By Barçın Yinanç
August 17, 2023
It is naïve to expect Turkey to distance itself from Russia. As in the past, Turkish-Russian cooperation will go hand in hand with competition as the two leaders cannot afford to sever their ties. Erdoğan is unlikely to pivot to the West at the expense of turning his back to Putin. He is likely to continue his careful balancing act between Russia and the West. While there are reasons that impel Erdoğan to improve Turkey’s relations with its Western partners, the Turkish president must in fact also make sure to nurture the relationship with Russia. Erdoğan will use the ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership and his ties to Putin as leverage on the EU.
By Micha’el Tanchum
February 20, 2020
The Turkey-Russia relationship is in the midst of a major reset. The outbreak of hostilities in Syria's Idlib province has left thirteen Turkish soldiers dead and seven Turkish military posts under siege by Russian-backed Syrian government forces. Prior policy convergences between Turkey and Russia had raised speculation about the prospect of a Turkish-Russian strategic partnership dominating the security architecture on Europe's southern borders. However, Ankara seems to have overplayed its hand in what is fundamentally a transactional relationship with Moscow. A total rupture in Turkish-Russian cooperation is unlikely, even in the event of a Turkish counter-offensive. However, Russia's reduced cooperation with Turkey will likely result in Russia's further development of more robust strategic partnerships with Turkey's rivals – the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
By John C. K. Daly
July 5, 2018
For years Turkey, which imports 90 percent of its energy needs, has considered any and all options to lessen its import costs, including nuclear. The country’s energy requirements have persistently pitted the government against the country’s environmentalist lobby, one of the strongest in the Middle East. Despite such concerns, Turkey’s nuclear lobby has scored a decisive victory, as the ground has been broken for the nation’s first nuclear power plant (NPP) at Akkuyu on the southern Mediterranean coast.
Akkuyu will consist of four 1,200 megawatt (MW) VVER reactors producing a total of 4,800 MW. The Akkuyu NPP, being constructed by the Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, is projected to meet 10 percent of Turkey's future energy requirements. The first unit of the plant is scheduled to come online in 2023, with the NPP’s overall cost projected to be $20 billion.
KEY ISSUE: On April 3 President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin at the presidential complex in Ankara, where they attended via teleconference the Akkuyu NPP groundbreaking ceremony, an event described by Erdoğan as a “historic moment.” Putin remarked, "It is difficult to overestimate the significance of this large-scale, innovative project. In essence, today we are not only witnessing the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant, but we are also creating the basis of Turkey's nuclear industry as a whole.” Despite such optimism about bringing the facility’s first reactor online in 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey, as highlighted by both Putin and Erdoğan in their ceremonial speeches, it remains to be seen whether such an ambitious agenda will be fully implemented in the future.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.