By Alexander Rostovtsev – July 9 witnessed the inauguration of Recep Erdogan in Ankara, who won on June 24 in the presidential elections. On this occasion, solemn events are held throughout Turkey, and the ceremony itself is furnished with eastern splendor. The people were greeted by the presidential cortege that was moving towards the parliament building and sprinkled with flower petals.
The ceremony was attended by numerous foreign guests. The official delegation from Russia was headed by Prime Minister Medvedev. Press reports that the personal invitation of Erdogan was awarded to the leader of the LDPR faction in the State Duma, Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
The second presidential term of Erdogan is accompanied by serious changes in domestic and foreign policy. Simultaneously with the inauguration ceremony, Turkey moved from a parliamentary form of government to a presidential one.
According to news agencies Reuters and France-Presse, on the eve of the inauguration Erdogan conducted mass purges of civil servants. In resignation sent more than 18 thousand officials and administrative officers of different rank. The relevant decree was signed immediately after the victory of Erdogan in the presidential race.
More than half of the forced retirees are accounted for by the Turkish law enforcement agencies: the General Directorate of Security, the gendarmerie (internal troops), the judiciary and the military. Almost 200 academicians were also hit by the wave of purges.
According to the decree, all dismissed persons lose their benefits and are for life deprived of the right to work in state bodies. All these people are suspected of having links with “terrorist organizations and groups acting against the interests of Turkey’s national security.”
The Turkish press describes what is happening as “the government’s farewell step on the eve of self-dissolution”. As they said in such cases on television under Yeltsin, “the president strengthens the vertical of power.”
Recall that after an unsuccessful coup attempt in the summer of 2016, the Turkish leadership carried out large-scale purges, dismissing more than 130,000 civil servants and public sector employees, of whom 50,000 were arrested and brought to trial.
The established practice once again confirms that the policy taken by Erdogan to free Turkey from Ataturk’s political legacy, the prohibition for the army and special services to influence state policy and the transformation of the secular regime into an Islamic dictatorship is carried out rigorously.
The ritual, however, was observed at the inauguration: during the play the obligatory wreath was laid to the mausoleum of Ataturk by Erdogan.
After the inauguration in Turkey, the regime of emergency, introduced in July 2016, was abolished. What gives a special piquancy to what is happening: in most states during the emergency, any elections, even municipal elections, are banned.
Prospects for the development of Russian-Turkish relations with the start of Erdogan’s second term remain vaguely encouraging. Observers agree that at the moment the peak of warming is reached. We can say that the implementation of the Turkish flow, the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant and the contract for the delivery of the S-400 air defense complexes to the Turkish Armed Forces – three cherries on the cake of joint achievements and it is not yet clear what other equivalent cherries could be added to them.
Despite all the positive changes, Erdogan’s actions testify to the attempts of the Turkish leadership to involve the Russian factor in blackmail and pressure on Western partners in order to get rid of the most favorable conditions for cooperation. Best of all, this formula is confirmed by the scandal surrounding the delivery of the S-400 and the threat of Turkey in the event of the United States refusing to place the F-22, ordering fifth-generation combat aircraft in Russia.
Once again, washing the US would be tempting, but in such circumstances it is not possible to build a long-term strategy.
A typical example is Syria, where Turkey has become one of the active participants in the armed conflict. It is proved that Erdogan’s regime traded “in black” with IGIL, and still continues to provide military and financial assistance to its own militants. Under the murmur of changing statements, “Assad must leave” / “we do not insist on the departure of Assad”, Ankara fully supports the chemical provocation of militants in Syria, organized by Western special services.
Far to go is not necessary: in today’s news in the Russian language of the news agency Anadol flaunts a note “The Assad regime since the beginning of the year used cask bombs 2900 times.”
It would seem, why does Russia need all this Turkish tights? Erdogan does not intend to curtail the aggression in Syria, builds the TANAP gas pipeline on his territory, and we to him – and the most powerful gas pipeline, and nuclear power plants, and have no analogues of the world’s air defense systems. Is not that too much? After all, for sure, a citizen of the Sultan and his associates will twist and muddle, powder their brains, knock down energy prices, and demand that they share defense technologies.
It is obvious that Erdogan’s second term will not change Turkey’s position regarding the Crimea and Ukraine. The ruling circles of Turkey tirelessly emphasize that they do not recognize the Crimea as Russian, although Turkish business is given a green light to invest in the peninsula. On the other hand, Erdoğan at each opportunity censures Poroshenko with the assurances “Crimea-tsE Ukraine” and does not deny financial and political support to the Mejlis extremists.
In general, all this is expected. Most recently, Erdogan has achieved a discount from Gazprom for gas already consumed by Turkey. But you can not play with the nuclear power in games with discounts – there are much more stringent rules.
Russian air defense systems in Turkey also play into Russia’s favor, because they reinforce contradictions within NATO, destroy the US monopoly on the supply of similar systems to the allies, creating a gap in the unified standards of the bloc.
As for the TANAP gas pipeline, all Erdogan’s accusations of turbulence in “betraying Russia’s interests” are untenable. Erdogan never swore allegiance to Russia and acts in the interests of Turkey.
In addition, TANAP is not at all a competitor to the Turkish flow. Judge for yourself: the throughput of the constructed branch is 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. If there is a sudden hope for the construction of the second branch of the trans-Anatolian gas pipeline, which is doubtful, Azerbaijan is ready to increase pumping up to 16 billion cubic meters. And, the cost of the second branch is estimated at $ 10 billion.
For comparison: one branch of the “Turkish flow” with a capacity of 15.7 billion cubic meters per year has already been stretched to the Turkish coast. The second branch is carried out to the western border of Turkey and will be finally ready in the autumn. The amount of work for laying two branches is estimated at € 10 billion. Thus, adjusted for the difference between the dollar and euro rates, the two threads of the Turkish flow cost almost twice as much as one thread of TANAP. Unlike the Trans-Anatolian pipe, the infrastructure of the Russian-Turkish gas pipeline is designed for four branches, if necessary.
But that’s not all. Limitations on the volume of pumping TANAP are related to the difficulty of the second stage of development of the Azerbaijani Shah Deniz field. Gas production is slow and expensive. To fulfill its contractual obligations, from 2016 Azerbaijan again buys additional volumes of gas from Gazprom.
In this scenario, it will be difficult for Erdogan to bargain and bring down the price of gas. As a last resort, Russia still has Bulgaria, which is keen to bend the Russian gas pipeline to its shore.
Let’s not forget that the Kremlin also keeps Erdogan for tomatoes in the truest sense of the word. In early May this year at the talks in Sochi, Russia lifted almost all trade restrictions from Turkey, introduced after the crisis with the front-line bomber of the Russian Federation Air Force in Syria, shot down by the F-16 Turkish Air Force. And can enter again, if required.
In any case, a bad peace is better than a good quarrel. By and large, Russia has received a historic chance to greatly improve and strengthen relations with a long-standing historical opponent. The more ties are tied up today, the more difficult it will be to break them tomorrow, when relations between Turkey and the West are normalized. And there it will be seen.