Prof. Dr. Sait Yılmaz: "Eurasian Union utopia"

Prof. Dr. Sait Yılmaz: "Eurasian Union utopia"
Date: 4.9.2020 16:30

Milli Gazete columnist Prof. Dr. Sait Yılmaz writes on Eurasian Union. Here is the full article.

email Print zoom+ zoom-
There was no such word as "Asia" until the Western powers arrived. The conditions for the cohesion and unity of nearly 50 states in this huge continent have never been established. Even though the efforts for unity in Europe since Charlemagne period, namely the 8th century were based on religion-based principles, the European countries were close to each other in terms of culture. The East, on the other hand, has never been parallel to the West. There has not been a common religion, not even a branched common religion like in the West. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity are powerful in different parts of Asia. Ethnic, linguistic, religious, social and cultural differences have deepened painfully in historical developments. In this article, we will question how realistic the Russia-based Eurasian Union project, which has been on the agenda frequently in recent years, is and its future.
The desperation of the Central Asian countries...
Let us remind you once again that the name "Central Asia" was coined by the Soviets in 1928 to change the name "Turkistan". Turkistan is under threat not only from Russia but also from China. Today, the biggest concern of Kyrgyzstan is the danger of being occupied by its eastern neighbor, China, which has a border of 1,500 km. Therefore, they become members of all international organizations and develop cooperation with different countries.1
Central Asia constitutes a prism in terms of options in Eurasian security. The options of the countries are divided into two groups; 2nd
(1) International organizations such as the EU, NATO, OSCE and the UN,
(2) Individual countries; Russia, US, China, India, Iran, Japan, or one will be chosen as an ally of Turkey.
There are two reasons for this; The power vacuum left by the Soviet Union and the inexperience of Central Asian state governments. We can call this situation an immature period of anarchy. There are two main reasons for the power gap; Limited power of Russians and failure of regionalization in Central Asia. The complexity of Russian demography and geography pushes its engagement with Central Asia in the background. Russians; It has to give more importance to regions such as the Baltic, Ukraine and the Caucasus.
The future of Central Asia is uncertain, but its geographies isolated from the outside world provide an advantage in influencing the Chinese as well as the Russians. However, Central Asian countries are no longer colonies of Russians, no matter how dependent they remain. The Russians want to penetrate the energy and mineral resources of Central Asian countries under the guise of strategic partnership. Tensions between the leaders of Central Asian countries, who are concerned to preserve their seats, prevent them from coming together.
For now, according to the winds from the Central Asian countries, Russia and China;
- Eurasian Economic Union (AEB),
- Collective Security Treaty Organization and
They made choices between regional structures such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, but all of these are actually referred to as virtual regionalism. Because these regional structures do not add anything to the Central Asian countries, nor do they represent much of an attraction. At best, a protective integration against other countries can be mentioned. Therefore, Central Asian countries do not refrain from making cooperation agreements with other countries outside the organization, regardless of which organization they are members of.
In fact, they are looking for a great option outside of China and Russia, but they can't find a way out. On the other hand, the Central Asian countries have still not been able to complete their country building processes. For this reason, they do not have a situation to venture inside and outside the country. Their main problems are internal security and their vulnerability is open to exploitation by outside powers. This unprepared condition of Central Asia may cause the region's geography to reshape in the big wars that will start soon, that is, they may not be able to withstand the great winds. Besides institutional weakness and semi-modern social structure, state administrations cannot wait long to mature.
In summary, Central Asia is not ready for the new big game. Moreover, the Russians, who are relatively weak this time, are willing to share rather than compete against China. Realizing this, if they have already provoked some Central Asian countries and their Western or Iran, Turkey, folks have to look closer set of countries like Pakistan. However, they will not be able to get rid of the sharing battle of the new big game. However, even if major events are not planned by the countries of the region, the conditions of these countries determine the outcome.
While hegemonic ruptures are taking place in the region, who cooperates with whom or surrenders will be decisive. It is likely that new gaps and gray zones will emerge, non-state actors will appear. In summary, while the developing dynamics of the Eurasian geography are preparing to swallow the countries of the region, neither the current regional unity structures nor the new Silk Road will give these countries anything but use. They will only settle for the fate of a transitional geography between East Asia and Europe. This situation can only be changed if the Central Asian countries have strong state structures and their partnership is based on cooperation with a friendly power center against the big wolves. Other than that, every search for unity with wolves cannot go beyond a romantic relationship with no future.
The search for unity in Eurasia
The focus of Russian strategy is on making an influence zone in the former Soviet space. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian leaders tried various institutional arrangements to achieve this goal; Commonwealth of Independent States, Collective Security Treaty Organization and most recently the Eurasian Union. The fact that Ukraine, which has the most economic potential after the Russians and is strategically located in the north of the Black Sea, is not included in these organizations creates a big gap.
In terms of regional security structures in Asia, the Russians are holding the reins. Of the CIS institutions, only the Anti-Terrorist Center is functional, and this is the infiltration framework of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (FSB) to the Central Asian countries. Russia, Central Asian countries (excluding Turkmenistan), Belarus and Armenia are members of the military-scale Collective Cooperation Treaty Organization. The rapid intervention force of this organization includes approximately 4 thousand soldiers from Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Russian and Tajik troops.
Despite the integration efforts of Russia, 11 countries in the surrounding geography follow three different strategies:
(1) Belarus and Kazakhstan, which are in the first group, and increasingly Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan can be called "reluctant followers". These countries, for different reasons, see the European Economic Union as the only option and even compromise their sovereignty for this.
(2) Among the remaining six countries, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, for different reasons, want to deepen their ties against the Eurasian Economic Union and with the European Union3. As a matter of fact, they are looking for alternatives such as the Cooperation Agreement with the EU and the Free Trade Agreement.
(3) Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan want to be self-sufficient against the "objector" group and any integration.
Putin's integration program actually started during Yeltsin period and they wanted to gather the countries that broke off from the Soviet Union under the name of Commonwealth of Independent States. For the military dimension, with the Tashkent Agreement in 1992, the Collective Security Treaty Organization was established. After the Georgia War in 2008, Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev announced the concept of cross-border intervention to establish a zone of influence across Eurasia around its borders. The delicate position of the Central Asian countries was better revealed, despite their reaction to the covert Russian occupation in Ukraine.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan economies are particularly dependent on Russians. So there are two sides to Russian politics. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan workforce are sensitive to Russia's economy and migration policies and use them to keep these countries on their axis. Although China is more important in terms of economic integration, the Russians play the ethnic card, especially for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan4. Recently, Turkmenistan broke its wings on the Chinese side. Uzbekistan, which is more centrally located geographically, also wants to stay away from Moscow's axis.
Six members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are as follows; China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Mongolia, Iran, India and Pakistan have observer state status.
What is China's expectation from SCO? According to the Chinese who have been the representative of the Sun God throughout history; They were looking for "a place in the shade, not in the sun" 5. The SCO for China, which has adopted a "peaceful rise" strategy since the 1990s; It would create a framework to fill the Russian vacuum in Central Asia by non-military means. This would balance not only the Russians, but also the USA, which has settled in Afghanistan since 2002.
However, over time, the Sino-Central Asian countries began to turn into economic and political dependence, and the outdated "vassalization" reality behind Chinese investments was realized. China applied this concept during the Qing dynasty between 1644 and 1911, and received security guarantees from the Central Asian khanates in exchange for economy or trade. The "vassal" understanding of China here means a country that can be watched over and protected from beyond its borders. The special purpose of SCO is to keep the vassal countries under their own control by defining the resistance of Uighur Turks in East Turkistan as terrorism6.
In summary, the strategy of continental China regarding interiors of Asia was primarily to "keep the wolf out of the door". For the rising China, the occupied East Turkestan lands have a very important strategic value (especially for the petro-chemical industry and China's infrastructure that will extend to the West). The SCO, on the other hand, uses a security framework to prevent Turkish origin attempts in and around East Turkistan, and an economic trap for this. At the same time with the SCO, through the Silk Road project, it will both provide political, economic and military infiltration to the Central Asian countries and penetrate the oil and natural gas of these countries. In summary, China will weave a spider web both in East Turkistan and neighboring countries.
The future of Eurasia...
"Eurasianism" appeals to some Russian leaders as a Eurasian Civilization project led by Moscow. So it came to mind to even use the idea of ​​Turan, which was their biggest fear in recent years. Regardless of their ideology, Russians find it in their interest to deepen integration in the former Soviet geography. They want to use the legacy of the economies that were established by the factories and transportation lines established during the Soviet era. Labor migration between countries helps to optimize production7. The Russian economy has created a power projection in these countries.
Developments and interventions from outside the continent will determine the future of Eurasia today and in the future, as it was yesterday. The idea that the global balance of power is shifting from Europe to Asia is a very early prediction, and this is mostly due to the search for markets related to Asia-Pacific. The political, economic and social structure of Eurasia will basically be shaped by the following developments:
- Major wars awaiting Eurasia (Third World War in Iran, the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea); How countries are positioned in these wars may cause some to disappear.
- Uprisings in China's Western borders (Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, East Turkistan, Tibet, Hong Kong etc.).
- The effects of the future of globalization, which is still tested with epidemics, on the efforts of this geography to integrate into the world (Silk and Belt project, etc.)
- Competition with the rest of the world in leadership of new technologies,
- Demographic changes (depopulation and migration),
- Failed states and internal (ethnic and religious) conflicts.
There is a large asymmetric power gap between the Eurasian countries. In addition, the lack of democratic and capitalist culture hinders integration and competition with the West. Economies are generally dependent on income from hydrocarbon resources, lack of undertakings and products required for joint trade, and weak market conditions are among the deadlocks of the region.
Russia and Central Asian countries are aware that a greater integration that will include China will primarily serve the geopolitical and geo-economic interests of this country. As a matter of fact, the Belt and Road initiative serves these aspirations of China. For the Central Asian countries, the EU alternative remains to escape the vortex of China and Russia8. This is also an option Russia wants. Although China and Russia seem to be inseparable economic partners for each other, they cannot replace the EU for the region9.
China's plans for Central Asia are to penetrate without frightening Russia. It will not oppose Russia's leadership within the EEB unless it protests its own economic initiatives. Moreover, some Central Asian countries will prefer China's path. Currently, EEB is in some internal studies such as the integration of the energy market by 2025, and the future of energy relations between Russia and Kazakhstan will also affect relations with the EU10.
The political, economic and social problems the world is experiencing today; It prepares a new world order with the expected great wars and new technologies. The wars of the future, which will be reflected in the Eurasian geography, will play a catalytic role in shaping the continent. The states in the Eurasian geography have historically been trapped between two major power centers where China and Russia are at the center. The most important of these states are the members of the Turkic world. The Turkish world of 300 million is under the pressure of Russia of 144 million. On the other hand, the Chinese genocide continues in East Turkistan.
Unity models in Eurasia are nothing more than structures with a pragmatic economy expectation planned by China and Russia to keep the Turkish world in a cage. The Russians realized that they could not establish a structure in this geography with political and security aspects. Union structures such as AEB and SCO, which are still trying to be implemented, actually serve the special purposes of China and Russia, and the two power centers need to control the lambs together without being too involved in each other. showing as a cure for Eurasia in Turkey are actually advising us to enter voluntarily into the cage.
In terms of Turkish geopolitics, we should be aware of this; The northern branch of the Turkish world geography has been largely assimilated by the Russians. The ties of the middle branch with Anatolia were blocked by Iran and therefore the occupation of the Lachin Corridor by the Armenians was supported. We are coming to the end of the times when the Turkish world was left at the mercy of China and Russia. Turkey, instead of being part of the West's plan for the reunification of the world's Eurasian Turkey to be ready to provide their own scenarios, proactive policies also have to watch for it.


Milli Gazete Puplication Group All Rights Reserved © 2000-2016 - Can not be published without permission ! Tel : +90 212 697 1000  /  Fax : +90 212 697 1000 Software Development and System Support: Milli Gazete