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Illusory friendship of Turkey and Ukraine

The relationship between Turkey and Ukraine seems dubious at present. On the one hand, we may witness the advancement of the bilateral relations towards closer dialog. In wake of the recent series of meetings between Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the parties involved have managed to agree on the enhancement of bilateral trade volumes and aviation traffic, expanding cooperation in military-technical and energy spheres. The Crescent Country authorities highlighted their devotion to further support territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.

On the other hand, Turkey seems to be acting with caution primarily due to Ankara’s bid aimed at restoring relations with Russia. The Turkish side has sustained huge losses in the aftermath of its debacle with Russia: ban on the activities of the Turkish businessmen, embargo on entry of goods and restrictions for Russian tourists coming to Turkey have had a visible negative impact on Turkish economy. Russian-Turkish rapprochement makes Ankara’s policy directly towards Ukrainian top hierarchy, as well as on other directions, subject to adjustment.

It’s widely known that the policy of  Erdogan  towards  Crimean Tatars has become more selective and pragmatic lately.  For instance, the financial flows destined for Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov in particular, have been reduced to minimum. The abandoned leaders employ every suitable chance to voice their displeasure over the shrinking support of Ankara to the radical elements in the Crimean Tatar movement. They also keep saying they exclude any development of relations between Turkey and Russia.

However, Turkey is far from fully rejecting Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People. Ankara’s worry is that this structure could come under umbrella of FETÖ, the organization led by Fethullah  Gulen, the spiritual leader of the Turkish opposition accused by Ankara of plotting the coup in Turkey in 2016. Turkish secret services have every reason to believe that dissatisfied militant elements among Crimean Tatars may well join the ranks of FETÖ. As far back as a year ago the Turkish news media outlet Anadolu reported that FETÖ had created its network and was active in Ukraine. Furthermore, Poroshenko’s agents have been intensely seeking contact with the FETÖ emissaries. This is how Kiev tries to turn the tide to benefit its own agenda and, after getting a chance for blackmailing, to exert pressure on Erdogan’s line towards Russia.

Time will show what the reaction of Ankara to Kiev’s overtures with the Gulenists is going to be.