11:51 GMT09 May 2021
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    In an interview with Sputnik, Turkish and Russian experts have shared their views about the reasons for Ankara's decision to build a new naval base on the Black Sea coast in the Trabzon province, north-east of the country, and how it might affect the balance of forces in the Black Sea region.

    The Turkish Ministry of National Defence has begun the construction of a naval base on the Black Sea coast in the Trabzon province, north-east of the country. It is noted that 400 military and 200 civilian specialists will work on the base.

    The Turkish Parliament Deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti, AKP) from Trabzon, Salih Cora, noted that the Turkish Navy currently has a total of eight bases in the four seas around Turkey. The ninth Turkish naval base, which will be built in the area of Sürmene, Trabzon province in the port of Çamburnu, will provide logistics for the main components of the Turkish fleet: frigates, submarines, and military boats.

    "There was a need to add to the existing bases of another one in the Black Sea. As is known, maintaining the combat capability of the naval forces at the proper level requires very large investments and more detailed planning. As part of planning such a programme, a project to create a military base, the idea of which has appeared many years ago, will be implemented in the Black Sea. The location for this project, which is able to fully provide logistical support to the Turkish Navy and has all the necessary infrastructure, was the area of Sürmene (located 40 km from Trabzon — ed. note Sputnik). Turkey, especially while the AK Parti was in power, achieved a major breakthrough in the defence industry thanks to the decisive steps taken by the country's Naval Forces Command", Salih Cora said.

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    According to the MP, the area of the naval base in Trabzon will be approximately 60 thousand square metres.

    "The number of personnel who will be involved in the base is a technical issue. I do not have accurate data on this issue now. However, on behalf of the AKP deputies from Trabzon, I want to emphasize that we support the creation of a naval base in this region, which is one of the strategically important provinces of the Black Sea region of the country. We consider this step as a right and necessary investment. The Sürmene district was known for its shipyard back in the day. However, due to the crisis that the shipbuilding industry is currently experiencing around the world, these territories were left idle. Given the need to ensure the requirements of the country's Navy, the command decided to use these areas to create a military base, which was approved by the authorities of our province", Cora stressed.

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    "One of the bases of the Turkish Navy in the Black Sea is located near the port of Bartın. The aim of the project to create a base in Sürmene is to further strengthen the power of the Turkish Naval Forces and provide logistics infrastructure. I emphasize that there can be no question of using our ports or bases in the interests or for the benefit of other states. This has never happened before on any of our bases. Such similar scenario at the ninth naval base, which will be created in Trabzon, is also completely excluded", the Turkish Deputy concluded.

    Andrei Boldyrev, Senior Researcher at the Turkish Department of the Centre for Middle East Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, commented on Turkey's decision to build a new naval base:

    "There may be several reasons. First, Turkey continues to strengthen its positions in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions. In August, it was decided to build a base in northern Cyprus. Therefore, the base in the Trabzon area is a logical continuation of this policy. Secondly, perhaps this was accelerated by the decision of NATO to hold a military demonstration in response to the Kerch incident. Turkey was faced with this fact and the base in the Trabzon area is the answer in the sense that Ankara is strengthening its presence in the Black Sea in the face of the threat of escalation. Lastly, it is possible that Ankara decided to take advantage of the situation in the Black Sea region and create an additional foothold. As for the place for the new base construction, it is known that Trabzon is a traditional port and a convenient geographical point. In any case, Turkey demonstrates that it intends to be an "active" observer in the conditions of a constantly exacerbated situation in the Black Sea and play it by ear. The naval base in the Trabzon region is, in my opinion, an example of such an approach to the situation."

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    Another Sputnik source, Retired Fleet Admiral, former Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy (2005-2007) and the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy (2002-2005), Vladimir Masorin, has pointed out that the construction of a new naval base in the Black Sea was aimed primarily at ensuring Turkey's national security.

    "This is their internal affair. For Russia, this is not a threat. They also fear that the Americans will boss around in the Black Sea. First of all, there was always a base for ships. Furthermore, no matter what they say about the Montreux Convention, the Turks stand firmly so that it does not change. Americans have long wanted to change it but cannot. Turkey understands that only with Russia can the Montreux Convention be preserved. At one time, we firmly stood up with Turkey against the American ships operating in the Black Sea and checking all the vessels there that they might suspect", he stressed.

    Commenting on the scale of the planned military facility, Vladimir Masorin added:

    "There may be a small compound, a stationing site, no more than a brigade of ships." However, according to the expert, taking into account the remote location of Trabzon, the number of troops may be increased.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    construction, naval base, Turkey
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