Keep(ing) calm and carry(ing) on busi­ness? Turkey-Rus­sia re­la­tions, as seen from Turkey, By Lerna Yanık

Cur­rently, the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion and Turkey have an an­nual trade vol­ume of $33 bil­lion, Rus­sia sup­plies al­most two-thirds of Turkey’s nat­u­ral gas, there is a size­able Turk­ish ex­pat com­mu­nity in Rus­sia and Turkey is a top des­ti­na­tion for Rus­sian tourists.

Turkish Review - - CONTENTS - Lerna Yanık, “Keep(ing) calm and carry(ing) on busi­ness? Turkey-Rus­sia re­la­tions, as seen from Turkey,” Turk­ish Re­view 5, no. 5 (2015): 366-375.

Turkey is with­out ques­tion one of Rus­sia’s priv­i­leged part­ners. We have very good re­la­tions and they are de­vel­op­ing well. It is enough to say that 4 mil­lion Rus­sian tourists vis­ited Turkey last year. This is an im­pres­sive fig­ure. --Vladimir Putin, pres­i­dent of the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion2

The above re­marks made by Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin in Novem­ber 2014 used to sum up the cur­rent state of af­fairs be­tween Turkey and the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion -- un­til re­cently. The vol­ume of trade be­tween the two coun­tries has been around $30 to 33 bil­lion per year for the last three years; the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion sup­plies al­most two-thirds of Turkey’s nat­u­ral gas pur­chases; there is a size­able Turk­ish ex­pat com­mu­nity in Rus­sia; and Turkey has be­come one of the top des­ti­na­tions for Rus­sian tourists. What is more, most ob­servers con­cur that Putin’s and Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan’s lead­er­ship style -- “loud, proud and im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore,” as one Guardian op-ed3 suc­cinctly put it -- is also one of the fac­tors that bind Turkey and Rus­sia. Yet this does not mean that the two coun­tries agree on ev­ery is­sue. Leav­ing aside Putin’s re­marks about the Ar­me­nian geno­cide, made dur­ing Putin’s visit to Yere­van in April 2015, which dis­con­certed Turk­ish states­men, re­cently, the most im­por­tant dis­agree­ment be­tween Turkey and Rus­sia has been about how to han­dle the wars in Ukraine and Syria. Re­gard­ing the war in Ukraine, Turkey gen­er­ally dis­played a diplo­matic stance over the pro-Rus­sian re­bel­lion in east­ern Ukraine and Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of Crimea, but has re­cently started to voice its con­cern re­gard­ing the rights of Crimean Tatars.

How­ever, it ap­pears the dis­agree­ment over Syria will be more dif­fi­cult to han­dle: Turkey is adamant that no fu­ture for Syria in­volves Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad, while Rus­sia re­fuses to con­sider such an op­tion. Both coun­tries had man­aged not to air their dis­agree­ment over the fu­ture of Syria pub­licly, but with Rus­sia in­creas­ing its mil­i­tary pres­ence in this coun­try, it is be­com­ing more and more dif­fi­cult for Ankara and Moscow to hide their dis­agree­ment on this mat­ter.

Un­til re­cently, th­ese sore points in the realm of for­eign pol­icy seemed less likely to spillover into core mat­ters in the realm of eco­nom­ics. With the re­cent

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