Russia and Cyprus

Russia and Cyprus

This is not the first time such reports appear in Turkish media. Why was this report so important then?

First of all, the report was co-signed by two very well-respected journalists: Saygı Öztürk and Emin Özgönül. None of them ever worked in diplomatic reporting, but Öztürk is not only the Ankara representative of Sözcü but a very highly respected investigative reporter and writer of more than a dozen books, from the Kurdish problem to Islamist terrorism.

Özgönül, on the other hand, has been one of the most prominent parliament correspondents and news editors. If these two prominent journalists co-reported a story, their names vouch for its accuracy.

The story is based on an interview with a former military domestic intelligence officer, retired colonel Ünal Atabay, who is now with the 21st Century Turkey Institute Research Centre.

According to Atabey, regarding energy resources, eastern Mediterranean, Syria and Libya were complementing each other. North Cyprus, the retired colonel claimed, was very important for Russia and its plans to make best use of the energy resources both in the Syrian fields as well as eastern Mediterranean.

Thus, for Russia, he asserted in the Sözcü article, cooperation with Turkey was of great importance.

Provided Russia sorted out difficulties with Turkey in Syria, it might take the step of establishing a mutually beneficial cooperation in eastern Mediterranean and engage in a reciprocal move to recognize Turkish Cyprus in exchange for Turkey recognizing Abkhazia.

It was very interesting, wasn’t it? The retired colonel further asserted that Russia might demand a military base in the Peninsula of Karpasia of North Cyprus. Furthermore, he claimed, Russia might as well be interested in establishing a logistic base in Cyprus to be used in the reconstruction of Syria.

Some things add to previous discussions, while some things contradict. For example, the entire report conforms well with Turkey’s intention to establish a naval base with airport capabilities at the Peninsula of Karpasia.

Already Turkey was given the official permission by the Turkish Cypriot government to establish naval command-control barracks at the Boğaz area of Karpasia and armed and non-armed aerial vehicles deployment and operation from the Geçitkale airport, close to the naval base.

Turkey wanted the naval facility as well as the UAV base because of its eastern Mediterranean operations, but could it share those bases with Russia?

Since North Cyprus is not Turkish territory, such a cooperation between NATO member Turkey and Russia might not perhaps create much complications for Turkey’s allied relations further than antagonizing a bit more than already Turkey-allergic segments of the western alliance.

Interesting developments are taking place but as was already seen Turkey and Russia started forging a strategic alliance in Libya as well as in Syria, dumping old fears and skepticisms.

Could the two indeed engage in a cohesive tango without stepping on each other’s toe? Could Turkey indeed dance with the bear and escape without an injury or scratch? 

At a time when Turkey is so much alienated by its western allies, it appears Ankara might want to play a rather difficult role and walk some very nervous roads.