Friday, September 22, 2006

Turkey is Making Russia Nervous

The suggestion to form a Turkish commonwealth among Turkic-speaking countries voiced at the recent gathering of leaders of Turkic states in Turkey’s seaside resort city of Antalya appears to reflect Ankara’s desire to strengthen its economic and political positions in Eurasia. Moscow should not treat Turkey’s growing geopolitical ambitions lightly, some Russian analysts say.

On September 18-20, the 10th Turkic States and Communities’ Friendship and Cooperation Congress took place at the posh hotel complex on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Organized by the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), the Turkic Convention brought together top policymakers from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and the unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, as well as delegates representing the Turkic territories of Russia, Ukraine and Moldova -- Chuvashia, Khakassia, Altai region, North Caucasus, Crimea, and Gagauzia.

“Turkic summits” were the brainchild of the late visionary Turkish leader Turgut Ozal. Ozal, prime minister and then president of Turkey from 1983 until his death in 1993, entertained a sweeping project that included a vibrant Turkic Common Market and a powerful Turkic Trade and Development Bank. A “Turkish model,” based on Turkey’s imperfect but seemingly workable market economy and somewhat restrictive parliamentary democracy, was offered to the post-Soviet states as a roadmap for their transition.


The 2006 Turkic summit has indeed set quite an ambitious agenda. To further develop commercial activities among Turkic states, participants decided to encourage foreign investment and to provide additional incentives to investors from Turkic states. Common energy projects should be developed and additional backing given to pipeline projects passing through Turkey. A common alphabet should be worked out to improve communication among Turkic peoples. Studies in Turkic culture should be encouraged. The summ it’s participants agreed that there is a need to compile a common heritage list of the Turkic world; they also deemed it advisable “to rewrite our common history and teach it at schools.”

To crown these integration efforts, the world’s Turks will have to establish a Turkic Commonwealth “like English- and French-speaking countries do,” Erdogan suggested. “This way we can encourage our cooperation and become more influential in the world.”

How...pre 19th century of Russia and Turkey. Was the 20th Century a respite of the way the world really works?

1 comment:

Randy McDonald said...

One interesting thing is the extent to which Russia is declining and cotninues to decline relative to its southern neighbours. In the mid-1950s, the population and economy under the control of Moscow was at least a dozen times as large as anything controlled from Ankara (or Teheran). Now, at least measured in terms of crude PPP-adjusted GDP per capita, the gaps between Russia on the one hand and Iran and Turkey on the other have largely disappeared, while the two Middle Eastern countries have a combined population substantially larger than that of Russia. Relative decline's nasty.