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The Region Nov 27, 2023 – TURKIYE

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  1. Russia-Turkey Economic Ties Flourish as Gas Hub Project Advances. During the 18th meeting of the Russian-Turkish Commission on trade and economic cooperation in Ankara, Turkey and Russia solidified their economic collaboration. Protocols were signed, extending cooperation beyond energy into areas such as rare metal processing and lithium-ion battery-based energy storage devices. Of particular note is the substantial progress made in discussions about a gas hub project in Turkey, aimed at securely delivering Russian gas to Europe, with both nations actively pursuing its realization. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Novak emphasized Turkey’s vital role as a transit corridor and expressed optimism about reaching practical agreements soon. This strengthens their commitment to enhancing economic ties, aiming for $100 billion in bilateral trade, and emphasizing nuclear projects such as the Akkuyu nuclear power plant. Additionally, Russian Ambassador Aleksei Erkhov touched on matters beyond economics, criticizing Western double standards on the Gaza conflict and discussing Russia’s stance on Turkey’s proposed guarantorship for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and efforts for Turkish-Syrian normalization. Turkey’s robust economic growth was also highlighted by President Erdogan, with exports reaching $254.8 billion in the past year, marking a substantial increase and emphasizing the need for both quantity and quality in future export endeavors.
  2. Turkey and Iran’s Wild Ride: Hostage Release and Gaza Ceasefire Quest. In a diplomatic twist, Turkey and Iran have both claimed credit for their roles in securing the release of Thai hostages held by Palestinian militants in Gaza, adding an element of comedy to the situation. While Iran, along with Qatar, alleges its involvement in freeing 10 Thais and a Filipino, Turkey insists that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan actively played a part in the release of 14 Thai nationals, leaving approximately 20 Thais still in captivity. Amid this hostage drama, Turkish President Erdogan and Iranian President Raisi have united in diplomatic efforts to secure a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, denouncing “Israeli brutality in Palestinian territories.” This aligns with the ongoing four-day truce facilitated by Qatar, Egypt, and the United States. Concurrently, Turkish Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmuş called for the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, stressing international protection of Palestinian rights. President Erdogan engaged in discussions with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, emphasizing uninterrupted humanitarian aid to Gaza, while Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan addressed the Gaza crisis at the Union of the Mediterranean forum.
  3. Turkey’s Eurofighter Quest While Facing US Tensions. Turkey finds itself navigating a diplomatic tightrope as it explores the acquisition of 40 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets to bolster its fifth-generation fighter fleet, a decision triggered by the US Congress’ halt in the sale of F-16 fighter jets. However, Germany’s opposition looms large, with the UK and Spain attempting to sway their stance. This move reflects Turkey’s pursuit of alternatives amid escalating US geopolitical tensions and uncertainties surrounding F-16 negotiations, potentially challenging Lockheed Martin’s market dominance. Concerns also emerge from Germany’s military deal restrictions and manufacturing uncertainties, complicating Ankara’s Eurofighter proposal. Simultaneously, Ankara recently released Matin Topuz, a former employee of the US Consulate in Istanbul, after a three-year conviction for alleged ties to a terrorist organization strained bilateral relations, highlighting the delicate balancing act Turkey faces in maintaining its international partnerships.

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