Ukraine and Turkish relationships

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In the fight with Turkish-Tatar invasion Ukrainian Cossacks of Zaporozhye has formed. In the 17th - 18th centuries Cossacks-Hetman state was using Ottoman empire support to balance political situation in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly against the imperialist desires of Poland and Russian. In Crimea you can still find many buildings with Turkish spirit and look. In the 18th century the weakening of the Cossack Hetman state and loss of autonomy of Ukraine, Ukrainians actively participated in the Russo-Turkish wars (in the Russian Army). In 1774 Austria, on the occasion of the Russo-Turkish War, attacked Bukovina, which until then was part of Moldavia and was under the authority of Turkey for more than two and a half centuries.

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Istanbul Aydin University





Turkish-Ukrainian relations


Yana Dovhiy



Current Turkish Political Issues

 Doç.Dr.Sait YILMAZ

November 30th, 2012




Before getting deeper into problematic of Turkish-Ukrainian relations, I would like to introduce this two Black sea's countries.









783,562 km2

603,628 km2





Secular state (Islam)

Orthodox Christians





$1.288 trillion

$329.497 billion


Parliamentary republic

Semi-presidential republic

President/Prime minister

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (prime minister)

Viktor Yanukovych (president)





Back in time


Turkey is the Southern neighbor of Ukraine down under Black sea. During long centuries countries have been through many common historical issues. Either positive or negative. Turkey (Ottoman empire) played main role in Ukrainian historical development. Around year 1470 Turkey had started to occupied the North side of Black sea. 1478 Crimean Khan acknowledged Ottoman authority over part of Feodosia, Kerch, Sudak.... Secured with Turkish protection, Tatars themselves or with Turks assistance  were attacking Ukrainian lands, especially robbing people, selling them to Crimea or Turkey. Istanbul was main market for Ukrainian slaves. It is necessity to mention on of the most know Ukrainian slaves that was caught in 1518 by Crimean Tatars. Roxelana ended up in sultan's harem and after became one of his wives. Roxelana influenced  her husband Suleiman the Magnificent and Ottoman's policies. Helped her son  Suleiman II reach Turkish throne, playing a major role as a sultan-mother. Difficult destiny of slaves and the fight against the Turks and Tatars reflected in Ukrainian folk art, in thoughts and historical songs.

In the fight with Turkish-Tatar invasion Ukrainian Cossacks of Zaporozhye has formed. In the 17th - 18th centuries Cossacks-Hetman state was using Ottoman empire support to balance political situation in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly against the imperialist desires of Poland and Russian. In Crimea you can still find many buildings with Turkish spirit and look. In the 18th century the weakening of the Cossack Hetman state and loss of autonomy of Ukraine, Ukrainians actively participated in the Russo-Turkish wars (in the Russian Army). In 1774 Austria, on the occasion of the Russo-Turkish War, attacked Bukovina, which until then was part of Moldavia and was under the authority of Turkey for more than two and a half centuries.

19th century was no exception of 18th. Wars between Russia and Turkey continued. The Crimean War (1853-1856), or Eastern war - a war between the Russian Empire and the Allied forces Ottoman Empire, Britain, France and the Sardinian Kingdom for dominance in the Middle East and the Balkans. In February 1853 the Russian Emperor Nicholas I sent to Istanbul Navy Minister Prince Alexander Menshikov. He demanded from the Sultan Abd al-Majid acceptation protectorate of over 12 million Orthodox inhabitants of his empire. Sultan refused, instead asked the Anglo-French fleet to enter the Dardanelles to defend Turkey against possible Russian aggression. The war started over the fact sultan Abd al-Majid issued a firman, which officially guaranteed the rights and privileges of the Christian empire, primarily Orthodox. Russian Emperor, however, sent 82000 Russian Corps in June 1853 cross the Prut River and captured Moldavia and Wallachia – slaver's parts of the Ottoman Empire. At the beginning victory was on Russian side. However, after France and Great Britain invasion to the Black sea, sides have changed. There is a version that ambitious Nicholas I in February 1855 ordered from the personal doctor a dose of poison. A few hours later Nicholas died, avoiding the shame of losing the war. Officially announced, though the monarch died of cold. The same day the Russian throne sat Nichola's son Alexander II. Members of the conflict, as well as Austria and Prussia, gathered in Paris for an international congress. Head of the Russian delegation in March 1856 signed the capitulation of Russia. The was ended with the Paris Peace in 1856. He denied Russia the right to have a fleet in the Black sea and the coastal forts and arsenals. Russian Empire publicly renounced claims to Moldavia, Wallachia and southern Bessarabia. Russian Tsar denied patronage of Christians Ottoman Empire, replacing collective patronage of all the great powers. Expansion plan of Russia to get more influence in the South failed.


Turkish independence


Ottoman Empire at the end of the XIX century lost much of its territory in Europe, North Africa and Asia. Joining the First World War on the side of the Austro-German, empire was defeated. Under the terms of the truce agreed by the Entente, the Ottoman Empire practically didn't exist anymore. October 29th, 1923, Turkey was declared a republic. On the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, a new sovereign state appeared. Ukraine has been very supportive about foreign policy of Turkey, although the situation there was also quite complicated. In Ukraine, the events of October 1917 and the proclamation of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) for some time established diarchy, civil war began. Such internal political situation did not helped of any evolution of the foreign relations between Ukraine and Turkey. Turkey was one of the first countries in the world recognized the independent Ukrainian state and established diplomatic relations. Ukraine even had first ambassador in Turkey. However, Ukrainian independent state was liquidated and in Ukraine was established regime of Soviet power. Anyway, Ukrainian social soviet republic kept good relationship with Turkey with effort of development and friendship of these two countries. In 1922, Ankara signed an agreement of friendship and brotherhood between Ukraine and Turkey. Speaking January 3, 1922 at a reception on the occasion of signing the contract, the head of the Grand National Assembly Mustafa Kemal Atuturk said: "Turkey and Ukraine – closest countries to each other. The same close it the friendship between the peoples of the two countries ". New Turkish authorities easily gone to oblivion through bilateral relations laid down in the early postwar years, and eagerly played up the appropriate approach of the Bolsheviks. Thus Ankara treaty of friendship and brotherhood became the next important milestone in the good neighborly relations between Ukraine and Turkey. It provided for the establishment of diplomatic and consular relations, laid the foundations of their political union, started active cooperation in trade, economic and cultural spheres. Ukraine occupies an important place in the Soviet Union exported to the East, including Turkey. However, the full potential of Ukrainian-Turkish relations at that time was not used. The situation changed in 1944, when the Supreme Soviet adopted the Law on granting Union republics powers in foreign policy. Ukraine was one of the founders of the UN, a member of many other international organizations, which de facto meant the international recognition of Ukraine's status as a subject of world politics. In Ukraine-Turkish relations, this has led to increased economic, scientific, technical, and cultural relations. According to the People's Commissariat of Trade USSR, Ukraine's foreign trade with Turkey ranked first: in 1926 - 1927 share of Ukraine's foreign trade with Turkey was 45% of the total foreign trade turnover. According to the General Administration of Customs of the USSR during the same period of Ukraine's share was roughly 35% of all exports to Turkey from USSR. Important role in the development of Ukrainian-Turkish relations, scientific contacts and cultural ties played founded in January 1926 All-Ukrainian Association of Oriental Studies (VUNAS), whose work focused on the political-economic, historical and ethnological directions. Many studies concerned with Turkey - its economy, politics, history and language. VUNAS in the late 20's in the 30 years through contacts with Turkish colleagues supported dialogue between the two countries. Later Stalinist isolationism and World War led to the almost complete collapse of Ukrainian-Turkish relations. Only 60 to 80 years, with the normalization and improvement of relations noticeable between the Soviet Union and Turkey, activated and its economic, scientific-technical and cultural ties with Ukraine.



Ukrainian independence


Real bilateral relations started already in a deep crisis and USSR of conditions for Ukraine's independence. The first documentary evidence of this was the protocol between Turkey and the Ukrainian SSR of the development of trade and economic relations since 1989. In spring 1991 an official visit to Ukraine carried that time president of the Turkish Republic T.Ozal. March 1991 brought the meeting of the head of the Ukrainian parliament with the Turkish president. Leaders of the two countries issued a joint statement and signed the Declaration of Principles and Objectives of relations between the two countries.  Ukrainian side highlighted its interest in supporting the initiative of the Turkish president on the creation of the Black Sea Economic Co-operation as a means of integration processes in Europe. In this regard, the Declaration expressed consent of the two countries to work together in protecting the environment, especially the Black Sea, and to develop appropriate environmental conventions. More over November 20, 1991, before the Ukrainian referendum on independence, Turkey announced the establishment of consular relations with Ukraine. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the formation of an independent Ukraine Turkey set new goals and find new prospects.

A new chapter in the history of Ukrainian - Turkish relations associated with the restoration of Ukraine's independence in 1991. Proclamation of independence of Ukraine has significantly increased the Ukrainian-Turkish relations, starting the new era of relations. December 16, 1991 Turkey was again among the first countries officially recognized Ukraine as an independent state. Since February 1992 between the two countries established diplomatic relations on a new level. Basic document of this relationship was the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Ukraine and the Republic of Turkey, which  was signed for 10 years with an automatic extension of its effect on the subsequent five-year periods. In Ankara and Kiev are embassies of both countries, and in Istanbul - Consulate General of Ukraine. In March 1992 an official visit to Kyiv of Turkish Foreign Minister H.Cetina during which was signed the Protocol on Consultations on foreign policy. Already in May 1992, the first in the history of our bilateral relations official visit to Turkey of President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk and signed a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Ukraine and the Republic of Turkey. One of the main objectives, which Turkey set itself - to help newly independent states in transition to a market economy. One reason for this is that all of these states - its neighbors. "The first reason - our own interests, we want neighbors without problems, we want them to stand on their own feet and made the transition. We want to help this process. "Among its first neighbors Turkish president called Ukraine - "one of the most powerful neighbors Turkey". Speaking in the Ukrainian parliament May 31, 1994, the President of Turkey, said: "Turkey attaches importance to be Ukraine's reliable friend and helpful neighbor serious economic and trading partner, and making efforts in this direction. We are pleased to see that Ukraine with similar feelings and approach extends to us the hand of friendship and cooperation. "

Another reason for the special interest of Turkey in their northern neighbors are Turks, and specifically on Ukraine - Crimean factor. In Crimea live as Turkish president said, "our brothers." Turkey considers not only his duty, but also the responsibility of other countries to assist them. And if now hundreds of thousands of Crimean Tatars have returned to Crimea, today - a problem is not only in Ukraine, which is not able to solve it yourself, but to all civilized countries.  In connection with the 50th anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars, the Turkish president said in his speech: "Our brothers Tatars ... - are a large branch of the Turkish nation, they took their place among those who wrote the history of Ukraine and are the strongest bridge of friendship between Turkey and Ukraine”. The Turkish side with appreciation of efforts of the Government of Ukraine on the Crimean Tatars to  be return to their historic homeland and expressed its wish to assist in solving their housing problems. A marked tendency to intensify economic and humanitarian activities of Turkish organizations and firms on Crimea. Generally Crimean issue is a serious place in Turkish foreign policy towards Ukraine.


Last decade


In recent years between the two countries maintained a constant dialogue at the highest level. Since independence of Ukraine six times Presidents of Ukraine visited Ankara with officials visits. Turkish performed four times official trip to Kyiv. Constant contact is maintained at the level of prime ministers, foreign ministers, defense ministers, the speaker of parliament, as well as two experts States regardless of changes in power that occurred repeatedly in our countries. Countries cooperate not only at the bilateral level, but also within international institutions such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and Organizations for Regional Cooperation (BSEC, BLACKSEAFOR). The Black Sea Naval Forc, was created in early 2001 under the leadership of Turkey with the participation of all other Black Sea littoral states, namely Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Georgia. The BLACKSEAFOR founding agreement was signed in Istanbul on 2 April 2001. The original purpose of BLACKSEAFOR was to cooperatively promote security and stability in the Black sea maritime area and beyond, strengthen friendship and good neighborly relations among the regional states, and increase interoperability among those states naval forces. Soft security efforts and military activities, in addition to political dialogue, are being pursued in this framework. Search and rescue operations, enviromental protection, and mine-clearing were among the initial activities of BLACKSEAFOR. After the terrorist attacks in the USA on September 2011, BLACKSEAFOR's scope of activity was expanded in order to include the fight against terrorism.

  Cooperation in the field of military support both bilaterally and within the framework of the Ukraine-NATO Partnership for Peace program. Agreement on military-technical cooperation between the two countries was signed in 1994. Continues intensive cooperation between the National Academy of Internal Affairs of Ukraine and the Police Academy of Turkey. The development of security cooperation objectively necessary in connection with the increase of irregular migration from Asian countries via Ukraine, organized crime and drug trafficking. With regard to the joint fight against terrorism between interiors of the two countries reached an agreement on cooperation and exchange of experience in this field. Topic NATO-Ukraine relations was the agenda of meetings that were held at the Istanbul Summit in 2004. As per the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gul: "Ukraine with its geographical location, historical, cultural richness, great potential for the development of a special partner for Turkey and NATO. Within the framework of Ukraine's achievements to date, we believe that Ukraine soon expect great success and for the shortest period it reaches its goal - full integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. Turkey fully cooperate with Ukraine and help in this process ". It should also be noted that both countries aspire to join the European Union. In particular accession talks with Turkey, the organization was officially launched in October 2005.

Trade is on the increase, with the two countries presently negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). While negotiations are nearing completion, some sticking points remain, including the fact that Turkey has not yet allowed Ukraine access to its agricultural market, something essential for Ukraine, a country with one of the richest agricultural lands and potential in the world. In 2011 overall bilateral foreign trade increased by 29 percent, reaching some $6.5 billion. Erdoğan said he expected trade turnover to reach some $20 billion by 2015. Things look bright. At a recent Trade Bridge conference organized by the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) some 19 contracts were agreed between Turkish and Ukrainian construction firms to the tune of $800 million. Other important developments include the soon-to-be-implemented agreement on direct rail-ferry communication between ports in Turkey and Ukraine, possible Ukrainian involvement in the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) project, which will transport gas from Azerbaijan’s Caspian shores across Turkey to its western border, and developing the potential that exists in the aerospace sector in which Ukraine is a world leader.

The role played by energy diplomacy in the great strides in relations between Ukraine and Turkey is significant. At the head of this diplomacy is the Nabucco pipeline, which will open a southern corridor between the Caspian Sea, Central Asia, northern Iraq and Europe. For Europe, the Nabucco project, which aims to rescue the region from dependence on Russia as its energy provider, is of vital importance. This importance was most underscored when Russia cut off its natural gas in January 2009. Turkey and Ukraine are both key countries in the Nabucco project, which, in addition to eliminating the EU’s dependence on Russia for energy, will open up a southern energy corridor and accelerate the development of a European energy market. When the Nabucco pipeline finally comes into being, just as both of these countries will play significant roles in the energy transit route, they will also help make the acquisition of natural gas cheaper. In addition to the advantages from having both Ukraine and Turkey as parts of the transit routes for Nabucco, it will also mean the effects of changes in Russia and the capricious behavior by Iran will be less severe.

Tourism is also a key sector for mutual gain. In August short-term visa-free travel was introduced between the two countries. Turkey is one of the top foreign holiday destinations for Ukrainians. In 2011, 602,000 Ukrainians visited Turkey. Turkish visitors to Ukraine are also on the rise, with an increasing number of Turks traveling to the Black Sea coast of Crimea. For Ukraine, clearly developing a strong relationship with a neighbor country that has had significant economic growth in the past decade offers a good opportunity for Ukraine’s leadership. During a period when Ukraine is become increasingly isolated from Western partners, being accused of rolling back democratic practices and with a deep trade agreement with the EU presently on hold, Turkey offers Ukraine a ray of hope in a difficult economic and political situation. Moreover, after Russia, Turkey is the second biggest regional power and market, offering the country a route to markets further afield.


Turkey is a powerful sub-leader with its own system of interest. After World War II, Turkey's foreign policy was oriented in two ways: policy development industry and the accession to the EU, on the other hand - in connection with the Eastern and Islamic Guidance, Turkey looking for his identification with the Middle East and Central Asia. Relations with Turkey are characterized by the lack of political problems, matching views in solving many issues of international life, which in turn opens up new prospects for the development of dialogue and further development of relations not only in the bilateral format and within international organizations.

Today Ukrainian-Turkish relations have constant dynamic development in many areas of mutual interest, including energy, military-technical, transportation, scientific and technological, cultural, humanitarian, tourism, consular and others. Perspective may be Ukraine's participation in the projects adopted in 2000 Turkey modernization plans of the armed forces, in accordance with its provisions until 2025, according to experts, is expected to spend about $ 150 billion. USA. Turkey is an important partner of Ukraine in the scientific and technological field along the line.


Ukrainian-Turkish Trade in Goods ($ billions)

(Data of the State Statistics Committee of Ukraine)










Trade volume





























Operates joint Ukrainian-Turkish High-Tech Laboratory, discusses cooperation with joint projects in the following areas: aerospace field, electronics, materials science, nano-technology and applied energy. Ongoing contacts in the field of education for intercollegiate level. Hundreds of students from both countries are educated in Ukrainian and Turkish universities. Work to establish a dialogue on mutual recognition and equivalence of documents on education and academic titles.

Ukrainian -Turkish relations have existed for centuries, despite the fact that in Soviet historiography this fact hushed or kinked under the then conjuncture . 
Today, relations between the two neighboring countries revived and have every opportunity to fulfill their potential.

How to improve Turkish-Ukrainian relations?

As it has been already few times mentioned, Ukrainian and Turkish relations are well situated. Hard to come up with big idea how to improve them. Speaking of myself I can only imagine these two countries continue walking the road they had started. Having a little knowledge and own experience, seems our nations are very friendly to each other. It is definitely result of long term partnership and knowledge of our roots and traditions, which are very similar.

I, personally, do not agree with pro-russian politics of Ukraine. Neither integration into the European Union. We should find our own way how to survive and develop on our own, having a few faithful allies like Turkey. Ukraine with Turkey are both very wealth countries with big markets, with potential of becoming stronger and stronger in regional, even world politics. In my opinion we are coming through very similar tries and doubts, stucked in the middle, between European integration and our own history. Western attitude is quite obvious towards our countries. Yes, Turkey is much more developed and economically richer than Ukraine, but there is still but. Let's have a look at arguments why Western European countries look at us through fingers.

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