The balances in the world are changing rapidly after a period of confusion following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Led by President Vladimir Putin, Russia is emerging as a kingmaker, while China is also on the rise. The United States is going through a period of uncertainty as President Donald Trump tries to "make America great again." His policies create more uncertainties in a world where proxy wars are being carried out. The European Union has been sidelined as it fails to make an impact on the world scene.
Amid all of this, Turkey is emerging as an influential power in a region devastated by proxy wars, terrorism, radicalism and sectarianism. Under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Turkey has managed to establish a sound economy, build viable infrastructure and create a viable welfare state. Contrary to the past, it dictates its own policies in a region of turmoil and makes an impact. This does not go down well with foreign powers that are used to manipulating Turkey and steering it according to their own interests. Thus, they have tried several times to topple Erdoğan when he served as prime minister and now as head of state.
Putin, much to the dismay of the Western powers, has put Russia back on the world map. Erdoğan has turned Turkey into a regional power. That is why both have been targeted by Western powers and are facing a silent war of attrition.
Turkey and Russia have emerged as natural allies and thus the crisis over the downing of a Russian jet fighter was settled by the two countries speedily, and the normalized ties are now setting an example of how their cooperation can create stability, peace and relative order in a region riddled with turmoil.Russia opened Syrian airspace to Turkish warplanes both during the Euphrates Shield Operation in 2016 in northern Syria and now during the operation in the Syrian enclave of Afrin, and thus has helped Turkey rid the region of the terrorists that were threatening our national security.
Turkey in turn has helped Russia become a peacemaker in Syria rather than a country that assists Bashar Assad's killers who are butchering Syrians in the current civil war. Thanks to Turkey, Russia has found a way out of the mess in Syria by launching the Astana process which led to the Sochi summit between Turkey, Russia and Iran that set the stage for a viable peace process. Now Turkey will host a similar summit in Ankara on Wednesday.
Today Putin is in Ankara, but that is nothing new. He meets and discusses issues with Erdoğan frequently, which helps to keep relations warm and overcomes any potential problems.
Yet, all this does not mean Turkey is turning its back on the West and its alliance with NATO. On the contrary, Turkey could well be a bridge between Russia and the West in the future. We can help overcome some of the Western prejudices against Russia. Russia is not only our friend but our neighbor; thus it is only normal that we cooperate with them in a warm manner, just like Canada and the U.S. do.
However, it is also true that in times of crisis Russia has backed us while others were reluctant to even show a bit of sympathy as we battled tanks and warplanes during the bloody coup attempt of July 15, 2016.
Russia is providing Turkey not only with the S-400 air defense system but also advanced technology that will boost our defense industry. Russia is building our first nuclear power plant, whose foundations will be laid by Erdoğan and Putin today in Akkuyu. Turkey in return is providing goods and services to Russia. This is what good neighbors do – and all of this serves global peace.Yet, this is nothing new. Even at the darkest times of the Cold War, the Soviet Union built Turkey's industrial infrastructure by setting up a massive steel plant, a petrochemical plant and an aluminum plant when our Western allies refused to finance such projects. Why didn't anyone raise objections or claim Turkey was veering off to the Soviet axis then?