Restart on the Neva: what to expect from Erdogan’s visit to Putin

Meeting after a quarrel

On Tuesday, August 9, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the first time in a month after a failed military coup traveling outside of their country. Make it will not in a friendly NATO country, and in St. Petersburg, where the policy is scheduled one day meeting with Vladimir Putin.

As stated last week, the Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov, the meeting will not be limited to bilateral consultations. After the business Breakfast is expected to meet with Ministers, and in the evening — event with the participation of Russian and Turkish businessmen.

This is the first meeting between the two leaders since November, when the Turkish air force aircraft attacked a Russian su-24 bomber near the Syrian-Turkish border. In the days that followed, Moscow has imposed against the Turkish economic sanctions, has forbidden flights in the country’s civil aviation.

In late June, Erdogan Putin sent a message of apology for the downed plane, and within a few days air communication with Turkey were restored. In the days of the military coup, the flights were temporarily prohibited, but Putin has supported the legitimacy of Erdogan’s government. At the same time the leaders agreed to hold a personal meeting.

Turkish interest

In Russia, Erdogan is going to discuss primarily political rather than economic issues, said the head of the research Center for postindustrial society Vladislav Inozemtsev. And in Ankara, and Moscow is annoyed by the actions of the European Union, with countries closely tied to trade with Europe. Accusing the West of supporting the military coup, Erdogan was forced to seek new allies, including Russia.

“The EU is jerking us around for over 53 years. We methodically prove our honesty and expect the same from the EU. It needs to abandon the policy of double standards”, — said last week Erdogan, in an interview with the Russian news Agency TASS. Then he predicted a breakthrough in Russian-Turkish relations, saying that his visit “will open a new page in relations between the two countries.”

According to the head of the Center of Asia and the Middle East RISS Anna Glazova, amid complications with the West, Erdogan would like to find a strong regional allies, “and Moscow is in the first place.” Russia, according to the expert, is also a potential leading ally Turkey to fight the terrorist threat, and this issue certainly will be raised at the meeting of the two leaders.

Erdogan, according to experts, may ask Moscow to take his side in the fight against political minority, which Ankara regards as a terrorist. Glazov suggests that at the leaders ‘ meeting we will talk about the Kurds — Erdogan will seek to ensure that Moscow did not support the struggle of people for independence, which threatens the territorial integrity of Turkey. According to the Deputy Director of the heritage Institute Eugene Bagrickogo, the Turkish leader will recall that in Russia there are scattered groups of supporters of Fetullah gülen — Ankara considers him as the mastermind behind a recent attempted military coup and demand their closure.

Ahead of the visit of the Pro-government Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak has dedicated an article to the prospects for the resumption of Russian-Turkish trade. According to the Federal customs service of Russia, the bilateral trade volume amounted to in January-may 2016 only 57% from last year’s level over the same period — or about $6.1 billion versus $10.7 billion According to Bagrickogo, from the freezing of trade and economic relations is much stronger suffers, the Turkish side is — that is why Putin will have a more favorable negotiating terms on other fronts.

Tourism last year brought Turkey $31.5 billion in revenue, which amounted to about 4% of GDP. After the cooling of relations with Russia and a series of terrorist attacks (scared Europeans) industry this year has fallen. In the spring, the country faced the largest since the beginning of the century the flow of tourists in the quarter April—June 2016 the country’s income from tourism amounted to $5 billion, which is 35% less than the same period last year.

As Glazov notes that the question of recovery of the tourist flow is important for the Turkish government and from the point of view of internal security and stability. Otherwise the lack of income from tourists will cause serious discontent among Turkish businessmen, warns the expert.

Important for Ankara issue is the lifting of the embargo on the supply to Russia of Turkish food. “We must step by step to thaw interaction in trading-economic sphere”, — said in July Vice-Premier of Russian government Arkady Dvorkovich.

Russian expectations

According to Ushakov, the agenda will stand the gradual restoration of bilateral relations in all their volume. Specific the assistant to the President highlighted the situation in Syria, the payment of compensation for the downed su-24 and the resumption of import of Turkish goods to Russia. “The deficit will not” — said the press-Secretary of Russian leader Dmitry Peskov.

Among the main demands of Moscow — cooperation on the Syrian issue. Moscow and Ankara openly supported the two different sides of the conflict: the government of Bashar al-Assad and the armed opposition, respectively.

Syria’s largest Metropolitan area, Aleppo is close to the Turkish border, and the last months there are urban combat between government troops and the opposition. Head of the St. Petersburg centre of studying of the modern Near East Gumer Isaev stressed that none of the parties is now in a favorable strategic position, although it was the capture of Aleppo would mean a serious advantage of a particular strength, in particular, at the next peace negotiations. “The issue of cutting off the supply lines of the opposition in Aleppo from Turkey is crucial for the Assad regime, and prevent it from happening — for the rebels,” — said Isayev .

In the opinion of Glazova, it is the closure of the road to Aleppo will be a basic requirement on the Syrian issue. “The position of Moscow and Ankara differ and will continue to diverge on the question of Syria, but politicians are able to find a compromise. Moreover, given that Syria is now definitely the number one issue for both parties”, says Borawski.

“Without the participation of Russia is impossible to find a solution to the Syrian problem. Only in cooperation with Russia we will be able to settle the crisis in Syria,” Erdogan said.

Response the proposal would be the strengthening of cooperation in the black sea region and the Caucasus. “It is no coincidence that unfreezing of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict took place precisely in the period of crisis in Russian-Turkish relations,” said Glazov. As influential powers, Russia and Turkey are the guarantors of security in this conflict, their negotiability depends on peace in the region.

The Russian side is interested in the resumption of tourist arrivals to Turkey. The losses of Russian tour operators from the ban on Charter flights over the past six months amounted to no less than 15 billion rubles (about $230 million), estimated by the head of the Agency Cyril faminskii. Earlier in July, several tour operators have reported that in the case of the transition to the Charter system operations package tours from Russia to Turkey will drop by the amount of up to 30%. Now in conversation with these estimates confirms the representative of “TEZ Tour” Larissa Akhanov.

Thus, according to Fanboy, even the day before Putin’s meeting with Erdogan, the market players did not know whether to wait for her decision on the resumption of Charter flights. Last week from a trip to Turkey back the interdepartmental Commission of the Russian Ministry of transport, whose task was to evaluate the level of security at the airport to receive the Russian tourists. Report to the government the Commission has to prepare in the coming days. In any case, says Akhanov, restoration of Charter flights will take about two weeks, so Russian tourists can theoretically catch the 2016 season, which in Turkey is usually completed by the end of October.

Finally, Moscow is interested in resuming the construction of the gas pipeline “Turkish stream”. Work on its construction was suspended in December 2015. “We have always been open to dialogue on “Turkish stream” open now,” — said in June the official representative of “Gazprom” Sergei Kupriyanov. Prior to this, in may it was reported that Russia may pave an alternative route of the pipeline to Greece through Bulgaria. In the end, right before the visit to Russia, Erdogan acknowledged: “We are ready to take steps towards the realization of this project, discuss it and make a decision. Any obstacles to this no.

Last year, Russia supplied to Turkey via the existing system “the Blue stream” about 27 billion cubic meters of natural gas. The planned capacity of the “Turkish stream” is 63 billion cubic meters annually.