Erdogan speech
Roger Bara

Britain remains reasonably ambivalent towards Türkiye in light of yet another Erdoğan election win. You can see from the official U.K. government press release how we regard our relationship at this time….

 Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan this evening to congratulate him on his re-election.

The Prime Minister reiterated the strong relationship between the United Kingdom and Türkiye, as economic partners and close Nato allies.

He reflected on Türkiye’s ongoing recovery from the devastating earthquakes earlier this year and pledged the UK’s continued solidarity with the Turkish people.

The leaders agreed to continue working closely together to address shared challenges.

Erdogan & Turkish Flag

Actually, you or me could have written that, it means sod all. I think Britain is wary of Erdoğan’s increasing authoritarianism, but they probably see his re-election as some kind of stability in what is a volatile part of the world. 

So “careful as she goes” is the bottom line – with special attention being paid to how Erdoğan continues to deal with Putin’s war machine.

Certainly, I do not envisage our relationship changing anytime soon, and I don’t think it’s likely that we will emulate some of our times gone by. We have actually been at war several times, such as within the First World War. In contrast, we have also been allied several times, including the Crimean War between 1853 and 1856.

Let’s hope the present peace between us and Türkiye prevails for a while longer.

Russia and Erdogan

Our Rusuk Blog writer Sergey

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, an ever-lasting Turkish leader, is Vladimir Putin’s Glimmer Twin. As authoritarian as Vlad, he also pursues a mission of ‘restoring the great empire of the past’. In his case, the Ottoman Empire. However, he is much more flexible in building his relations with the West. 

Putin just recently fucked up his historical chance to build a stronger Russia being allied with the West. Such an alliance was based on money and technology flowing into Russia in exchange for energy, and Putin didn’t mind it. He was truly frightened of the Western ideological influence, i.e. its liberal political system, the most advanced in the world. If things were going this way, it would, eventually, have buried his regime. He finally has chosen the wrong path, taking the country decades back with no clear future vision. Welcome back to the 17th century, before Peter the Great’s era. On the bright side for him that we don’t treasure: he is still in power. Mission accomplished! 

Erdoğan is a much wiser person in this respect. He feels more confident than Putin when dealing with the West. He believes there can be a strong and developing Turkey, based on traditional Islamic values, that is still open to the West, not confronting it at its own expense, just for the sake of confronting. The cooperation with the West, according to Erdoğan, is in Turkey’s strategic interests. It can make the country stronger without threatening its identity. 

Erdogan & Putin
Erdogan & Putin

This is the crucial difference between these two.

Interestingly, like in the Putin case, Erdoğan’s voters are small-town and country folk from the outback. Less educated, more keen on ‘traditional’ values, and more down-to-earth, this redneck-style ‘deep nation’ is the backbone of Erdogan’s political success. 

Erdoğan feels Putin well because their mindset is similar, based on the traditional stuff they believe is suitable for their respective countries. 

The trick is that Erdoğan keeps outplaying Putin all the time. He keeps on showing Vlad that, as a badass, he’s always one step ahead. For example, In 2015, he shot down a Russian fighter jet after multiple – and reckless – border air intrusions from the Syrian side. Putin was furious in public but couldn’t do anything tangible for ‘revenge’ except to ban Turkish tomato imports. Even that was possible for only a short time. The tomato war, eventually lost by Russia, sounds funny but perfectly demonstrates Putin’s shortsighted, purely tactical approach to foreign policy. 

Turkey is a smart broker in the Russia-Ukraine grain deal, while Putin is a follower. Russia needs Erdoğan much more than Erdoğan needs Russia. 

Putin’s blind and strategically weak policies have led Russia to become dependent on Turkey in more ways than ever. Turkey is not Russia’s last resort, but thanks to Erdogan, it gains more influence while still maintaining working relations, not sliding down to hostilities.

I don’t share Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s world outlook. However, I respect him and admit that he shows a great example to Russia in pursuing national interests. 

How does Erdogan affect my country?

Photograph of Dean Lewis

Most Americans don’t really get why Turkey, also called Türkiye, is angry with us. What did we do? I’ll share an encounter I had with two men working in a stall last season. I came up to their booth and they noticed the unusual accent and asked where I was from. Upon hearing the answer they wanted to know why I tried to overthrow President Erdoğan. What? Me?

That’s the problem: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan controls the press and uses the Americans as a toilet to dump any bad decisions. The US is absolutely responsible for every bad thing that has happened in Türkiye for the last twenty years. Every last thing. Example: Joe Biden tried to interfere in the just completed election. Like Fox viewers, the citizens gobble it up, become angry, and come back for more. Propaganda, in my opinion, is the most serious obstacle to world peace today. But that’s a different blog.

Erdogan & Biden
Erdogan & Biden

Things will not change with another Erdoğan term in Türkiye, except for maybe becoming a bit more extreme. Erdoğan is very transactional and cares little for the issues in a given situation. That’s great news for Mr. Putin, but not so much for Europe. Sweden may never get into NATO, not because Sweden supports terrorism (don’t be goofy), but because Erdoğan wants to show NATO who’s the boss. This plays well inside his base. 

Then why doesn’t Türkiye just quit NATO and go about its own business? Because then Türkiye loses the ability to attack Greece in the future. Erdoğan knows that NATO will defend Greece if Türkiye is out but the Greeks are still in. He also knows how that would end. 

On the other side of this same coin, Europe & the US don’t want to force Türkiye out because Türkiye will soon become a major regional power. After Erdogan, 69, Türkiye could become a bridge to Muslim nations in the Middle East. Maybe real democracy will return and Türkiye can join the EU. Erdoğan says the reason why Türkiye can’t become an EU member is because Europeans hate all Muslims. This is now treated as a known fact inside the country.

So relations between the US and Türkiye will remain noxious. Maybe I’ll close with the final lines from a recent BBC article: “Few expect big foreign policy surprises from Mr Erdogan as he enters his third decade in power. But Ankara’s strategic allies are watching very closely indeed.

What Turkey does matters”