Turkey’s next leader may be pro-West but not anti-Russia
Although Erdoğan and Putin enjoy a close personal bond, Turkey’s aim is to benefit from Russia’s international isolation regardless of who is in power.
The recent virtual ceremony to inaugurate Turkey’s first nuclear power plant saw Vladimir Putin describe it as a ‘flagship project’ in strengthening Russian-Turkish relations – a sentiment echoed by Turkish president Recep Erdoğan in referring to the plant as the ‘biggest joint investment’ with Russia.
This $20 billion project is being constructed – and owned for its first 25 years – by Russian energy company Rosatom, with Turkish company Akkuyu as the local operator. The size is impressive – Putin claimed it is the ‘largest nuclear construction project in the world’ – but the timing of its unveiling is also noteworthy.
The ceremony took place in the run-up to Turkey’s pivotal presidential and parliamentary election, and it is no secret that Russia would prefer Erdoğan to win. Opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu has called upon Russia to refrain from interfering in the election – through disinformation campaigns and fake videos – if it wants to maintain a friendship post-election.
No Turkish leader has formed as close relationship with Russia as Erdoğan, although almost all Turkish leaders have explored areas of cooperation and functional relationships with Moscow – even during the heyday of the Cold War, Ankara cooperated with Moscow on heavy industry.
But all previous cooperations stopped short of going into strategic, defence industry, and geopolitical realms – and this is why Erdoğan is different.
Click here to continue reading the full version of this Expert Comment on the Chatham House website.
Latest News from
Domestic public financing is the key to universal health coverage25/09/2023 16:25:00
The dwindling role of aid financing could provide the impetus for developing countries to expand domestic public health spending.
If the SDGs are to survive, multilateral development banks must embrace reform25/09/2023 14:05:00
Banks need to democratize decision-making and realign their portfolios to build on renewed commitment at the UN General Assembly.
Rishi Sunak’s speech will make the UK harder to take seriously at COP2822/09/2023 14:20:00
The UK Prime Minister delayed or abandoned critical measures to reduce emissions while claiming to be committed to 2030 and 2050 net zero targets. The UK’s international credibility has been damaged as a result.
An India–Middle East–Europe corridor is unlikely to boost Saudi–Israel normalization18/09/2023 14:20:00
Israel hopes the corridor announced at the G20 will facilitate normalized relations with Saudi Arabia. Riyadh doesn’t see it that way.
The G20 lives on, but mistrust between the West and China hampers progress12/09/2023 12:20:00
The leaders’ declaration ensures the G20 will survive, but members have to take more risk in trusting each other to deliver what is urgently required.
The G20 showcases India’s growing power. It could also expose the limits of its foreign policy08/09/2023 12:25:00
The summit follows a year of impressive achievements for India. But the event will also display the challenge of maintaining ‘strategic autonomy’.
Whether 1.5°C is ‘alive’ or ‘dead’, a new climate plan will be required07/09/2023 12:20:00
The Paris Agreement target was meant to help avoid future climate impacts that are now arriving.
Making climate an election issue risks undermining the UK’s international role01/09/2023 12:20:00
The views of voters are uncertain, while the damage to UK relations – and the climate – is inevitable.