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Sep 17, 2022
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Why does Erdogan create a “Turkish Lovers’ Club” in the Balkans?

Pictured: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Pictured: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Photo: AP/TASS)

Inflation in Turkey accelerated to unprecedented levels – 80%. Internal opinion polls show that the president’s ratings Recep Tayyip Erdogan continue to drop catastrophically. Despite this, Ankara seems to stubbornly continue to pursue its imperial ambitions.

At first glance, the tour of the Turkish leader to the countries of the Balkan Peninsula, which took place in early September, during which Erdogan visited Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, absolutely fits into this definition.

Especially if you pay attention to some of the nuances of Erdogan’s conversations with local politicians of the highest echelon, which were told by members of the Turkish delegation who accompanied the head of Turkey during this visit.

“We are the first [Эрдоган и сопровождавшая его делегация] visited Bosnia and Herzegovina, after that Serbia, then Croatia. Request made by our interlocutors at the level of presidents, prime ministers and ministers [этих стран]boiled down to the following: “You will attend the SCO summit. Please pass Putinas well as the President of Azerbaijan Aliyevwith whom you have good relations so that they do not reduce the volumes of fuel and gas supplied to us in the coming winter, ”the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey told, in particular, the Turkish edition of Haberler Vakhit Kirishchi.

Shouldn’t this event be considered in the context that the Balkan states, which have long been under the heavy hand of the Ottoman Empire (whose heir Erdogan considers himself to be), see in Ankara a kind of “new geopolitical force”, a center of gravity capable of establishing itself on the wreckage of an energy crisis ending in convulsions? the European Union?

“Indeed, Turkey’s policy at the present time is to take the opportunity to become a geopolitical leader in the Black Sea region and South-Eastern Europe,” stated in an interview with “SP” political scientist Alexei Anpilogov. – For this, Ankara uses several main factors.

Firstly, this is the idea of ​​the “Great Turan”. Turkey is promoting it in Central Asia, in fact, all the countries of which, by the way, are Turkic. Secondly, it is the so-called “Islamic factor”. In this regard, Turkey promotes “secular Islam” as opposed to the deeply religious, Wahhabi, interpretation of this religion, which is followed by Saudi Arabia, counting on the fact that the “Saudi interpretation” does not suit many countries in the Middle East due to its reactionary nature and rejection of modernity. Erdogan is well aware that Ankara is incapable of directly confronting Mecca, but it may well offer other Islamic states some kind of modern, modernist reading of Islamic values.

“SP”: – But how are the ideas of the “Great Turan” and “Islamic modern” linked with the countries of the Balkan Peninsula, in which there is a strong Christian, even Orthodox beginning?

– And for them, Ankara has the so-called “imperial factor” in reserve. The Ottoman Empire in the past had powerful cultural, historical and ethnic ties, including with the countries of the Balkan Peninsula.

Recent history already knows an example of how the phantom presence of the Ottoman Porte turned out to be quite in demand. I am referring to the civil conflict in Libya, where ethnic Libyan Turks in Misurata were able to realize their ties with Turkey, as a result of which Ankara supported the Libyan Tripoli government in its recent confrontation with Khalifa Haftar.

Naturally, there are ethnic Turkish enclaves and diasporas similar to the Misuratian one throughout the entire territory of the Balkan Peninsula: in Bulgaria, Albania, and even more so in Bosnia.

“SP”: – And how can all this work for Ankara?

– Imperial-linguistic and religious penetration of Turkey into the Balkans, obviously, will go under the auspices of the fact that it positions itself as a kind of “logistics hub” that controls the Black Sea straits, as the mistress of the Eurasian bridge, through which the most convenient and rich in terms of energy pass. and labor resources routes from Asia to Europe, which still has technological superiority, but is in dire need of energy carriers.

In this direction, Ankara can bring to itself the asset of Erdogan’s always discussed “multi-vector approach”. The same Southern Gas Transport Corridor, according to the original plan, generally bypassed Turkey. Let me remind you, he was counting on Bulgaria, which turned out to be a very dependent country that does not have its own distinct political position, and which, as a result, after the events of the Crimean Spring 2014, voluntarily abandoned the Southern Gas Transport Stream. And then Turkey, taking advantage of the political moment, pulled over this logically suggestive transit corridor, having received an obvious geopolitical profit due to the events in Ukraine by now.

But Turkey, for its part, removed all the obvious “Ukrainian risks”, declaring an equidistant policy for everyone, not joining the anti-Russian Western sanctions and continuing economic cooperation with Russia. As a result, it now has the opportunity to actually trade in Russian energy resources in exchange for the geopolitical loyalty of the same Balkans.

In this context, the aggravated conflict between Ankara and Athens, by the way, is very indicative and interesting, since the long-standing existential contradictions between Turkey and Greece, which invisibly counterbalances the descendants of the Janissaries in the region, have traditionally been used by the European Union against Ankara. Here you have the Cyprus conflict of 1974, followed by an escalation in the Cold War regime, and the earlier actually Greco-Turkish war of 1921, won, by the way, Ataturkand much more. And Turkey considers the current aggravation of relations with Greece precisely as a variant of its own controlled expansion in the European direction.

“SP”: – So, in the end, thanks to Russian hydrocarbons, Ankara is still building a “new European Union”, crushing the Balkan region under itself?

– Still, I would not now even talk about any vassalage of the Balkan Peninsula to Ankara, and even more so – about the success of the implementation of Turkey’s “imperial ambitions”. It is quite obvious that for Turkey both are utopianly unrealistic, unbearable tasks. But Ankara is quite capable of getting a certain “club of Turkish lovers” in this way, especially since the small and frankly weak Balkan states, which are less integrated into the European Union and very dependent on external players, are conveniently chosen as candidates for Turkish expansion in this direction. .

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