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Erdogan’s aimless visit to Ukraine

08.02.2020 16:46

At the beginning of February Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Ukraine.
His visit was timed to 28th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Ukraine. Officially it was aimed for comprehensive development of trade and economic relations and increasing trade turnover from 4 billion dollars to 10 billion.

At the same time more events were announced. For example, 8th meeting of the high-level strategic Ukrainian-Turkish Council, bilateral business forum and presidential meeting with planned discussion of thorough and bilateral strategic partnership.
Before his visit, President Erdogan said that he does not recognize Crimea as a part of Russia and he is concerned about situation with oppressed Crimean Tatars. Meanwhile Ukrainian ambassador in Turkey stated that Ankara provided 50 million dollars for Ukrainian army needs. For its purchase of weapons to be precise.  

According to the Ukrainian media, Erdogan’s visit grandiosity almost overtook the visit of the U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo. In the Mariinsky Palace – the ceremonial residence of the Ukrainian President , the Turkish leader saluted honor guard with the words “Glory to Ukraine!”. Guards answered with well-known answer since the time of Stepan Bandera: “Glory to the heroes!”

Observers and columnists remarked that the political part of the presidential meeting sensibly overtook the economic part. Escalation of the situation in Idlib influenced Erdogan’s rhetoric. According to the statements made before and during the Turkish President meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky above-stated events were addressed to Vladimir Putin. According to experts it looked like response actions to Russian policy in Syria.
According to another point of view there is one more reason for Turkish President to embrace Ukrainian rhetoric towards Russia. Volodymyr Zelensky promised Erdogan to solve a problem of schools built with the participation of Turkish opposition preacher Gulen. The latter was charged with the organization of a coup in 2016.

In 2018 Ankara required Kiev to extradite five school workers, so Poroshenko gave Turkey two in exchange for Bartholomew support and Tomos acceptance. Meanwhile Orhan Hafarli, Center for political research expert, states that the toughening of the Turkish President’s rhetoric is an attempt to seat the mediators of the Syrian peace settlement at the negotiating table. There is reason to believe that Erdogan counts on understanding from Moscow and plans to convey his opinion to Vladimir Putin on the situation in Idlib in the near future.  

Erdogan’s visit to Ukraine was unsuccessful. The settle the free trade zone was not discussed. Turkey probably will not make significant capital investments in Ukraine because economy of both countries does not allow it to happen. These 50 million dollars will not make huge difference to the Ukrainian army.