Russian Intellectual Fyodor Lukyanov: After The Attempted Coup In Turkey, ‘The Kremlin Has Reason To Be Satisfied’

After the July 15 failed coup attempt in Turkey, Russian intellectual Fyodor Lukyanov[1] writes in an article, titled “People With Big Ambitions: What the Turkish Coup Means for Russia,” that Moscow has grounds for satisfaction with the current situation. Lukyanov believes that Turkish president Recep Erdogan now needs to find reliable foreign partners to support his regime. However, Erdogan’s “zigzag” policy has hardly gained him respect in any foreign capital, and Turkey might now regard Moscow as a possible strategic partner. Lukyanov writes that Turkey relations with the EU are worn down. The EU abandoned the idea of a common European home and if Turkey will reinstate the death penalty, as mooted after the failed coup, this would doom Turkey’s chances of joining the EU and force Ankara to leave the Council of Europe.

According to Lukyanov, the primary reason for the EU’s diminished desire to cooperate with Ankara is that the European countries never fully accepted Turkey as “one of their own.” Russia can sympathize with Turkey, as it  as well has been treated by Europe as a “barbarian at the gate” notwithstanding the common cultural and historical heritage. Lukyanov views Erdogan’s need for new allies, as an opportunity for a Turkey-Russia partnership, for offsetting and even reducing Western geopolitical influence. Lukyanov writes: “Europe is no longer the center of the world. Earlier, if Europe sneezed, the whole world caught cold. Now, however, three-fourths of humanity is simply uninterested in what ails these strange people with their oversized ambitions and diminishing ability to implement them properly.”

Below are excerpts from Lukyanov’s article:[2]

‘The Failed [Coup] Serves As A ‘Super-Vote’ Of Confidence For The Leader [Erdogan]’

“…During the past five years of changes in the region, Turkey has come into conflict with practically all of its key partners, gotten mired in Syria’s internal intrigues, confronted a sharp escalation of Kurdish dissatisfaction, and undermined its own economy that until then had enjoyed impressive growth.

“Turkish President Recep Erdogan apparently realized some time ago that the country was heading nowhere, and this is what prompted recent attempts at reconciliation with Russia and Israel. However, he needed a weightier pretext in order to extricate the country from the dead end into which he had driven it, and the attempted coup came as a strange but convenient gift in this regard.

“The failed attempt to overthrow the president serves as a ‘super-vote’ of confidence for the leader, blotting out his previous failures. He now has carte blanche to do what he had found so difficult to accomplish since the elections in June 2015. This primarily involves changing the constitution to transform Turkey into a presidential republic and entirely cleansing the state apparatus of disloyal or simply undesirable employees.

…”As for the Middle East, where Erdogan and his colleagues had taken steps toward reviving the Imperial Ottoman tradition, the new situation makes it possible to distance themselves from the disastrous results of that strategy.

“It is possible that in the prevailing circumstances, Turkey will try returning to the path it had been sounding out prior to its Middle East gambit. That is, involvement in the affairs of Eurasia, a general shift toward the East and closer relations with Russia. Back in 2013, when Erdogan was still Turkish prime minister, he suggested during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin that his country might join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The Russian president reacted with some surprise at the time, and Erdogan has yet to show any serious intentions on that account.

‘Russia And Turkey Are… Two Great Powers Connected … To A Europe That Never Fully Accepted Them As One Of Their Own’

“What does all of this mean for Moscow?

“If one overlooks Moscow’s unflattering rush to return Russian tourists to Turkey after Ankara promised to guarantee their safety, the Kremlin has reason to be satisfied with the current state of affairs. Even if Erdogan mounts a hardline response to the attempted coup, his regime remains weakened. Shoring up his base at home also requires finding reliable partners abroad, and Erdogan’s zigzagging will hardly win him respect in any foreign capitals.

“Ankara and Moscow can now resume important joint economic projects that were suspended after Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet in November last year. However, tensions surrounding the so-called Turkish Stream [pipeline] project have not diminished,[3] and worsening Turkish-EU relations will not increase Brussels’ desire to work with Ankara in such a sensitive area as the transit of strategic raw materials. At the same time, this might lend new importance to the Akkuyu nuclear power plant and Rosatom, having already invested money in the project, can now breathe a sigh of relief.[4]

“Despite their obvious differences and even antagonisms, Russia and Turkey are united by one thing — the fact that they are two great powers connected historically, culturally and geographically to a Europe that never fully accepted them as one of their own.

Full article: Russian Intellectual Fyodor Lukyanov: After The Attempted Coup In Turkey, ‘The Kremlin Has Reason To Be Satisfied’ (MEMRI)

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