Why Ankara refused to support the harsh rhetoric in NATO’s statement on the Ryanair plane hijacking by Lukashenka regime.
At the end of last week, it became known that Turkey strongly opposed the harsh formulation of NATO position on the incident with the Ryanair airplane landed in Minsk. The corresponding statement did not include sanctions against the official Belarusian authorities, which allies from the Baltic states and Poland insisted on. Ankara made sure that any mention of support for new Western sanctions against Belarus and calls for the release of political prisoners were excluded from the text. Western observers concluded that the Turkish position was due to the desire to maintain ties with Moscow, with which Ankara is cooperating on the purchase of air defence systems.
This is a rather strange conclusion, given that after Turkish statements about the concentration of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, Moscow again stopped air traffic between the two countries. By the way, this situation could be successfully used by Belavia, if someone had not come up with the wonderful idea of forcing a Ryanair plane to land in Minsk. It turns out that Ankara was not afraid to speak up into a situation that many regarded as a threshold before the next Russian-Ukrainian war. But in the situation with Minsk, it suddenly remembered about the purchases of weapons in Russia and the possible influence of NATO declaration on this. By the way, how strong could this influence be? Obviously, it won’t have any influence at all. Because the document is political and mostly symbolic. It does not affect Russia at all.
In fact, the Turkish position is determined not by relations with Moscow, but by relations with Minsk in the field of military-technical cooperation. Judging by the nature of the public communications of officials of the two countries, at the present time, there are several common projects that are of great importance for the Turks, are either at the stage of discussion or at the stage of implementation.
This is evidenced, in particular, by the fact that even the difference in the approaches of the two countries regarding the wars in Syria and Libya did not affect the Belarusian-Turkish relations. Lukashenka traditionally flirts with the Alawite regime in Damascus. Turkey supports Sunni Islamist rebels. In Libya, Lukashenka supports the self-proclaimed Field Marshal Haftar, while Ankara supports the Government of National Unity. At the highest political level, Belarus demonstrates its interest in developing comprehensive cooperation with Egypt. The latter, together with Israel, Cyprus and Greece, form an anti-Turkish bloc in the eastern Mediterranean.
Given the extremely reverent attitude of the Turks to issues of national prestige and their international status as a regional power, Minsk’s support for Ankara’s competitors should have caused Turkey’s tough position on the Belarusian issue. If this did not happen, then the Turks need Lukashenka regime. Really need it.
The specificity of cooperation in the field of security is that most of its areas are hidden from the eyes of an outside observer. In Belarus, where there is absolutely no civilian oversight over this area (including even parliamentary oversight in the arms trade), one has use and discuss hypotheses, not facts. So the Turkish motives for softening the NATO statement remain hidden. Well, almost hidden.