Turkey set course for joining the SCO

« Back

Turkey set course for joining the SCO 14.03.2018 13:54

Turkey has taken the course to join the SCO Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that joining the European Union is not the only option for Turkey. Ankara is working with the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan on the question of joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

"Brexit can spread; voices are heard from France, Italy. In these conditions, Turkey should feel calm. Needless to say, the EU is the only option. Why Turkey should not become a member of the SCO. I talked about this with Putin and Nazarbayev. Turkey's participation in the SCO will provide us with more freedom of action in this regard, "Erdogan said.

In October 2017, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Turkish Republic to Russia Hüseyin Dirioz expressed the opinion that Turkey's accession to the EU does not in any way contradict integration with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

"Integration into the EU does not contradict the entry into the SCO. So, last year Turkey acted as the host party in the framework of the activities of the SCO energy club - our fruitful cooperation in this direction will continue, "the ambassador said. Thus, at present Ankara continues to cooperate with countries in both directions.

It is worth recalling that the relations between Turkey and the EU deteriorated after the attempted coup in Ankara, when Brussels criticized the reaction of the Turkish authorities. Soon after these events, the European Parliament demanded that the European Union terminate negotiations on Turkey's membership in the European Union. In response, Ankara promised that if the EU rejects, Turkey will pay attention to the SCO and the EEA. It should be noted that the European Parliament has always had a group of deputies opposing Turkey's accession to the European Union.

Turkey's turn from West to East can also be explained by Erdogan's desire to demonstrate to the EU, which is delaying the implementation of the obligations to implement a visa-free regime, that the EU is not Turkey's only partner.

According to Erdem Ehren, the Turkish expert on foreign policy, the main coordinator of the political movement Beyaz Hareket, problems in relations with the European Union pushed Turkey to search for new alternatives to membership in the EU. He believes that membership in the economic, political, military and cultural terms from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are attractive to Ankara. Ehren did not rule out that in case of joining the SCO, Ankara could become a "bridge" between the Organization and the West, as well as the countries of the Middle East and the Balkan countries.

Finding partners among different political and economic alliances can be a good way for states that are afraid of remaining isolated if the former allies are not reliable enough. Establishing relations with the SCO, Turkey shows the West that it intends to pursue a balanced foreign policy.

Currently, Turkey has the status of a partner for dialogue in the SCO. However, the prospects for its full membership in the Organization are not completely clear.

"It is impossible for Turkey to become a full member of the SCO in the near future. Here, rather, it is about raising the status of Turkey in the organization to the observer. Do not forget that the Organization has a certain moratorium on expansion. The recent entry into the SCO of India and Pakistan has changed the structure of the organization, and now it will take some time for the integration of new participants, during which new members will not be accepted, "explained Vladimir Evseev, head of the Caucasus department at the Institute of CIS countries.

At the same time, according to most experts, joining the SCO for Turkey in the long term is a very real scenario. Ankara is well aware that a multi-vector policy is beneficial to the country and for this reason will try to build a more balanced relationship in the international arena.