Ukraine: what does Turkey gain as mediator?
Turkey was an obvious choice as the venue for the negotiations between Ukraine and Russia: it shares a border with both countries. Turkey is a member of Nato and supported Russia's opponents in Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh, but it also has frequent quarrels with the EU over gas, Cyprus and refugees. As a mediator, it has now gained additional clout. Commentators are less than enthusiastic.
When two people quarrel, a third rejoices
For the moment Radio Kommersant FM sees one winner of the Istanbul negotiations:
“Erdoğan's position has been strengthened enormously. Turkey is benefitting directly from its geographical position between Europe and Asia. ... Where else to meet if you have trouble with the West? ... Or on the gas issue: Turkey is a transit country, numerous pipelines cross there. So who do you have to kowtow to? Erdoğan. ... His position is unique: he can be an ally and an opponent at the same time. He is always ready for cooperation and even friendship, but on his own terms.”
Turkey replacing France
Paris is no longer on the front lines of international diplomacy, Contrepoints believes:
“Neither pro-Atlantic nor pro-Russian, France has long been keen to act as a bridge between the various powers in defence of its own interests. ... However, this doctrine has weakened considerably in the past decade, especially under Sarkozy. He was able to play a mediating role in the 2008 Georgia crisis. But a not insignificant part of the state apparatus as well as the French media has gradually aligned itself with the American positions. Public opinion is now divided between pro-Atlantic and pro-Russian positions. ... It is tragic for Europe that an illiberal regime like Turkey is now taking France's place in diplomacy.”