Erdogan, the president of Turkey, is taking on a new look as the conflict in Ukraine rages on. Since Turkey has allied with Western nations while also growing closer to Russia during this conflict, many experts are describing it as a two-sided game by Turkey. Turkey has stepped up its economic cooperation with Russia and has never backed a Western move to impose sanctions on that country. It serves Erdogan’s interests.
Turkey’s President has played the Russia card in his contacts with the US and the West. However, he has also played the Western card in his interactions with Russia. Some commentators believe that Turkey could benefit politically and economically from this two-pronged approach. Erdogan has reiterated his role as mediator in the Russia-Ukraine crisis and claimed to have adopted a policy of “balancing” during the battle.
According to political analyst Karim Haas, who spoke to the BBC, Erdogan enjoys both power and money. The president of Turkey, who has been in power for the past 20 years, has lost popularity in the last year, and one of the main reasons for this decline is Turkey’s worsening economic crisis. The lira, Turkey’s currency, has lost more than half its value in the last year, while inflation has risen to more than 80% nationwide. A presidential election with a 20-year delay is scheduled for June 2023, despite the country’s dire economic situation. The continuation of Erdogan’s authority may be jeopardised by those in power.
Erdogan “needs economic and financial backing and investment from other countries” before the presidential elections, says Karim Haas. Russia needs a partner who can reduce the impact of international sanctions while allowing it to sell goods on the world market. Karim Haas says Turkey sees this as an opportunity.
Turkey is a hub for Russian trade and logistics and a player in Russia’s economic relations with the West. As a result of international economic sanctions, many Western businesses see Istanbul as a new logistics hub from which to operate in Russia. Many Russian businessmen who deal with Western nations moved to Turkey to avoid international sanctions. “Every day, a Turkish-owned company enters the Russian market to replace Western companies wary of doing business with Russia,” he adds.
Turkey’s exports to Russia grew 75% between July 2021 and 2022, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute. Erdogan and Putin agreed to increase trade to $100 billion at a summit in Sochi (Russia) in early August. Russia supplies about half of Turkey’s gas. Even before the Russia-Ukraine war, more Russians travelled to Turkey. More than 2.1 million Russians visited Turkey in the first seven months of 2021, a 41% increase from the previous year.
The attention Turkey receives on the world stage is another significant benefit of the dispute between Russia and the West. The talks between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Istanbul in March and the grain agreement in July serve as two good examples. It is crucial for the United States, European Union, and the United Kingdom that the negotiations take place in Istanbul and not through Belarus, Kazakhstan, or any other country in the region.
“’اقتدار اور پیسے کی خواہش‘: صدر اردوغان یوکرین تنازع سے کیسے فائدہ اٹھا رہے ہیں؟ – BBC News اردو.” BBC News اردو, www.bbc.com/urdu/world-62933167. Accessed 16 Sept. 2022.