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Moscow’s turnaround on Turkey

Common national interests such as security and economic issues remain the prime core of improved relations between Moscow and Ankara.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin is pictured during a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan (not pictured) in Ankara December 1, 2014. Putin said on Monday that Moscow could not carry on with the South Stream project if the European Union was opposed to it. Speaking at a joint news conference with Turkish President Erdogan, Putin said the European Commission was reluctant to give the green light to the South Stream project.  REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin (TURKEY

Moscow’s rapprochement with Turkey is unlikely to be easy, but it may well proceed somewhat more rapidly than many expect. Notwithstanding public and personal differences between President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, each of the two men appears to have embraced former British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston’s famous assertion that “nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”

Indeed, despite the gap of over 150 years between Palmerston’s tenure and today’s times, Putin and Erdogan may have related quite well to the renowned British statesman, whose foreign policy is still described as “assertive and ‘manly’” on the United Kingdom government’s official website. Both Putin and Erdogan likely hope that their peoples will remember them in similar terms in future centuries. Still, Erdogan’s apology — and Putin’s ready acceptance of it — suggests that each has subordinated his “manliness” to his pragmatism and that permanent interests have prevented permanent enmity between Russia and Turkey.

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