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Lukashenko is trying to earn a cooling of relations between Ankara and Moscow

Lukashenko is trying to earn a cooling of relations between Ankara and Moscow

Tags: Belarus, Lukashenko, politics, international relations, Turkey, Erdogan, Analytics, Economy

Man struck, according to Vladimir Putin put it, Russia in the back - a welcome partner for the nearest ally of Moscow, Alexander Lukashenko. "The time has come to intensify cooperation", - said the President of Belarus to his Turkish counterpart Recep Erdogan. Minsk wants to use the cooling of relations between Russia and Turkey for the benefit of themselves. Will it?

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko offers Turkey to update the agenda of the Belarusian-Turkish cooperation, having carried out a "reset" on a number of specific areas. "The time has come to intensify cooperation, to update the agenda, correct roadmap relations", - Lukashenka said. This was reported by the presidential press service on the basis of which took place in Istanbul meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Minsk wants to increase Turkish investments in Belarus, as well as the development of the tourism sector, including increasing the intensity of air traffic between the two countries. Earlier, Turkish investors have shown interest in the implementation of projects in Belarus in construction, hospitality and tourism business. The Turkish company also owns the third Belarussian cellular "BeST" operator. Lukashenko hopes with the help of Turkish investors to revive the Belarusian light industry (State Concern "Bellegprom").

Lukashenko also thanked Erdogan for inviting me to participate in the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, stressing "the importance of Belarus for such a large presence in the forum." Belarus is not an Islamic state, but for her, this area can also contribute to the establishment of new contacts for the development of trade and economic cooperation with a number of countries, said Lukashenko.

On the part of Minsk, this is not the first attempt at rapprochement with Ankara after the relations between Turkey and Russia deteriorated. Literally in December 2015, the Academy of Sciences of Belarus undertook to expand scientific and technical cooperation with Turkey. The scientific organizations of the two countries are already working on projects in the field of bioorganic chemistry, physics, as well as studies on the assessment of the ecological state of water. In Minsk, they noted that Turkey is interested in expanding cooperation in nano-, bio-, information and agrotechnical technologies, the exchange of research workers and publications.

Official Minsk refrained from Russian support in the conflict with Turkey and decided to take advantage of this conflict to their advantage. Will it?

Belarus made attempts to increase trade turnover with Turkey and to the political complications of Moscow and Ankara. So, four years ago, Turkish businessmen set the task to increase the trade turnover between the countries with 0,5 2012 billion dollars a year to 1 billion dollars in five years, that is to 2017 year. However, to do this and failed. And although in 2015, the trade turnover between Belarus and Turkey has increased by one-fifth of the level of 2014 years, it still amounts to about half a billion dollars, not more. Turkey is not included even in the top ten trading partners of Belarus.

The same applies to investments. In 2015, Belarusian media reported that the volume of Turkish investments in the economy of Belarus has increased 400 times. However, in percentage terms, Turkey is actually in the past year Belarus has invested in a grain - less than 0,5% of the total volume of foreign investments in the economy of Belarus, said Natalia Milchakova, deputy director of analytical department of "Alpari".

The Belarusian economy is focused primarily on Russia and the CU countries. In conditions of economic crisis Minsk is trying to diversify their exports. However, this would be not so easy. The only thing you can hope for Minsk - is to try to earn a complication of relations between Russia and Turkey because of its geographic location.

Belarus may try to get dividends from the ban and restrictions on the import of Russian Turkish products on the work of the Turkish builders, as well as the loss of Russian tourists Ankara.

Experience in Belarus in this regard already exists. It was Minsk that became the main beneficiary of the EU-Russia sanctions war, turning into a "grocery offshore". After Russia imposed an embargo on products from the EU, exports from Belarus were shown to grow by dozens of times in these categories of goods, mainly through smuggling. However, Belarus has found and legal ways. It is about the easy processing of European goods on the territory of Belarus, for example, when vegetables and fruits are packaged in Belarusian territory and travel unproblematically to Russia, having received a label "produced in Belarus."

The same scheme can crank Minsk and banned for import into Russia of Turkish goods. "The majority of goods entering the territory of Belarus, is intended for transport to other countries, and transit is one of the main items of the income of the republic. Therefore, the growth of trade between Turkey and Belarus are likely depends primarily on the demand for Turkish goods in neighboring countries ", - said Kirill Yakovenko of" Alor Broker ".

As for his own increase in exports of Belarusian agricultural products, it is unlikely that it is the replacement of Russian exports to Turkey Belarus. "Ankara continues to buy Russian goods, including Russian grain in the previous volumes, and no significant restrictions in this respect has not been introduced," - Yakovenko said.

Get the benefits of tourism in Minsk will be even harder. Increase the number of its citizens are unlikely to travel on holiday to Turkey Minsk, given the low level of incomes of Belarusians. Even if Turkey will be able to offer big discounts to Belarusians, it could be no more than a hundred thousand tourists against several millions of Russian tourists who visited Turkey to Ankara downed Su-24.

The calculation for attracting Russian unorganized tourists for trips to Turkey via Belarus can take place. But again, it's not about the millions, but about the tens of thousands of tourists. "In order for a Russian to be able to travel to Istanbul via Minsk, he will, first, buy a tour with the Belarusian company, and secondly, independently get to Minsk. Considering the additional costs and the fact that Turkey is in principle an initially budgetary destination, I do not think that demand for such complex tourist products will grow at least in the foreseeable future, "Yakovlev said.

"For Belarus Erdogan clearly not a market that can replace the" lost paradise "in the form of the Russian market. Replace Russia could only China ", - says Natalya Milchakova.

"Turkey can increase the delivery of the goods to Belarus, the Russian market is closed to it, increase the volume of investments in real estate and construction, to increase its share in the volume of foreign investments in Belarus up to 1%. But on the matter and will end ", - says Milchakova.

Turkey may be interesting to Belarus not only as a springboard for deliveries of prohibited products to Russia, but also for implementing Erdogan's long-standing idea to create a "bridge" between Europe and Asia. "Earlier, as such a" bridge "Erdogan clearly saw Turkey itself. But, since the Syrian conflict completely violated the balance of power in the region, and with the return to Russia of the Crimea, Russia became the largest Black Sea power, Erdogan's plans have not yet been realized. So he is trying to build his "bridge" to Europe bypassing, through cooperation with the European state of Belarus, "the expert from Alpari believes.

"Perhaps, Erdogan sees Lukashenko as a political outcast, with whom no one wants to work. But if so, it underestimates the political flexibility of Europe, which, when it is needed, can lift sanctions and to change the attitude to any policy that from the ocean to act accordingly hint ", - the expert adds.

Olga Samofalova
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