Turkey and BRICS: Closer Cooperation?

Turkey was invited to the latest BRICS Summit held in Johannesburg under the framework of "BRICS +" initiative as Chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), not as a separate country. It would not be very supportive to make predictions that there will be closer cooperation between Turkey and BRICS from now on. Actually, in order to make realistic evaluation of Turkey’s possibility to join BRICS, it is useful to analyze objectively the positive and negative aspects of this assumption in terms of both parts.

In this regard, it is important to underline the causa sui aspect of BRICS, which aims to catch an international consensus in creating a non-Western power system that can offer alternative governance of global affairs and consequently create a new multipolar world order. From this point, BRICS is clearly a formation aimed against the US-led world order.

Although the Turkish public opinion in recent years considered, that it is mainly the "unipolarity" based on American unilateral geo-political approach, which lies deeply in the conflict of interest between Washington and Ankara, a new multipolar world order therefore is needed for Turkey's long term strategic interests. It is unlikely to expect Ankara to take such a direct attitude against its NATO ally, at least in the short term. Moreover, it is officially thought that Turkey will be given a new critical role within the NATO, which is a basic instrument of US-led world order in terms of its geopolitical struggle against Russia in the foreseeable future. Ankara seems to be willing this with the aim to counterbalance Russia's increasing influence in the Black Sea-Caucasus region. Except Turkey's ongoing NATO engagement and geopolitical rivalry with Russia, some other dispute issues between Turkey and BRICS, such as Turkish-Chinese incompatibility and challenges in bilateral trade, India-Pakistan conflict and Turkey-Pakistan special relations, weakness of the general level of strategic cooperation culture between Ankara and the BRICS countries can be listed, as well.

On the other hand, even if there are some positional differences in details, one may put forward that there are a number of common global issues, which theoretically fit the interests of both parts. These can be sorted as follows:

  • Criticizing the United Nations on the basis of its current international components and insufficiency in resolving global common problems, and call for structural reforms within the organization.

  • Need for alternative financial formations to the US-led post WWII institutions such as World Bank and IMF, which are considered as obstacles to the development of emerging economies.

  • Tendency for using national currencies instead of the US dollar in international trade.

  • Discontent concerning the US / Western-led credit rating agencies, which are seen as "economic pressure tools" over emerging economies.

However, it is worth to emphasis that so far no official attempts have been made neither from Turkey nor from BRICS regarding Turkey's joining the BRICS. Moreover, BRICS membership concept is a phenomenon open to discussion from the point of view of international law, since the legal personality of BRICS is not registered in the UN and is not an ordinary international organization. In other words, there is not yet a concrete and legal roadmap of the nature and process of the application that any country has to make in order to participate in BRICS. This is due to the extraordinary practical nature of BRICS, which resembles an international level economic-political solidarity platform.

Finally, I need to specify that it would be contrary to the nature of international relations in normal conditions to wait an impetuous foreign policy orientation towards BRICS from a country such as Turkey, which since last two centuries has deeply been under western political, economic and cultural influence.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.