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Putin in Turkey: Nothing personal, just business05.12.2012 | 15:00
Discord on the Syrian issue should not affect economic relations between Russia and Turkey. According to experts, this is the main point of the decisions taken at the meeting in Istanbul on on December 3, between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Putin's visit took place against the background of the incident around the detention of the Russian aircraft bound for Syria in Turkey, as well as the Russian Foreign Ministry's tough statement on November 23, on deployment of the U.S. Patriot anti-aircraft missiles at the Turkish-Syrian border. The situation in Syria seemed to inevitably become a hot topic for the heads of states to discuss. However, at the press conference, Russian President only said at the talks there has been voiced "some new ideas to resolve the situation". He has also once again expressed concern about the deployment of the Patriots, pointing out that the installation of "not best systems in the world" might only exacerbate the situation with Syrian settlement. "If a gun hangs on the wall in the beginning of the
play, it must shoot in the end", said the Russian President. Journalists tried to attract Putin's attention to the Syrian issue, but he said nothing specific, except for the assurances that Syria would not attack Turkey.
The result of a one-day visit was the signing of eleven agreements. The parties have agreed on the establishment of a joint venture in the field of marketing, distribution between the "Rosneft" and "Calik Holding" and adopted a medium-term program of trade-economic and scientific-technical cooperation for 2012-2015. Furthermore, according to the Memorandum, Turkey and Russia have decided to join forces to combat the laundering of illegal income from crime and terrorist financing.
"I said before the visit, the main thing is the economic part", expert of the Institute of Strategic Studies and Analysis Sergey Demidenko says in an interview to the Big Caucasus. "We have nothing to discuss on Syria - we have diametrically opposed positions on the issue. The main objective was not to allow the disagreements on the Syrian issue affect our economic relations. They had to avoid all prerequisites for any conflict. I think they have succeeded. Neither Russia nor Turkey is set to some kind of a confrontation over Syria. For Russia, it is not a matter of principle. For Turkey energy relations with Russia are much more important, than a change in its position on the Syrian issue".
According to expert, Turkey's great mistake was interfering in the Syrian conflict, and now "they do not know how to get out of this situation". The worsening of situation in Syria, Demidenko says, will directly affect the geopolitical interests of Turkey, particularly aggravation of the Kurdish issue and the problem of Islamism. "Therefore, Turkey prefers smouldering civil war, since it's can't be put out, to something more massive", adds the analyst.
Statements at the press conference suggest that the Turkish side begins to look for new solutions and tends to adopting Geneva communique, pushing power factor to the background, a political analyst Stanislav Tarasov believes. However, he doubts that at the meeting the economic, not political issues remained the priority for the heads of states. "Turkey is rather interested in the economic cooperation", the expert believes. "It's economy is export-oriented, and as a result of the Arab Spring, Turkey is losing markets for their products. Now the Russian market is of very serious, critical importance for them. Therefore they consider economic interests more important, than the political. In this sense, Putin's visit to Turkey cannot be considered an outstanding phenomenon, but there is no doubt this is a very important political event", Tarasov sums up commenting on the meeting in Istanbul for the Big Caucasus.
It is possible that energy deals are somehow connected to the international sanctions against Iran, but the Iranian issue clearly was not included into the agenda, orientalist, specialist on Iran Vladimir Sazhin said in an interview to the Big Caucasus. According to him, despite the fact that in the Syrian conflict Russia and Iran rather support Bashar al-Assad in contrast to Turkey, a "gas card" will not be played in its relations with the Turkish government, since the countries are interested in the economic partnership. "Clearly, Turkey prefers to reduce dependence of its economy on Iranian gas. So an agreement to increase the supply of gas from Russia can be seen as Turkey's wish to protect itself and to have a backup plan. But we shouldn't make far-reaching conclusions. I do not think that Turkey supports sanctions against Iran", the source sums up.