BRICS Summit in Johannesburg and Turkey: Dialogue to Be Continued

On July 26, 2018, Vladimir Putin met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the sidelines of the 10th BRICS Summit in South Africa's Johannesburg. Strengthening of economic cooperation within the BRICS, further improvement of its activities implies closer interaction with Turkey, which implements a number of economic programs and infrastructure projects in Africa and Latin America. The BRICS summit in South Africa will also make an important contribution to the development of Turkey, Erdogan said, speaking at the opening of the administrative building of his country's embassy in the capital of South Africa, Pretoria. In recent years, Turkish embassies and economic missions have been opened in several dozen countries of the African continent, and the trade turnover multiplied. "The place of Turkey in the modern world, the fact that its opinion cannot be ignored at the global level, is the fruit of Ankara's efforts over the past 16 years," the Anadolu agency quoted the president.

Welcoming the Turkish leader, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted the progressive development of bilateral relations in many areas, including the settlement of the Syrian crisis, trade increase and the implementation of major infrastructure projects. In his turn, the Turkish leader said, that "our cooperation leads to envy on the part of others". Closer interaction between Turkey and individual BRICS members in the future can put the issue of the country’s membership in this organization, which is increasingly manifesting itself as one of the centers in the emerging multipolar world. In the 2000s Turkey achieved remarkable economic success and entered the "Big Twenty". In the past, some technical meetings with the BRICS were held in Turkish territory, which indicated the mutual interest and even, as some experts said, the potential consent of the Turkish leadership to join the BRICS. Disappointment in the "European future" of Turkey (which is still a NATO member) objectively causes an interest increase in "non-Western" economic and political formations, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, the Eurasian Economic Union. Nevertheless, it should be noted, that some of the Turkish leaders’ statements were time-serving and had no consequences.

However, we live in a world, where much can change rather quickly. Turkish foreign policy is determined by pragmatic considerations, and the figures speak for themselves. Turkey's trade with the BRICS countries, although less sufficient than with Western partners, nevertheless grows steadily and last year amounted nearly $ 61 billion (Turkey's exports to the BRICS countries were $ 7.3 billion, imports $ 53.4 billion). Former Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek once remarked, that the BRICS countries have established their own development bank, but "in order to take part in the BRICS projects, it is necessary to be a member of the organization. In this regard, Turkey is considering the issue of participation in the BRICS. "

Talks about a partial transition to national currencies in bilateral transactions, quite noticeable within the BRICS, correspond to the rhetoric of Erdogan, who calls his citizens to abandon the dollar. The Turkish leader, who recently won another presidential election, was invited to Johannesburg as the current chairman of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The possible more active participation of Turkey in the BRICS activities would contribute to the expansion of the geographical area of this alliance, which seems to overgrow a purely economic framework. In particular, in early July in Durban it was decided to establish a BRICS Forum of Intelligence Communities. It seems to deal with common transnational threats, which, probably, could also be interesting to potential new members of this association.

For various reasons, Turkey is actively involved in many regional conflicts, primarily in Syria, where Ankara is one of the guarantors of the political settlement process. Perhaps closer cooperation with the BRICS will create conditions for at least partial restoration of the Syrian economy, destroyed by the long-standing armed conflict. The appearance of an additional institutional platform will also positively affect the Russian-Turkish economic relations, which, possibly, will acquire additional impetus through the implementation of joint projects in third countries.

In general, there are a lot of topics, and the South African BRICS summit testifies the growing role of this alliance and its capabilities, and the internal strengthening attracts new members.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.