Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayiip Erdogan arrives in Moscow on March 15 on an official visit-This event is to become historic, because the visit will coincide with the 90th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the renewed Russia and Turkey after WWI. The director of the Turkish Centre for International Relations and Strategic Analysis, Sinan Ogan, told the VK correspondent about the visit and its context.
VK:How do you assess the visit?
Sinan Ogan:The timing of the visit is symbolic and thus very important for the relations between our countries. In 1921, 90 years ago, diplomatic relations between Russia and Turkey were established. The delegation to visit Moscow will be very numerous. Members of the Cabinet of Ministers and about 200 major businessmen working in Russia will participate in the delegation, as well as the prime minister. The visit will be the greatest one in recent years. During the visit, a session of the High Council for Cooperation between Russia and Turkey will be held. These facts indicate the very high level of the visit.
The parties will discuss the South Stream gas pipeline issue. Russia is awaiting Turkey’s consent for the construction of a gas pipeline across the Black Sea. Ankara hasn’t commented on the request yet. The success of this project is crucial for the negotiations on the Samsum-Jeikhan project. They are virtually interdependent.
I believe that the issue of a visa-free regime between Russia and Turkey may be decided. Much has been done in that direction, so now the parties can decide on the implementation period.
The negotiations will also touch upon the conditions for Russian business in Turkey.
During the negotiations the topics of a Karabakh conflict settlement, the Cyprus issue, Middle Eastern problems and the situation in Libya will also probably be discussed. Russian and Turkish approaches to many of these problems are quite similar.
This visit is very important for Turkish diplomacy, because recently Turkish Foreign Office has been paying more attention to Arabic countries than to the Caucasus or Russia. This visit may change this trend. Russian-Turkish relations have great potential, which is not exploited in its entirety. From my point of view, the efficiency amounts to just 30%, both in politics and the economy.
VK: What do you think of the prospects for a Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement?
SO: I've already mentioned that the Karabakh issue is to be discussed during the negotiations in Moscow. However, I'd like to note some details of the current policies. Turkey is currently on the threshold of parliamentary elections, scheduled for June 12. That is why Ankara cannot take such serious steps as a new treaty over the Turkish -Armenian border. However, Turkey is in any case at one with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh problem.
VK: You've mentioned the upcoming elections. What is your forecast for June 12? Will the ruling party retain its majority in the new parliament?
SO: Public opinion polls, held in Turkey, have shown that the ruling party is likely to win. The main question is how many votes they will get. Some experts think they will win 50% of the vote, but I think it will be about 40%. However, this vote will make it possible for Recep Tayiip Erdogan to form a government without forming coalitions with other political forces.