Just couldn’t pass this up! Guaranteed, you won’t see this exchange on BBC, CNN or Euronews.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Erdogan met in Baku, Azerbaijan, which is hosting the first ever European Games under the auspices of the IOC.
While there are African, Asian and other continental games, there were no European games till now. This was of course due to the fact that Olympics as such were born in Europe, therefore, the Olympics proper were till recently perceived as ‘European Games,’ if you will.
I have to say, I would much prefer to see Eurasian Games, uniting all the peoples of Europe and Asia, including EU, Russia, Middle East and all of Asian countries. Eurasia is in fact one continent, once upon a time artificially divided in two.
Some people may say: First European Games… and in Azerbaijan? Isn’t that strange?Azerbaijan is a Muslim country and the Opening Ceremony was a confirmation of that, when the entire show evolved around Middle Eastern themes. However, geographically all of Caucasus, including Azerbaijan, is a part of Europe.
Both Erdogan and Putin were present at the Opening Ceremony of the games (see video below). Incidentally, both Russian and Turkish cultural influences are very strong in Azerbaijan. Everyone speaks Russian and many conduct business in Russian/with Russia. Meanwhile, Azeris feel their biggest historic affinity to the Turks, although some lean closer to Iran.
Therefore, during the Opening Ceremony both Russian and Turkish teams received the most support from the audience, apart from the host, Azerbaijan, whose appearance was met with an ovation.
Basically, both Putin and Erdogan feel quite at home in Baku. They have met on the sidelines and here is a brief translation of their meeting (video below).
Erdogan: ‘First of all, I want to note that it was a great celebration yesterday at the opening. Great first games. What struck me was that none of the EU leaders showed up. At least they will be represented by their athletes during sporting events.
Putin (0:50): You, as a candidate for ascension to the EU, represented the entire European Union yesterday (laughter).
Lada’s remark: since EU constitutes a large part of Europe, especially, considering it’s what is traditionally thought of as ‘Europe,’ it seemed really strange that none of them showed up in Baku. In reality, nothing strange about that. This is punishment to Baku and Azeri President Aliyev for attending the Victory Day on May 9th in Moscow and for getting closer to Russia.
Of course, Azerbaijan was awarded the first European Games hosting in 2012, BEFORE Aliyev started getting closer to Russia. Things like that traditionally are bribes given by the West to various countries. Hosting games such as these strokes the country’s ego and in exchange the country is expected to do what it’s told. The same way as Azerbaijani singers often placed second or won Eurovision in the past. The singers’ natural talent notwithstanding, Eurovision is one of the most politicized shows on the planet and these are clearly political bribes. This time, with the European Games, the bribe was wasted.
I mentioned in some of my articles and a previous interview with The Plane Truth that Putin jet-setted the world throughout 2014, creating a complex web of new alliances. One of the brilliant moves by Putin that the West entirely missed was to invite both Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents to the 2014 world wrestling championship in Sochi. Wrestling is the most popular sport in both Armenia and Azerbaijan. But that’s where similarities end.
Ever since both former Soviet Republics, and before that regions of the Russian Empire, became independent in 1992, undeclared war raged between them for the disputed province of Nagorny Karabakh. Although Russia officially took a neutral position, Russia is considered by most a supporter of Armenia. For the first time ever, Putin managed to get the two enemies into one room, sat them on both sides of himself as they watched wrestling matches, and for the first time in decades, had the two shake hands. No one else was ever able to achieve such feat. After that, and after Russia awarded new agricultural/food export contracts to Azerbaijan to replace the sanctioned European agricultural products, Russia-Azerbaijan relations skyrocketed into a new orbit practically overnight.
I wrote last year that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s father, previous president Geidar Aliyev, was intimidated into cooperation with the US against Russia in the 1990s after a CIA assassination attempt. His son starting to make moves towards Russia means he is now a target, too. Let’s note that Erdogan himself endured assassination attempt and multiple color revolution attempts, as well as a storm of attacks in Western press, after he and Putin agreed on the Turkish Stream late last year. But Erdogan is a general and he is much tougher than he may appear.
Consequently, Aliyev is being advised and supported by two very useful allies. This means he will be able to withstand pressure by the West.
The above inside joke by Putin is a hint at the fact that Turkey has been knocking on the EU door for over 50 years, but was never accepted, despite its close cooperation with NATO (against USSR and Russia, I might add). Erdogan gave up on the EU and changed gears towards Russia. During Erdogan’s visit to Moscow last year, he joked that Turkey wasn’t welcome in the EU; perhaps it was time for Turkey to ask for membership in Eurasian Union. As they say in Russia: ‘every joke contains a little joke; the rest is the truth.’
Video: Putin and Erdogan Troll EU at Baku’s First European Games
First European Games Complete Opening Ceremony, Baku, Azerbaijan. It was beautifully done and the Middle Eastern imagery was stunning. Unfortunately, not everything was factually correct (such as the legend of Europa and the Bull). Besides, the English commentators were as clueless as ever.
Vladimir Putin sits on the left of the hosts, President Aliyev and his wife, next to the IOC President Thomas Bach.
To form a complete picture, this post should be read in concert with: Putin’s New Ally: Pope Francis