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“Erdogan-Poroshenko” Turkey – Ukraine friendship: alliance of convenience?

Photo: belvpo.com

Ukraine has been rushing to “Europe” for the third year in succession. It’s not like Europe is that far, but the marathon is not coming to an end for some reason. Very little is left from the erstwhile Maidan enthusiasm, for which U.S. Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland paid with cookies. Besides, the European Union is no longer happy to see these heroes in Europe. Perhaps, the reason is the constantly repeating, cloying repertoire of the “Revolution of Dignity” or the influx of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa. Saying that Ukraine will definitely not be able to become a member of the EU in the next 20 to 25 years, and not of NATO either, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker did not slip up. It was a long-term outlook by the entire European Union. It proved especially painful for the Ukrainian people when the EU leadership openly hinted that even possible Association with Europe would not speed up that membership process. 

Largely, this makes the April 6 Dutch consultative referendum on the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement not so interesting. What’s the use of such fuss, if even the temporary application of the Association since Jan 1 2016 may become impossible due to the results of that referendum? What a disgrace! This will prove the cynical jokes in the web saying, “take out from the Maidan demands and West’s promises everything that proved confidence game and it will turn out that Ukrainians have been fighting for the rights of the LGBT for already three years…”

Unreasonable gestures as a new type of Ukraine’s diplomacy

Ukraine’s establishment got so used to the patronage of their Western and European masters that amusingly becomes embarrassed when it is expected to act independently.  The Ukrainian leadership presents even the most insignificant events as big diplomatic victories (though awkward gestures look silly), for instance, the supposed breakfast of ‘merciless’ Mr. Juncker and President of the European Council Donald Tusk with Petro Poroshenko. I hope that the physiological effect of tasty breakfast on one’s kindness and sympathy is not the main ground for Ukraine’s diplomatic breakthrough. It seems that Petro Poroshenko is determined to discuss the visa free regime with the European authorities. Will he manage to do it? No one knows. At least, he will have a tasty breakfast.

Objectively speaking, Ukraine has prepared its “joker” for Europe. Ahead of the Dutch referendum, Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko is travelling to Amsterdam to campaign. It will be quite interesting for the Dutch to listen to him. Yet, a very smart translator is needed so that not to let the mayor express his own thoughts.

On the eve of the upcoming Brussels breakfast of kindness, Victoria Nuland badly devaluated Poroshenko’s arguments by saying at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the International Monetary Fund like the U.S. government cannot ensure additional financial aid to Ukraine due to political instability and corruption in the country.  It was an extremely untimely and completely insensitive statement toward the devoted and Europe-oriented president of Ukraine, especially that he stood at the origins of that political instability in Ukraine.

“And the two desolate met”

It is not surprising that such unfavorable foreign policy situation for Ukraine and its leadership, particularly, makes that leadership take more active steps. Actually, Petro Poroshenko directly supervises the foreign policy of the country, perhaps, because Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin failed to earn his confidence. Besides, maybe the president is feeling nostalgia for the times he was foreign minister at the second government of Yulia Tymoshenko (Poroshenko was foreign minister in the period from October 9 2009 up to March 11 2010). Therefore, the prior direction of Ukraine’s foreign policy is pro-American (partly pro-European, within certain limitations). The last two years showed that Ukraine has lost its friends and reliable foreign partners, but it will further do only what fits the foreign policy of the United States – no own initiatives.

Therefore, no one was surprised at the Turkish-Ukraine union taking shape.  Although Turkey and Ukraine are two absolutely different-type states (starting from the political system up to cultural traditions and religion), they have something in common: both the countries were once offered European association as attraction. Both the countries fully depend on the United States at the current stage of their development. Therefore, they are already in Pax Americana (lat. American peace).

There were similar attempts to create something of the kind in the region yet not so long ago: GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development has been operating in the Black Sea sector since 1997. Actually, this anti-Russian territorial union of the former Soviet republics is middling.  As for the union of a former soviet state and a NATO-country, it will be something new in this region.

That is why, during Petro Poroshenko’s visit to Ankara on March 9-10, the key issue on agenda was “the establishment of two countries’ cooperation in the defense field.” In simple words, they were trying to fulfill promptly the evident Western directive to create a prototype of a military bloc in the Black Sea region (on the motives of the unforgettable SEATO, CENTO (The Baghdad pact) or ANZUS, which the United States had been knocking together across the world in 1950-1960). Now, it is about Ukraine and Turkey. Who knowns, maybe the West –oriented Bulgaria or Georgia have been “knocked to” them already?

Consequently, the meeting of Ukraine-Turkey High-level Strategic Council in Ankara resulted in a joint declaration of intention to boost cooperation in the security field, particularly, in the Black Sea region, as well as in the field of defense and industrial facilities.  The meeting was co-chaired by the two presidents, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Petro Poroshenko.

All the other agreements signed during the Turkey-Ukraine talks stemmed from that fundamental document. I am speaking about the possible creation of a free trade area by the end of 2016, a possible $50 million loan to Ukraine at an annual interest of 2.5%, and with a 5-year maturity, and even the quilts, sleeping bags and tents for Ukrainian military for $810,000 that were delivered to Ukraine by two boats. The last, quite significant moment of the talks was that the so-called “Tatar battalions” will become part of Ukraine’s Armed Forces and National Guard, as Lenur Isliamov and Mustafa Cemilev said.  Maybe, Turkey is supplying these very battalions with what is left from Ukraine’s navy. Maybe, it seeks to use these battalions to bring back Crimea that once belonged to it de-facto. After all, Turkey has already involved in the undeclared war of Cemilev’s Mejlis against Crimea. Someone would say that Poroshenko called Crimea part of Ukraine. Maybe. So what about the reports on Erdogan’s “pics” from Kherson region?

Earlier on March 16, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed the decree, putting into force the March 4 decision of the National Security and Defense Council “On Ukraine’s security and defense sector development concept.”  Under the document, the most-pressing issue is still “the threat of Russian aggression with the goal of depletion of the Ukrainian economy by undermining social and political stability in order to destroy Ukraine and seize its territory,” the document says. There are other threats too: “the use of military force, as well as a hybrid war technology; temporary occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and further actions on destabilization in the Baltic-Black Sea-Caspian region.”
However, it’s just a thought…

Andrey Chesnokov, Kiev

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