Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Dear Friends and Constant Neighbours

"The fact Mr. Putin called me the next day after the coup attempt was a very strong psychological factor [in their fortuitous re-engagement]."
"The axis of friendship between Moscow and Ankara will be restored.l"
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

"Your visit today, despite a very difficult situation regarding domestic politics, indicates that we all want to restart dialogue and restore relations between Russia and Turkey".
"It is our principle position (that) we are always categorically against any attempts at unconstitutional deeds [attempted coup occasioning Erdogan's purge of conspirators]."
"Do we want a full-spectrum restoration of relations? Yes and we will achieve that. Life changes quickly."
Russian President Vladimir Putin Constantine Palace, St.Petersburg
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia. | Photo: Reuters
How charmingly touching, what a lovely resolution to the misfortune of unpopularity striking two renowned figures in a world of hostility to overt self-aggrandizing bullies and autocrats, preying on vulnerable neighbours. Which just goes to prove that there is empathy and kindness in the world. Two kindred souls rediscovering one another, and in the process once again swearing allegiance to each other's qualities as world leaders that other world leaders have chosen to conspire against.

How swiftly things change in the world of Realpolitik. And just to think of it, the crumbling chaos that is Syria brought these two star-crossed lovers together Despite that Russia is air-bombing in support of the murderous Syrian regime, and Turkey was and perhaps still is, supporting the Islamic State. But accommodation to opportunities when it seems as though erstwhile friends and colleagues have created a discomfiting distance, is the stuff of which diplomatic self-interest is made, after all.

During times of stress when friends and supporters melt away in disgusted distaste at a NATO colleague's resort to tyranny and violence, Turkey's Erdogan's dismay at the distance created by his imperious decision to attack the only militias the West is reliant upon in the Kurds, to confront Islamic State, further widened by his later determination to order the United States of America to render unto capital punishment justice Fethullah Gulen whom he accuses of creating the coup.

"If the U.S. does not deliver [Gulen] they will sacrifice relations with Turkey for the sake of a terrorist", announced Turkey's Justice Minister, Bekir Bozdag, repeating his master's voice, busy for the nonce in St.Petersburg, mending fences that will bring Russian tourism back to Turkey and restore plans for a gas pipeline traversing Turkey to European clients eager for Russian gas.

Russia's isolation from the wider world community was occasioned by Moscow's decision to scoop the Crimea out of Ukraine's geography. Allies are hard to come by, and Erdogan's deeply felt apology for ordering a Russian jet entering Turkish airspace for a millisecond was an object lesson in humble regret. Ankara's need of Moscow's support, having decided to sacrifice its position in NATO and an uneasy alliance with the U.S. simply represents the reality of crisis management.

And to hell with a European Union that turns up its nose at offering membership to Turkey. Ankara still holds the trump card of restraining Syrian refugees from once again flooding Europe, which erred strategically when it hemmed and hawed over visa-free travel for Turks to the EU's Schengen zone. For which they will yet once again pay dearly.

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