1221 GMT August 19, 2019
This week the presidents of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan took part in a key tripartite summit in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku. This was followed by the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Russia. The Turkish president held talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg to rebuild strained ties. Theses meetings will shape strategic political and economic developments in the region.
The summit in Baku can increase convergence among Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus region. This will also help resolve regional problems such as those pertaining to the Caspian Sea's legal regime.
The meeting in Saint Petersburg shows that relations between Ankara and Moscow may be thawing.
Russia is seeking to utilize the unfriendly relations between Turkey and the West in the wake of the July-15 failed coup to offset its ties with the European Union and NATO. Turkey can similarly benefit from fresh ties with Russia.
The normalization of ties between the two countries will also help rebuild their economies.
Since Turkish interceptors blasted a Russian warplane out of the skies over Syria in November last year, the two countries have cut their economic ties. This dealt a serious blow to the Turkish economy, particularly its tourism industry. Now Ankara is hopeful to revive the industry which has made billions of dollars of losses in the wake of poor ties with Moscow.
Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran have huge energy reserves. Besides, Iran and Turkey have a unique position for transferring energy to other parts of the world. This week's meetings can further boost the status of these countries in the international arena.
Apart from economic ties, this week's meetings in Baku and Saint Petersburg also focused on security problems in the Middles East, particularly in Syria.
Turkey and Russia have divergent views over the ongoing crisis in Syria. Russia backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as he rose to power through democratic means and by the direct vote of the majority of Syrian people. However, Turkey has, at times, called for his removal from office.
Besides, the presence of Kurdish fighters in Syria, who fight against terrorists such as Daesh, remains a bone of contention between Moscow and Ankara.
Undoubtedly, Iran can help Russia and Turkey put aside their differences. This is because Tehran has close ties with Ankara and shares common views with Moscow over the Syria crisis.
Turkey has been accused of backing Salafi Takfiri groups since Syria was gripped by foreign-backed terrorism in March 2011.
However, such terrorist groups have carried out bomb attacks in Turkey in recent months. Ankara has also been involved in heavy military clashes with Kurdish militants in the country's southeastern restive region. Turkey has blamed Kurdish militants for several bomb attacks which hit its major cities.
Such conflicts have created political and economic instability in Turkey.
Now, the Erdogan government is making efforts to overcome such conflicts which have wreaked havoc in the country.
The Turkish president, who had called for the ouster of his Syrian counterpart, wants to depart from his stance against the Syrian government.
He also intends to change his stance on the issue of Kurdish fighters battling terrorists in Syria.
Turkey's rapprochement with Russia is in line with these efforts.
Nowadays, ties between Turkey and the West remain strained as the US and some European states continue to criticize Ankara for its "harsh crackdown" in the wake of last month's abortive military takeover.
Meanwhile, Turkey's new approaches which seek closer ties with Iran and Russia can help the three countries to come up with comprehensive solutions to resolve the Syria crisis.
To sum up, Iran, Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan have a marvelous opportunity to resolve problems in the Middle East, the Caucasus region and Caspian Sea. They now have strong political and economic motivations which raise hope for developing initiatives to overcome regional crisis.