Name? Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Westphalian identity? Turkish
Why is he in the news? Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he was targeting membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) for Türkiye during the latest SCO summit in Uzbekistan. A successful bid would make Türkiye the first member of NATO to join the bloc.
Why do we care? Erdoğan is pushing for a multi-vector and balanced policy among international actors. He is trying to diversify his relations with Western and Asian countries, especially China, Russia and India. With this ambivalence in foreign affairs, Erdoğan is placing himself at a central position between the West, China, and Russia, which enables him to negotiate between Russia and Ukraine for the grain exports and potentially further negotiations.
Why should you care? Two months after the last NATO summit, Erdoğan was on a hot winning streak after he managed to strong-arm Finland and Sweden into accepting his terms over their NATO accession. Now, it seems that the president keeps winning on a foreign policy level. It remains to be seen whether this will translate into victory in next June’s elections, despite 80% inflation and declining domestic popularity. You should care 6/10.
Who else cares? Russian President Vladimir Putin. Simply the fact that Erdoğan announced plans to join the SCO is already a win for Putin, given that these plans will unravel NATO members. Türkiye’s strategic geopolitical position in the Middle East makes it so vital for NATO that critical voices against the undermining of NATO will not be very public.
Any further comments? After the SCO summit, Erdoğan departed to the United States in order to attend the UN General Assembly. Meanwhile, NATO members’ leaders have publicly remained quiet about Erdoğan’s plans. However, at this week’s assembly he is bound to run into the likes of Biden, Macron or Scholz; all three will be keen to stop him from actually pulling through with SCO membership.