According to the results of the second round of the presidential elections in Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan wins in the competitive struggle and extends his term of office until 2028.
Based on the results of processing 99.85% of the ballot boxes, Recep Tayyip Erdogan won 52.16% of the votes, while his rival, the candidate of the united opposition Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu received 47.84%. The gap of more than 4% of the votes, which is very solid by the standards of Turkish domestic political realities, made it possible for the High Electoral Commission to declare Erdogan the winner on the day of voting.
In terms of the intensity of interest in the domestic information space, the elections in Turkey are on a par even with the US presidential elections. If there is a stretch in this statement, it is not too much. I will say more: in the West, the degree of interest in the election of the Turkish president went off scale. So much so that they have been labeled as “the most important elections in the world in 2023.”
And yet: what about the Turkish elections to the Russians, why such an interest? If I were faced with the difficult task of answering this question in one word, I would put it this way: Turkey, a key southern neighbor of Russia and a regional power that is taking steps towards the status of a global power, chose not only the president of the country – it chose the path of its further development .
There is a path that the country has been following since 2002, when Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party came to power.
And there is an alternative way, which was offered to the people by the candidate from the united opposition – Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
If we leave aside the domestic Turkish agenda and focus only on the country’s international position, then the choice between Erdogan and Kılıçdaroglu is the choice of the citizens of the Republic of Turkey between their own, Turkish path of development and a return to the western road.
As part of his own path, President Erdogan is trying to pursue a balanced policy in the international arena, equidistant from the great powers, with the primacy of his own, Turkish goals and objectives. In contrast to the same Europe, which before our eyes was dragged into the funnel of US interests.
One of the results of the Turkish balancing policy, the efforts of the so-called “leadership diplomacy” of Presidents Putin and Erdogan, was the implementation by Russia and Turkey of a number of strategic projects. I note that – to the great displeasure and even active opposition of the US and the EU.
We are talking about the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, Russian S-400 systems and much more, including the Astana format of the Syrian settlement and plans to create a Russian-Turkish gas hub.
Turkey’s non-alignment with the Western sanctions against Russia caused a boom in Russian-Turkish relations in all directions. The trade turnover is breaking historical records, Russian business is switching to Turkey, the Turks are actively replacing the West that is leaving “beyond the horizon” in Russia, and the number of open Russian “daughters” in the country has gone into the thousands, when before it was only about dozens of opening companies a year.
In addition, the disappearance of the West from the Russian tourist map has switched to Turkey and an additional flow of Russian “VIP tourists” from among those who previously preferred conditional Nice and Miami. Now they have gone to explore Turkish premium resorts, including the “Turkish Rublyovka” – the Bodrum Peninsula. Briefly summarizing: following the results of the turbulent 2022 for Russia, the epithet “Turkey is our everything” has become widely used, our relations with this country have played with such colors.
On the other hand, there was also a view of the defeated opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Turkish foreign policy.
In his election campaign, he spoke about the need to “normalize” relations with the US and the EU as the main task of Turkish foreign policy. And the “normalization” of relations, obviously, would require the elimination of sources of tension by Turkey with Western “partners”.
But it’s no secret that a significant proportion of the problems between Turkey and the West are somehow connected with Russia. And here you can list exactly the same projects that are mentioned in a few paragraphs above. Here their continuation was and remains extremely undesirable for the West. Not to mention the fact that the West insistently demands the official imposition of sanctions against Russia from the Turkish government.
So the opposition foreign policy, striving for a return to the West, inevitably had to pay for the notorious “normalization” of its relations with Russia. I’ll clarify right away that with an unguaranteed result from the West itself.
Opposition candidate Kılıçdaroğlu, obviously wanting to “please” the West, on the eve of the first round of the presidential elections held on May 14, publicly announced Russian interference in the elections, and on the eve of the second round, held on May 28, he criticized the project of the Russian-Turkish gas hub for the fact that he, they say, will lead to “energy dependence” of Turkey on Russia. Both thesis, obviously, do not stand up to criticism and caused astonishment among specialists.
So for Russian observers there were no two opinions: during the Turkish presidential elections, on May 14 and 28, Turkey chose between albeit “close”, in the words of Sergey Lavrov, but a partner for Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with whom we “they ate a pood of salt,” and the unpredictable, but distinctly pro-Western Kemal Kılıçdaroglu.
The election of Turkish President Erdogan, I emphasize, does not promise Russia an easy life in the southern direction. There are a number of issues on which our countries do not agree and are even “on opposite sides of the barricades.”
But, on the other hand, the Black Sea straits for the NWO period, according to the Montreux Convention, are blocked by Turkey for NATO warships, and Turkey remains a destination and hub for Russia in the broadest sense of the word – “import substitution”, “parallel import”, energy, financial, logistics, tourism, etc.
And, most importantly, Turkey retains its subjectivity in our eyes, when the Russian side can count on the fact that someone else is not constantly looming behind the Turkish back, and decisions on our bilateral relations are made in Ankara, and not in Washington or Brussels. In politics, one should look not for mythical “friends”, which do not exist, but for subjective partners. And our country received such a subject partner in the face of Turkey with the victory of Recep Tayyip Erdogan – until 2028. And then we’ll look…
The author expresses his personal opinion, which may not coincide with the position of the editors.