Turkey’s Fidan holds talks in Russia ahead of BRICS summit

Fidan’s attendance at the BRICS+ summit comes at a time when Turkey’s dismay with the European Union is growing over pending resumption of the modernization of the Customs Union Treaty.

ANKARA — Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan met with Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Sergei Shoigu in Moscow on Monday as part of a two-day visit to Russia, which will also take him to the BRICS+ summit.

Shoigu, who was removed from his post as the Russian defense minister last month by Russian leader Vladimir Putin, discussed with Fidan regional developments including Gaza, Syria and the southern Caucasus, according to Turkish diplomatic sources. As part of his visit, Fidan also attended a meeting of the Russian-Turkish Businessmen Association and met with representatives of Meskhetian Turks living in Russia, a Sunni Muslim Turkic community.

On Tuesday, Turkey’s top diplomat is planning to attend the BRICS foreign ministers meeting in the Western Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod.

Announcing his attendance at the BRICS meeting during his visit to Beijing last week, Fidan said Turkey was exploring new cooperation opportunities with the China-led bloc.

Fidan’s attendance at the BRICS+ summit comes as Turkey seeks to diversify its trade and examine options outside the European Union. Ankara’s dismay has been building up with the EU, its largest trade partner, over the pending resumption of the modernization of the Customs Union Treaty between the bloc and Ankara.

Fidan said last month that there was a mutual “understanding in principle” over the resumption of the modernization talks with the EU, but asked for the process to be sped up. “We agree in principle with the European Union institutions on the modernization of the Customs Union,” Fidan said, speaking at a joint press conference with Oliver Varhelyi, EU commissioner responsible for enlargement and neighborhood policy, in Ankara. “But we must set a timetable and show progress in concrete terms.”

Turkey’s full membership negotiations with the EU, which started in 2005, came to a standstill in 2018 amid the deterioration of ties between Ankara and the bloc largely due to democratic backsliding in Turkey. The EU that same year halted the formal talks to upgrade the current treaty over escalating tensions between Turkey and EU members Greece and Cyprus. Amid a recent rapprochement between Turkey and Greece, the bloc has greenlighted the resumption, but the talks have yet to start.

Also in 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had expressed his country’s desire to join BRICS as he attended the China-led bloc’s summit in South Africa. The bloc, which was founded by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in 2009, expanded to include Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt and Ethiopia.

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