Turkey: Turkey on target

Since the signing of the Ankara Agreement in 1963, Turkey It was one of the closest partners of the then European Economic Community. With the signing of the agreement for a Customs Union in 1995 and its consideration as a suitable candidate for accession, it seemed that relations between the Eurasian country and the Union were at their best. Following the rise to power of President Tayyip Erdogan, relations between the Union and Turkey have been deteriorating, until reaching the current situation.

The government of Erdogan, aware of the geostrategic situation in Turkey, has tightened the rope on more than one occasion to exercise pressure on its European neighbors. Its privileged geographical position, bordering on Iran and Iraq and being the country that moves the Syrian war away from the borders of the Union, makes it a main actor to solve important geostrategic challenges. This role has come to interfere in the EU’s own policies, since most of the refugees from the Syrian war who have entered Europe have entered through Turkey and – on many occasions – with the consent of the authorities (causing one of the biggest humanitarian crises in decades).

Likewise, since gas was discovered in 2013 in the Eastern Mediterranean, conflicts over the delimitation of territorial waters between Greece, Cyprus and Turkey have been increasing. The Cypriot government, following Turkish explorations, has requested on more than one occasion the imposition of sanctions on Turkey. The drilling in the seabed would not only have caused seismic movements in parts of Greece and Cyprus, but also would have violated – according to these countries – their territorial sovereignty. Despite the lack of a common front within the European Union regarding sanctions against Turkey, The Union has already imposed sanctions against Turkish citizens related to the Government, as well as against companies involved in oil exploration and those who support them.

In addition to tightening the rope with the EU, Turkey also has diplomatic disagreements with the United States. Since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, the intersection of accusations and the clash between the two powers has increased, at first they were the accusations of the then vice president, Joe Biden, on the possible financing that the Turkish Government was providing to Al-Nusra (one of the local affiliates of Al-Qaeda), the support of the American troops to the Kurdish militias or the increasing rapprochement between the Turkish Government and Russia from Vladimir Putin. The constant friction has led the Erdogan government to also consider Turkey’s possible exit from NATO, which would mean the definitive break with the West.

At the height of this dispute, the statements of the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, about Islam, caused a new clash between Tayyip Erdogan and the European Union. The Turkish president questioned the mental health of the French leader and called on other Muslim countries to boycott French products as a gesture of protest.

All these acts have been rejected by the European Union, which has been verified through the High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell who has expressed, together with Parliament and the Commission, their rejection of both President Erdogan’s personal attacks and the boycott of French products, which is contrary to the tariff agreements in force between Turkey and the Union. In addition, the turbulent situation in Cyprus has also led to the imposition of economic sanctions by the Union as well as to rethink the commercial relationship that gives a status singular and preferential to Turkey.

As is always the case when international sanctions turn out to be the tool of choice, the main losers are foreign companies who have made investments and are already present in the market. As for Spanish companies, Turkey has become one of its preferred investment destinations having increased investments from 2012 to 2019 between 3 and 4% per year. In addition to Spanish investment, commercial relations are intense given that Turkey is one of the main destinations for Spanish exports of automobiles and other metallurgical resources, while Turkey -for its part- exports a large quantity of textile products to Spain.

The risks posed by diplomatic tension and instability impairs trade relations with Turkey. In particular, the legal certainty on which the foreign investments already established and that bet on the Ottoman country as a developing market and regional ‘hub’ rest (as it enjoys a privileged position as a gateway to the markets of its surroundings). Proof of your promotion and ambition from the local authorities of consolidate Istanbul as ub financial and commercial of the region is the Istanbul Financial Center project, which aims to turn Istanbul into a center for business by 2022.

However, the Turkish government does not seem to be concerned about the increase in tension and is sparing no effort in clashing head-on with its European allies and the United States. It would seem that Erdogan’s dream of asserting Turkish influence over the region passes – with the support of Russia – through feel comfortable on the target.

* José María Viñals Camallonga. Socio en Squire Patton Boggs.


Covid. Putin says Russia is ready to provide other countries with its vaccine

The President of Russia, Vladimir Putinhe told the G20 leaders this Saturday your country is ready to provide Sputnik V, your coronavirus vaccine, to other nations that need it.

Russia is also preparing its second and third vaccines, Putin said, adding that creating a vaccine portfolio was “our common goal,” NBC News mentioned.

Sputnik V, the first registered Russian vaccine against Covid-19, has proven to be effective in 92% of cases, according to the first test results published by the Gamaleya Center and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (FIDR).

This result was obtained in an investigation with more than 16 thousand volunteers 21 days after receiving the first dose of the vaccine, which is inoculated in two doses, or a placebo.

Read also: Pfizer / BioNTech Alliance requests emergency authorization from the US for its vaccine

Against protectionism

Putin also said that “we have to address the urgent problems that have accumulated in international trade. In particular, efforts need to be made to curb protectionism, abandon the practice of unilateral sanctions and resume supply chains,” Putin said.

He considered that there is no alternative to the World Trade Organization at present and that a stable and effective multilateral trading system based on universal rules and principles is necessary.

Read also: Covid-19 vaccine, in the hands of the FDA

Putin said countries need to intensify effective mechanisms for multilateral cooperation and strengthen key international institutions, while relying on the UN Charter and generally accepting the norms and principles of international law. The two-day summit is organized by Saudi Arabia, the country that holds the rotating presidency of the group.



AMLO, Putin, Bolsonaro and the leaders who have not congratulated Joe Biden

Although many world leaders were quick to congratulate Joe Biden on his victory in the November 3 election, despite the fact that his victory is not yet official and the vote count has not yet finished, some others opted for silence.

The latest to join the Democrat’s recognition for becoming the 46th president of the United States was Pope Francis.

“Joe Biden expressed the appreciation of the Supreme Pontiff in promoting peace, reconciliation and the common ties of humanity around the world,” reads the statement on the conversation released by the team of the next president of the United States.

Meanwhile, the Democrat, who will take office in the White House on January 20, expressed his intention to work together “based on a mutual belief in the dignity and equality of humanity, on issues such as caring for the marginalized and the poor, climate change and the integration of immigrants and refugees into communities ”.

In addition to the Pope, other leaders have made public their congratulations to the virtual president of the United States.

Among them are German Chancellor Angela Merkel; the German president, Frank Walter-Steinmeier; the French president, Emmanuel Macron; the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson; the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández; the president of Colombia, Iván Duque; the president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, and Carlos Alvarado Quesada, president of Costa Rica.

The leaders who did not congratulate Joe Biden

However, there are other political leaders who have been silent on the issue until Biden’s triumph is official.

“With regard to the elections in the United States, we are going to wait for all the legal issues to be resolved. We do not want to be reckless, we do not want to act lightly, we want to be respectful of the self-determination of the peoples and respectful of the rights of others. We want to wait for the issue of the election in the United States to be legally resolved, ”said the Mexican president.

López Obrador chose to put his relationship with the magnate first, before issuing any judgment or congratulations.

“President Trump has been very respectful to us and we have reached very good agreements. We thank you because you have not been an interference and you have respected us. And with candidate Biden the same. I’ve known him for more than 10 years ”, were his words.

Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, is another of the leaders who has not demonstrated for the feat of the democrat. In fact, the president of the South American giant is referred to as a “candidate” when he mentions Biden.

“We recently saw a great candidate for head of state say that if I do not put out the fire in the Amazon, he will raise trade barriers against Brazil. How can we face that? We know that it is not possible only with diplomacy,” he said at the Planalto, seat of the federal government.

“Because when the saliva runs out, you have to have gunpowder, if not, it doesn’t work. You don’t need to use gunpowder, but they have to know what we have,” added one of Donald Trump’s greatest allies.

Like López Obrador, the Russian government indicated that it will wait until the result is official.

“Obviously, you can see certain legal procedures that will occur, which were announced by the acting president; therefore, this situation is different, so we consider that it is correct to wait for the official announcement,” a statement from the administration reads that Vladimir Putin heads.


Putin prefers Trump, but prepares for the Biden era

Nobody in Moscow doubts that the Kremlin I would prefer four more years of Donald Trump. Despite the fact that the vast majority of the expectations created for an improvement in bilateral relations with Washington after the victory of the New York magnate in 2016 have not been fulfilled, among the presidents Vladimir Putin Y Donald Trump “there is a personal connection“completely absent in the case of the democrat Joe Biden, analyzes for EL PERIÓDICO Andrei Kortunov, director of the Russian Council for International Affairs. Despite this, the Russian president seems to “assume Biden’s victory” and multiplies the openings to “establish contact” with a possible Democratic Administration, he considers Aleksándr Shumilin, Principal Investigator at the Institute of Europe.

The last few weeks have been prolific in terms of gestures of the Kremlin leader towards Trump’s rival. “You have to admit things objectively; intentions of which Trump spoke (when he was elected) have not materialized, “Putin said in a television interview, in which he also surprised locals and strangers when assured share with the Democratic hopeful one “ideological basis“A few days ago, the Russian president defended the activities in Ukraine of Hunter Biden, the son of the Democratic candidate, object of scrutiny in these days before the elections by Trump’s entourage, and came to assure that he did not see “nothing criminal “ in them.

Shumilin describes the atmosphere in the corridors of the Kremlin as “alert“Faced with the prospect of a leadership change in the White House. Kortunov believes that unlike what will happen in many European capitals during the american election night, in Moscow everyone will be able to “go to bed soon”, since the certainty is that, whoever wins, the “relations between both countries will continue to be bad“.

Differences between Biden and Trump

This does not mean that for Russia, both candidates mean the same thing. “On issues like arms control or the Iranian atomic program“, Kortúnov contemplates possibilities of cooperation between both governments, since Biden has declared himself willing to extend the life of the treaty New Start on long-range nuclear warheads or to recover the nuclear deal with Tehran. On the other hand, in matters such as the armed conflict in Ukraine, the analyst predicts intense conflict, since he foresees “more support“American to the Government of Kiev in case of Democratic victory. An important part of Biden’s agenda, one of whose main points is” the reestablishment of transatlantic ties and the strengthening of NATO “, will not be to Moscow’s liking, both agree analysts.

Of course, in the event that Biden, a member of a party that accuses Russia of having interfered in the past elections to benefit Trump, arrives at the White House, Shumilin foresees at least one “dialectical escalation“between both governments in the first weeks or months, not ruling out even the formation of a coalition of countries they have suffered destabilization campaigns sponsored by the Kremlin and led by Biden. This whole process could have started already, after the Democrat called Russia the “main threat“for the security of his country in a recent interview.

Russia’s progress during Trump’s term

The improvement in relations that the Russian establishment envisioned when Trump won in 2016 has not occurred. The controversy over Russian interference has prevented the New York tycoon from drawing fruit from his personal sympathy with Putin. Of course, the chaos, contradictions and erratic foreign policy of the Trump Administration have allowed Russia to achieve a series of geopolitical advances in scenarios where Moscow collides with the West, experts consider. In the last four years there has been “a White House that has not conveyed an impression of strength against Russia,” he assured ‘Today’s WorldView’ Alina Polyakova, in front of the European Center for Political Analysis. Because of this, the Russians have been able to carry out “all kinds of tricks” in scenarios such as Afghanistan, Libya, Syria or the Baltic Sea, concludes.


Turkey withdraws from base in northwestern Syria

Turkey is withdrawing troops from a military post in northwestern Syria that was surrounded by the forces of the Arab country’s Army last year.

Ankara is pulling its troops out of an observation post in the town of Morek in Hama province, established by Turkish soldiers in 2018, but is consolidating its presence in other parts of the region, sources familiar with it reported Monday. the topic.

“The dismantling of the base has begun”, a senior Syrian opposition figure close to Turkey told the British news agency Reuters, adding that the withdrawal will last several days.

The source claimed that the withdrawal is part of Turkey’s attempts to “consolidate ceasefire lines” in an agreement reached last March between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the northwestern province. from Idlib, the last stronghold of Takfiri extremists.

Two other sources familiar with the operation, who preferred anonymity, said the recall began on Monday. “The Turkish Armed Forces are not considering evacuating another observation post at this stage”added one of them.

As indicated Reuters, said Turkish post and several others were surrounded last year by the advance of Syrian forces, which consider the Turkish troops as invading in their territory.

However, earlier this month, the Turkish president assured that Ankara will not cease the military operations that began in 2016 in the north of Syrian territory, despite the rejection of the Government of Damascus, chaired by Bashar al-Asad.

Ankara has repeatedly violated the ceasefire agreement, sending military reinforcements to Syria, attacking Syrian positions and even supporting terrorists. According to the latest figures from the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), Turkey has sent 6,280 military vehicles with thousands of soldiers to this Arab country since the truce on March 5.



Video: Turkey sends large numbers of tanks and artillery to Syria

Turkey is again sending another large military convoy to Idlib province, following further clashes with Russian troops in the northwestern region of Syria.

As reported on Thursday by the web portal South Front, a column of Turkish Army armored vehicles and trucks, loaded with weapons, logistics equipment, M60 Sabra MK II battle tanks Y self-propelled howitzers model T-155 Firtina, entered Syrian territory on Wednesday through the Greater Idlib region, located in the north of the province of the same name.

The outlet, which cites local sources on condition of anonymity, adds that the convoy headed directly to the city of Maratah, in southwestern Idlib, where the Turkish Army and terrorists from the so-called Syrian National Army maintain a large military presence.

The aforementioned city is also under the control of terrorist factions led by the so-called Levant Liberation Board (Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, in Arabic), affiliated with the Al-Qaeda gang.

So-called armed opponents describe this deployment as preparation for a possible military conflict with Russian Army forces in the region. “Russians usually start military operations in winter. As a matter of being prepared for any eventuality, we, with our Turkish allies, are taking all kinds of preventive measures.“Said a militiaman.

On October 4, Turkish troops, affiliated with armed and terrorist groups, exchanged fire with Russian forces in northwestern parts of Syria. Russia, in response, bombed several of its targets in the southern Idlib countryside.

The Turkish Government, which sponsored armed and terrorist groups from the beginning, is in direct confrontation with the Syrian Army and its allies since March 1, when he announced the start of a military operation in Idlib province.

Although said military intervention ceased on March 5 as a result of the ceasefire reached between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ankara has repeatedly violated the agreement, sending military reinforcements to Syria and attacking Syrian positions.

The Government of Damascus, headed by Bashar al-Assad, condemns the illegitimate presence of Turkey in Syria, as the Turkish forces and the terrorists supported by Ankara frequently attack Syrian troops, that fight to preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Arab country and to eradicate terrorism.



the Chancellor’s complex relations with China, Russia and Turkey

Ethics and pocket: values ​​and interests. That is one constant dilemma in German foreign policy. Angela Merkel knows this well, for many years she has struck a difficult balance, promoting the international business of the DAX 30 while denouncing human rights abuses and defending democracy beyond her borders. But 2020 has gotten in his way. The opacity with which China concealed the beginnings of the pandemic, the abuses of Beijing in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, the poisoning with Novichok of the Russian opponent Alexéi Navalni and the Turkish aggressiveness in the eastern Mediterranean are making it impossible for the Chancellor to maintain her equidistant pragmatism . Their position, which has come to be seen as lucrative and inspiring, may end up being seen as self-serving, contradictory, and ultimately counterproductive.

Few leaders in Europe, and throughout the West, know how to quickly get the presidents of China, Russia and Turkey on the phone. When things go wrong with the coronavirus, with Ukraine or Belarus, with Syria, Nagorno-Karabakh or Libya, It is Merkel who speaks with Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But is his unappealable recourse to dialogue with these autocrats really effective? Is his conciliatory and negotiation-prone character worth the fait accompli and testosterone? Can the commercial interests of the largest European economy be demarcated from the foreign policy decisions of its Executive?

Carlos Barragan

That it is accepted to lose the idiosyncrasy of Hong Kong, between the indifference and the conformity of world public opinion, is the greatest symptom of a change of era between the superpowers

China: Hong Kong, the Uyghurs and covid-19

2020 was going to be the big year for Germany and China. Berlin had been carefully preparing for months its rotating presidency of the European Council, from July to December this year. The climax was to come in September, when an event was scheduled to take place in Leipzig (Germany). EU-China summit with the leaders of the 27 and the Chinese president. There, a bilateral investment protection agreement was to be signed with great pomp that would make the bloc the preferred partner of the Asian giant.

But the summit did not take place. There was hardly a video conference. The agreement was not reached either. And it seems difficult to finally reach an ambitious and consensual text by December, the deadline for Brussels. The EU has been disappointed by Beijing’s unwillingness to step forward. Europe demands reciprocity – that European companies can do in China what Chinese companies are allowed in Europe – and Beijing does not want to make that qualitative leap. The president of the European Commission (and former Merkel Defense Minister), Ursula von der Leyen, assured that China had a lot to do.

The agreement was ruined by the lack of economic progress, but the European side was seeing less and less politically digestible an agreement with China in the current context, regardless of the letter of the text. The image of Beijing has fallen whole in recent months due to political repression in Hong Kong – where it has ended judicial independence and freedom of expression – and in Xinjiang, where it is estimated that one million of members of the Uighur Muslim ethnic minority are in concentration camps. But also due to the increasing aggressiveness with Taiwan and the feeling that Beijing concealed the severity of the coronavirus in the early stages of the pandemic, which made it impossible to tackle it in time. In addition, it continues to refuse international experts to travel to Wuhan for an independent investigation and has raised its financial contribution to the World Health Organization (WHO), already questioned in its impartiality, increasing doubts about its independence.

Enrique Andrés Pretel

Under normal circumstances, WHO is often profiled in the media. But these are not normal circumstances and the proof is that you are reading this confined to home

These reasons have also led Merkel to distancing itself from China in recent months, blurring, one year after leaving power, one of the pillars of his legacy: his political and, above all, commercial approach to China. In her fifteen years at the Foreign Ministry, she has traveled to the Asian giant twelve times, always accompanied by a select group of businessmen. The chancellor has helped large transnationals such as Volkswagen, Siemens, Mercedes and BASF do multi-million dollar deals in the world’s second largest economy.

An example of this distancing is Germany’s turnaround on the thorny issue of 5G. If the German government, led by Merkel, began by defending the possibility that the Chinese Huawei participated in the deployment of this new telecommunications standard in its territory, now it is maneuvering so that, in practice, it is out of the game. After defending the importance of the free market and the need to adopt the latest technologies as soon as possible, the government’s draft of the new Telecommunications Security Law does not prevent Huawei’s participation, but it qualitatively limits it in practice. According to the economic daily ‘Handelsblatt’, the legislation provides for a technical control and a political scrutiny of each provider of critical elements of telecommunications networks.

File photo of Russian opponent Alexei Navalni.  (Reuters)File photo of Russian opponent Alexei Navalni.  (Reuters)
File photo of Russian opponent Alexei Navalni. (Reuters)

Russia: Navalny and the Nord Stream 2

For Merkel, Putin’s Russia has always been a difficult interlocutor, but an interlocutor. The chancellor did not consider cutting off the dialogue even in 2014, when Moscow militarily annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and armed and financed a separatist guerrilla in eastern Ukraine. He supported expelling Russia from the G8 and imposing a series of sanctions from Europe that are still in force, but kept in contact. In fact, it was mainly her, although she led the then French president, François Hollande, by the hand, who a year later he brought Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to the table, to seal the Minsk Accords.

Merkel has endured a lot from Putin (perhaps more than anyone) and not only in foreign policy, where the chancellor has received rudeness and indifference from the Russian president when addressing the crises in Syria, Libya or, more recently, Belarus. Also in matters that directly affected Germany. In 2016, the Bundestag suffered a serious cyber attack that experts say was launched from Russia, but Moscow denied the biggest. And last year a Chechen ex-combatant and confidant of various Western secret services was shot in broad daylight in Berlin. The author of the shots, arrested shortly after, was a Russian agent. But for the Kremlin it was all a hoax.

Carlos Barragan. Kyiv

The end of the war in Ukraine sheds light on the turbulent geopolitical landscape. Europe is divided, the US is in internal crisis, Russia is weakened and China is positioned as the silent giant

What reasons could Merkel have to put up with this behavior? On the one hand, there are historical ties of Germany and Russia, in the cultural and human. Like the relations between Spain and Morocco, they are not always simple. There is also the conviction that carrot it is always better than stick, a thesis supported by the chancellor and her government.

But there is also the mere business. The most obvious and controversial example is the Nord Stream 2. It is a gas pipeline that directly connects both countries through the Baltic Sea and that, in addition to providing cheap energy insurance for the German private sector, is an oxygen balloon for Gazprom, the Russian state gas company. The project, which is close to completion despite opposition from Washington -which has imposed extraterritorial sanctions against the companies involved- and several European partners, represents a significant financial setback for Ukraine, which according to an estimate will stop receiving 1.8 billion euros annually in passing taxes.

But Merkel’s patience seems to be over with the Navalni case. The Novichok poisoning of the Russian opposition leader has shocked the chancellor, who has demanded cooperation from Russia and a thorough and transparent investigation of what happened, because only the Russian state possesses this nerve agent. The German government has warned that the use of chemical weapons cannot be left “without consequences” and has advanced talks with its European partners for a “joint response”. It will be time to see if the Chancellor is serious and is really willing to break the deck. The suspension of the Nord Stream 2 would be a good start.

Turkey: The eastern Mediterranean and the refugee crisis

Merkel has once again bet on dialogue on the last front that has been opened to her, the crisis in the eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Greece. Ankara’s oil prospecting in disputed waters has raised the temperature in the region. Numerous warships on both sides patrol the area and the possibility that human error could unleash an armed conflict has been warned.

The chancellor has once again displayed her ability to balance here, defrauding Athens and sparking skepticism within the EU. And at the last European summit he has gotten away with it. Merkel has opted to avoid confrontation with Turkey, sacrificing the possibility of building a common European front. He has insisted that we must show “solidarity” with Greece, but at the same time seek a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The chancellor has not taken sides with her community partner -as other members of the bloc have done-, but has wanted to act as a mediator, sending her Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, to speak with the two parties, as if they were two alike . Equidistantes.

Behind this diplomatic effort is its interest in keeping Turkey in NATO, but also its need, for internal political reasons, for Ankara to maintain its commitment to host Turkey in its territory. refugees arriving from Syria and Iraq, preventing them from advancing towards Europe. Because Merkel doesn’t want another crisis like the one in 2015, in which she kept her country’s borders open and allowed a million people to enter, but suffered great political wear and tear and caused a deep internal crisis within the conservative German bloc (and the take off of the extreme right). That cannot be repeated. Not a year from the elections.