Turkey, Russia start consultation on Balkans and EU

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said political consultations between the foreign ministries of Turkey and Russia regarding the Balkans and the European Union began in Ankara on Friday. 

“During the consultations, the latest developments in the Balkans and in the EU will be evaluated and views will be exchanged,” the ministry said in a written statement.

The Balkans is one of the regions where both Turkey and Russia have ambitions to increase their influence.

Turkey and Russia entered a period of rapprochement in 2016, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan apologised for an incident in 2015, when Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russia warplane over the Syrian border.

As Turkey’s relations with the United States soured over U.S. support for Syrian Kurdish forces that Turkey sees as a security threat, Ankara stepped up cooperation with Moscow and Tehran by participating the Astana process in 2017, a mechanism to find a diplomatic solution to the war in Syria.

Turkey and Russia agreed in September on a deal over the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, the last major rebel-held enclave in Syria and effectively prevented a potential military assault by the Syrian government in the region. 

Turkey’s decision to purchase the Russian S-400 missile defence system has also raised concerns among its NATO allies, which say this move could threaten the interoperability of the alliance’s integrated defence systems. 

Russia and Turkey also cooperate in energy policies and Turkey’s first nuclear plant is being constructed in a joint Russian-Turkish project with Russian energy company Rosatom the majority stakeholder.