Is there going to be a change of form of Russian-Turkish based on the outcome of the Turkish elections?
Regardless of who wins the Turkish elections this month, it’s expected that the NATO member country will maintain good relations with Russia, after these relations withstood over many years that witnessed dramatic changes in Ankara’s foreign policy.
The motive behind this change was the severe economic crisis in Türkiye, which forced the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to mend strained relations with countries, such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel, after he had criticized them harshly in the past.
Russia’s war against Ukraine, and its impact on the global economy, made the Turkish interior realize that the time was not right for Ankara to engage in international battles that were characteristic of Erdogan’s two-decade rule.
Rapprochement is taking place with Egypt, and there is even an attempt to resume relations with Syria 12 years after the start of the Syrian war.
Türkiye has conducted a diplomatic balancing act since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
Ankara opposes Western sanctions against Russia and has close relations with both Moscow and Kiev.
It also criticized the Russian invasion and sent armed drones to Ukraine.
Turkish experts believes that, Türkiye cannot give up its relations with Russia, as it’s a strong neighbor and the strong economic and trade relations that directly related to Türkiye’s national interests.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdogan participated in the inauguration ceremony of the first nuclear power plant in Türkiye set up by the Russian Rosatom nuclear energy company.
Putin said it was a pioneering project that helps strengthen the multifaceted partnership between our two states.
Türkiye will hold presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14, perhaps the most important in the country’s modern history.
The crisis of the high cost of living caused by inflation has eroded Erdogan’s support in the past few years, and opinion polls show that he is second to his main opponent, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
Therefore, any prolonged foreign policy crisis could cause more damage to the Turkish economy.
Ahmet Kamil Erozan, Turkish parliament deputy of the Good Party (Iyi), one of six parties that make up the opposition coalition known as “Six Table”, said Moscow was concerned that any change in government might lead to a more pro-Western stance on Türkiye’s part.
“We have to re-evaluate our relations with Russia and the United States on the first day of work, because Erdogan’s policy was based on personal relations,” Erozan said, which is seen as one of the contenders for the position of foreign minister if the opposition wins.
Erozan, a former diplomat, said Türkiye would seek to reduce its energy dependence on Russia from 50 to 30% if the opposition wins the elections.
Türkiye has maintained friendly relations with Russia despite the war in Ukraine.
Last year, Ankara and the United Nations brokered an agreement that allowed Ukrainian grain exports to resume from Black Sea ports.
Türkiye meanwhile enjoys close economic ties with Russia, including tourism, gas and oil supplies, grain, and trade in other agricultural products.
The Biggest Turkish opposition party leader and the contender against Erdogan, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu himself pledged to continue Turkish-Russian relations without diminution and in a trustworthy manner if he elected president.
The opposition alliance, which has vowed to roll back many of Erdogan’s policies, said it would prioritize diplomacy and abandon the confrontational style that has characterized Turkish foreign policy in the past decade.
The Turkish opposition coalition wants the foreign ministry back in charge and pledges to build relations with the United States and Russia based on mutual trust.
Ankara’s changes in foreign policy have been welcomed by regional rivals, but its relationship with the European Union remains complex.
Erozan said the opposition alliance sees full accession to the European Union as a firm goal, adding that the European Union’s values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law are in line with its vision.
The Turkish opposition intends to return to the traditional norms of Türkiye’s long-established foreign policy of turning toward the West, however, it should be noted their emphasis on equality in Türkiye’s international relations with all international players, including the EU, the US and Russia.