Name? Recep Erdoğan
Westphalian identity? Turkish
Why is he in the news? At a meeting in Kazakhstan, Russian President Putin presented a proposal to Turkish President Erdoğan to establish a supply hub in Türkiye as a transitory country for Russian gas. The proposed hub would allow the continuation of Russian gas supply to Europe, whilst also helping to stabilise prices.
Why do we care? As the conflict continues, President Erdoğan’s role is developing. The President first facilitated the brokering of an essential agreement allowing grain imports in July, while opposing Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian provinces. However, he has remained close to Russia, opposing sanctions and becoming a valuable trading partner to Putin. Erdoğan’s role as a mediator earns him favour from Putin, and he has reaped economic benefits from his ambivalence. Trade profits between January and June doubled from the same period last year; 15% of Turkiye’s total imports are now from Russia.
Why should you care? The proposed supply hub furthers relations between Erdoğan and Putin. With high rates of inflation and unemployment and upcoming elections in Türkiye, the president is looking to Putin to boost the Turkish economy. Russia has already provided $5bn for a nuclear power plant, and Erdoğan has asked for relief on its gas debt to Russia. This also helps Putin mitigate damage from Western sanctions. You should care 6/10 about this rapprochement.
Who else cares? Ursula von der Leyen. Both the European Commission and NATO have criticised Erdoğan for his reluctance to implement sanctions on Russia, and the latest proposal to pump Russian gas into Türkiye will be a concern for von der Leyen as it undermines the EU and NATO.
Any further comments? The proposal comes at a time when the Turkish parliament passed a new law that enables the government to arrest journalists who spread ‘disinformation’ about Türkiye’s security. With elections coming up, Erdoğan is strengthening his position abroad while consolidating control at home.