On January 19, MGIMO University hosted a round table discussion entitled “The Turkish parliamentarism and the Russian-Turkish relations”, organized by the international analytical center Rethinking Russia and the Center for Oriental Studies.Participants discussed the alignment of political forces, the position of the government and the opposition (both parliamentary and non-parliamentary) in Turkey, as well as the state of the Russian-Turkish cooperation.
Vladimir Avatkov, who led a group of authors, presented the monograph “Foreign policy discourse of the leading actors of Turkish politics” during the event. It was prepared for publication by the Center of Oriental Studies, International Relations and Public Diplomacy and the International Analytical Center Rethinking Russia.
The monograph is the first comprehensive study of the speeches and statements of Turkish party leaders. Such an unusual approach to the study of Turkey’s domestic politics gives the audience an opportunity to assess how the projects announced by representatives of the country’s political elite, have been implemented in real life, and whether they have been implemented at all.
The round table brought together major Russian Turkic studies and international politics experts. In addition to the authors of the monograph among those present at the event were Yevgeny Primakov, Aleksandr Nikitin, Gevorg Mirzayan and others. Russian Turkologists Aslambek Mozloev, Viktor Nadein-Rayevskiy and Sergey Druzhilovskiy were also present and welcomed the publication.
Rethinking Russia Director Yan Vaslavskiy greeted participants and noted that despite the state of the Russian-Turkish relations it is crucial to maintain dialogue between experts and continue the research work. “In this sense, Turkey remains an object of study for us. Only through high-quality intelligence and expertise it is possible to build effective policies and make right decisions,” – said Mr Vaslavskiy.
Opening the discussion on the Russian-Turkish relations, Vladimir Avatkov noted that in recent years there has been a clear separation of economic and political ties between Moscow and Ankara. If the economic component has been gradually, all other areas lagged far behind. According to experts, it was one of the causes of the ongoing crisis.
According to Yevgeny Primakov, the host of the show “International Review”, in shaping its foreign policy Russia has always been a legitimist and could not afford “flirting” with the opposition in partner countries. Now, however, Moscow will have to reconsider this strategy, but need to bear in mind the feasibility of building relationships with various opposition groups. Other participants shared this view, citing the recent visit of the co-chairman of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Democratic People’s Party Selahattin Demirtaş to Moscow.
MGIMO Professor Alexander Nikitin expressed the view that the conflict between Russia and Turkey is a conflict between powers that have their own macro-civilizational projects. For President Erdogan it is the revival of Turkey’s Ottoman grandeur, while for President Putin it is the idea of the Russian world. Once these projects have faced each other, they immediately clashed.
A similar position was held by Gevorg Mirzayan, a correspondent for the “Expert” magazine. He believes that Moscow and Ankara are not satisfied with each other’s global agenda. In his opinion, if Russia had not reacted so harshly to the downed bomber, other regional actors might have perceived it as Moscow’s weakness and would have continued to provoke Russia in Syria.
Mirzayan believes that up until the end Moscow was counting on President Erdogan’s apology for the incident. Professor of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Federation Aslambek Mozloev expressed a similar view. According to him, the incident with the Russian aircraft brought the “romantic” period in the Russian-Turkish relations to an end. Mr Mozloev thinks, however, that it was only Russia, however, who believed that such warm relations ever existed.
The current stage in the Russian-Turkish relations is characterized by stability bordering on confrontation, but only time will tell how deep the scars from the crisis are going to be. As a result of the roundtable discussion experts agreed that Turkey and its political dynamic remain objects of study for Russian scholars. In this regard, the monograph “The foreign policy discourse of the leading actors of Turkish politics,” is an important step in the development of Turkology in Russia.