An Ambiguous Partnership: The Serpentine Trajectory of Turkish-Russian Relations in the Era of Erdoğan and Putin

An Ambiguous Partnership: The Serpentine Trajectory of Turkish-Russian Relations in the Era of Erdoğan and Putin. Brookings Institution. Pavel K. Baev and Kemal Kirişci. September 2017

Russian-Turkish relations have experienced such sharp turns in the last couple of years that further volatility appears to be the only safe forecast. These two major European powers have a centuries-long history of competitive interactions; yet, mutual understanding and trust is hard to come by. Even though the relationship has a solid economic foundation, conflicting geopolitical ambitions clearly prevail over the economic rationale. There is furthermore a pronounced similarity in the way Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan conduct themselves: while they share mistrust of Western policies and resentment for being excluded from the European integration project, they nonetheless remain very different in their political experiences and worldviews, and only reluctantly make pledges of friendly cooperation. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 27 pages, 3.72 MB].

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“Like a Prison”: Asylum-Seekers Confined to the Greek Islands

“Like a Prison”: Asylum-Seekers Confined to the Greek Islands. Refugees International. Izza Leghtas. August 14, 2017

Greek government policies, taken to implement the March 2016 EU-Turkey agreement, have left thousands of men, women, and children trapped on Greece’s small islands in appalling circumstances. These policies seek to end the arrivals of asylum-seekers and migrants to Greece by sea, but have left thousands suffering in harsh living conditions, deprived of services and medical care, and often experiencing deteriorating mental health. A number of asylum-seekers refer to their lives confined on the Greek islands as living in a “prison.”

This report examines the impact of the EU-Turkey agreement and the practices of Greek authorities in their handling of thousands of asylum-seekers and migrants. The report is based on findings from an RI mission to the islands of Lesvos, Chios, and Samos in July 2017.

Though the EU-Turkey statement does not explicitly require it, Greece has put in place a containment policy on its Aegean islands with the aim of sending people back to Turkey: as a general matter, asylum-seekers and migrants arriving on these islands are not allowed to leave for the mainland. While the law allows for some people, including those identified as vulnerable to be allowed to leave for the mainland, flaws in the system meant to identify such people results in many people falling through the cracks. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 16 pages, 3.50 MB].

The United States and Turkey: Friends, Enemies, or Only Interests?

The United States and Turkey: Friends, Enemies, or Only Interests? Brookings Institution. Aslı Aydıntaşbaş and Kemal Kirişci. April 2017

In “The United States and Turkey: Friends, Enemies, or Only Interests,” Aslı Aydıntaşbaş and Kemal Kirişci discuss the myriad of factors that have strained Washington’s relations with this long-standing NATO ally and offer various strategies to reboot ties in a period of uncertainty and chaos across the Middle East. Bilateral problems in this long alliance—such as Washington’s support for Syrian Kurds in Syria, the thorny issue of extraditing Fethullah Gülen, seen as the mastermind of the coup attempt in July 2016, or the long-term implications of Turkey’s blossoming relations with Moscow—are discussed within the context of the larger regional equation, underlining the need for new parameters and a realistic new agenda between Ankara and Washington. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 30 pages, 2.75 MB].

NATO and Russia in the Black Sea: A New Confrontation?

NATO and Russia in the Black Sea: A New Confrontation? Center for Strategic & International Studies. Boris Toucas. March 6, 2017

With the recent completion of the NATO Sea Shield exercise and NATO defense ministers’ approval of an enhanced force presence in the Black Sea, as Russian aircraft fly close to U.S. vessels operating there, this commentary focuses on the strategic implications of NATO’s military presence in the Black Sea. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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“Except God, We Have No One”: Lack of Durable Solutions for Non-Syrian Refugees in Turkey

Except God, We Have No One”: Lack of Durable Solutions for Non-Syrian Refugees in Turkey. Refugees International. Izza Leghtas and Daniel Sullivan. February 7, 2017

Turkey is the world’s largest host of refugees and asylum-seekers, with the majority – 2.8 million – having fled the conflict in neighboring Syria. Another 290,000 come from other countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran.

The Turkish government has taken a number of positive steps to improve the lives of Syrians in Turkey, particularly in education and employment, even holding out the possibility for citizenship. Humanitarian actors are primarily focusing their efforts on the needs of the Syrians, but the protection measures available to displaced persons of other nationalities are far fewer and their living conditions are underreported. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 20 pages, 4.56 MB].

The Geostrategic Importance of the Black Sea Region: A Brief History

The Geostrategic Importance of the Black Sea Region: A Brief History. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Boris Toucas. February 2, 2017

Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in March 2014 refocused global attention on the strategic significance of a region that rests on the fault lines of two former empires—the Russian and Ottoman Empires—with involvement by European powers, such as Great Britain, France, and Germany. This analysis provides an overview of the region with a view that the past is prologue to the region’s future as restive powers reanimate empirical political and military strategies in a modern context. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Voices from Turkey: Emerging Threats and New Trends in Turkish Foreign Policy

Voices from Turkey: Emerging Threats and New Trends in Turkish Foreign Policy. Center for American Progress. Galip Dalay. June 29, 2016

Turkey’s foreign policy during most of the republican era was informed by the security imperatives of the Cold War and the crises that ensued from the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. These influences were coupled with the country’s republican elites crafting Turkey’s identity along the lines of strict secularism, militant nationalism, and a western orientation. As a status quo power, Turkey looked at its neighborhood through the lens of security, becoming highly sensitive to threats of all varieties and seeing itself in a hostile environment—if not surrounded by outright enemies. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 9 pages, 155.34 KB].