14:17 GMT +320 September 2017
    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting in Ankara, Turkey.

    Erdogan Plea to WTO in Trade Row With Russia ‘Farcical and Tragic’

    © AP Photo/ Yasin Bulbul, Presidential Press Service, Pool
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    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s appeal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for help against sanctions imposed by Russia is no more than a joke given Turkey’s own record of flouting international agreements, experts told Sputnik on Monday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — A decree from Russian President Vladimir Putin, which entered into force on January 1, 2016, included a ban on the employment of Turkish citizens by Russian employers, a food import ban on certain categories of products, as well as on charter flights in both directions.

    "Turkey’s behavior under Erdogan is not short of farcical — farcical and tragic all at once, one would have to say," veteran author and Middle East affairs analyst Patrick Smyth said in an interview.

    "[Turkey] has been in contravention of numerous international laws and norms for years. I’m thinking of the poison gas supplied to Syrian extremists to frame [President Bashar] Assad in August 2013, and the ongoing traffic of weapons and extremists across its border into Syria," Smyth stated.

    Erdogan had also been waging "amounts to a full-on war against Kurds" and had refused to remove its troops from Iraq as Baghdad demands; his government continues to benefit from its role in the illicit trade of oil that the Islamic State steals from Syria," Smyth pointed out.

    It was ironic. Smyth added, that Turkey resorts to the World Trade Organization after shooting down a Russian jet at the end of last year — probably in Syrian air space.

    Moreover, Erdogan’s plea was also farcical because the WTO itself had been reduced to little more than a hollow shell, Smyth explained.

    "The footnote here is that the WTO is now almost officially meaningless — the Doha Round having been pronounced a failure."

    The latest Turkish initiative revealed Erdogan’s political bankruptcy and loss of credibility on the international stage, Smyth pointed out.

    "At this point, I seriously question whether anyone on any side takes Erdogan’s Turkey the least bit seriously other than whatever extent they can make use of it."

    Erdogan’s plea to the WTO was a tacit admission that Turkey was being hit hard by the Russian economic sanctions, which were imposed after Turkish Air Force shot down the Russian Sukhoi bomber jet on November 24, US author and Middle East affairs expert Dan Lazare told Sputnik.

    "I think it's clear that Russian trade sanctions are proving painful. But I don't see how the WTO can decide in Turkey's favor while saying nothing about US trade sanctions against Russia."

    Although Turkey, a key US ally in the Middle East, was reeling from the effects of the Russian sanctions, the economies of Crimea in Russia and of Central Asian nations with close ties to Moscow looked to benefit rapidly from the move, Lazare pointed out.

    "The effects of such trade wars are never entirely negative. It's not the worst thing if Russians vacation in the Crimea or import fruits and vegetables from central Asia. Turkey's loss will be their gain — and Russia's as well."

    The shooting down of the Sukhoi aircraft, costing the life of one of its crew, had forced the Russian government to take serious action in response, Lazare observed.

    "Such measures are less than ideal, economically speaking. But how Russia can avoid retaliating against such outrageous behavior?" he asked.


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    World Trade Organization (WTO), Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Russia
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