An envoy, an assassin and a mystery in the heart of Ankara

Coming at the tail end of an annus horriblis in global affairs, the assassination of the Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov by a Turkish police officer initially had analysts wondering whether this was a modern-day version of the killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914. After all, it was only a year ago that the two countries came to the brink of outright conflict after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet in Syria.  If Moscow had felt that the murder was in any way state sanctioned, or that the government had even slight sympathies with the perpetrator, it would no doubt have provoked an extremely strong reaction.

But instead of ratcheting up tensions, the murder of Karlov seems to have brought Ankara and Moscow closer than ever. Erdogan was quick to condemn the murder, contact Putin and invite Russian investigators to the scene. As planned, he also sent Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to a Syria summit in Russia, where Ankara moved further towards Moscow’s position by disavowing its earlier insistence on the removal of Bashar Assad from power.

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(Photo via the website of the European External Action Service)



Asli Aydintasbas of the ECFR

Asli Aydintasbas is Senior Policy Fellow at ECFR, where she primarily works on Turkish foreign policy and external ramifications of its domestic politics.