KYIV POST - Oct. 23, 2015
BY Ilya Timtchenko
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Turkey for a meeting with
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Oct. 18 is an indication of
the country’s growing importance and influence in the region.
With the European Union grappling with a
refugee crisis caused by civil war in Syria, Turkey is a good friend to
have right now. Perhaps that’s why Merkel came with a pledge to push for
Turkey’s accession to the union, even though she won the chancellorship
in 2005 on a promise never to let Turkey join.
And there’s no
denying the country, with its population of 79 million and a gross
domestic product of $800 billion, is an important regional player.
Acting as a bridge between Europe and the Middle East, it is a natural
trade route – the same position in which Ukraine finds itself.
Others are courting the regional linchpin as well.
visit came after Erdogan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin a
month ago in Moscow. The two leaders agreed on a $100 billion trade
partnership by 2023, which includes a $15 billion gas pipeline and a $22
billion nuclear power plant in southern Turkey, which is already under
construction. Russia alone provides nearly one-fifth of Turkey’s energy,
and almost 60 percent of its natural gas.