2019-02-19

Local elections in Turkey: nationalists brace for takeover of state resources


Turkish political parties are in full swing implementing their perspective strategies for the upcoming March 31 local elections. The most pressing issue on the agenda of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is to keep an agreement with its allies in the People’s Alliance, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on candidates for mayors and heads of municipalities and make sure this marriage of interests doesn't limit Erdoğan's grip on power. The growing wave of discontent among the electorate forces the ruling party to take urgent and extraordinary measures, making further dealings with the Turkish nationalists increasingly complicated.

Difficult negotiations between the conservative Islamist AKP and the nationalist MHP on the content of the candidates lists and the development of a joint programme in a number of large cities revealed significant problems for the Turkish ruling elites. No wonder why local elections are of such great importance  for the AKP: control over municipalities in large cities, where more than 77% of the Turkish population live, means direct access to budget funds that are vital to maintain the distribution system of contracts among party supporters in local businesses and ensure a network of loyal voters. In addition, the March municipal elections will seal completion the country's transition to a presidential system of government, and the results will be an indicator of popular support for the course of the ruling party on the local level.

The success of Erdoğan’s party in the past five years ago municipal elections was leveled over time by the economic turmoil in Turkey, especially because of the debt crisis, and the fall of the lira this year, which significantly hit the pockets of citizens accustomed to welfare growth. Instead of nominating candidates with a program to solve problems that really concern citizens, such as traffic in big metropolises, illegal construction and rising inflation on basic goods, Turkish authorities deliberately turn municipal elections into voting for certain strains of ideologies further driving Turkish society in depressing polarization. It is not surprising, therefore, to see how the authorities are trying to use foreign policy, especially the problem of terrorism in the region, in order to shift the attention of citizens from the more pressing problems of unemployment and rising food prices to problem of "national survival" and foreign power's plots to divide the country.

Another source of problems for the authorities is the fall in support of the ruling party itself. If the president himself still manages to retain the image of a politician who is able to defend the interests of ordinary citizens both in the face of internal enemies and outside, his party is not in its best condition nowadays. In the rays of the national leader, it is difficult to find, couch and nominate charismatic candidates from the ruling party who really would be able stand to opposition and to win hearts and minds of broader layers of Turkish society rather than AKP's core voters. The image of the ruling party’s image among the conservative and national electorate was damaged by the course of flirting with its former political ally, Fethullah Gülen, whom official Ankara is now blaming of organization of a coup attempt in July 2016 which left more than 200 people dead. Past attempts to strike a deal within the democratic opening with Kurdish political activists, and indirectly with the terrorist organization PKK, or intervention in Syria and the subsequent influx of Arab refugees, - drives many voters away from voting for Erdoğan's nominees as well. 

A series of unsuccessful decisions over time began to have an cumulative effect on the AKP's image. A growing wave of discontent among its own voters is forcing the party leadership to take urgent and extraordinary measures. On the one hand, under the slogan of updating the local leadership, the Erdoğan party since May 2017, following an unsatisfactory victory at the referendum on the draft of the new constitution, replaced several popularly elected mayors of large cities, a clear sign of aversion from its long-preached commitment and respect for popular will. The principle of respect for the will of the people was subject to considerations of the long-term survival of the party, as the opposition parties have been stressing for some time now. However, the most important turn of the last two years was decision of the AKP to work closely with the nationalist party of Devlet Bahçeli.

The party of the nationalist movement is rapidly gaining popularity due to its integrity, emphasis on strong statehood, national identity and independence of Turkey and the decisive struggle against Kurdish separatism in the region. Thus, ideology of the MHP satisfies the growing public demand for conservatism without religious fanaticism, a strong unitary state and the rejection of foreign policy adventurism while maintaining a strong position on protecting the national borders of the country in tumultuous times.

The origins of such popular demands are rooted in the failure of official conservative policy of Erdogan in a number of critical issues for Turkey. Examples of such failures include the crisis of the model of citizenship promoted by Erdogan on the basis of religious Muslim identity, and crisis of the “Islamist” project of statehood in the region as a whole. The stagnation of Ankara’s relations with Western countries, the constant maneuvering of the Turkish president from crisis to crisis, during which the actions of the Turkish leader are increasingly at odds with its rhetoric - all this does not remain unnoticed by the Turkish populace.

Given not very optimistic predictions about the chances of the Turkish opposition to somehow shake the power of the AKP in major metropolises, we can say that the main winner will be the nationalist party of Bahçeli. Moving in the forward of official propaganda, the nationalists avoided the fate of the opposition and were not branded by Erdogan as "enemies of the people" and "instruments of external influence" curb'ng for themselves a secure room for political maneuvering.

Moreover, after gaining control over urban areas and municipalities of large cities, the party and network of its supporters will get access to more budget funds. In the medium term, totality of the growing political influence of the Nationalist Action Party, expanding presence of party supporters in the bureaucracy, judiciary, police and the Turkish army, could spur the process of turning the country “to the nationalist right”. The conflict between the two parties will be restrained by the common interest - to maintain a strong state influence in the political sphere of the country, especially in matters of national security and countering "internal enemies". This, however, is doomed to change as well, as no political alliances in Turkey last too long these days.

Further readings:


2019-02-15

Why Russia could agree with another Turkish operation in northern Syria?


When Trump announced his plans in late December to withdraw the US troops from the Northern Syria, Russian officials must have noticed the enthusiasm of their Turkish counterparts about the news. Now, several weeks later, although the US military and political establishment diverted from Trump’s initial plans on the withdrawal, the move is still viewed as a good opportunity by Ankara to further expand its influence in the neighbouring Syria and tackle its own security issues.

It is no secret that Turkey’s Syrian policy in the last year heavily tilted in favour of Russian diplomatic lead. This also means that before entering northern Syria, Turkey would need to take the endorsement of all major stake holders to the conflict, including Russia. Despite all the potential benefits that Turkey-proposed security zone may bring to the Russian-led settlement process, Putin seems to be unsatisfied with the Turkish insistence to follow the plan. Russian leader has neither full trust in Turkey`s real intentions nor is he comfortable with the possibility of a Turkish-American protectorate in Syria.

Since the beginning of Astana process in January 2017, Russia has been evaluating Turkish actions in Syria according to the terms of agreements, negotiated and endorsed by all guarantor states, including Turkey itself. Turkey`s stand for a military operation seems to be more understandable by Russia as a necessary measure to confront threats from PYD. In that regard, Turkey comes off confident and determined to solve its issue with PYD militarily: Syrian Kurdish forces are bound to become an easy target once the US carries out the withdrawal and limits their security guarantees to their allies.

However, according to the accords mutually agreed with Russia, Ankara is obliged to solve its security concerns in Syria through a closer dialogue with Moscow and also indirectly with Damascus. Such consultations would ensure no parties explicitly violate Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is why Turkey found it necessary to consult with Russia upon receiving the news on the US withdrawal.

One can see that Russia today neither can afford nor be willing to alienate Turkey, an integral part of the Astana mechanism. First of all, cooperation of Turkey allowed Russia to successfully reduce number of opposition-held territories in Syria. Dialogue over Idlib and arrangements between guarantor-states allowed Russia to stabilize the conflict within a single enclave, putting opposition under unfavourable conditions and channel the armed conflict into political competition. 

Secondly, sincere support from Turkey to the work on constitutional committee contributed to Russian plans to bring about the solution with the terms of Astana and Sochi agreements. Finally, Turkey seems to become a primary delivery route for materials necessary for reconstruction and rebuilding of Syria.

Potentially, Turkish military operation may play a positive role in Russian long-term plans in Syria. A limited operation may be further linked to the situation in Idlib where Turkey has so far failed to constrain terrorists from violating the Sochi agreement. Due to its limited resources, Turkey will have to invite Syrian and Russian forces for assistance.

As a result of a Turkish operation Syrian border will be in control of a state which enjoys good relations with Russia, rather than in control of non-state organizations neither with legitimacy nor demonstrating adequate level of predictability stemming from organizational structure. Diplomatic relations with Turkey would guarantee that Russia indirectly controls situation along the Syrian-Turkish border. 

Operation will eventually impose pressure on the Syrian Kurds into tailoring of their demands. Renewed activity of alternative Kurdish factions in northern Syria would be another contributing factor that would facilitate PYD’s uneasy dialogue with Damascus and further reinforce positions of the central government within reconciliation process in general.

In midterm perspective Turkish control over border regions in northern Syria may extend terms of Astana agreements to new territories limited with the Euphrates river.

Finally, Russia may allow Turkey to enter Syria to further strain the relations between Turkish political leadership and the US military and foreign policy establishment. Turkey will obviously attack the Syrian Kurds, which is a clear violation of US demands to withhold from any attacks against their Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS.

It is, however, important to note that limited Turkish operation in northern Syria will be of great utility to the Russian perspective only if two crucial conditions are dully met. 

First, Turkey should promise that invasion into Syria should be limited in scope and in goals. Destabilization of security situation along the Turkish border would be detrimental to internal security in Turkey. Destabilization would require Turkish leadership to request NATO for a military assistance in Ankara’s fight against terrorist organizations. 

Secondly, Turkey should ensure Russian counterparts that military operation will not evolve into any attempts to create a separate political entity filled with anti-Assad forces. In other words, Turkish initiative against terrorists should be carried out within the Astana de-escalation agreements with their emphasis on Syrian sovereignty.

The fact that Putin evoked Adana agreement, signed by Turkey and Syrian in 1998 and partially renewed by AKP government and Assad in 2011, means that Russia wants to hold Turkey within the framework of cooperation developed by the Astana and Sochi agreements. On the other hand, Putin’s emphasis on a cooperation between Turkey and Syria may be due to his concerns over Erdogan’s statements about possible cooperation between Turkey and US in the to-be-liberated territories. Without a doubt, the latter would mean a clear violation of the Astana spirit.

So far, Russian government has been trying to follow a pragmatic line. Russia declined to openly endorse or oppose Turkish plans for a military cooperation. On the other hand, Russia underlined that Damascus should be a primary interlocuter if Ankara wants to solve its security problems. In other words, every time Putin meets Erdogan, he hopes to find some hints of pragmatism that would contribute to stabilization of the Syrian conflict.

Further reading:


2019-02-08

Why Turkey blocks Russian oil tankers in the Straits?

By Sofia Sachivko

Around 55 Russian vessels, including 21 suezmax-class tankers and 26 aframax-class tankers, were stopped near the Turkish Straits, Bosphorus and Dardanelles. Most of them were transporting Russian and Kazakh oil. According to Interfax, citing data from the port operator Tribeca Shipping, there were 51 tankers on Tuesday. The ships, trapped in a kind of traffic jam, were transporting around 41 million barrels of oil destined for clients in Europe and Asia. The first reports of delays appeared in late January. Instead of the usual 5–6 days, tankers were forced to wait 16–17 days to pass to the Mediterranean Sea, and about two weeks to go to Black Sea.

Among the reasons for the current situation were named new, more stringent rules recently introduced by Turkey for the passage of vessels through the straits, which require mandatory participation in the towing of the tug. Tension creates and unfavorable weather in the region.

“If the situation with delays continues or aggravates, refineries in the Mediterranean will very soon begin to feel a shortage of raw materials,” said James Davis, director of consulting company Facts Global Energy . However, in his opinion, work on solving the problem is underway.

The Bosphorus and the Dardanelles are key points in the transit of cargo from the Black Sea ports, in particular, for the export of oil from Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Every year more than 120 million tons of oil and oil products are transported through them.

The status of the Turkish Straits is regulated by the Montreux Convention, which recognizes Turkish sovereignty over them. According to the international treaty, merchant ships of all countries are free to pass through the Straits, while restrictions are set for the military vessels alone. In this case, in the event of hostilities, Turkey may prohibit the passage of ships through the Straits.

Rustam Tankayev , General Director of CJSC Infotek-Terminal, a leading expert of the Union of Oil and Gas Industrialists of Russia, believes that there are many reasons for this delay, but this is unlikely to be seriously affected by the situation with Europe. "Oil supplies to European refineries come from all possible directions. The Black Sea direction is important, but far from the most important. There are other directions. Deficits, in particular, gasoline in Europe will not occur. But as for delays of 16 days, this is a very expensive thing. A simple tanker is not just a waste of time, it is a loss of money, because you have to pay for freight". Tankayev thinks that there will not be any problems with the supply of oil and gasoline, most likely, but it can affect the prices and lead to their raise.

Dmitry Abzalov, Vice-President of the Center for Strategic Communications, is not inclined to see malicious intent in what is happening, especially since not only Russian companies are working through the Novorossiysk port, overwhich Turkey hardly wants to quarrel. The expert also recalled that the recent negotiations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were relatively unagitated and calm. 

"It is quite possible that this is an attempt to strengthen the position before the meeting, which will be held next Thursday (February 14 - ed.) in Sochi, where they will discuss Syria. Although, as practice shows, Erdoğan usually uses another tools. For example, restriction of access (for Russian companies) to the Turkish market, which is easier to limit on sanitary grounds and easier to open. In addition, it would be easier to limit the passage of warships. Although this process is governed by the Montreux Doctrine, in reality, for example, the question of its interpretation is on the side of the country through which the straits pass. There are many other tools.

Finally, Erdogan is not interested in seriously destabilizing Russian-Turkish relations. Moscow is actively building the Turkish Stream, the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, so against this background it would be rather strange to create problems with transshipment. Most likely, there was no specific intent here. Moreover, it is somewhat difficult to complicate the passage of tankers precisely on a national basis, since they line up consistently. It is not clear then why priority is given to one or another tanker?

In addition, I remind you that at one time it was precisely problems with traffic through the Straits that led to negotiations on the creation of alternative routes. We are talking, for example, about the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, which was supposed to bypass the Turkish straits from Bulgaria and end in Greece. The problems that may arise from Turkey because of these Straits may move this process".

There are fears that this situation could lead to problems with raw materials at European refineries. Will this lead to a shortage of fuel in the European market?

Abzalov thinks that this is unlikely: "As part of the energy goes directly through pipelines. The Caspian Pipeline Consortium, of course, works with the European Union, but usually quite good reserves. Finally, there are alternative energy supplies, additional volumes can always be purchased from other destinations, for example, from North Africa.

Now, if there are problems with the Libyan supplies, which will be imposed problems with supplies from the Black Sea basin, this may cause some complications and difficulties. But, as practice shows, this will not lead to fundamental problems, if only because there are alternative points of energy supply. Plus, oil is not going up in the spot market yet. If there was a fundamental problem with the straits, then we would see 65 oil. There would be some kind of increase. So far, nothing indicates this.

Finally, warm weather is an important factor. If it were colder, as in previous seasons, energy consumption would increase. It is about gas and oil. The weather is mild, and the flow rate does not increase much. So there is no reason for fear yet. In the long run, the deficit is not visible".

Further reading:


2019-02-06

Greece seeks Turkey's favor over Turkish Stream pipelines to Europe

By www.neftegaz.ru

Greek Prime Minister Tsipras still cherishes hopes that the continuation of the main gas pipeline Turkish stream will pass through the Greek territory. During his official visit to Turkey on February 5-6, 2019,  Alexis Tsipras raised this issue during negotiations with Turkish President Erdoğan. There are few details of the negotiations, but at a press conference following the meeting on February 5, 2019, Tsipras said that Greece would like to participate in the implementation of the Turkish Stream project .

According to Tsipras, energy should become a bridge of cooperation between nations, and not an obstacle, not a reason for clashes in the region. Greece and Turkey are already cooperating in such important energy projects as the Trans Adriatic Pipeline ( TAP ). And Greece would like to expand cooperation with Turkey, in particular, it would like to participate in the Turkish Stream project.

With the construction of mainstream pipeline approaching to completion, Tsipras has been especially active diplomatically. Turkish stream will consist of  2 lines, each with a capacity of  15.75 billion cubic meters per year.  First pipeline was built to satisfy demands of the Turkish market, while second  string is going to supply countries of southern and south-eastern Europe. Russia has not yet officially announced the route for the continuation of the 2nd leg across Europe , trying to prevent a repetition of the situation with the South Stream, which eventually was not built at all.

There are two principal options for extending the 2nd  line of Turkish Stream flow through Europe - through  Greece to Italy or  through Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary to Austria. The first option is much more interesting for Gazprom, who is interested in entering the Italian market, but everything suggests that the Bulgarian-Serbian-Hungarian version will be chosen, as the initial SouthStream project envisioned.

But Tsipras does not give up and still hopes to divert the pipeline to Greece. In December 2018, Tsipras spoke  about the implementation of the  Italian-Greek route for the continuation of the 2nd line of the Turkish Stream with Russian President  Putin. The chill in relations between Russia and Greece, which appeared after Tsipras gave way to the pressure of Western partners, has already passed. Back in 2015, the visit of  Tsipras to Russia and his negotiations with  Putin gave a new impetus to the expansion of  Russian-Greek gas transport relations. But after the western loan, Greece’s relations with Russia became very cold; as a result, in  2016 , the sides failed to sign an agreement on a gas pipeline that would lead Turkish stream to Europe through Greece. In December 2018, Tsipras tried to convince Putin that since then there have been  many  changes and  Greece has found its way.

But these arguments were hardly enough to risk the prospects of Turkish Stream. Objectively speaking, Greece's extension of the Turkish flow through its territory would be a very  desirable  element of the future gas hub. Other large gas transmission projects are already tied to Greece. For example, TAP, which is part of the Southern Gas Corridor ( SGC ), which provides gas supplies to Europe from Azerbaijan and other countries of the Caspian region. Another project is EastMed, which  will supply  gas to Greece and Italy from fields on the shelf of Cyprus and Israel. Moreover, there are LNG terminals,  in particular the  planned  floating LNG terminal ( FSRU ) in  Alexandroupolis in the north-east of Greece.

This infrastructure will enable gas supplies to the countries of the Western Balkans to Greece, which will significantly increase the energy status of Greece. It is unlikely that Tsipras seriously attempted to start a continuation of the 2nd line of the Turkish stream to the territory of Greece at a meeting with Erdogan. From the position of Turkey, the route of the European gas pipeline - doesn't play any role in defining of the pipeline routes.

Most likely, with his statement, Tsipras signaled to the Russian officials that the project is till interesting for Greece. But the proposals of Tsipras were a little bit late. In addition to the vague prospects of the Greek route for the extension of the Turkish Stream, Tsipras and Erdoğan discussed much more specific areas of cooperation.

In particular, a number of important Turkish-Greek agreements were reached like the joint work on the organization by the summer of 2019 of maritime communication between the ports of Izmir in Turkey and Thessaloniki in Greece. Both sides also agreed on the organization of a new business forum that will allow us to show the opportunities opening up for cooperation, especially now that Greece has emerged from the crisis that has tormented it for many years.

Turk about following the principle of peaceful resolution of conflicts complicating relations between 2 countries for many years: enhancing cooperation in the  fight against terrorism, the resolution of the conflict around Northern Cyprus, as well as the development of mineral resources in the Aegean Sea. In particular, there was a hope to resolve the situation with the extraction of hydrocarbons in the Aegean Sea. Disagreements on this issue hamper the  development of gas fields off the coast of  Cyprus. Turkey prevents Greece from extracting minerals in the Aegean Sea until both countries resolve the conflict over the division of the island into the Greek (Republic of Cyprus) and the Turkish part  (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus). During the current negotiations in Turkey, the parties spoke in favor of applying constructive measures to relieve tensions and decided to develop a special action plan for this.

2019-02-03

Why Putin's chief ideologue writes about Turkey, deep state and Kemalist six arrows?

By Roman Shlyakhtin

Aide to the President of Russia decided to use Turkish political tradition. While trying to find Russia's place between East and West one inevitably has to look south for inspiration.

The article of Vladislav Surkov titled Long State of Putin, which is vigorously discussed in the media and social networks, contains references to many symbols and ideological constructions. Some of them are known to the Russian public, others are an invention of the author himself. At the same time, drawing its ideological forms, designed to explain historical and state-forming role of Vladimir Putin, Surkov more than once wove into them terms from the Turkish political history - in particular, by mentioning the ideology of the six arrows of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as well as the so-called "deep state ". Turkey is not a country from which it was previously fashionable to draw political samples. And the emergence of Turkish concepts in an article devoted to Putin and his state is hardly a mere whim for Surkov.

However, first of all, we need to explain what terms Surkov used in his artile actually mean. Modern Turkey is a country with a complex ideology in which different parties and politicians adhere to different views. Among them are the left (the Kurdish party), and the nationalists, and moderate Islamists. Of the entire diversity of political spectrum, Surkov chose the image of the “six arrows” of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. What are these arrows and who are they aimed at?

The story will have to start from afar. The image of a beam of arrows has long been present in the epic of the ancient Turkic Oguz tribes. The section of the Turkic steppes between the sons of the first forefather ancestor is explained through him. Later the same image appears in the legends of the Mongols, in a form that is already more familiar to us. According to the legends, Genghis Khan decided to demonstrate to his sons the need for peace between the Mongols and suggested that they first break a bunch of arrows and then break them one by one.

In many ways, this ancient legend is similar to the common European wisdom about the unbreakable bundle of brushwood (to which the symbol of Roman fascias ultimately goes, which became the emblem of fascism). However, in modern Turkey, it was decided to use it at the sunset of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and gave it its own interpretation. In 1927, the first president of the republic decided to reformat the party of his supporters (the People’s Party). At the congress, the party defined for itself the “four arrows” of ideology — republicanism (commitment to the republic), nationalism, nationality and secularism. Shortly before Atatürk’s death, two more were added to these arrows - statism (respect for the state) and reformism (readiness for reform). These six “arrows” formed the basis of Atatürk’s political testament, and also became part of a new constitution of the Republic of Turkey. The Turkish name of the constitution - anayasa - is related to the term "Yasa", which was called the law of the Mongols in the era of Genghis Khan. Atatürk's six arrows appeared not only in the Constitution, but also on the coat of arms of the People's Party (1931), which consisted of six upward white arrows on a red field. At the end of the 20th century, these arrows changed direction and now look from the bottom left corner of the logo to the right.

Surkov mentions Ataturk’s six arrows alongside the Fifth Republic, founded by de Gaulle, and the United States, which, in the author’s opinion, rest on the experience of the founding fathers. Apparently, the former deputy head of the presidential administration tried to find a place for his former patron among state leaders who are considered the founders of some modern political regimes, and such that do not cause too inconvenient questions. For example, he chose not to mention Mao Zedong or Fidel Castro, who also fall under the required conditions. Turkey, along with Atatürk and the Six Arrows, was more successful. And the fact that the symbol connotations are wider and some part of Surkov’s audience six arrows will remind of Genghis Khan - well, that’s the fate of more or less of all Eurasian connotations, especially on Russian soil.

Another story in another term, which Surkov uses in his article, is the “deep state”. The author specifically mentions that the reasoning about deep state that is popular today in America, that is a group of elites who, without declaring itself loudly, actually controls all political processes, the concept has roots in the Turkish concept of "derin devlet" as its starting point - it can be translated as “inner state”. Indeed, in the 1970s , moderate Turkish Islamists, who were skeptical about Atatürk’s legacy, especially his fourth “arrow” of secularism, called their opponents within the state apparatus the “inner state”  - first of all this applied to the Turkish military. It was assumed that senior officers are interconnected with something more than a military oath, and in the end it is they who solve the most important issues in the country. 

Against the background of democratization and the many of Turkey’s accession to the European Union in those years, the arguments about the conspiracy looked anachronistic - and in 2007, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with a television channel that he still doesn’t know if there is an “internal state” or not. It did not prevent the same moderate Islamists with Recep Erdogan to establish themselves in power at the beginning of the 21 century. Against the background of democratization and the many of Turkey’s accession to the European Union in those years, the arguments about the conspiracy looked anachronistic - and in 2007, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with the television channel that he still doesn’t know if there is an “internal state” or not .

However, in Surkov’s article, this strictly conspiracy ideology for internal use is used as a starting point for his innovative ideological construction - the “deep-seated nation”, which, according to the adviser to the president of Russia, “is always on your mind and out of reach”. Just as in the concept of a “deep state”, a variety of meanings can be put into a “deep nation”. However, even if the “deep state”, according to Erdoğan, is hard to tell if it exists or not, one wonder if the “deep nation” is really out there? Given the conspiratorial roots of the original design, people are encouraged to think that they are the true and only ruler of the state, but the ruling itself happens in a very imperceptibly manner.

However, not only interpretations speak a lot, but the very fact of the presence of similar Turkish ideologies in the article is meaningful. Vladislav Surkov, in his own way, is trying to create a new ideology outside the confrontation between East and West. Focusing on Istanbul and Ankara (and not on far and incomprehensible Beijing) continues the long Russian tradition of searching for knowledge in the south, in Constantinople, Istanbul, and now in Ankara. In conditions when the Moscow and Constantinople patriarchs quarreled over Ukraine, such a look in the direction of the Bosphorus and on to the Anatolian Plateau looks especially remarkable. Vladislav Surkov, perhaps, wants to put himself on a par with the author of "The Word of Law and Grace" by Metropolitan Hilarion, who is considered the first Russian thinker. Like Hilarion, Surkov talks about the grace that is inherent in the Russian people, However, if Hilarion has Christian grace to be given to all nations, then Surkov has it in Russia alone and comes from Gumilev's non-Christian passionarity

Arguing about the need for a direct contact between the people and the ruler, Surkov sounds like the author of the XVI century, Ivan Peresvetov, who, in The Tale of Magomet (Muhammed) Tsar, presented the Ottoman Empire almost as an ideal state. While Peresvetov writes about the importance of troops, to whom "the sovereign is strong and glorious," Surkov praises the "brutal design of the power frame". Like Peresvetov, the addressee of Surkov's message is not named. However, it is obvious that it should be sought at the very top of the pyramid of power. A spokesman for the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, has already said that the article will be sent for familiarization to Vladimir Putin. 

“The article is complex, it requires reflection,” Peskov explaing to journalists. “It’s such a personal approach, a personal world view. Surkov has experience that is difficult to overestimate.” “Based on this experience, he has every right to judge,” the Kremlin representative said. In response to the question of whether there are supporters of the views set out by Surkov, Peskov said: "Definitely there." “Are there any positions that can cause controversy and debate? Of course, there are some, too,” he added. “But, probably, it is hardly subject to discussion that the article will be interesting to many and that it is very informative and deep.”

Peskov has spent several years in diplomatic work in Turkey and knows firsthand about the “deep state” and the “six arrows”.

Further reading:


2019-02-01

Strategic importance of the Caucasus for Turkey

By Mithat Işık

The Caucasus is surrounded in the east by the Caspian Sea, in the west by the Azov and Black Seas, in the north by the Kuban and Kuma rivers, in the south by Turkey and Iran. Looking at the map, in front of us there is an isthmus in the direction of north - south between the Black and Caspian seas, surrounding it from two sides. This isthmus occupies a key location between Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. The most noticeable feature of the region is its mountainousness. The Greater Caucasus divides it into two parts in the east-west direction. This formidable geographical obstacle divides the region into the North Caucasus and the South Caucasus (Transcaucasia).

In the North Caucasus there are republics that are part of the Russian Federation. These are Adygea, Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Chechnya, North Ossetia, Ingushetia and Dagestan. Russia actively fights against separatist movements in the North Caucasus. This seemingly calm region can at any moment suddenly become a zone of conflict. Here a non-traditional war can unfold, in which tactics and techniques of guerrilla war will be applied to a greater degree.

The South Caucasus includes such independent states as Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia. Geographically, the North Caucasus belongs to the European continent, the South Caucasus - to the Asian, and politically the entire Caucasus is considered part of the European continent.

The Caucasus region, due to its geographical position, is a natural mountain line separating Asia and Europe, the South and the North, Turkic and Slavic, Muslim and Christianity from each other.

Due to this, throughout the history, important trade routes and migration routes have passed here. For this reason, the Caucasus was in the zone of interests of the major powers and became a region for which there was a long struggle. The interest of global forces and states wishing to be such has always attracted the fact that the region was a door leading to Asia, provided an opportunity to enter the Black Sea, and also indirectly gave a chance to include in its zone of influence on the Persian Gulf.

The theory of dominance on land Mackinder and the theory of Speakerman belts will help to understand the significance of the Caucasus region. The one who rules this region rules Asia, and the one who rules Asia rules the whole world. The Caucasus as an important political, commercial and cultural transit point serves as a buffer region between three significant empires (the Ottoman Empire, Tsarist Russia, Iran). The position of the region as a cultural transit point most of all concerns the Turkic world. If we imagine the Turkic world in the form of a human body, then the Transcaucasus is a throat, without which it is impossible to speak about the Turkic world as a whole. The Transcaucasian region seduces global forces with its underground wealth. Rich oil and natural gas fields forced such energy-deficient countries like the USA, China and the EU,

Since the migration routes of many nations passed through the Caucasus, peoples of different cultural and ethnic origins settled in the region. Mountainousness of the region contributed to the isolation of different peoples from each other, while preserving their own culture, primarily for natural and then for political reasons. But the region was open to outside intervention, and problems were not resolved within the Caucasus. Transcaucasia has become home to different ethnic and religious groups within each state.

The Caucasus is important primarily for three reasons. First, in the geostrategic sense, this is the door to Central Asia. From the point of view of Central Asia, this is the way to the western markets. And if we consider the Caucasus together with Central Asia, then there is a macro-region with significant reserves of oil and natural gas.

The seeds of today's problems in the Caucasus were sown by Stalin in 1936. With the help of certain measures, he wanted to bring to the fore the Russians in the demographic structure of the region. To achieve this goal, a number of autonomous republics were created, which will further prepare the ground for very complex ethnic problems. For the North Caucasus, the most urgent problem today is Chechnya. But the polyethnicity of the region also has potential for problems in the neighboring republics.

Turkey is located at the intersection of three major crisis regions of the world, such as the Caucasus, the Middle East, the Balkans. Especially the Caucasus and the Middle East due to the reserves of energy resources are included in the zone of interests of world powers and become the arena of their competition.

The Caucasus, due to its geographical position, is considered a continuation of one region with Turkey. Thus, an indicator of this is the use of the names “Anterior Asia”, “Asia Minor” in relation to Anatolia and the Caucasus. Each event in the Caucasus, both positive and negative, can significantly affect Turkey.

Turkey should show a diverse interest in the Caucasus for the following reasons. The region provides security for Eastern Anatolia. It provides communication with Turkic and Muslim countries and communities in Central Asia and the Volga-Ural region, strengthens relations with them. It provides suitable raw materials and market opportunities due to strategic underground wealth and oil fields. It also prevents Russia from going south to warm seas and contributes to the absence of this threat to Turkey. The Caucasus is an important region from a geopolitical and geostrategic point of view, which affects the national interests and national security of Turkey. 60% of the peoples living in the region are Turks. The Caucasus serves as a bridge between Turkey and the Turkic-speaking republics of Central Asia. The absence of this bridge will break the link of Turkey with the Turkic world.

The exit of the region’s rich underground resources to world markets through Turkey enhances Turkey’s strategic importance. Region also creates a positive environment for maintaining the independence and independence of the Turkic presence in the region. It makes it possible to take advantage of the economic potential of the region while maintaining relations that take into account mutual interests in order to strengthen the Turkish economy.

The concept of "security" has ceased to be exclusively military in nature. It also acquired economic, political, social, cultural, scientific, technological meanings. For the sake of its own national security, Turkey should ensure security and stability around itself. And for this, it is important that the countries around Turkey maintain economic well-being and political stability.

From the same point of view, Turkey should consider and evaluate its relations with the South Caucasus. With this thought, Turkey should closely monitor geopolitical changes and be able to influence them. For sustainable peace and stability in the South Caucasus, Turkey needs to continue to defend a peaceful settlement of existing problems in the region, such as Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, within the framework of protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Georgia.