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Nov 16, 2021
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Istanbul Summit: from the Turkic Council to the Organization of Turkic States

On November 12, on the Island of Democracy and Freedom in the Sea of ​​Marmara (an urban area of ​​Istanbul), to the sounds of an Ottoman military band, the eighth summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States, or the Turkic Council, established in 2009, was held. Now the Council is renamed to the Organization of Turkic States (Organization of Turkish States)

Recall that the Turkic Council was declared as an international organization designed to promote comprehensive cooperation between Turkey and the Turkic-speaking republics of the former Soviet Union – Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan; Hungary was endowed with observer status, and now Turkmenistan has become such. Within the Council (now – the Organization), there are many joint structures, professional and business associations, the names of which speak for themselves: the Turkic Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Turkic Investment Fund, the Trans-Caspian Trade and Transit Corridor, the fraternal ports process, Health Council, Supply Chain Group, Student and Faculty Exchange Program, Silk Road Collaborative Tours Project, International Youth Camps and others.

The “common Turkic” life is very rich: for example, in October, prosecutors general met in Baku, and in Istanbul, the public communications office of the Turkish president, known for its tough and offensive nature of its activities, held a media forum inviting more than 350 guests who considered a wide range of issues – from joint making motion pictures before working on social media.

The comprehensive support provided by Ankara to official Baku during the 44-day war for Nagorno-Karabakh contributed to the growth of Turkey’s popularity as a reliable ally. Multilevel interaction with the countries of Central Asia is successfully developing, including the training of Kazakh officers in Turkish educational institutions. In September, the Bayraktar TB2 attack drone appeared at a parade in Ashgabat, timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the “new Turkmenistan”, and in October, Kyrgyzstan confirmed the purchase of Erdogan’s flies.

One of the reasons for the considerable attention given by Ak-Saray (the presidential palace in Ankara) to the propaganda of the ideas of the “Turkic world” is the slipping of the “all-Muslim” integration project, in the implementation of which the heirs of the Ottoman Caliphate have many competitors. The very logic of the change of the name “Council” to “Organization” testifies to its movement towards a more binding structure, the participants of which could be bound by “mechanisms of operational decision-making”, as mentioned by the head of Turkish diplomacy Mevlut Cavusoglu. The appearance in its official name of the organization of “Turkic states” instead of “Turkic-speaking” means a greater emphasis on politics instead of the previous “cultural and humanitarian” camouflage. Observers also draw attention to the lack of distinction in the Turkish language between the terms “Turkish” and “Turkic”. Accordingly, in Turkish the new name is read as “Organization of Turkish States”, which contains an unambiguous allusion to the leading role of Ankara in this ethnically motivated union (in some expert circles, the wording “United States of the Turkic world” is widespread).

The renaming and restructuring of the organization will lead to its more intensive development, Erdogan is sure, recalling that the Turkic countries “remained the center of culture and civilization” for millennia, and over time “the Sun will rise from the East again.” It is appropriate to recall here that Turkey is the most western member of the Organization not only geographically, but also politically (a NATO member, albeit an obstinate one). “The Organization of Turkic States should not bother anyone. On the contrary, one should strive to become a part of this structure based on historical community. This is a platform for the development of interstate relations “, – said the Turkish leader, adding that the concept “Vision of the Turkic World” for the period up to 2040, approved by the heads of state, determines the prospects for the development of the Organization. Governments have been instructed to prepare a roadmap for the period up to 2026.

Declared some time ago in one of the agency’s publications Anatolia the concept Türk Konseyi’nden Türk Birliği’ne (“From the Turkic Council – to the Turkic Union”) assumes consistent work along the line of the romanization of alphabets and the formation of a single language to create a “common market”. Supporters of the further victorious step of the “Turkic world” are confident that the meeting on the shores of the Bosphorus, and especially the upcoming chairmanship of the Council of Turkey “Will give a new impetus and become an important turning point in cooperation” between states, the integration of which will move “to a new higher level”… But, if we ignore the pathos of Ibrahim Karagyul, the answers to the questions about how this “higher level” will manifest itself may turn out to be very different.

For example, Ukraine is striving to obtain observer status in the “friendly Turkic family” by “waving” the Crimean Tatar minority, the bulk of which lives in the Russian Crimea. Further, Erdogan proposes to recognize the right to membership in the Organization of such, in his opinion, “an integral part of the Turkic world” as the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC). Accordingly, her invitation to the next summit would mean de facto recognition of the TRNC and all other members of the organization. Are, for example, Nur-Sultan or Bishkek, and even Baku, ready to go so far in their support of the owner of Ak-Saray? It can be noted here that the orbit of politically motivated pan-Turkism traditionally includes, for example, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, and Erdogan’s partner in the ruling coalition, the leader of nationalists, Devlet Bahcheli, sees the map of Russia in a very original way …

Devlet Bahcheli painted about a third of the Russian territory in the colors of the “Turkic world”. Photo: Twitter / MHP

If in the early 1990s Turkey did not have sufficient capabilities to fully interact with the former Soviet republics, now everything is different. “Erdogan is very interested in expanding Turkey’s zone of influence, – believes political scientist Kerim Khas. – In Central Asia, where the Turkic peoples, fraternal to the Turks, live, it is easier and more logical to do this … Ankara needs as many levers of pressure on Moscow as possible. By increasing its influence in the countries bordering with Russia, Turkey gains a strong position in negotiations with the Kremlin on all issues. And there are a lot of them. This is Syria and Libya, and various economic projects, and the situation in the South Caucasus “

Ankara’s open support for radical groups such as the “Gray Wolves” testifies to the desire of the Turkish regime for external expansion, which is clearly manifesting itself in Syria. In case of further attempts to give the “Turkic world” a pronounced political color, this will give rise to new problems – even for the members of the Organization. For example, will the export of radical nationalist ideology in Turkmenistan, linked by multibillion-dollar long-term energy contracts with the People’s Republic of China, be received with enthusiasm? How will the ethnopolitical situation develop in Kazakhstan, which is a member of the CSTO, the EAEU and the SCO, but at the same time made a significant contribution to the formation of the Turkic Council against the background of the growth of local nationalism in the republic? At a meeting in Istanbul, the heads of state opened a new building for the General Secretariat of the Organization, headed by Baghdad Amreev, but what impact will the alleged “mechanisms for prompt decision-making” have on the participants’ freedom of foreign policy maneuver? For example, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdykhukhammedov in an interview with TRT World repeatedly mentioned the legal status of the republic’s permanent neutrality enshrined in the UN, which is “the highest achievement [туркменской] independence “.

Even within the framework of ethnically, historically and religiously close associations, the Turkic states do not intend to limit their sovereignty, says Rasim Musabekov, deputy of the Azerbaijani Milli Majlis. Turkey and Hungary are NATO members, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are members of the EAEU, Turkmenistan is neutral, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan are not included in any associations that impose serious obligations on its members. Ethnically based organizations (such as the League of Arab States) are not very efficient. Of the successful examples of regional associations, the parliamentarian singles out the “Scandinavian five”, which he sees as a certain model for the “Turkic” community. Today, the volume of mutual trade between members of the Organization is only 3 percent of their total trade, and President Erdogan sets the goal of bringing this figure to 10 percent. The issues of unification of technical standards of customs tariffs have not been resolved, supply chains have not been built; finally, “the Turkic world is not technologically self-sufficient,” being dependent on the United States, Europe, China and Southeast Asia. According to Musabekov, China will dominate economically in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, just as in Kazakhstan – Russia, taking into account the length of the borders; Azerbaijan will gravitate more towards Turkey and Europe, where the main oil and gas export routes leading from the fields of the western Caspian are directed.

If the Turkish regime and its leader, on the eve of the difficult electoral cycle of 2023, try to impart an inappropriate acceleration to Turkic integration, the costs of such a course will become inevitable.

Cover photo: @RTErdogan

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