Turkey Irreplaceable Nato Member & Regional Power Center To Keep Balance

Fuad Muxtarlı Interview 16 April 2019
Turkey Irreplaceable Nato Member & Regional Power Center To Keep Balance

Ukrainian pundit and specialist on Turkey Grigoriy Mavrov spoke about the current state of the Russian-Turkish relations in the light of the recent visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Moscow, and is confident that no regional country is there to replace Turkey for the West and the USA.

Correspondent: After the latest meeting between Putin and Erdogan, the Russian expert community claims that the Turkish elite is completely dependent on the Kremlin. What can you say about this?

Mavrov: This is too bold statement. The Turkish elite are maneuvering, but are not yet dependent on the Kremlin or the White House. Turkey acts within its own strategy and uses its role to solve the rather difficult situation in which this country has found itself.

Correspondent: In economic terms, considering the new large energy projects, who depends on whom more?

Mavrov: By and large, Turkey is really more and more dependent on Russia, which does not deprive it of its independence. The most obvious dependence is in the nuclear sector and here the country's leadership, contrary to warnings, including from local experts, decided to have the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Mersin to be built.

This will certainly enhance the role and influence of Russia in Turkey, however, Turkey implements many equally ambitious projects than the construction of nuclear power plants in Mersin that often require the use of new technologies and the role of Russia and Russian business in these projects is minimal or completely absent.

Take as an example, the project of the Canakkala Bridge, in theory, this bridge should be the longest suspension bridge in the world. The main partners in this project are South Korean companies and there are a lot of such projects. Do not forget that Turkey is a country of large-scale economic projects, in many of which Russia cannot simply play a role.

Correspondent: What are the prospects for military cooperation between Turkey and Russia? After the agreement on the supply of S-400 air defense systems, some pro-Kremlin military experts predict that Turkey will gradually abandon Western weapons. How likely is Ankara's complete reorientation towards Russian weapons?

Mavrov: - I am extremely skeptical of such predictions. The military-technical potential of the NATO countries exceeds the potential of Russia.

Technologically, NATO countries are also more developed and the rejection of NATO weapons will create serious problems for the Turkish army.
It’s not even the case that Russia and the NATO countries have different standards and quality of weapons but the transition to the new standard will require huge expenditures. The main reason for the impossibility of complete reorientation is the inability of Russia to satisfy all the requests of the Turkish defense ministry.

More recently, Russia itself was ready to buy weapons from NATO countries, let us recall the failed deal on the purchase of Mistral, and suddenly, unexpectedly, Russia is ready to replace several leading countries specializing in the latest weapons. Of course, there are segments in which Russian weapons are still competitive, but there are few such segments and there is no complete alternative to NATO.

Correspondent: Is it possible for Turkey to leave NATO? Can the US find a replacement for Turkey as a strategic partner in the region?

Mavrov: This is hardly possible in the near future. There are no countries in the region that could replace Turkey; this is a completely unique country. However, relations between Turkey and Western countries have never been cloudless, so I would not seriously consider this option.

There have been even worse times. I can’t even imagine what should happen so that Turkey withdraws from NATO to become a member of some other bloc, yes, it can create problems in ensuring regional security for the NATO countries, but for Turkey, it can end simply fatally.

First of all, isolation and staking on only one center of power are unprofitable for Turkey; on the contrary, Turkey’s strength itself consists in the ability to influence several such centers using its unique position. A stake on only one of such centers will deprive Turkey of all the advantages and make it a dependent country without even the status of a regional power.