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    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacts as he attends the COP 21 United Nations conference on climate change, on November 30, 2015 at Le Bourget, on the outskirts of the French capital Paris

    Putin Plays His Cards Right, Erdogan Needs Europe to Deal a New Hand

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    German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau likens the current fractious relationship between Russia and Turkey to a game of poker, in which President Putin holds all the cards.

    The poor relationship between Turkey and Russia is reminiscent of a poker game in which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds no decent cards, wrote German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau (FR) on Sunday.

    "Fortunately it's still about words and economic sanctions like the Russian import ban of Turkish fruit and vegetables, which Erdogan called 'laughable.'"

    "Putin's order for tourists to stop visiting Turkey is less fun," writes FR, pointing out that Turkey has few means with which to counter Russia's measures, put in place after Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber over Syria on November 24, leading to the deaths of two servicemen.

    "Putin still hasn't played his strongest trump card. Turkey is reliant on Russian natural gas for 54 percent of its energy supply, and Russia has the contract to build Turkey's first atomic energy plant."

    Though he has not named further measures that will be taken against Turkey, the Russian president has said that Russia's response to the shootdown will not stop with a boycott of Turkish produce and tourism, and expects Turkey to apologize for the shooting; the Turkish government so far maintains that it will not apologize.

    'The Europeans must act to help Erdogan out of the trap he has maneuvered himself into,' — the article published in German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau.

    ​"If the shooting of the Su-24 was meant to be a warning to Moscow, it backfired. As one Turkish commentator wrote, nobody dances with the Russian bear with impunity," writes FR.

    Its fears of quasi-autonomous Kurdish state in Syria, like in northern Iraq, and Russian retaliation for the shooting down of its bomber, are leading Turkey to build up troops on its borders, "with their finger on the trigger."

    The author, Frank Nordhausen, advises that such a fractious situation must be resolved with the help of European nations. Currently in Istanbul, the writer was reminded of imperial times past by the passing of a Russian ship through the Bosphorus Strait on Friday, a masked soldier standing on deck, equipped with a Manpad (Man-portable air-defense systems), a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile system.

    "The two countries are still not shooting each others' soldiers as often as they did in the centuries-long rivalry between the Ottoman and Russian Empires. But the Manpad warrior in the Bosphorus should warn Turkey how little separates it from a hot conflict," Nordhausen points out.

    European powers, who have given the Turkish president an impression of weakness due to the refugee crisis, must now step up and stand up to Ankara, in order to prevent the situation from escalating further.

    "The Europeans must act, in their own interests, to help the Turkish president out of the trap into which he has maneuvered himself. The EU can do this from a position of strength, since Turkey is dependent on it now more than ever."

    "In the refugee crisis, Erdogan learnt that Europe is weak, and ready to sacrifice fundamental values such as freedom of the press, pluralism and human rights, if the dirty work is done in return. The Turkish-Russian crisis is its unexpected chance to prove him wrong."


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