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From Damascus to Kabul: Any Common Ground between Turkey and Russia?

Over the past two decades Turkey and Russia have managed to normalize their bilateral relationship. Trade is flourishing, and human contacts are multiplying. Turkey and Russia also share a vast neighborhood, over which the Ottoman and the Romanov empires used to fight in the past. Now, the region from the Black Sea to the Hindu Kush features a number of active and potential conflicts. Could the happier relationship between Ankara and Moscow form the basis for their cooperation on regional issues or would the difference of interests turn them into rivals again?

From Damascus to Kabul Any Common Ground between Turkey and
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin talks with Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan during their news conference in Istanbul. REUTERS/Osman Orsal
 

The regional order of Western Asia is being shocked and reshaped by upheavals in much of the Arab world; U.S. withdrawals from Iraq and, soon, from Afghanistan; the waning of the European Union’s role as a result of the EU’s internal crisis; China’s and India’s growing interest and presence in the area. However, the region has also witnessed the rise of a power, which has promised to serve as a model for its neighbors and even a mediator in their conflicts. Since 2000, Turkey has demonstrated impressive economic growth, which guaranteed it a place in the G-20 group, and a veritable explosion of its foreign trade. The tripling of per capita GDP within a decade has turned Turkey into a model for the region’s would-be modernizers, massively increasing Ankara’s soft power. With its numerous and well-equipped armed forces now firmly under civilian control, Turkey’s military might is considerable.

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