Russia: Ties with Turkey should ‘continue, deepen’ under whoever is elected president

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The Kremlin said on Monday that Russia expected cooperation with Turkey to “continue, deepen and expand” regardless of who wins the presidential election which has shaped up to be the biggest challenge to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 20-year rule.

Turkey’s tightly fought presidential election ended with both contenders failing to secure 50 percent of the votes. State-run TRT World and Anadolu Agency reported that on Monday that Erdogan took the lead with 49.5 percent, while the opposition’s candidate Kilicdaroglu stood at 44.89 percent, after 99.87 percent of ballot boxes were opened.


Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu will now face off in a run-off election to be held on May 28.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Of course, we are watching the news that is coming from Turkey these days with great interest and attention. We respect and will respect the choice of the Turkish people. But in any case, we expect that our cooperation will continue, deepen and expand.”

Peskov highlighted all the aspects of “mutually beneficial cooperation” between Moscow and Ankara such as in energy, tourism, trade, agriculture, and transport among others.

The Russian official added: “Turkey is a developed democracy, a strong sovereign country, which, naturally, is capable of holding transparent and democratic elections and preventing any illegal actions. We have no doubt about that.”

Erdogan and Putin: Two peas in a pod

Erdogan is a longtime ally of fellow strongman Russian President Vladimir Putin and has worked towards establishing closer ties between Turkey and Russia over the years through energy cooperation, military partnerships, and regional alignment. On the flipside, Russia benefits from access to Turkish markets and increased geopolitical influence.

Meanwhile, the US and NATO have been sounding the alarm over the deepening of Turkish-Russian ties, expressing concern over Ankara’s commitment to the North Atlantic alliance, its values and its collective security. Turkey’s Western allies questioned whether Ankara, having such deep ties to Moscow, could prioritize Western interests over its own regional ambitions. The procurement of the S-400 system missile defense system, in particular, has strained Turkey's relations with its NATO allies, as it is incompatible with the alliance's defense infrastructure and poses potential security risks. The US has also imposed sanctions on Turkey in response to the S-400 deal, further straining bilateral relations.

The West has also expressed similar concerns about the authoritarian rule, leadership styles and approaches to governance of both Erdogan and Putin, often referred to by diplomats and political pundits as “two peas in a pod.”

Both leaders have displayed tendencies towards centralization of power, consolidation of authority, and an erosion of democratic values. Erdogan's concentration of power in Turkey, through constitutional reforms and crackdowns on opposition voices, has drawn comparisons to Putin's strongman rule in Russia. This parallel raised worries about the erosion of democratic checks and balances and the potential impact on human rights, freedom of the press, and the rule of law.

Rocky start

Meanwhile, Turkish opposition contender Kilicdaroglu has positioned himself as the anti-Erdogan who will right the course of Turkey back to democratic rule and values. He has been critical of Erdogan's government, particularly in areas such as human rights, freedom of expression, and economic policies.

Kilicdaroglu plans to quash key Erdogan policies, and aims to establish a more moderate government domestically and pursue a more balanced foreign policy that will aim to repair frayed ties with NATO, the US and the EU.

Turkey’s ties with the West would likely become friendlier should Kilicdaroglu win, as his secularist ideology would align with Western allies’ approach and would be a welcome change from Erdogan’s contentious tactics.

Question remains of what shape would Turkey-Russia ties take under a Kilicdaroglu presidency? Should Kilicdaroglu win, his relationship with Russia would be off to a rocky start given that he accused Moscow of interfering in the Turkish election. A claim the Kremlin denied.

Kilicdaroglu told Reuters in an interview: “We find it unacceptable for another country to interfere in Turkey's election process in favor of a political party. I wanted the whole world to be aware of this.”

“We don't want to break our friendly relations, but we will not allow interference in our internal matters,” he said.

Peskov denied the claim last week and said in response to the accusation: “We are extremely disappointed with this statement of the opposition in Turkey.”

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Read more:

Turkey election: Both Erdogan, Kilicdaroglu claim to be ahead as vote count ongoing

Runoff looms over Turkey’s horizon: Erdogan's support falls under 50 pct

Turkey at a crossroads: Sultan vs democrat election puts country’s future on the line

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