The Russian Ministry of Defense declared that on May 24, Ukrainian forces had attacked a Russian military vessel in the Black Sea. According to the statement, three unmanned high-speed boats attacked the Russian ship Ivan Khurs. The ship foiled the attack. The Ministry said the ship’s mission was to protect the TurkStream and BlueStream pipelines.
We started our interview with Prof. Nurşin Ateşoğlu Güney with that topic. Güney is Member of the Turkish Presidential Security and Foreign Policy Council.
The Council was established in 2018 with Executive Order No1, following the introduction of the presidential system in Türkiye.
The President appoints its members. The Council’s duties are to provide strategy and policy proposals alongside presidential decisions, to deliver reports to the presidency, to advise public institutions in its area of expertise and to execute orders given by the President. President Erdoğan regularly chairs the meetings of the Council.
The interview was conducted prior to the recent second round of presidential elections and slightly edited for purposes of readability.
In the next parts, we will present Prof. Güney’s perspective on future Turkish foreign policy.
Recently, an attack occurred in Black Sea against a Russian navy vessel. How do you evaluate that?
We live in a complex world nowadays. We still don’t know what happened to the NordStream pipeline in the Baltic Sea. Was it attacked or was it a technical failure that at the end led stopped the flow of gas? We still need evidence for a final conclusion, because the reality behind the news surfaces later on after examining the evidence from both sides.
In regards to the recent attack, we also need to get evidence on what occurred and whether it happened inside the Turkish Exclusive Economic Zone.
The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that the attack was targeting ships protecting the TurkStream gas pipeline…
If it turns out that this was an attempted attack on TurkStream, this is of course not a good thing. This is a pipeline that carries gas from Russia to Türkiye and further on, to the West, that is Europe.
I had heard already before rumors, let’s say, from international paparazzi that such an incident could occur. There was loose talk flying in the air.
Without knowing the details, I hope that the attack did not cause any serious damage, because the pipeline is very important.
Beyond the technical question of continuing gas delivery, especially if occurred inside the Turkish EEZ, such an attack would involve a diplomatic crisis including many countries.
“Serious matter” that the presumed attack occurred before elections
Currently, Türkiye is trying to maintain a dialogue between Ukraine and Russia. This dialogue will somehow, at some point, bring the two sides together to achieve at least a ceasefire.
Besides, with its neutrality, Türkiye is also trying to provide solutions to other problems, such as the increasing food prices. Here, the prolongation of the Grain Deal has been achieved very recently. Therefore, it is a very delicate situation.
And the fact that this incident happened just a few days before our elections also turns it into a serious matter. But as I said, I would not like to comment on that further before knowing the details.