What are the expectations from Sochi? - Experts respond

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12 Punto 14 Punto 16 Punto 18 Punto presents the answers of experts from around the world on the topics and results of the meeting of the leaders of Turkey and Russia, which is scheduled for the end of the month:

German expert Tobias Pfennig:

"Putin and Erdogan have right now some very important things to discuss. It’s rather about the future of a whole region than only a single country or one military basis. The focus will be on Syria, but also Libya, Azerbaijan and probably even Afghanistan. Since the beginning of the trilateral meetings between Russia, Iran and Turkey and the US-backed coup attempt in Turkey, Turkey plays an important role in the near and middle east. Right now, the most important thing for Russia is the withdrawal of Turkey from Syria. This is implicated also by the recent visit of the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to Putin in Moscow. The Syrian economy is also dependent on the oil wells currently held by the Kurds together with the USA. If the USA withdraws from Syria, like from Afghanistan, then all territories that are held by the Kurds and Turkey will be reintegrated into Syria. But Russia needs to coordinate with Turkey a possible withdrawal from the country, too. Another important factor is Libya, where again Turkey and Russia are found on seemingly opposing sides, the Turkish controlled West and the Russian/Egyptian controlled East.

Later this year there will be elections in Libya and reunification of the country would for example be possible if Saif al-Islam is elected as president. Therefore, Russia must again coordinate with their Turkish counterparts how Libya could be unified as one state again. And then there is of course also Afghanistan, where Turkey is interested in playing a role in future as we saw with the attempts of Ankara to maintain a presence at Kabul airport. But also Russia is interested in the exploitation of Afghan resource deposits. The same goes for Azerbaijan that is viewed by Turkey as “one nation, two states”. Azerbaijan is at the same time of strategic importance in future deals between Russia and Iran and possible integration into the EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union), that would steer the country nearer to Moscow.

According to the expert, in general, the meeting will most likely be a friendly one with a good working atmosphere. Russia and Turkey have both common interests together with Iran:

"To keep the USA and the EU out of the Near and the Middle East and to cooperate on the local issues in Syria, Libya, Azerbaijan and possibly even Afghanistan. The details however will be discussed and how influence should be divided and shared. And regarding the Caucasus, there might even be some disagreements."

Moroccan expert on international relations Issam Laaroussi:

"It’s true that Turkey foreign Policy doctrine focuses to strengthen its presence in the Caucasus along with the control over the Asiatic territory qualified as a strategic space for Ankara. This Turkish hegemonic and functional role in the region will not be easily undermined by Moscow, however, the official negotiations will probably achieve a pragmatic deal, practically available to both countries. The first issue is the question of Syria as Turkey supports fighters who sought to topple President Bashar al-Assad, while Russia has helped shore up Assad after a decade of conflict. The eventual resolution of Syria`s crisis will show up what kind of deals would be available for Turkey and Russia. Moscow advocated its foreign policy regionally and globally and will not permit Turkey or any regional actor like Iran to expand its hegemony in the region. On the other side, Moscow focuses to reinforce its hard power by enlarging the arms sales to the regional stakeholders. Turkey has bought Russian S-400 air defences, leading to U.S. sanctions on Turkish defence industries, and has been in talks with Russia over possibly buying a second batch."

Pakistani academic, an expert on international relations and analytics Yasir Masood:

In my opinion, it is unlikely that Turkey and Russia will be able to agree on cooperation in the Caucasus. There are no deals between the countries yet because the position of Armenia is a serious obstacle to this. First of all, Ankara might consider coming to an agreement with Yerevan.

Recently, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced his intention to meet with Turkish President Recep Erdogan, which caused a huge scandal in Yerevan. Armenian nationalists accused the head of government of treason, and this could threaten the start of a civil war in Armenia. Russia is unlikely to influence the position of Turkey or Armenia on the Caucasus until the Armenian-Turkish differences are resolved.

Russia also needs to act wisely to avoid triggering any conflict in the Caucasus. To create a balance in the region Russia must play a positive role in the regional cohesion and uplift of the cooperation between Turkey and Russia.

Despite backing opposing sides in both the Syrian and Libyan conflicts, Turkey and Russia have forged close cooperation in the defence, energy and tourism sectors. Areas of convergence like defence, energy and tourism can be discussed at length. Moreover, both the Nagorno-Karabakh issue and the drone sales to Ukraine and Poland by Turkey earlier this year (which angered Russia) would be discussed in Sochi. Further defence cooperation may be discussed and maybe there is an exchange of pleasantries amongst the two leaders as well.

Georgian expert Gela Vasadze:

"The main topic of the meeting of the leaders of Turkey and Russia will be Idlib, which is in critical condition. Erdogan does not really rule Tahrir leader Sham Julani, but he cannot hand him over to the Russians or Hezbollah. To put it very simply, this is what the situation looks like now. Against this background, the situation in our region is almost "vegetarian."

As for the discussion of the establishment of a Turkish military base in Azerbaijan, according to the expert, there is no need for it from a military point of view:

"Azerbaijan has a strong Armed Forces capable of repelling the first blow of any enemy in the event of an attack. Let's not forget that Turkey is not on the other side of the ocean. If necessary, Turkish forces can be in Azerbaijan as soon as possible. I would also like to note that there is no need for Putin's consent to establish the base, and the agreement between Erdogan and Aliyev on this issue will be enough to establish the base. "

Turkish military expert Hasan Mesut Onder:

"Discussions on Syria, Karabakh, Libya and many other regions are on the agenda. We do not expect very important agreements to be reached at this meeting. But it is important to have communication and dialogue channels."

2021.09.22 / 12:27
Rafiga Mammadzadeh
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