2. DELTA -TRIANGLE
Danube Europe Ukraine Ex-USSR Moldova Polska Turkey
*Poland-Romania-Turkey and Georgia-Moldova-Ukraine, respectively.
Poland, Romania, and Turkey substantially intensified their bilateral political and economic cooperation in recent years. One of the main reasons for the intensification apart from the economic potential was their common interest in the Black Sea region. Turkey signed Strategic Partnership agreements with Poland and Romania in 2009 and 2011, respectively. Poland signed such an agreement with Romania in 2009 and established a bilateral presidential consultation committee with Romania.4 The committee is supposed to meet every year and include officials from the Presidential Chancelleries, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Ministries of Defense. At the beginning of the 1990s, Poland established such a committee with Turkey.
- In 2014, Poland and Turkey commemorated the 600th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. This anniversary was an incentive for the organization of many cultural events (exhibitions, concerts, conferences, publications) in both countries and an unprecedented intensification of bilateral high level visits.An impressive deepening of Polish-Turkish relations occurred recently in the educational sector. Currently, the key issue for Poland and Turkey should be to ’keep fire burning’ in order to avoid losing the momentum when ‘the party’ is over.
- The institutional framework for economic bilateral cooperation between Poland, Romania and Turkey has also intensified in recent years. For instance, in 2009, the Turkish Ministry of Economy placed Poland in the group of the fifteen priority markets for 2010-2011. Until 2013, Poland was ’reelected‘ to this group as the only EU member state.
- In 2013, Romania was assigned this status together with Poland for the 2014-2015 period. On the other hand, in 2012, Poland recognized Turkey as one of seven prospective non- European markets.8 Turkey is the main trade partner of Poland in this group.9 The mutual treatment of Turkey, Poland, and Romania as priority markets stems from already relatively developed trade ties between these countries.
- The trade between Poland and Romania and Turkey is at a similar level. According to Turkish data, in 2014 the trade turnover between Turkey and Romania exceeded 6 billion USD. Meanwhile, the Turkish trade volume with Poland approached 5.5 billion USD and Polish-Romanian trade reached almost 5 billion USD. Turkey is the biggest non-EU market for Polish exporters after Russia, the US, and Ukraine.
The relations of Poland, Turkey and Romania with the Eastern Partnership countries – strong and weak points
Currently Poland, Romania, and Turkey engage mostly separately with the EaP countries in the Black Sea region. Each has managed to gain the status of top partner for one of the EaP countries. Poland is a particularly important partner for Ukraine; Romania plays the role of main stakeholder in Moldova; while Turkey has a key leverage in Georgia.
However, Turkey also possesses relatively developed political and economic relations with Moldova and Ukraine, although, these could be substantially more robust. The weakest chains in the process of economic cooperation between Poland, Romania, and Turkey and the EaP are the negligible economic ties between Ukraine and Romania and between Poland and Georgia. Nonetheless, it should be admitted that Poland, Romania, and Turkey are currently trying to deepen their economic, political, and social relations with all three EaP countries.
In the Black Sea region, Turkey is decidedly the most important player, after Russia; but its position is much weaker than Russia’s on the northern shores of the Black Sea (Moldova, Ukraine).24 Despite Turkey’s reluctance to openly challenge Russia in the region, the positions of the two countries on the future of the region do not overlap. In contrast to Russia, Turkey supports the membership of Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine in the EU and NATO.
Georgia is a country where Turkey’s influence is the greatest. Turkish influence is based on its strong economic position, very frequent people to people contacts, and close military cooperation.25 Turkey is Georgia’s most important trade partner with its share in the Georgian trade balance approaching 17%. Since the Rose Revolution, its share in the inflow of FDI to Georgia has totaled almost 10%.
Turkey plays a significant role in the Georgian construction sector where construction contracts that were completed by Turkish companies had reached nearly 3.5 billion USD by the end of 2014. In effect, Turkey’s position in Georgia’s economy is stronger than that of Russia. Turkey plays a particularly important role in the development of infrastructure (Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, highways, airports) and in the energy sector (Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline, TANAP gas pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline). In sum, Turkey’s dynamic involvement in Georgia’s economy is the most important insurance policy against Russia’s efforts to subdue the latter in this sphere.
Turks represent the largest group of foreigners that most often visit Georgia; while, after Russia, Turkey is the main travel destination for Georgians. According to the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Georgians visited Turkey 1.75 million times in 2014 (it should be noted that Georgia’s population does not exceed 5 million). On the other hand, despite intensive people to people contacts with the Turks, Georgian society feels a social distance towards them. This stems from their significant religious differences and the high level of conservatism in both societies.26 Turkey’s relations with Georgia, in the education sphere are definitely below par while Turkey does not play a significant role in the ODA received by Georgia.
- The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: edu.tr