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"Turkish March" in Central Asia: attempt number two
Material posted: Pankratenko Igor N.Publication date: 01-10-2018
Accompanied by hugs and declarations of eternal friendship meeting, President Erdogan with the leaders of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, held in the summer of this year, finally dispelled the doubts that the intentions of Ankara in Central Asia thorough and serious. The lessons of the 90-ies of the last century, the Turkish side is learned, digested, and "attempt number two" to expand its presence in the region, Turkey is determined to make successful.

The banality of the river, which, as they say, "pique vests" from geopolitics, can not enter twice, neither in Ankara nor in Tashkent nor Astana, nor in Bishkek are not interesting. The world has changed, changed classifications at the international and regional arenas. And the interests of States preparing to participate in an orchestral performance of "Turkish March" in Central Asia now appear somewhat differently than a quarter of a century ago. Yes there are a quarter of a century – even in comparison with the 10 years of this century, the policy of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in the relations with the outside players starts seriously, although not always noticeable change.

And dramatic story of a "Turkic Union", "the Summit of Turkic-speaking States" and he is now "the cooperation Council of Turkic speaking States" (CCTS), demonstrates that for all the twists, turns and zigzags, neither the present Turkey cannot do without presence in Central Asia or Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan can't do without a partnership with Ankara. Even Turkmenistan, which would pose no rose today, the Ashgabat team your Aracdia, it is ready for partnership with Turkey.

The only question now is, will be whether the diverse and sometimes contradictory expectations of the Central Asian States from cooperating with Ankara in a kind of Union? Or all will be held at the "Chinese version", which is the SCO shared platform seems to have, but fundamental issues are resolved at the level of bilateral negotiations.

The mistakes of yesterday, challenges of today's

With the reasons why there was no partnership of Central Asian States with Turkey in the 90s should be clear enough. In the period of dizziness from their own independence high expectations of one side met the excessive pressure of other. Ankara saw itself as the new "big brother" for the Central Asian republics that they just parted with "old" in the face of the Moscow Center, was clearly unacceptable.

But more than that – claim to this place, Turkey would then not so much to offer the Central Asian States in economic terms. In any case, the amount of investment and various types of assistance from Ankara were not enough to rebuild the economy of States that have become independent. And so of course much less than expected in the republics of Central Asia.

The romantic idea of "Turkic world", a common history and language – all this was, of course, exciting, but is clearly insufficient to address the pressing socio-economic problems. And because the cooling of relations because of the gap between expectations and reality was inevitable, the question was only in time. The more that the reason for it was more than enough – from a purely political, like a case of "Muhammad Salih", which became a stumbling block in relations between Ankara and Tashkent, before dashing raider raids the authorities on Turkish businesses in Turkmenistan.

Neither on economic nor on military-political capacity of Turkey of the 90s- the first decade of the 2000's "big brother" and "leader of the Turkic world" is clearly not pulling, not the thickness was her "carrot" and not the same length "stick". Therefore, Ankara has quickly enough broken up with ambition, focusing on what is called the work in the future or "soft power" presence in the field of education.

The network of Turkish schools with high quality teaching and subsequent career opportunities for graduates, opened for local youth door to social mobility, were given a chance to get in the business and political elite, not to mention the fact that it formed their loyalty to Turkey.

The first suspected something was wrong Tashkent banned the activities of Turkish schools in 2000. Although it is customary to consider this step as a response of the Uzbek party to provide Ankara asylum to opposition leader Muhammad Salih, there is every reason to believe that the real reasons for this decision of Islam Karimov much deeper and are associated with the report, which provided him with the then head of the national security Service Rustam Inoyatov.

And soon right after there was a break between Erdogan and Gulen Was that, in fact, engaged in the implementation of the project of development of a network of educational institutions of Turkey in Central Asia, it became clear that using the official cover, the gülen movement is simply reformatted this network for themselves. That is the task of the movement, and certainly not under the objectives of Ankara. However, they and Turkey were preparing to take control, but that's another story.

In the end, the ultimate goal of the new "Turkish March" in Central Asia has two components. Of course is to clear the political field of the region from the surviving structures there gülen. And, more importantly, to open for the Turkish business in a new market of goods and services, including through the creation of joint ventures.

No pan-Turkism and other abstract art

The above mentioned two components are closely linked. But if with the sweep of gulenists special problems will not arise – the elite of the Central Asian republics understand coming from them a danger to their own power, something that is acquiring a major share in the markets of the region is not as simple as it might seem at first glance.

Astana, Tashkent and Bishkek are open to suggestions and projects of the Turkish side. And it is, of course, not only in historical roots and a linguistic community is an added bonus providing a comfortable collaboration is important but not too crucial. And not "the specter of pan-Turkism", wandering in the minds of armchair "geopolitics".

In Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan understands that the more players in the region, the easier it is to get them the most favorable conditions of cooperation. About Erdogan can speak different, but today Turkey under his leadership is quite capable at the regional level, not just compete with the traditional system players, but also offer serious projects, attractive to partners. From this point of view Ankara as a third force between the pressing Beijing and capricious-demanding Moscow is quite satisfied with Central Asia.

But the problem is that too diverse a set of expectations for Turkey in the region. The model, which is proposed by Turkey, that is a new partnership based on pragmatism, equality, mutual benefit and good economic Foundation of the Central Asian States today by and large just ready Tashkent. Large-scale program of the President Mirziyoyev, including in the military-industrial complex of the country, open to the Turkish side of the great opportunities of an economic nature.

With Astana and Bishkek, albeit in each case for different reasons, all the more complicated. $ 2 billion. mutual trade between Turkey and Kazakhstan began some enchanted figure, through which the parties can not break through. And the more mutual declarations of friendship and even brotherhood – the more modest the expectations of the businesses of the two countries from economic partnership.

And this is not the only difficulty for the current "Turkish March" in the region, but it suddenly made a surprise for Beijing. In his traditional manner – "Yes" and "no" do not say, do not take commitments" – the Chinese side, avoiding official statements, however, makes it clear that it is ready to engage with Ankara joint projects in Central Asia. This seriously increases the chances of success of the new "Turkish March" in the region. And at the same time could be the beginning of the emergence here of a new balance of forces, very different from today's system of checks and balances.

Igor Pankratenko


Tags: Syria , Turkey

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