A Peacemaker for Ukraine: Turkey?

20 Mar

[Prefatory Note: This short post is my response to Michael Klare’s helpfully clarifying article that appeared in the March 17 The Nation:


I limit my response to the question as to whether Turkey, specifically its controversial Pressident, Recep Teyyip Erdogan, could perform effectively as a mediating third-party between Ukraine and Russia in negotiations for a long-term peace arrangement.]

A Response to Michael Klare: Choosing Diplomacy in Ukraine

I share Michael Klare’s typically lucid analysis of the situation in Ukraine condemning the Russian aggression, calling for prudent geopolitics from Washington, and according priority to stopping the killing as both a humanitarian priority and a necessary recognition of taking all possible steps to avoid escalation cycles that pose dire threats of a wider war, including a rising risk that nuclear weapons will be used. I appreciate Klare’s attempt to propose a concrete framework for implementing his approach by calling on Erdogan, Xi, and Bennett to mediate either singly or in combination. There is informed reason justifying the identification of these suggested three mediators rather than others, although the very plausibility of the proposal and the paucity of alternative calls attention to the woeful absence of constructive leadership at the global level.

On balance, I favor Erdogan over either Xi (whom I doubt would be acceptable to either the U.S. or Ukraine) or Bennett (who leads a state that has been

recently rather authoritatively declared by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to be guilty of the continuing crime of apartheid and, as well, bears responsibility for the prolonged plight of the Palestinian people, which resembles in many of its features the Ukrainian ordeal. To be sure Erdogan does not have clean hands, having regrettably pursued autocratic policies and practices, but not nearly as compromising as those relied upon by Israel or China. As a result, Erdogan seems best suited to play the essential role of presiding over a diplomacy that seeks an immediate ceasefire accompanied by efforts to achieve an agreed framework of political compromise on the underlying conflict. 

If such an approach is successful, the region and the world will relleasse a huge sigh of relief. If international negotiations led by Erdogan achieve an end to the Ukraine Crisis it will, along the way, greatly enhance the international prestige of Turkey, which would have an unavoidably demoralizing effect on the increasingly formidable democracy-oriented opposition within the country the strength of which will be tested in national elections next year. This seems a price worth paying if it is the best option for shifting the combat zone from lethal battlefields and devastated cities in Ukraine to a neutral international negotiating venue. Looking around the world there are no better alternative mediating leaders than the three individuals proposed by Michael. 

A further related peacemaking  approach would be to explore whether the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), with its 57 members, could be induced to play a part in establishing a complementary process aiming at a more durable and comprehensive system of European security than currently exists, recognizing that the tragic ordeal faced by the Ukrainian people is in part a consequence of the inadequacies of U.S. led post-Cold War geopolitics, which sought to impose a unipolar security order orchestrated from Washington on the whole world rather than seize the initiative to encourage and enact a demilitarization of geopolitics, which might have been inspirationally begun by the disbanding NATO, or at the very least, declare that with the Cold War over, the sole purpose of NATO is keeping the peace.

In the end, the search is for a peacemaking and peacekeeping framework that is perceived as sensitive to the concerns of both Russia and Ukraine, and facilitates finding common ground on an impartial basis. Such an ideal framework should be contrasted to the failed Oslo ‘peace process’ in which the mediating party was the highly partisan United States. 

4 Responses to “A Peacemaker for Ukraine: Turkey?”

  1. Beau Oolayforos March 22, 2022 at 12:19 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    As you emphasize, none of the mediators is really desirable, or has clean hands. How would it be if the matter were submitted to binding arbitration by the Swiss, assuming that they could be persuaded once again to summon up the patience to deal with these barbarous, warring parties?

    • Richard Falk March 23, 2022 at 7:52 am #

      This would seem plausible, although it is my understanding that Switzerland has departed from its usual neutral
      stance shortly after the invasion, imposing restrictions on Russian ability to use international banking system to
      transfer funds. Besiides, I doubt that Putin would accept mediation by a west European state.

  2. purin March 22, 2022 at 9:10 pm #

    [[pOn balance, I favor Erdogan over either Xi (whom I doubt would be acceptable to either the U.S. or Ukraine) or Bennett (who leads a state that has been recently rather authoritatively declared by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to be guilty of the continuing crime of apartheid and…}}

    I am not shocked that you make such a ‘suggestion’, because I know exactly why you think Urdogan, a terrorist who has invaded many countries for the past decade and killed thousands of people and still is after other countries territories, is a ‘deal maker’. You and your wife were Urdogan’s advisors.

    I assume you have not abandoned your position on Syria and Assad, as a ‘dictator’ and ‘revolution’, which is a propaganda by the Zionists/imperialists to topple Assad and divide the Syria for the interest of the criminal ‘greater Israel’ project where requires to erect a second Israel, kurdistan, according to Oded Yinon, where the mafia will take it into their graves.
    Also I know the terrorist Urdogan supports this plan because he thinks it is profitable for himself, since they get the oil from north of Iraq into Israel where Turkey collects a lot of money for transport, like what they are doing now with the corrupt Barzani family, a servant and spy of Israel, and a thief. No one trust a zionist mass murderer like Urdogan who helped the ISIS to stage a chemical attack on Syria , then the zionist media tried to frame Assad through propaganda campaign as usual, where backlash. No one forgets Urdogan’s numerous crimes against humanity in Syria, Iraq, Libya and other places.
    I am not going to talk about Libya where zionist Urdogan bombed Libya and reduced it to a failed state in order to have more influence in the country to feel more ‘powerful’.
    Shame on those who invaded Iraq, Syria, Libya and …

    Today, UAE where was in involved in the Oded Yinon criminal project, invite Assad and kiss his behind and offer capital, We demand Urdogan do the same and pay reparation to Syria.

    You never learn.

  3. purin March 22, 2022 at 10:16 pm #

    Turkey’s balancing act between Russia and Ukraine

    While Turkey will not directly provoke Russia, it has increased its military cooperation with Ukraine. This includes the supply of Bayraktar TB2 drones to the Kiev government.
    For Russia, this poses a threat. It is for this reason that Russian forces destroyed most of the Ukrainian heavy military infrastructure (including its naval and air force) and arms industry.
    As such, Erdogan will aim to continue cooperation with Russia in the region; but he is equally likely to step up engagement with NATO to improve his global standing and reduce international criticism of his domestic conduct. Erdogan knows that standing against Russia and directly confronting Moscow is very risky as – excluding the ongoing war in Ukraine – he would start a war on three fronts in the region: in Libya, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh.

    In order to extract itself from the ongoing difficulty of placating both sides, in recent days Turkey has engaged in proactive diplomacy and mediation between Kiev and Moscow.
    However, Ukraine’s president responded by saying that any consequential agreement with Russia would be put to a referendum. This signaled that there is no agreement in sight and Ankara’s mediating efforts are fruitless.


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