14 March 2019 – CRS director Onur İşçi delivered a lecture in İstanbul, “Beyond Realpolitik: Strategic and Economic Aspects of Soviet-Turkish Friendship.” The talk was the first in a series of lectures, co-organized by CRS and Tarih Vakfı, devoted to the intersecting histories of the Turkish Republic and the Soviet Union in the interwar period. In this talk, Onur examined Soviet-Turkish relations in the critical period of 1936-1939. Most accounts of Soviet-Turkish relations have argued that a pragmatic geopolitical partnership formed in 1920 broke down in 1936, when both sides fell out over the question of the Straits. Onur’s work – including analysis of recently declassified materials from the Turkish Diplomatic Archive – shows that the Soviet Union and Turkey continued to cooperate in various spheres, right up until the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939. If cooperation continued despite disagreement over the Straits – historically the most important issue dividing the two countries – then this was surely more than a pragmatic geopolitical alignment. Onur argues that while the Soviet Union and Turkey had come together in 1920 in the name of anti-imperialism and that the joint ideological stance was challenged by Turkey’s rapprochement with Great Britain during Montreux, cooperation against Germany came to characterize a reconfigured anti-imperialism that was particularly visible in the economic sphere. Both sides hoped that Soviet-Turkish trade and Soviet aid for Turkish industrialization would lessen Turkey’s dependence on Germany.