TURKEY AND RUSSIA: MILITARY-TECHNICAL COOPERATION TODAY AND TOMORROW

Levon HOVSEPIAN


Levon Hovsepian, Scientific Fellow, Institute of Oriental Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia (Erevan, Armenia)


Introduction

In the last few years, relations between Turkey and Russia have acquired a new quality: the countries have complemented their political dialog at the top level with economic and energy cooperation, which at times comes close to strategic partnership.

In the military-technical sphere, Turkey maintains close relations with the U.S. and other NATO members; in the 1990s, it actively promoted its contacts with Israel, while recently it has been seeking closer military-technical and military-industrial cooperation with Russia.

To a certain extent, the interest of the Turkish political establishment in Russias latest high-tech weapons and military equipment is associated with the much more pronounced Russian trend in Ankaras foreign policy. The Turks, who are seeking more balanced relations with the West (and the United States in particular), tend to look at Russia as an alternative partner.

The Contractual-Legal Basis of Bilateral Cooperation in the Military-Technical Sphere

Early in the 1990s, the relations between the two countries could not be described as good-neighborly because of their geopolitical rivalry inherited from the past and mutually exclusive military-political interests. In 1992, however, they signed a Treaty on Principles of Relations between the Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation.

In the latter half of the 1990s, the good-neighborly principle began moving closer to its true meaning: the two countries identified their common approaches and new elements of cooperation (primarily in the energy sphere and anti-terrorist struggle). In 1996-1997, the sides signed several cooperation agreements. This pushed bilateral relations from opposition to cooperation: the two countries ceased to see one another as a threat.

The Joint Action Plan on Cooperation in Eurasia the two countries signed in November 2001 opened a new page in the political relations between them; the document outlined the prospects and identified the sides mutual interests in the sphere of cooperation.

The Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group (Blackseafor) set up in 2001 on Turkeys initiative, which united six littoral states and in which Russia and Turkey occupied the leading positions, was an important step in the development Russian-Turkish military-political relations. In 2003, the Document on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures in the Naval Field in the Black Sea was enacted. In 2006, for the first time, Russia and Turkey conducted naval exercises within the framework of Blackseafor, while.


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