Andrey Baklanov: "Referendum changes situation in favor of Erdogan"

By Vestnik Kavkaza
Andrey Baklanov: "Referendum changes situation in favor of Erdogan"

Yesterday, the constitutional referendum on a number of changes to the constitution was held in Turkey, which will turn the republic from a parliamentary to a presidential one. The preliminary result of the vote showed that supporters of the presidential system won with a minimum margin: 24.3 million people supported the amendments, 23.2 million people voted against them. The deputy head of the Council of the Russian Diplomats Association, Andrey Baklanov, told Vestnik Kavkaza what President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's victory over the Kemalists could mean.

- In your opinion, how will the referendum and its results affect the future of Turkey?

- First of all, the referendum practically brought the division of the population on the issue of the constitutional structure of Turkey and the government of the country to an official level. Accordingly, the split over the issue of what ideology should be put in the basis of further state building was finally formed. In Kemalist Turkey it was believed that Islam is the religion of the country's citizens, that is, every believer's personal business, which should not be a basis for ideological, especially state development. Now the vector is seriously changing, and they have yet to understand how hard the ruling party will behave in the future, whether it adopt the slogans, which, for example, the 'Muslim Brotherhood' had.

"As a result, the referendum indicates much more alarming level of those issues that have been brewing in the society in recent years. Of course, in general, it decides, first and foremost, the task posed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: adapt the system of state bodies and assert himself as the head of state in all the manifestations. On the other hand, the results of the referendum are not directly related to Turkey's real socio-economic or regional problems. Now it all depends on how realistic the country's policy will be under the new arrangement of state bodies.

- How will such a minimal victory strengthen Erdogan's power?

- Erdogan's power would have strengthened anyway, no matter how small the margin between those supporting and those who are against. Now the president will be able to rely confidently on the will of the voters. Despite the only one million-vote advantage, his position became more durable, which will allow him to qualitatively change the power structures by 2019, when the next presidential election will be held. He will occupy a key, much higher position in the government than now, so that the referendum changed the situation in his favor.

- Does it mean that it is worthwhile predicting Erdogan's victory in the presidential elections in 2019, after which the official change of state system will take place?

- If the situation does not undergo any fundamental changes, then, given the fact that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a very experienced statesman and as a whole has held the leading position in one or another quality for a long time, I think that his chances of becoming the first president of Turkey with new powers are high.

- Will Russian-Turkish relations change after the referendum?

- In my opinion, this event has nothing to do with relations with Russia. We proceed from the fact that Erdogan's recent statements testified to his desire to conduct mutually beneficial trade, economic and other relations with us on a pragmatic basis. Of course, there are still discrepancies between us, a number of question marks have not been resolved yet, but if Erdogan is ready to pursue the course to improve relations with Russia, we, on our part, are also ready to pursue this course with regard to his state.

- What kind of reaction can be expected from the West now and in the future, taking into account, in particular, Erdogan's intention to bring the issue of the death penalty to a new referendum?

- I think the western position will be restrained. And the main thing here is not that Erdogan intends to put key issues, about which public opinion in the West is very anxious, for discussion, but the fact that Ankara has not fully defined its commitments to NATO and the nature of its interaction with the EU countries. The lines of Erdogan's future policy in these areas are not completely clear for the West, therefore, there will be a period of mutual study of the plans and their implementation.