News / Europe

Putin's Turkey Visit Could Smooth Syria Relations

Russia's President Vladimir Putin looks on during a news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, November 8, 2012.  Russia's President Vladimir Putin looks on during a news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, November 8, 2012.
x
Russia's President Vladimir Putin looks on during a news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, November 8, 2012.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin looks on during a news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, November 8, 2012.
Dorian Jones
Russian President Vladmir Putin is scheduled to visit Turkey on December 3.  The visit comes as the two countries remain at odds over Syria, with Moscow supporting President Bashar al-Assad and Ankara the Syrian rebels.  Despite such differences, trade is continuing to grow between the two countries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will be hosted by the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul for his one-day visit.  According to diplomatic columnist Semih Idiz for the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News, the two leaders have built up a strong personal relationship.  But Idiz warns deep differences exist over Syria, with Erdogan taking an increasingly tough stance against Moscow.

"[Erdogan's] party congress accused Iran and Russia, saying who supports the oppressors in Syria will pay the price in the future," Idiz noted.  "It's clear the two countries have a very different attitude toward Syria and this is going to land to them in confrontational situations in the future."

Relations were dealt a further blow in October, when Turkish fighter jets forced the landing of a Syrian-bound passenger jet flying from Moscow last October.  Ankara claimed it was carrying weapons for the Syrian government, but has so far failed to provide any evidence.  Moscow denied the allegations.

Moscow has also strongly criticized Ankara's request that NATO deploy patriot missiles to protect it against any possible strike by Syria.

But this week Prime Minister Erdogan appeared to soften his stance, claiming Moscow could play a key role to resolving the Syrian crisis.

Sinan Ulgen is head of the Istanbul-based research institute Edam.

"They [Turkey] also realize that if Russia does not change its position, the dynamics on the ground are not likely to change," Ulgen said.  "If Russia continues to support the Assad regime, Assad will continue to hold on to power."

While Turkish observers don't expect Moscow to immediately end its support for the Syrian regime, there is increasing speculation that the Russians are starting to distance themselves from Damascus.

A Turkish official said Ankara is looking to Moscow to soften its outright opposition to future Syrian humanitarian interventions or sanctions at the United Nations Security Council.  As a permanent member, Russia has used its veto power three times to prevent tough action against the government of Syrian President Assad.

While differences remain between Russia and Turkey over Syria, bilateral trade has been largely unaffected.  International Relations expert Soli Ozel, at Istanbul's Kadir Has University, says trade will be an important part of President Putin's visit.

"The Russians are building the first nuclear reactor," Ozel explained.  "They want to build the second nuclear reactor.  There are a lot energy issues between the two, so there is plenty that the two countries can discuss."

According to a Turkish official, during President Putin's visit to Istanbul at least 12 bilateral agreements will be signed, most of which will be related to trade.  Diplomatic columnist Idiz says Putin's visit indicates the strength of bilateral ties.

"It signifies that it's an ongoing relationship, and that relationship is obviously trying to a bolster trade relationship even more," Idiz added.  "So the prospects don't look all that bad, except the situation has to be managed, because clearly Russia is backing Syria, and Turkey is at odds over that."

The ability of the two countries to compartmentalize their differences over Syria is being seen by analysts as an indication of the underlying resilience of bilateral ties.  President Putin's visit to Istanbul is expected to continue building on that relationship.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid