Understanding the zeitgeist through Turkish-Russian relations
It is pleasing that relations between Russia and Turkey are recovering. As a matter of fact, if only the plane crisis would have ended earlier. After all, both President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin have acted pragmatically; they abandoned their challenging styles of the time of the crisis, paving the way for a cooperative period between the two countries.
The Turkish-Russian relationship is a typical lesson on reading the spirit of the time, the zeitgeist.
Unquestionably Russia is a giant. Our biggest neighbor with a national income over $1 trillion; the world’s second biggest military power… Putin used this military power most recently in Ukraine, Crimea and Syria. This giant leader Putin invited and hosted the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, in Moscow last January.
Our time is such that a giant country feels the need to advance political and economic relations with an oil-rich sheikhdom.
The recovery of Turkish-Russian relations should be seen from this point of view.
The top three items Russia exports to the world are energy, worth $346 billion, iron and steel, worth $20 billion, and precious stones and jewelry, worth $11 billion. Russia imports machinery worth $52 billion, electronics worth $33 billion and motor vehicles worth $31 billion.
According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, while the Soviet industry consumed three units of energy to produce one unit of added value, the West’s industry, to produce the same amount of added value, was consuming one-third of Russia’s, that is one unit of energy because its technology was advanced.
It is possible to understand our era from this picture: First of all, the entrepreneurial class and innovative thinking were destroyed by communism in Russia. Competition and technology were their products…
The vast Soviet empire, because it was closed to the outside world, was left behind in fields like thinking, production, creativity, competition, innovation and know-how. It was only able to compete in military power.
In his book “Between Two Ages” written in 1970, Brzezinski said the Soviets would collapse not by war but by economic and mental stagnation.
Thus, in our era, values such as being open to the outside world and freedom of thought are very important.
From Turkey’s point of view, it is a must to be open to the world, to be included in modern international law institutions and international economic integrations, to advance the economic rationalism mentality in the world of thought.
Russia is an important market for Turkey’s agricultural and industrial products. We need the incoming Russian tourists. We can sell food and clothes to Russia. It is a good market for Turkey to export automotive goods, interim goods and services. Energy cooperation is obligatory for both countries.
It is rational for both countries that the Turkish-Russian friendship and relations rapidly advances, while maintaining our economic and legal integration with the West continues.