Washington may impose sanctions against Ankara for purchase of S-400 - Turkish political analyst, EXCLUSIVE
Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations (CTR), the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and famous Turkish political analyst, Aylin Unver Noi gave an exclusive interview to Vzglyad.az.
-Today meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected. What will be discussed in the meeting?
- The situation in Syria, fight against terrorism, enhancing energy and economic cooperation and regional developments are among the topics that will be discussed by two leaders in Sochi. The war against Daesh came to an end. This means that they will also discuss post-Daesh Syria and Turkey’s concerns over PYD (Kurdish Democratic Union Party). Recently, Russia’s invitation of the PYD to peace congress was protested by Turkey and led to postponement of the congress. Turkey was not happy with Russia’s support to PYD/YPG (that has a link to PKK Kurdistan Workers’ Party) in a campaign to defeat Daesh. Turkey accepts PYD, which has affiliation with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), as terrorist. President Erdoğan states that there is no difference between the Daesh and PYD. Turkey suffers from Kurdish separatism since 1984. The PKK with the goal of establishing an independent Kurdish state through armed struggle and terror attacks cost of more than 40000 lives. On the other hand, Russia is one of the countries that do not recognize the PKK as terrorist organization and even PKK/PYD has an office in Moscow. Turkish authorities stated their expectation from Russia to shut down the PKK/PYD office in Russia and their dismay over photos showing Russian soldiers with PKK terrorists together a Russian-made air defense missile found during the PKK operations in Turkey previously.
Regional developments, particularly Saudia Arabia and Iran rivalry and development about Lebanon might be one of the topics discussed between two leaders.
Increasing energy cooperation and trade between two countries might be one of the important issues discussed. They will most probably discuss the possible effects of US sanctions on energy cooperation between two countries as well because Moscow’s major European pipeline projects (Turkish Stream and Nordstream 2) could be slowed down considerably or even come to a complete halt as a result of US sanctions on Russia.
The presidents will also discuss the Karabakh issue. Armenia prepare to sign a new Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the European Union on 24 November. Armenia is member of Eastern Partnership (EaP) of the EU since its foundation. This agreement which is part of the process in the EU Neighborhood Policy was expecting the sign before Armenia sign EAEU with Russia. Armenia first became member of Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union in 2015. Actually, these two economic integration agreements alternative to each other. Discussion to withdraw from EAEU took place in Armenia national assembly including a bill proposing Armenia’s withdrawal from EAEU.
What the EU present to Armenia is economic alternative not a security one. I do not think that the EU can provide security to any country including Armenia. For its security, Armenia heavily depend on Russia. Armenia and Azerbaijan have a long dispute over Nagorna Karabakh, this frozen conflict was even turned into kinetic conflict time to time. On Nagorna-Karabakh issue, Ankara supports Azerbaijan and closed its border with Armenia.
- The United States proposed to impose sanctions for Turkey’s purchase of S-400. To what extent is the scenario of sanctions against Ankara realistic?
- According to the legislation that would require an automatic imposition of sanctions on any person that conducts a significant transaction with the Russia’s defense or intelliegence sectors, imposing US sanctions against any country is realistic scenario. The US sanctions might hit the energy cooperation and defense cooperation between Russia and Turkey.
Washington’s pressure on Ankara might be effective particularly both also have several other problematic issues that are waiting to be resolved between Ankara and Washington.
Ankara decided to purchase Russia missile systems S-400 since NATO and the U.S. had denied to propose a viable alternative to the long-range Russian missile air defense system Turkey. In my opinion, providing alternative missile air defense system might change Ankara’s decision not only due to Washington’s and NATO pressure of imposing sanctions but also alternative system provides better opportunity like technology transfer and joint production. Russia denies technologic transfer of the system. Turkey recently made an initial deal with France and Italy to develop joint production of an anti-ballistic missile system which enable Turkey to develop its own national defense system. Previously, Ankara decided to purchase Chinese missiles but gave up.
The issues related to the structure of the international system as well as the regional transformation in the Middle East and domestic security issues made the existing situation further complicated. Turkey is not happy with the US support to PYD/YPG (that has a link to PKK) in a campaign to defeat ISIS. Turkey and the US also have many disagreements since the failed coup attempt. The US refused to extradite a Turkish Muslim cleric living in self-exposed exile in the US, Fethullah Gülen, whose loyalists within the Turkish Armed Forces had attempted to perform a coup d’état in 15 July 2016. Besides this, Reza Zarrab case based on charges of banking fraud to evade the sanctions on Iran and arrestment of a deputy general manager of state-owned bank - Halkbank who is accused of conspiring with Zarrab in the US are other issues on the list waiting for to be solved between the US and Turkey. Arresment of American pastor Andrew Branson who was accused having ties with Fethullah Gülen is also added to the list of issues to be solved between the US and Turkey. Arrestment of consulate employee over alleged links to Gülen movement added new crisis that is suspension of visa. (It was resolved recently). The S-400 air defense systems is another issue added to these existing problems.
There is a personal relationship established between president Donald Trump and president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which was described by President Trump as “ties between the countries were "close as we've ever been". However, this personal relationship has its limits to solve the existing problems, there is need for more than that. In our edited book “Turkey and Transatlantic Relations” which was published by Johns Hopkins University/Center for Transatlantic Relations in November 2017, we do not only address the problematic issues between Turkey and its Transatlantic partners but also offers several concrete policy recommendations to Turkey, the U.S., and the EU with goal to foster stronger Turkey-Transatlantic relations. We believe that “building bridges is always harder than burning them” and partners must understand each other’s fears, hopes, strengths, flaws, and agendas and each side should offer suggestions to make this partnership work.
-President Erdogan repeatedly said that Turkey does not need EU membership. How do you think, how will it end?
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also stated that Ankara will not be the one that withdraw from its accession process to the European Union. On the other hand, this is not an easy decision to take by either side due to long historical, institutional, economic, social ties between the EU and Turkey.
We should not ignore the significant impact of Turkey’s Europeanization process had on the de-securitization of certain issues, as well as the democratization process in Turkey, once a credible EU membership perspective was attained and continued in the 1999-2007 period. The EU’s declaration of Turkey as a candidate country at the Helsinki Summit of December 1999 made the membership ideal an attainable objective for Turkey, marking a turning point in Turkey-EU relations in general and Turkey’s democratization process in particular, since it stimulated Turkish political and legal reforms. Between 1999 and 2005, with credible conditionality, Turkey accelerated its efforts to join the EU, and adopted various democratization packages to meet the Copenhagen criteria based on the hope that the EU would open accession negotiations.
Turkey’s economy enjoyed remarkable success in this 2002–2006 period, with growth averaging 7.2 percent, and this coincided with Turkey’s reform process and Turkey’s increased soft power. Turkey enjoyed a lot from credible EU membership perspective and reform process followed to comply with the Copenhagen Criteria.
However, reluctance of the EU to open chapters during the accession process and even their second class status proposal instead of membership was a strategic mistake made at the time of Turco-sceptic populist leaders of some EU member states who ignored the successful democratic reform process of 1999-2004 in Turkey. Most of these leaders used opposition to Turkish accession as an election tool during the election campaigns. This double standard approach and its perception in Turkey slowed down the reform process and diminished the effects of the EU’ transformative power on Turkey.
As former Minister of European Union Affairs of Turkey, Beril Dedeoğlu said on Turkey- European Union relations “neither a marriage nor a separation on the horizon”. I expect more pragmatic EU-Turkey relations rather than a relationship based on norms and values.
-Russia, Iran, Turkey and China abandon dollar gradually. Russia will launch a new project soon – cryptocurrency. Are these countries able to create their own single currency?
Turkey in its trade relations with Russia, China and Iran uses its own national currency. Using national currencies makes bilateral trade easier and reduces the cost of currency conversion. Turkey had a plan to initiate Turkish Liras as a regional currency and China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) also had such an initiative to launch a common currency (similar to European currency) in 2009 but those were not turned into reality and could not become a single or reserve currency up to now.