As Russian retaliation for Western sanctions bites across the European Union, Greece’s Foreign Ministry has expressed indignation at non-EU member Turkey boosting food exports at the continent’s expense, according to EurActiv.
The initial sanctions were hastily applied by Western countries, initially targeted military expenditure and key people including Vladimir Putin’s closest allies. However, following months of tension, Russia decided to ban the import of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and dairy imports, as reported by the BBC last week.
Now, European and British farmers are appealing to their respective governments over the impact of losing a significant market. Meanwhile, pragmatists in Turkey’s Islamist-led government have rushed to fill the void.
Speaking to journalists, Turkey’s Minister for the Economy said last week: “Amid the deadlock between Russia, Ukraine, the European Union and the United States, we will carry our interests… We will gain advantages from that”.
British fishermen are particularly at risk due to Western grandstanding, with one firm reporting that up to 16 percent of its mackerel and herring exports are now subject to the Russian embargo.
Although constrictions of trade will continue to hit producers in the European bloc, ordinary shoppers may find themselves pleasantly surprised at the checkout, as unless new external markets can be found quickly, domestic producers will be forced to dump their products at cut prices.
There is currently no sign that Turkey is going to turn its back on the European Union and join Putin’s Eurasian group in the near term, but the country’s willingness to engage with Russia and keep out of international disputes is evidently ruffling feathers amongst the EU elite.
A recent official European Commission report notes the dependence of mainland Europe on imported Russian oil and gas. According to the report, if Russia were to cut off supplies without warning in January 2015, only Spain and Portugal would be unaffected by the energy shortages that would follow.