When talking about external threats to the Eurasian economic Union, often focuses on the geopolitical aspirations of the United States, NATO and other Western integration projects, as well as on the ideology of radical Islamism. Some argue about the possible expansion of China, someone calls the main threat to climate and environmental changes in the region and the world. With all this, aside from public attention remain geopolitical ambitions of Turkey.
Perhaps this is due to the small size of its territory or NATO membership, which gives reason to perceive the state as only a part of the Alliance, but if we analyze the foreign policy of Ankara, it can be concluded that Turkey has quite serious ambitions to increase its influence in international politics.
Thus, Turkey plays a very active role in such international organizations as the Turkic Council, whose members are members of the EAEU Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In addition to them, to the Turkic Council was joined by Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have the status of possible members. This organization aims to unite the States in which most of the population are representatives of the Turkic peoples, with the aim of strengthening mutual cooperation. The headquarters is predictable in Turkey, in Istanbul. The Union has its own flag, which, according to the head of the Turkish foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, should be mandatory in all Turkic countries, along with national. Reminiscent of the EU flag in the participating countries.
In connection with the foregoing, it is imperative to examine in more detail the above-mentioned integration project. Find out what could be the point of contact and contradiction with the Eurasian integration, as well as to analyse the developments in the future.
The Turkic Council: history, development, nature
At the moment the most, if I may say so, a powerful international organization of the Turkic States of the Turkic Council stands. This is a full-fledged international Association founded in the course of the agreements ratified by the heads of member States.
The Association was established on October 3, 2009 in Nakhichevan — an Azerbaijani city on the border with Turkey. First it was called the cooperation Council of Turkic speaking States.
This Association was preceded by other Turkic organizations, the essence of which was for the most part out of politics and geopolitics, but rather in the culture and Philology. So, since 1992, held a Summit of the Turkic languages, in the same 1992 in Almaty was established the joint administration of Turkic arts and languages and in 1998 in Baku launched by the parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-speaking countries. The latter two organizations became part of the Turkic Council.
22 Aug 2012 4 the largest Turkic-speaking States, United in the framework of the organization concerned (Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan), took a single flag, and at the end of 2014, the first regional representation of the Diaspora of the Turkic Council, has opened in Kiev. This is due to the action of the local Diaspora of the Azerbaijanis.
The main coordination of the actions of the Association occurs on the summits of the Turkic Council attended by the heads of States parties.
The Nakhchivan agreement, which formed the basis of the Council, fix a set of goals and objectives. Enumerate all will not, but pay attention to associated with the political and economic spheres:
search for common viewpoints on foreign policy issues of common interest, including in the framework of international organizations and in international forums;
coordination in the fight against international terrorism and separatism, extremism, human trafficking, drug trafficking, and promoting international policies for control of illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances;
promoting effective regional and bilateral cooperation in political, trade-economic, law enforcement, environmental, cultural, scientific-technical, military-technical, educational, energy, transport, financial and other areas of common interest;
the creation of favorable conditions for trade and investments, the further simplification of customs and transit procedures in order to gradual implementation of free movement of goods, capital, services and technologies and simplification of financial and banking operations.
Therefore, the Turkic Council can rightly be called a full-fledged integration project, which not only coordinates the activities of participating countries in the international arena, but also aims at simplifying customs and transit procedures, which looks pretty interesting in connection with the participation of Astana and Bishkek in the Customs Union and the EEU countries…
Contact Turkic and Eurasian integration: scenarios in the future
Of course, the most optimistic scenario in the future could be the accession of Turkey and Azerbaijan to the EEU. The Turkic Council in this scenario would be the “integration of integration” such as the Union state of Belarus and Russia in the EEU.
At the summit of the Turkic Council in 2014 Nursultan Nazarbayev has made quite a strong statement, which then was vigorously debated in all the major media. The Kazakh leader invited Turkey to become associate member of the Eurasian economic Union.
But it should be noted that this was done not in a vacuum. So, in autumn 2013 the Prime Minister of Turkey, Erdogan said that he would be interested in the participation of Turkey in the Shanghai cooperation organization and even a Customs Union.
Such encouraging statements to this day because Turkey and the EU has not solved many of the problems between them. In addition, during these four years a new one was added, in particular, in the sphere of migration of the crisis from countries of the Middle East.
A leading expert of the analytical network “Ankara — Moscow”, a Turkish political scientist Engin Lakes believes that if Turkey and the EU will not find soon a common language, through 2019 Erdogan will hold a referendum on Turkey’s accession to the EEU, and that it will not. And in the case of Turkey in the EEU, Turkey will mainly build their trade and economic relations with Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, but great efforts will still be focused on building economic cooperation with Moscow.
But soon this option should not be taken seriously. Erdogan probably just trying to demonstrate disagreement with the policy of the United States and the EU in relation to Turkey, which supported the mass protests in Istanbul, the probable organizer of Fethullah Gulen Turkish and Pro-Western opposition. In addition, accession to the SCO or associative membership in the EEU are very vague prospects due to the fact that Ankara is already in associative relations with the EU and is a full member of NATO.
And given the current situation in the region, the threat of Kurdish separatism, the neighborhood with Syria and Iraq, Erdogan is unlikely to risk making a sharp geopolitical turn, to leave the Alliance and to abandon cooperation with the West. At least in the short term until stabiliziruemost the situation in the middle East. This all exacerbated the difficult relations between Turkey and Russia, associated with the downed Russian plane, and also with the subsequent imposition of anti-sanctions.
Fairly high interest in this scenario causes and possible membership of Azerbaijan in the EAEU. The country is in conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, making it virtually impossible Alliance between Baku and Yerevan within the framework of a single integration project. On the other hand, the rapprochement of Baku with the Eurasian economic Union contributed to the early settlement of frozen conflict, rather than actively can contribute to Moscow.
In addition, in the case of joining the Eurasian economic Union of Turkey, Azerbaijan could always count on the support of its allies in the Turkic Council. Recall that in 2009, President Ilham Aliyev stated that “the problem of one Turkic state should be a problem for other Turkic States”, thereby expressing hope that mutual support of the member countries of the Turkic integration project.
However, even barring the accession of Turkey and Azerbaijan to the EEU, the Turkic Council and the Eurasian project can find a common point pairing and in a mutually beneficial way to cooperate on many issues, primarily in the economic sphere. In Kyrgyzstan there are large Turkish trading enterprises Turkish businessmen to invest in Kazakhstan’s economy. And the involvement of both the Central Asian republics in the Eurasian economic Union provides the chance to the Turks to use all its advantages and benefits.
In addition, the EEU countries and the Turkic Council could strengthen mutual support on the international political arena. Relations between Ankara and the West today, it is difficult to call perfect: the US and the EU has repeatedly supported the mass protests in Turkish cities. In this regard, for a start it would be possible to combine the efforts of the EAEU countries and the Turkic Council in the fight against active intervention of the West in internal political processes in the region.
The second scenario are the deepening of integration of the Turkic and strengthening of Turkish influence in the Central Asian countries that are at odds with their integration within the EEU.
First, how will combine the Customs Union of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan with the countries of the EEU while simplifying customs procedures with Turkey and Azerbaijan?
Secondly, Turkic integration can become a challenge if the Eurasian economic Union will go beyond the customs and commercial cooperation in the policy area and develop a common position on issues of international cooperation and international relations. How, then, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to act on the world stage, if the Turkic Council establishes one of its goals the search for common viewpoints on foreign policy issues? On which they become party in the case of different interests, for example, Russia and Turkey?
Of course, it is too early, while the Eurasian integration is based only on the economy.
In the case of this version of events, Ankara will try to strengthen its influence in Central Asia. So, during the last visit of Erdogan to Kazakhstan, he stated explicitly: “We consider this land my second home, here we feel at home”.
According to experts, it is no coincidence that immediately after the visit to Astana (September 10), Erdogan went to Baku. Ankara has been trying to involve Kazakhstan into the orbit of its geopolitical influence, along with Azerbaijan.
Special attention should be paid to the activities of Turkey in Kyrgyzstan. So, according to the known Kyrgyz political scientist, Executive Director of the Association of political scientists of the Kyrgyz Republic Toktogul of Kakchekeev, Turkey has certain levers of influence on internal and external policy of Kyrgyzstan in connection with the fact that she has close ties with the political and business community.
The country has a large Turkish trading company, a Turkish firm involved in construction. They reconstructed the old building factory, making uniforms for the armed forces, will soon begin construction of the military Institute of the 500 students with the polygons and tactical centres for the field training.
In addition, the country has more than a dozen schools where children are taught to europrogram popular among the population.
In this scenario, the competition of the EEU and the Turkic Council in the region will increase, however last will lose miserably, because the economy of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan is much stronger linked with Russia than with Turkey. In the case of the choice between the two integration projects to leave the Eurasian economic Union will be profitable from an economic point of view. But this is an option, if in the Central Asian republics power will come nationalists.
In addition to the above, the composition of the Turkic Council at the moment is very interesting because the members represent different military units: Turkey in NATO, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in the CSTO. While one of the objectives of the integration Association of the Turks participates with “the promotion of effective cooperation in military-technical sphere.” Today, this task is not implemented, and in future it is highly unlikely that the Turkic Council evolyutsioniruet in a military Alliance or an integration project with a single army. Still, he will not be able to compete with NATO and the CSTO and the Turkic States will prefer to stay in current military units. And if Turkey is trying to strengthen its influence in the region, it is only through the political and economic spheres.
Summing up the aforesaid, we can briefly summarize the possible scenarios:
1. The accession of Turkey and Azerbaijan to the EEU. This is possible only if Turkey and the EU find common ground on several contentious issues. Between Ankara and a number of European countries in recent years, often erupting scandals, particularly around immigration crisis and the visa regime for Turkish citizens in Schengen countries.
2. The Turkic Council and the Eurasian project can find a common point pairing and in a mutually beneficial way to cooperate on many issues. In the sphere of economy and politics.
3. Deepening Turkish integration and the strengthening of Turkish influence in the Central Asian countries that are at odds with their integration within the EEU. Ankara will try to strengthen its influence in Central Asia, competition and the Eurasian economic Union and the Turkic Council in the region will increase, however last will lose miserably, because the economy of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan is much stronger linked with Russia than with Turkey.
4. Controversies about the membership of the countries of the Turkic Council in various military units will not.
It is highly unlikely that the Turkic Council evolyutsioniruet in a military Alliance or an integration project with a single army. Still, he will not be able to compete with NATO and the CSTO and the Turkic States will prefer to stay in current military units.
The main thing in the future is to find a balance between the EEU and the Turkic Council. Today on the issues of customs regulation and the economy, and in the future, perhaps in politics. This could be carried out in the framework of negotiations of the participants of both associations in the full format that took into account economic interests of each member country.