Earlier this month, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko made a two-day official visit to Turkey. Yet before his visit, the Ukrainian and Turkish media launched a large-scale PR-campaign, with the focus of the Turkish media being on the rapprochement of positions to counteract Russia rather than on the political bilateral relations. Needless to say that a common “enemy” is rather a powerful stimulus for closer cooperation. Meantime, unlike Turkish media, the Ukrainian politicians and journalists were spotlighting the economic component of Poroshenko’s visit to Ankara. It was widely rumored that the sides allegedly agreed that “Turkey will make multi-billion investments in economy of Ukraine” and that the two economies might be integrated. Meantime, the true results of the visit proved discouraging. The Ukrainian side tried to conceal its frustration with reports on alleged “breakthrough” of President Poroshenko in the relations with Turkey. To put the things right, let us have a look at the true arrangements, figures, and the terms of economic agreements the two leaders made.
Turkey and Ukraine agreed to step up efforts to create a free trade market of goods and services. It would be a good undertaking, but for one circumstance. According to data of Poroshenko’s Administration – Turkish media indirectly confirm these data – the two countries had been working on given document since April 2015, and the only obstacle was that the Turkish side insisted on introducing quotas in trade relations with Ukraine like the latter had with Europe. Turkey insisted that after signing “the free trade agreement,” the Ukrainian industrial commodities will be further liable to customs duties at full. Tax break will apply to agricultural and industrial raw materials only. It is clear that the Ukrainian vegetables and grain reserves pose no threat to Turkey with its huge agricultural capacity, as they cannot compete with the cheaper Turkish agricultural products. As for the raw materials, Ukraine’s cheap raw materials would make sense for Turkey amid the current crisis. Since Ukraine’s economy is degrading, it has not blamed the given terms. For Ukraine, investment projects of Turkey stand apart.
The point is that Turkey decided to provide just $50 million to Ukraine instead of the cherished multi-billion loans, and PROMISED to boost investments in Ukraine, but failed to back up its promises with any document or memorandum. The fact of the given loan agreement signed by the two presidents was covered so pompously that one might think Turkey is redeeming Ukraine’s foreign debt. What is the most important about this is that Turkey set a series of terms in the loan agreement – Ukrainian media reported and President Poroshenko’s administration representatives have confirmed those reports indirectly. In particular, the key requirement to Ukraine was that the overwhelming part of the loan must be spent on the implementation of investment projects in the Kherson region, Ukraine. The latter can manage these funds only through the organizations belonging to Mustafa Cemilev, the leader of the so-called “Crimean-Tatar Mejlis.”
Cemilev said in an interview with Ukrainian journalists, “Now, we strive for economic and military rapprochement with Ukraine. It is in our favor, of course, I think, and it will help to de-occupy Crimea. Just to be clear, Turkey has always had its national, economic and political interests at heart (!). Now, the situation has changed to better, we think,” Cemilev said without specifying what has changed to better and for whom.
Well, $50 million is insignificant amount for Ukraine, but it will be a significant investment for Kherson region and may directly influence the situation the region. Here is the plan of economic expansion: Turkey provides guarantees equivalent to the principal amount of the loan to Turkish companies that invest in the business entities Mustafa Cemilev’s “economists” will “recommend.” The new jobs will be available primarily for the Tatar population in Kherson.
Actually, along with the military component – “Islamic battalion” that operates in Kherson region under aegis of the “Mejlis” and under control of Turkish security services – there is a strong economic component for final Turkification of the southern regions of Ukraine. The situation threatens to become dangerous for Ukraine, but the country’s leadership closes eyes on that. This is what makes the residents of the Kherson region openly say, “Poroshenko has sold us to Turks and Arabs.”
Yan Matushevsky (Kiev), for EADaily