If Putin and Trump Are to Meet, The Meeting Should Take Place in Turkey

During the Cold War, European nations were the de-facto locations for summits between Soviet and US leaders. In 1975, the Helsinki Accords were signed in the Finnish capital in a move which saw Leonid Brezhnev, Gerald Ford and other world leaders sign an agreement wherein each side agreed to respect the territorial integrity of the other, while violence was renounced as a means of conflict resolution.

In 1986, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met in the Icelandic capital Reykjavík for talks which ultimately resulted in the  Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Today though, between Finland and Iceland lies a European continent whose leaders are far more radically anti-Russian than their Cold War predecessors and in many cases, far more radically anti-Russian than many in Washington.

In this sense, due to an onset of political extremism, Europe has abrogated any role in hosting let alone brokering a future de-escalation agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation. It is not just in respect of Russian-US relations where Europe has forfeited its once quasi-moderate position. European leaders are now quick to join the US in condemnation of Turkey, Arab leaders, Iran, the south Asian powers and the Duterte led Philippines.

At the same time, Turkey has become a nation that under the leadership of President Erdogan, is able to politically match its geographic reality as a bridge between Europe and Asia. While Turkey has a different interpretation of the events in Douma than does Russia, Turkey remains a helpful partner to both Russia and Iran in the Astana format which aims to bring about a political solution to the conflict in Syria.

While western states ranging from Germany and France to the United States openly align themselves with pro-PKK terrorists operating in Syria, Turkey remains a power that is able to look both west and east while maintaining a dignified approach to geopolitical relations, even while the west goes out of its way to insult and endanger Turkey’s safety. While Turkey’s interests lie increasingly in the south and east, diplomatically, Turkey remains willing and able to communicate with most potential partners.

Turkey’s role as a 21st century mediator between trans-Atlantic Russophobic states and Russia is becoming increasingly clear in the midst of the crisis regarding a possible US-European strike on Russia’s long-time Syrian partner. Turkish officials have repeatedly stated that they seek to de-escalate the situation in order to avoid both a US/European strike on Syria while also seeking to avoid a possibly Russian counter-strike.

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Turkey’s President Erdogan has initiated phone calls both with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in order to try and prevent the situation from “spiralling out of control” to quote the US Defense Secretary. The tensions which are in many ways no alarming than those of the Cuban Missile Crisis has led long-time UK Parliamentarian George Galloway to call for an urgent face-to-face meeting between the Presidents of Russia and the United States.

If such a meeting can be arranged, the proper forum is Turkey. As a nation that borders Syria and has been involved in the conflict working at various times with both the western powers and now with Russia and Iran, Turkey has literally seen the conflict in Syria from all perspectives and is now part of a cooperative peace process that Russia and Iran are participating in, but which the US and its European client states have totally and shamefully disregarded.

Turkey can and should volunteer to host such a summit. It would demonstrate that Turkey has taken the place of smaller European powers as a de-facto mediator between the US and Russia, while the results of the meeting could hopefully improve the current negative state of affairs between Moscow and Washington.

The sooner such a meeting could be arranged – the better.

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