Monday, 17 June 2024

Can Turkey become leader of Turkic countries?

By İhsan Aktaş

The path of the Turks began in the steppes of Central Asia and continued toward the West. It is a historical story that tells not only the immigration of the Turks but also the transfer of their culture and lifestyle, their music and literature from Transoxiana toward Anatolia and the Balkans.

In the history of humanity, the Turks always played dramatic roles, becoming one of the principal agents who terminated historical ages and initiated new and more advanced periods.

For the last 1,500 years, the Turkish people opened up wide horizons for human civilization. After their adoption of Islam, they have become the most devoted guardians, heroic standard bearers and noble warriors of Islam.

As the Turks began to immigrate from their homeland due to its natural harshness, they destroyed and founded empires in their paths toward the West. From the Mamelukes and the Timurids to the Seljuks and the Ottomans, they dominated over Eurasia for hundreds of years.

In this column, I would like to discuss the rising influence of Turkey in the lands populated by Turkic people.

Hegemony in world

At the end of the Cold War, the bipolar international system was replaced with the unipolar hegemony of the United States. After the U.S. played the role of the world’s sheriff for three decades, however, the international balance of power has begun to be reshaped.

While Russia has taken the world stage again, continental Europe has lost its former significance and Turkey has risen as a regional power in the international arena. Most importantly, China has emerged as a global power.

Today, China constitutes a threat not only to the U.S., Russia and India but also to the Turkic states. Even though the Turkic countries cover a wide geography, they are not strong in demographic terms.

In one of his articles, China’s former chief of general staff emphasized that China could easily put these Turkic states under its influence, describing their current situation as a blessing for China.

Turkic countries

In this international context, Turkey should emerge as a leader for the Turkic countries. After the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended in favor of the latter, the territorial bond between Turkey and the Turkic countries has been reestablished through Nakhchivan.

Due to the rising Chinese threat, both the U.S. and Russia have consented to Turkey’s initiatives in the region.

In terms of soft power, Turkey is one of the strongest countries in the international arena, holding a political and cultural influence over the Turkish peoples who live in the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the Turkic countries.

In particular, the formation of enduring solidarity between Turkey and the Turkic states is both necessary and inevitable in terms of regional and international dynamics.

U.S. President Joe Biden and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet at the NATO summit that will take place in Brussels on June 14.

In the negotiations concerning Turkish-American relations, Biden should take into account Turkey’s immense soft power and its significance in their rivalry with China.