Thursday, September 11, 2008

A little geopolitics to keep y'all on your toes

The Turkish-Russian relationship has changed dramatically in recent years, though. Today, Russia is Turkey's largest trading partner, with trade between the two countries expected to reach $38 billion this year, up from $27 billion the year before. Russia also supplies close to half of Turkey's crude oil and 65 percent of its natural gas, used both to heat Turkish home and to run many of the country's power plants. But following the invasion of Georgia, Turkey is suddenly facing the prospect of a resurgent Russian presence near its border. "There is a dilemma which Turkey faces," says Ihsan Dagi, a professor of international relations at Ankara's Middle East Technical University. "Georgia is indispensable to Turkey's overall Caucasian and Central Asian strategy, and is central to its claim to being an energy corridor." On the other hand, he says, "Russia is mostly indispensable for the Turkish economy. What is at stake is Turkey's economic stability." - Eurasianet (emphasis mine)

The presidents of Turkey and Armenia held talks and watched a World Cup qualifier soccer match together during an encounter they said could help herald a new beginning in ties and aid regional security. Their foreign ministers would now work to build on what was achieved during Gul's one-day visit.(...)"The Georgia war was a great cover for Turkey to move forward on Armenia," said Hugh Pope, an author on Turkey and Central Asia and analyst for the International Crisis Group. "Armenia really needs a way out too. It has a lot to gain."(...) If Turkey and Armenia can move beyond the symbolism to re-establish normal relations, that could have huge significance for Turkey's role as a regional power, for energy flows from the Caspian Sea and for Western influence in the South Caucasus region.(...) Landlocked Armenia, a Soviet republic until 1991, could also derive enormous benefits from the opening of the frontier with its large neighbour and the restoration of a rail link. Western-backed pipelines shipping oil and gas from the Caspian Sea to Turkey's Mediterranean coast bypass Armenia and bend north instead to go through Georgia. With that route looking vulnerable after the Russian intervention, Armenia could be an attractive alternative. Reuters
(emphasis mine)

A small minority of Turks, 3 percent, said Turkey should act together with the United States on international matters. The largest percentage of Turks (48 percent) said Turkey should act alone, compared with 20 percent who felt it should act with the countries of the European Union and 11 percent who felt it should act with the countries of the Middle East. Only 1 percent supported Turkey acting together with Russia. The poll also revealed that the Turkish respondents continued to have the most critical views of US and EU leadership in world affairs. Only 8 percent of respondents viewed US leadership as "desirable," and 22 percent viewed EU leadership as "desirable." Today's Zaman - Turkey
(emphasis mine)

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If you read the excerpts above and ruminate a bit, you will see that the Russian reputation as chess masters is entirely deserved.

Let's look again at these points:
  • Russia is Turkey's largest trading partner, with trade between the two countries expected to reach $38 billion this year, up from $27 billion the year before. Russia also supplies close to half of Turkey's crude oil and 65 percent of its natural gas
  • Western-backed pipelines shipping oil and gas from the Caspian Sea to Turkey's Mediterranean coast bypass Armenia and bend north instead to go through Georgia. With that route looking vulnerable after the Russian intervention, Armenia could be an attractive alternative.
  • A small minority of Turks, 3 percent, said Turkey should act together with the United States on international matters. The largest percentage of Turks (48 percent) said Turkey should act alone, compared with 20 percent who felt it should act with the countries of the European Union
So by strangling Georgia, Russia invites Turkey and Armenia, at great mutual benfit, to become the conduit for Caspian energy, thus enabling the EU to bypass Russia though Armenia and Turkey instead of using the now vulnerable route through Georgia.

In this case Turkey then would hold the key to Europe lessening it's dependence on Russian energy.

Turkey, if the polls are correct would use that key with great independence...

Except that Russia is Turkey's greatest trading partner and energy supplier.


Summing up: Turkey holds the key for Europe and Russia holds the key for Turkey, so... Russia holds the key for Europe.

Checkmate, eh mate?
DS

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why, pray tell, is Georgia proper imperiled? S. Ossetia and Abhazia had already de facto seceded.

Anonymous said...

And whoever controls the world island, controls the world...

forensic economist said...

I was appalled this morning to hear that Sarah Palin is willing to go to war with Russia over Georgia.

Now I find out that both Obama and Biden are on record as wanting Georgia to join NATO.

It looks like the "Great Game" of the nineteenth century again.

It wasn't the "End of History", it is the restarting of history back where it was.

Anonymous said...

none of this would be happening if NATO would just stand up to Russia.

but then that would require them to act like "bellicose Americans" right? heaven forbid!

Adam

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Sorry Adam, but one thing is defending the Fulda Gap against Communist expansion and quite another thing is trying mug Russia in its ownbackyard.

Anonymous said...

well that's the difference. i dont see it as a "mugging" them. but i'm sure we could go on and on about that....

Adam