Turkey and Russia pursue contradictory policies in Syria. Looking from this perspective, it is possible that Turco-Russian relations to have a conflict in Syria. Prof. Dr. Mustafa Sitki Bilgin said that, when looking from the historical and economic perspective, the relations between Turkey and Russia will not be harmed.
-Russia has been providing diplomatic and military support to the Assad regime in Syria for the last 5 years. After the military involvement of Russia into the war, how do you consider the relations between Turkey and Russia will be?
Prof. Dr. Bilgin said: “The policies followed by Turkey and Russia on Syria are completely different from each other. Turkey wants a Syria without Assad, and Russia wants to keep Assad on power. Turkey did not bring this issue to the level which will defect the relations between both countries. Therefore, Turkey pursues a balanced policy on this issue. The real problem is caused by the double standard policies of USA and the West. When the uprisings started in Syria, Western countries said that Assad will be overthrown in three months and they put Turkey at the forefront, then they left Turkey alone. Turkey has realized these things and is now giving the signals to close the gap of contradictions between Russia and Turkey. What President Erdogan underlined by saying “We can have talks with Assad” can be understood as such.”
-It is known that Russia openly supports Syria. But now Russia sent its military troops to Syria. Why did Russia wait for 4 years?
Prof. Dr. Bilgin said: “Syria had been one of the main strongholds of Russia in the Middle East since the Soviet era. They had three strongholds in the Middle East; Egypt, Iraq and Syria. Egypt became a Western ally in 1978. Iraq has also shifted to the West with the Second Gulf War and American occupation in 2003. Syria was the only country remaining. Russia is determined to keep Syria. Before, Russia was supporting the Syrian regime diplomatically and by providing armament. Now the support turned out to be militarily. There are two reasons for Russia. First, the Second Cold War era has started. The signals of this were seen with 2008 Georgia crisis and the recent Ukrainian crisis. USA and West have launched economic sanctions towards Russia. So, Russia started to use the cards in its hands against the sanctions of the West. Russia has directly involved in the Syrian crisis in order to break the economic sanctions towards it and to keep its global power in the global competition of power. Another reasons is the advance of anti-Assad Free Syrian Army to Damascus and Latakia. Russia has sent its military troops to Syria in order to keep Assad regime in power and due to global power competition.”