Monday, January 17, 2022

Russia Should Join Organization of Turkic States, Senior Ankara Politician Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 28 – When Ankara formed the Organization of Turkic States, many Russian commentators complained that Russia has more Turkic peoples than many of that group’s members. Now, a senior Turkish politician has responded with the suggestion that Russia, and China too, should join the OTS.

            Binali Yildirim, deputy head of the ruling Justice and Development Party and a member of the Grand National Assembly, says that Russia and China would make entirely natural members of the new grouping. But some Russians are wondering who in this event would “swallow” whom (

            Moscow commentator Dmitry Rodionov points out that this is hardly an official invitation for Russia to join. Many Turks have already criticized Yildirim’s idea, even though there is some sense behind it: Russia is the place where Turks originated, where large numbers of Turkic peoples still live, and even where the idea of pan-Turkism arose.

            In Soviet times, Moscow controlled even more of the Turkic world than it does not; and the spread of Turkish influence in the now independent Caucasus and Central Asia is “dangerous” for Russia. Moscow has already “lost” Azerbaijan, and the situation in Central Asia while less bad is hardly good. Joining the Turkic organization would only make things worse.

            That would compound the losses Moscow faces with Turkey’s dominance of Azerbaijan and if the Zengezur corridor opens, Ankara will have “its long-awaited outlet to the Caspian and its enormous reserves of gas and oil.” Turkey is actively investing in the area, its workers go to Turkey only in slightly fewer numbers than to Russia, and it too is corrupt.

            Turkey is thus in a better position than Russia, Rodionov says. “It has the ideology of Turkic unity. And what can we propose in response? ‘The Russian world?’” That isn’t possible nor is it possible that Russia could take over the Turkic world idea. That notion is interesting but ultimately a dead end. The same is true of Eurasianism.

            What Russia needs is a state ideology based on its requirements, a path out to Asia, the south, Afghanistan and India. For 300 years, that has been Russia’s driving ambition. It should once again be at the center of its ideological agenda, Rodionov says. Not having an ideology, something the Americans insisted on in the 1990s, is only holding Moscow back.

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