the media present, crowding the massive press center provided to them. The Turkish media called it a “massive surprise” that Erdogan brought a number of ministers along with him, including Minister of Tourism and Culture of Turkey Nabi Avci, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Berat Albayrak, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock Faruk Çelik, as well as the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Mehmet Simsek. Erdogan was also accompanied by the head of the National intelligence Organization, Hakan Fidan, whose presence among the delegation was described by Turkish media sources as “truly unexpected.”
However, even before Erdogan’s plane touched down in Saint Petersburg, various media sources rushed to provide their assessment.
In Turkey, all newspapers and sites without exception emphasized the importance of this visit for the further development of the Turkish economy, which has suffered a massive blow since Russia introduced travel and trading restrictions in the aftermath of the downing of Russia’s Su-24 over Syria. Journalists have been expressing hopes for a stable union of the two states being reestablished along with greater cooperation in regional security matters, including the fight against terrorism, extremism and organized crime.
Certain analysts stressed the fact that the meeting between Erdogan and Putin is a new milestone in the struggle between the Atlantic and Eurasia. It is important not only in terms of the future of Turkish-Russian relations, but also in terms of reforming the international system, the formation of a new world focused on the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia. Those analysts are convinced that the West is terrified by the prospects of Turkey abandoning all cooperation with the US, the EU and NATO and becoming a part of another block of international players.
According to the German magazine Spiegel, what we’re witnessing is a stressful development for the West, since Erdogan has been criticizing Berlin, Vienna and Washington on a daily basis in the aftermath of the failed coup, all while speaking highly of Moscow, referring to Putin as “my dear friend Vladimir.”
The Turkish media source Haber7 has been vocal in criticizing NATO and its states. It would note that NATO is a bag of snakes, a gang of bandits created in the name of protecting Washington’s interests. The North Atlantic alliance has been used by the West to suppress the weaker states of Asia, Africa, South America, all in a bid to make obedient servants out of them. NATO is the main sponsor and mastermind behind revolutions and armed coups in Muslim countries and the countries of the third world. Haber7 notes that unless Turkey and the Islamic countries create their own defense organization, they would be unable to evade the pressure, the threats, and the meddling of NATO’s forces of evil. There is no Communist threat, no Soviet Union anymore, the media source argues, so what is the reason for NATO’s continued existence?
The change of Turkey’s standing in its relations with the West has been noted by Tayyip Erdogan in an interview with the French Le Monde. Turkey’s President noted that instead of solidarity with Turkey, and instead defending democratic principles, the West chose to abandon Ankara. He stated that Turkey is saddened by the fact that John Kerry arrived in Ankara 45 days after the failed coup, which indicates that Washington has abandoned its strategic ally.
The Financial Times, in turn, would stress the fact that a few hours after the visit of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,Joseph Dunford to Turkey, Erdogan made a particularly harsh statement that shocked the West, when he stated that there’s no way the US could be Turkey’s strategic partner, if it fails to extradite the man acting against Turkey’s interests (a reference to Fethullah Gülen).
The German Focus notes that the pact of friendship between Putin and Erdogan can seriously shift the balance of power in the world. Should Turkey side with Russia on all matters, the West will be crashed. German journalists note that the United States won’t be able to tolerate this fact. For instance, the Wall Street Journal notes that the restoration of bilateral relations between Turkey and Russia, take Erdogan and Putin further away from the West.
Following the talks, the two leaders adopted a number of decisions aimed at facilitating the development of bilateral relations, in particular on the preparation of a medium-term program of economic, scientific and technical cooperation until 2019. The construction of the first string of the “Turkish stream” pipeline may begin in the near future as well.
There’s no doubt that the meeting between Erdogan and Putin will bring the two states closer together, even though the West has been terrified by the possibility of this development all along. And the reason for that was short-sighted Western policy, pursuing confrontation along with the neglect Washington has shown to both Turkey and Russia.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”