Turkish mediation has helped eliminate any po" />

‘Türkiye strives for humanity in chaos between Russia and West’

Filed under: All News,more news,RECENT POSTS |

Turkish mediation has helped eliminate any potential negative outcomes of the Russia-Ukraine war in regional and global security, and this central position emphasizes the significance of Ankara’s foreign policy, expert argues

A woman embraces a Ukrainian prisoner of war after a swap, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine in an undisclosed location, Ukraine, Dec. 31, 2022. (Reuters Photo)
A woman embraces a Ukrainian prisoner of war after a swap, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine in an undisclosed location, Ukraine, Dec. 31, 2022. (Reuters Photo)

Despite an increasingly tense international political environment, Türkiye will remain a critical balancing act in the ongoing chaos between Russia and the West in the upcoming term, according to one Eurasia geopolitics expert.

As it always has since Moscow launched its military offensive into Ukraine last year, Türkiye has been promoting security, balance, stability, peace and humanity in all points of conflict surrounding its near region and its position as a central mediator will continue to do so, assistant professor Merve Suna Özcan of Kırıkkale University told Daily Sabah in an exclusive interview.

Thanks to its geopolitical position as a connection point along the Afro-Afrasia pipeline – that is the African-Asian-European region – Türkiye’s mediation between Russia and the West has helped eliminate any possible negative outcomes in regional and global security, Özcan contended.

Emphasizing the uniqueness of Turkish-Russian relations in a complex historical and political context, Özcan said: “Türkiye is directly affected by conflicts and wars in the Middle East where Türkiye and Russia have adopted contrasting policies, one of which is Syria, but they have still established common ground and cooperation.”

Most notably in the decadelong Syrian civil war, Ankara and Moscow have backed opposing sides, with the Kremlin helping Bashar Assad’s regime gain and preserve territory while Türkiye has supplied military and political support to his opposition.

Ankara has also sent troops to the north of its neighbor where terrorist groups like the PKK, its US-backed Syrian affiliate, the YPG, as well as Daesh, hold active hideouts from where they mount attacks on Türkiye and terrorize locals.

For Türkiye, ensuring absolute regional security against these radical groups is the most decisive policymaker, while Russia’s approach is to both preserve its superior position about the Syrian crisis and maintain its relations with Damascus, which date back to the Soviet era, Özcan explained.

While keeping dialogue running with the Kremlin, Ankara has also sold fighter jets and drones to Ukraine in its defense against Russian forces and repeatedly expressed support for Ukrainian territorial integrity.

“Yet efforts to find reconciliation within the chaos of the Ukraine war continue still,” Özcan said.

While Ankara is criticized for maintaining an economic relationship with Moscow, especially on the point of providing what Özcan called a “breather” against Western sanctions, Türkiye was among the first nations to host Russian-Ukrainian sides for talks when the war broke out in February 2022 and has been vocal in urging the warring sides to end the war through negotiations.

Turkish meditation has helped strike two prisoner swaps and most critically, the now-suspended Black Sea grain deal that effectively helped prevent a global food crisis since July 2022.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan too has since hosted Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Istanbul in July and Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled for a visit later this month.

This central position demonstrates Türkiye’s foreign policy is steadily one of balance and stability, especially regarding Moscow, Özcan pointed out. “Especially in the grain deal, Ankara has emphasized its humanitarian aspect in every step of the process.”

She believes Türkiye is also fulfilling its obligations as a NATO member and approaches its relations with Russia “evenly in all its sensitive aspects.”

“While forming a bridge between Russia and the West, Türkiye is also an actor Russia cooperates with. Obviously, the result of this situation is that Türkiye successfully maintains its international credit as a nation that acts in foreign policy with its own political decisions,” she said.

This independent foreign policy and outreach to points of conflict in its near region must be interpreted as Türkiye being a solution maker, Özcan said.

“It wouldn’t be wrong to argue, without Türkiye, widely different scenarios could unfold during this war,” she added.

As for whether Erdoğan and Putin’s close relationship, as well as Ankara’s cordial ties with Ukraine and its Western allies, were sustainable, Özcan implied that the balance Türkiye has struck in mediating international crises will likely keep current scales as they are in the upcoming period.

“While assuming a balancing role in this period, Türkiye has also shed light on points where the West comes short,” Özcan said, pointing to Ukraine’s NATO membership.

“It’s important that Erdoğan has expressed Ukraine deserves membership while the West has failed to take a concrete step. It’s also important that Türkiye has become a transit route for Russian energy into Europe, effectively mitigating the energy crisis in the continent.”

“As is seen, Türkiye’s central role is built on a reality where all sides win,” she concluded.