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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid