Staunton, Nov. 21 – Many observers have suggested that Ankara’s proposed Turkish World is simply an airy ideological fantasy with few real world consequences, but Russian commentators have a different view: they see it as a real threat to their country and are calling on the Kremlin to take it seriously and work to counter.
Dmitry Rodionov of the Svobodnaya Pressa portal interviewed three such commentators, Igor Shatrov of the Strategic Development Foundation, Gevorg Mirzayan of the Finance University and Andrey Dmitriyev of the non-systemic Other Russia Party (svpressa.ru/politic/article/316905/).
Shatrov says it is important to understand what Ankara is about and how that intersects with Russian interests and goals. Erdogan is interested not in nation building but in “the construction of a civilization.” That means that at least tactically he will work with many groups who are Turkic only in a very marginal way or not at all.
If Ankara just talks about this idea or works only with countries that already identify as Turkic, that won’t be a problem, the expert says; but “if the Turks actively spread their ‘Turkish values’ onto the territory of Russia … that is another matter. And such a threat is indeed present” and is very dangerous.
“It is no less dangerous and anti-state than the idea of remaking Russians into Westerners via the introduction of ‘Western values’ and Western standards of behavior.” It must be recognized as an equal threat now, and Moscow must take equally serious steps to counter it before it is too late.
Mirzayan agrees. He says Moscow has no alternative. If we don’t promote “a Russian alternative” to the Turkish world, then “the question about the preservation of the territorial integrity of Russia arises,” something no Russian in good conscie nce ever wants to see take place.
Right now, the Turkish world has an advantage as an ideological project, he says. “It is oriented to the future, and Turkey presents itself as a model for development and does not operate solely on common values and geography” or on the past as those promoting the Russian world all too often do.
The only real question is whether Russia has the political will to take up this challenge. Turkey isn’t a military threat, but it is a civilizational one and that is in itself “an enormous problem for its territorial integrity and political stability.” But “the lack of political will is a lack of political will.”
And Dmitriyev says that Moscow has a resource it isn’t using fully yet. That is the idea of a Turkic world as developed by Eurasianist Lev Gumilyev who viewed the Turkic and Slavic worlds as united. What it needs to do is to promote Gumilyev’s idea against Erdogan’s. Otherwise, the Turkish Turkic world will take precedence.