Friday, November 22, 2013

Τουρκία προς Ρωσία: Βάλτε μας και εμάς στη συμμαχία σας


Σήμερα είχαμε μια συνάντηση του Ερντογάν με τον Πούτιν στην Αγία Πετρούπολη, στην οποία ο Ερντογάν ζήτησε ούτε λίγο-ούτε πολύ από τη Ρωσία να τη δεχτεί στη SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), δηλαδή στη συμμαχία που έχει φτιάξει η Ρωσία με την Κίνα εναντίον του ΝΑΤΟ.

Η Τουρκία βλέπει ότι δεν έχει μέλλον στην Ευρώπη, που εδώ και χρόνια αρνείται να τη δεχτεί ως μέλος. Επίσης, η Τουρκία έπαθε μεγάλη ζημιά με τη Συρία, διότι ο Ερντογάν είχε ταχθεί εντελώς εναντίον του Ασαντ, προβλέποντας ότι η Αμερική θα τον καθαρίσει, (έχει επιτρέψει στους Αμερικάνους να βάλουν εκεί μέρος της αντιπυραυλικής τους ασπίδας).

Όμως, η Αμερική δεν τα κατάφερε στη Συρία, και η Τουρκία βρέθηκε εκτεθειμένη.

Πρόσφατα λοιπόν η Τουρκία "άλλαξε τροπάριο", και αγόρασε πυραύλους από την Κίνα, εξαγριώνοντας τους Αμερικάνους. Την είχαμε δει αυτή την είδηση, όπως είχαμε δει και τα πανηγύρια των Κινέζων (εδώ).

Είχαμε τότε σχολιάσει ότι μάλλον η Τουρκία παίζει το παιχνίδι του "χαμαιλέοντα", που πάει με όλους, αν και τελικά όμως θέλει να μείνει με το ΝΑΤΟ, και απλά παίζει διπλό παιχνίδι ώστε να πιέσει τους Αμερικάνους (αλλά και την ΕΕ) να της δώσουν κάτι παραπάνω.

Αυτή εξακολουθεί να είναι η εκτίμηση μας, αν και η σημερινή συνάντηση με τον Πούτιν, και το αίτημα του Ερντογάν για να μπει στη συμμαχία των Ρωσοκινέζων είναι προφανώς σοβαρό θέμα. Στη συνέχεια, θα δούμε δύο άρθρα για τα όσα έγιναν στη σημερινή συνάντηση Ερντογάν-Πούτιν, και μετά θα δούμε και ένα σημερινό άρθρο-ανάλυση από τους (Κινεζικούς) Asia Times, που ουσιαστικά καλούν την Τουρκία να ταχθεί στο πλευρό του Ιράν, και κατ' επέκταση με τους ρωσοκινέζους:

Erdogan tells Putin 'save us from EU'
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked the Russian president Vladimir Putin to accept Turkey into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at a joint press conference in St. Petersburg on Friday.  
In the conference, Erdogan said that Turkey would be saved from being compelled by the EU should it gain membership to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Erdogan, Putin discuss regional issues 
Erdogan said he was paying great attention to the negotiations, where he planned to touch on the current issues of bilateral relations. 
"I believe that we can take significant steps in the Syrian, Azerbaijani, and Armenian issues," said Erdogan. 
Indicating that Turkey aims to increase the bilateral trade volume to $100 billion, Erdogan said, "I believe that our entrepreneurs are ready. We continuously inspire them in this regard." 
“Meanwhile, relations between Russia and Turkey have been developing successfully even without our direct involvement,” Putin said, expressing hope that the current meeting would only favour the process. 
“We may have discrepancies on some issues, but this will not lead to the cooling of our relations,” Putin told. “On the contrary, we contact more closely and search for points of coincidence.” 
“Russian-Turkish relations intensively develop in all directions,” Putin said, adding that the two countries had also regular political dialogue. 
The two leaders continued the meeting behind closed doors. 
Apart from politics, there has been increasing cooperation between Turkey and Russia which is expected to boost in the near future. 
Trade volume between the sides has increased by 24 percent in the last decade, as it was $5 billion in 2002 while it is $34 billion now. 

Energy is another major dynamic of the relations between the two countries. Turkey and Russia signed "Akkuyu nuclear power plant" deal, which is a major energy agreement in the recent years as it is expected to produce about 35 billion kilowatt-hours per year while employing nearly 15,000 people in southern province of Mersin.
Turkey pushes crossroads politics
While everyone is concentrated on the possibility of a tectonic shift in US-Iran relations, and while a solution may be found for the Syrian tragedy in another upcoming set of negotiations in Geneva, Turkey is silently toiling in the background. Let's see what these sultans of swing are up to.  
We start on the internal front. Abdul Mejid I, the 31st Ottoman sultan (in power from 1839 to 1861) always dreamed of a submerged tunnel under the Bosphorus linking Europe to Asia.  
It took "Sultan" Erdogan, as in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to make it happen, when last month he inaugurated - on the 90th anniversary of the founding of Ataturk's Republic - the US$3 billion, 76-kilometer Marmaray rail system which, in the hardly hyperbolic words of Mustafa Kara, mayor of Istanbul's Uskudar district (where the tunnel comes out), will "eventually link London to Beijing, creating unimagined global connections". 
It certainly helps that this technological marvel fits right into China's extremely ambitious New Silk Road(s) strategy which, just like the original Silk Road, starts in Xian, and aims to cross to Europe via, where else, Istanbul. 

That oily Kurdish factor In the wider world, Turkish foreign policy is now on overdrive. And inevitably, it's all related to energy. 
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu earlier this month hosted Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Ankara. Then he went to Baghdad and met Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  
Davutoglu also visited Washington; he wrote an editorial published by Foreign Policy praising the US-Turkish "strategic partnership", now facing "an increasingly chaotic geopolitical environment"; and he made sure to support US-Iran negotiations.  
Earlier this week, Davutoglu teamed up with Erdogan for a high-level meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in St Petersburg. Next week he'll be in Tehran.  
The question is what does Ankara want from Washington for so eagerly supporting a US-Iran normalization?  
The key is Iraqi Kurdistan. Ankara wants Washington's blessing for the now famously fractious 250,000 barrel-a-day oil pipeline from northern Iraq, bypassing Baghdad. This pipeline would add to the perennially troubled Kirkuk-Ceyhan, controlled (sort of) by Baghdad; currently operating at best at one-fifth of its official capacity of 1.6 million barrels a day, bombed virtually every week, and with zero maintenance.  
It's not as much about the oil (which Turkey badly needs) as a political/economic alliance that ideally translates into more Kurdish votes for the ruling AKP party in the 2014 Turkish elections.  
The (insurmountable) problem is the Obama administration has no intention - at the present negotiation junction - to provoke Tehran by allowing a Turkish project that most of all provokes Iran's ally Baghdad. That's just another instance that everything of consequence happening in Southwest Asia nowadays involves Iran. 
So it all depends on how far the US-Iran rapprochement will go - leaving Ankara unable to alienate Baghdad and Tehran at the same time. Ankara, though, is also aware of huge potential benefits down the line. That would mean much more oil and gas flowing from Iran than the current long-term annual contract for natural gas via the Tabriz-Ankara pipeline if - and when - Western investment start pumping again into Iran's energy industry.  
Turkey's number one foreign policy aim is to position itself as a critical energy crossroads for any oil and natural gas coming from Russia, the Caspian, Central Asia and even the Middle East to Europe.  
Yet Turkey has been squeezed by two conflicting Pipelineistan narratives. One is the never-ending soap opera Nabucco, which basically means delivering natural gas to Europe from just about anywhere (Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Iraq, even Egypt) except Russia. And the other is the South Stream pipeline, proposed by Russia and crossing the Black Sea.  
Insisting in its role as a neutral bridge between East and West, Ankara hedged its bets. But after the European financial crisis took over, Nabucco was, for all practical purposes, doomed. What's left now is the so-called Nabucco West - a shorter, 1,300 km pipeline from Turkey to Central Europe - and the much cheaper Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), just 500 km from Turkey across the Balkans to Italy.  
The consortium (including BP, Total and Azerbaijan's SOCAR) developing the huge Shah Deniz II field in Azerbaijan ended up choosing TAP. So Nabucco is now virtually six feet under.  
To say that's been a nifty deal for Moscow is a huge understatement. TAP does not threaten Gazprom's hold on the European market. And besides, Moscow got closer to Baku. Dick Cheney must adjust his pacemaker for another heart attack; after all his elaborate energy plans, Moscow and Baku are nothing less than discussing transporting Russian oil through the notorious Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which Dr Zbig Brzezinski dreamed up to exactly bypass Russia. On top of it, they are also bound to reverse the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline to pump Russian oil into Azerbaijan.  
Additionally, that's the end of Turkish (and European) pipe dreams of having wacky "gas republic" Turkmenistan supplying energy across the Caspian through the Caucasus and Turkey to Europe. For Moscow, this is non-negotiable; we control the transit of Central Asian energy to Europe. Moreover, Turkmenistan already has better sturgeon to fry - via its ultra-profitable gas pipeline to China.  
The bottom line: Russia getting even more ascendant in the Caucasus equals Turkey - which imports nearly all of its oil, coal and natural gas - becoming even more energy dependent on Russia. Russia supplies nearly 60% of Turkey's natural gas - and rising. Iran supplies 20%. Moscow is sure Turkey will soon overtake Germany as its biggest energy client.  
That's certainly what Erdogan was discussing in detail this past Wednesday in Moscow. And then there is Turkey's ambitious plan to build 23 nuclear power plants by 2023. Guess who's ahead? Moscow, of course. Not only as builder but also as primary supplier of nuclear fuel. No package of Western sanctions seems to be on the horizon.  
So Ankara seems to be (silently) hectic on all fronts. Erdogan is carefully cultivating his friend Obama - positioning himself as a privileged sort of messenger. Erdogan supports Iran's civilian nuclear program - which instantaneously placed him as highly suspicious in the eyes of the Wahhabi-Likudnik axis of fear and loathing. That's the key reason for the widening estrangement between Ankara and Riyadh.  
Ankara's desire to be a key actor in an eventual US-Iran rapprochement springs out of a simple calculation. Faced with tremendous political, economic and security barriers, Turkey may only fulfill its wish of becoming the privileged East-West energy transit corridor with Iran by its side. 

ΥΓ: Για το τέλος, δείτε και αυτό, με την Αμερική να δηλώνει απογοητευμένη που έχασε την Ουκρανία (αναφέραμε και εχθές ότι τελικά η Ουκρανία έσκυψε το κεφάλι και πήγε πίσω στη Ρωσία, καώς δε βρήκε τρόπο να απεξαρτηθεί απ΄την ενεργειακή της εξάρτηση από τη Gazprom...