Russian foreign policy expert Bordachev praises Turkey’s independent foreign policy and urges Ankara not to backtrack on its demands of Sweden and Finland regarding the Kurds


In an article titled “Erdogan bets on independence”, Timofei Bordachev, program director of the think tank Valdai Discussion Club and professor at the Higher School of Economics, praised Turkish President Recep Erdogan for his guided independent foreign policy by the politics of his country. national interests. Bordachev acknowledges that Erdogan is a tough customer, massively supplying Ukraine with weapons, but he is predictable and a modus vivendi can be found with him. In return, Turkey has not joined the anti-Russian sanctions regime, and Russian tourists and businessmen remain welcome in Turkey. Bordachev is seeking to bolster Turkey’s resolve to block Sweden’s and Finland’s early acceptance into NATO in the hope that Turkey’s demands on the two Scandinavian countries will prove an insurmountable obstacle to their joining NATO. the covenant.

Bordachev’s article follows below:[1]

Turkey opposes the accelerated accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO (Source:

“In order to understand the nature of contemporary Russian-Turkish relations, it is necessary to understand how a rare commodity in the contemporary world is the ability of a small or medium-sized country to make independent foreign policy decisions.

“Turkey under President Erdogan is by no means a convenient or easy partner. Moreover, in recent years there have been situations between Moscow and Ankara where military or diplomatic blood has been shed. Each time that we were able to stop on the brink of a clash, which was followed by an exchange of views between the leaders, and bilateral relations returned to a relatively stable trajectory. a new private conflict.There can be no doubt that Ankara could create a pretext for it.

“But today’s Turkey is now one of those rare cases, in which we are sure that when we negotiate with this state, we are conducting a dialogue with a partner and not with a puppet, whose strings are pulled by a more powerful overseas rival”. all in all, it is such an indisputable advantage that it makes it possible to quantify the costs of [negotiating with such a partner] from a position of cold-blooded diplomacy. Or, as the Russian head of state said a few years ago, “it makes work not only pleasant, but also reliable.” And it’s not just bilateral trade, although that matters too.

“In fact, the essence of Turkey’s position in international politics lies precisely in its independence. There are actually a few countries in the world that make decisions based on their own interests. As a rule, these are the great powers, and not all of them. China, India, a few Asian countries. Even Saudi Arabia, although it behaves more and more confidently towards the United States, acts with a watchful eye towards Washington In the area of ​​the former Soviet Union, only Uzbekistan can pursue such a policy fully, thanks to the partial autarky established during the first decades of independence.

“There are no such states in Latin America, and although Brazil is a member of BRICS, it still cannot seriously cross the United States or even Europe. Under the pressure of military-strategic circumstances, as well as their own ambitions, even those developed states because Japan responds impeccably to all of Washington’s wishes.

“What is interesting is that Turkey’s participation in NATO is not, as we see, an obstacle to independent behavior. In fact, many in the United States would like to get rid of a such an ally. However, it is not an easy thing to officially ban the country from the bloc is a very difficult task, as it would be a blow to the reputation of the bloc, to the ability of the United States to remain the head of states developed ones and would deprive NATO of Turkish bayonets in the event of a truly tragic turn of events in relations with China and Russia.

“Therefore, the United States tolerates Turkey and its decisive leader based on the hope that his departure [from the presidential office] will sooner or later return this country to the stable of reliable allies of Washington. But it is unclear whether such a comfortable situation for the United States will materialize. Turkey, like other countries, is experiencing a change of political generations, and the new leaders could be even more nationalistic than Erdogan himself.

“As a result, in a context of near absolute control, which the United States demonstrates vis-à-vis all its formal and informal allies, Turkey’s conduct is truly exceptional. This country, although a member state of NATO, did not join the sanctions against Russia, did not close its airspace to Russian aircraft, Turkish banks began to actively accept credit cards from our national payment system, while their company is actively cooperating with partners in Russia.

“In addition, shortly after the conflict around Ukraine entered a burning phase, Ankara most categorically used the right to manage the Black Sea Strait during the hostilities, which was granted to it granted by the Montreux Convention. For the time being, the Turkish side has closed the passage through the strait to all military vessels. In this regard, as the head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry said yesterday, the country postponed several military exercises of NATO member states in the Black Sea.As a result, the country, which massively supplies arms to Ukraine, appears practically the epitome of restraint.

“Another manifestation of Turkey’s independence is the recently demonstrated ability to take a principled position on an issue that really matters to it. It is precisely Ankara’s demands that in recent weeks have been an obstacle to the precipitation of Sweden and Finland into NATO after receiving a prompt invitation to join NATO. On May 29, President Erdogan even affirmed that as long as he remained at the head of the Turkish state, Ankara “could not say ‘yes’ to the membership of countries supporting terrorism in the bloc. in these countries, the refusal of Stockholm and Helsinki to extradite their members wanted for terrorism to Turkey, as well as the restrictions on the supply of arms to Turkey from these countries have become a stumbling block.

“So far, Ankara’s position remains firm, and it would be unwise to view Erdogan’s conduct solely as a trade [maneuver] in pursuit of certain specific material advantages on the part of the United States and Europeans. Most likely, he wants both, that is, to obtain economic or military and technological gains and, at the same time, to force Sweden and Finland to make political concessions. And such concessions should prove very significant; they will affect the sovereignty of these countries and their right to live by their own rules, because they are changes from within.

“For Turkey, the existence of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in the Scandinavian countries is actually a matter of principle, because for decades this organization has been engaged in an armed conflict against the Turkish state. Erdogan cannot back down to this regard, because it would mean too much for his political reputation. The self-esteem of the Turkish people would be damaged if the President made concessions for economic gain. This would devalue much of the President’s achievements and rhetoric in politics. foreign.

“Erdogan’s recent accusation against the Scandinavians of insincerity is also a statement of fact. It seems to me that the proud representatives of Northern Europe could not have imagined that their entry into the Western military bloc would meet an obstacle in the form of Turkey, for whose people they feel nothing but racial superiority.Ankara’s stance surprised them unpleasantly, not least because the political elites of both countries were convinced that their adherence to NATO was part of Washington’s overall plan, according to which, Stockholm and Helsinki in this way would swear allegiance [to the West] in the fight against Russia. Now, the realization of all these optimistic plans may, if not fall through, be delayed, due to Turkey’s independence.

“The stable state of Russian-Turkish relations amid our acute conflict with the West and the unpleasant ‘disappointment’ that Sweden and Finland have encountered, are the product of Turkey’s special status in the modern world. In fact, dealing with Ankara under President Erdogan is not so difficult. It is enough to objectively assess the country’s own interests and understand that it acts according to them. In other words, Turkey is now a quite a unique country, precisely because it is a normal country, in terms of traditional notions about the meaning and content of a state’s foreign policy.

“We may or may not like Erdogan’s conduct in each particular case, but it is rational. unrealistic adventurism of random rulers.”

Timofei Bordachev (Source:


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