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Talking Turkey

January 16, 2015

There has been remarkably little said in the public realm by Turkey regarding the on-going events in Ukraine, or over the fate of the Crimean Tatar and the Crimean peninsula, a peninsula over which Turkey has far greater historical and long-lasting ties than Russia, it has to be said.

That is not to say there has not been direct and pointed diplomacy behind the curtain – but the public realm is where most people dwell and ingest their information.

However, yesterday, both Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had public things to say about Ukraine and Russia – two nations with which Turkey has good relations at every level.

First and foremost, both Turkish leaders reaffirmed the Turkish position regarding the territorial integrity of Ukraine.  The illegal annexation of Crimea will not be recognised and a blind eye to Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine will not be turned – quite rightly.

Further, Turkey clearly raised its displeasure at the current Crimean authorities actions toward the Tatar.

“We even presented two lists. One of them had the names of about 100 people who were punished for meeting with Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Jemilev. The other had the names of those who have gone missing, who have been murdered, and those who have been assaulted or threatened.

We regret to observe that up to date none of these promises have been fulfilled. Russia is our friend, but if it is making mistakes, we have point it out to them.

However, I would like to see it in deeds.”

Not something that it appears Turkey is likely to change it view over – new Russia/Turkey gas pipeline, or not.

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Indeed, with regard to the Gazprom proposed Russia/Turkey pipeline, the Turksih Prime Minister stated “We hope that Ukraine will continue to be a transit country“, whilst making clear the Turkish nation will continue to pursue its energy policy of diversification seeking supplies from Iran and Azerbaijan.  Understandable when almost 60% of Turkish gas imports are already coming from Russia – some via Ukraine.

With both the EU and Turkey looking toward Azerbaijan as one of a number of alternative suppliers to Russian energy – how long before Kremlin inspired destabilisation materialises in Azerbaijan to make it appear an unreliable supplier?

Who would be surprised if and when that manifests itself over the next few years?

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