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December 05, 2012, Wednesday

Strategic friendship

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan emphasized during their İstanbul meeting their countries’ deepening economic ties.

However, the two leaders acknowledged but downplayed their differences over how to solve the Syrian crisis, both agreeing on the need to end the conflict. Moscow is a key ally of Syria, while Ankara is supporting the opposition trying to replace Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Star’s Fehmi Koru says foreign policy resembles a tightrope walking show in critical times such as now. It requires not only experience but also great skill and attentiveness to walk across a tightrope without falling off. Koru says the recent meeting between Putin and Erdoğan was a good example of this. Both countries are aware that close cooperation is vitally important for them at a time when the political map of the Middle East is under significant change, and so they act even more carefully.

Milliyet’s Sami Kohen focuses on a question asked by many columnists after the Erdoğan-Putin meeting: Which of the two leaders stepped back on the Syrian issue? Kohen says this is not an accurate question as neither party retreated from their stance on the issue. But there was surely a fine-tuning in the Syrian policies of both countries. While Turkey admitted that the Syrian crisis cannot be solved without Russia, there appears to be a flexibility in Russia’s stance, too, as Russia no longer ignores the opposition groups in Syria, indicating that it has finally realized that Assad can no longer remain in power under these circumstances. During the meeting Erdoğan requested that Putin persuade Assad to end the war and in return, Putin asked Erdoğan to persuade the opposition to stop fighting. This willingness to cooperate marked the meeting in İstanbul, Kohen notes.

Akşam’s Deniz Ülke Arıboğan says Russian-Turkish relations are improving quickly and might lead to a change in regional and global balances. But isn’t there anyone in the two countries opposing this improvement of relations? Arıboğan says there are, and they are many. Their mindset has been mainly shaped by the Cold War mentality. However, these opposing figures in the government are being removed from their posts with the aim of establishing an alliance of Turkey, Russia and US, she asserts.

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