This proves once again that some leaders live in a world of illusion and fairy tales made up by themselves. The success of Russia and Turkey in a region where nothing significant has happened before this decade is not at all a surprise to any attentive observer. Russia and Turkey have been moving towards this success for a long time. We are witnessing the outcome of a certain stage of their cooperation and the beginning of a new era of their interaction, being a condition of the era itself. The collapse of the bipolar system after the end of the USSR did not lead to the formation of a new stable system of global security. The unipolar design of the world, led by the United States, failed to give the planet predictability and security. The United States is rapidly losing its global leadership; it is being challenged - both economically and politically - by ever new forces and centers of influence. Hence - strategic uncertainty, a vacuum of power, a semi-paralysis of international structures and growing tensions both between the leading contenders for world leadership and peripheral centers.
New times - new challenges
In addition, new challenges to all of humanity are emerging more and more often,challenges which were not previously imagined, as shown by the current coronavirus pandemic. We do not know exactly where the pandemic came from, but we see that its catastrophic consequences will remain for many months, and, perhaps, for many years to come, which not a single guru predicted. There were no warnings, just as there is no roadmap for overcoming the consequences of the epidemic, either economic or political. The pandemic has sharply accelerated the crisis and the virtual collapse of the never-formed globalism, which is a being replaced by regionalism. The world has changed, and so have we. Now we all have to think not so much globally as regionally. From the castles of globalization, built on sand, which in fact gives rise to endless unsolvable problems, it is necessary to move on to rational actions and steps. Each country, each people must independently find their own way to survive, maintain and strengthen their positions.
The choice is limited. In the very near future, most countries will either be forced to enter the orbit of one of the world's major players, or become part of the next “belt of instability”. But there is another way out - to look for non-standard, historical and civilizational ties, which at a new stage of development can become the key not only to survival, but they can also allow them to take their rightful place in the emerging global order. This path, for example, was taken by China, faced with tough competition from the United States. Now they resumed (a thousand years later) civilizationale "expansion", reviving the "Great Silk Road". What will happen in this case for the countries of Eurasia? Either "submit to the inevitable", or look for the potential for unification, to create new centers of power.
Russia and Turkey - similarities are more than differences
Take Russia and Turkey. For centuries, they were the centers of powerful multi-ethnic and multi-confessional empires, which have united around themselves vast territories inhabited by peoples that differed in ethnic and religious terms. The system-forming feature of both empires until the twentieth century was religious - Orthodoxy and Sunni Islam, which in that era made their fierce rivalry inevitable, resulting in twelve (!) wars. In the twentieth century, both of these empires, each in its own time, disintegrated under the pressure of internal contradictions, aggravated by hostile external influences, but retained the areas that were their backbone centers. Dozens of new states emerged on the rest of the former empires. At the beginning of the XXI century, both Russia and Turkey, having coped with internal difficulties, began to pursue an increasingly independent courses, exerting an growing influence on the area of the former Russian and Ottoman empires.
Both countries are facing increasing resistance in its implementation. The core of this resistance are the United States and the European Union, they seek to resist the change in the status quo favorable to them and the growth of influence in the world of both Russia and Turkey. So far, resistance to the strengthening of Russia and Turkey has been relatively limited and mediated. But if the US and the EU begin to coordinate their actions more actively, Moscow and Ankara will face a choice - to accept their assigned secondary role, or to seek options for counterplay. The history of bilateral relations between Russia and Turkey contains examples of using the potential of interaction to resist external pressure (recall the 1920s). At the same time, it is obvious that by the 21st century both Russia and Turkey, having retained the main characteristics of their national-cultural code, practically diminished the problem of confessional differences as an obstacle to the development of their ties. Moreover, the adherence to traditional values, strong in both countries, now does not divide them, but brings them closer. There are no indefinable barriers. This has once again proven the example of Israel and the Gulf countries.
Religious barriers exist only in our heads. God is One. But in the current conditions, situational cooperation and mutual support alone, as in the South Caucasus, is no longer enough. Need counterplay ahead of the curve. The measure of the success of any nation and its leaders is the ability to take advantage of the historical chance that grows out of current patterns and events. The pressure on both states is growing, becoming more tough and sophisticated. External forces are clearly not satisfied not only with the independent course of both countries, but also with their leaders personally, although these leaders have earned the support of the overwhelming majority of their citizens with their many years of activity in leadership positions. It is obvious that hopes of turning Russia and Turkey into rogue states, as well as cranking a change in their leadership, are futile. Persistence in the realization of such goals can (and already has) as its result only further rapprochement and unification of efforts of the two countries. This convergence is already developing in all directions. Turkey has become a second home for millions of Russians.
By the end of 2019, 18 million Russian tourists visited the country. The number of joint marriages has exceeded half a million. Ties are being strengthened in the economy (including in gas and nuclear energy), in the field of the joint fight against terrorism, in the stabilization and settlement of Syria, and cooperation in the field of advanced military technologies. In a number of the aforementioned areas, interaction is essentially reaching the allied level. Against this background, even issues on which, at first glance, complications should exist between Russia and Turkey (for example, Syria, Libya, or the gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey) ultimately find their successful resolution.
Union State - for and against
But it is impossible to stop at what has already been achieved, it is necessary to move on. Where to? The answer is simple, and even logical, although it will sound unexpected - institutionalization of the bilateral format is on the agenda. Life itself makes Russia and Turkey begin to build not even allied relations, but the Union of two states. The Union is not as a temporary alliance, but as a Union, a Union State. It is certainly easier to reject an idea out of the box, raising both obvious and far-fetched objections. But we must always remember that the road will be mastered by the one walking. One who is not looking for excuses for inaction, but the path to the intended goal. History knows several examples of attempts to create an alliance of two states. Almost all of them ended in failure. But that shouldn't stop a new attempt.
The union state is quite efficient, provided that it consists of two states of comparable size. In such a union, each of its members will retain their independence, and their own identity. This is not about absorption, but about merging and joining in the name of a common understanding of mutual benefit. The union will be based on healthy pragmatism, the primacy of common interests, the addition of the sum of potentials with the maximum effect at the exit. The main thing is to have faith, trust and common interest - what is now called synergy. The combination of the potentials of Russia and Turkey can give just such an effect. We are not talking about millions of people, not about thousands of square kilometers, not about the number of seas (there are 14 of them, not counting the Caspian), and not even about the military and economic potential. The point is that on the border between Europe and Asia there will be a Union of two countries - the only ones of its kind - on the territory of which, historically, the interaction of two continents was carried out.
The opposition between Europe and Asia is the result of speculative constructions. For thousands of years people, goods and ideas have freely crossed the imaginary continental border in any direction. But the stereotypes of inter-civilizational contradictions and far-fetched constructions are so deeply rooted in consciousness that they have been living their own lives for a long time. The creation of the Union would result in the formation of a powerful new center of a multipolar world. In addition to the already established centers - the USA, Europe, China - a fourth will appear. His name has yet to be born, but it is already clear that this center will be a revived and renewed heir of interrelated Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Russian traditions. On a new basis, it will become an example of progress, security, prosperity, stability and predictability. I am confident that the impulses of this unity will serve to resolve the most difficult and long-standing conflicts in the entire region, and not only in the so-called "post-Soviet" space. Moreover, it is already obvious that in the space of the two former empires, conflicts can be resolved only if there is a mutual consensus between Russia and Turkey.
The very idea of such a radical restructuring of the "already divided world" cannot but arouse powerful resistance. Everyone will resist - the USA, Europe, China, Iran, Armenia. There will be other obstacles as well. A separate issue is Turkey's current NATO membership. It is too early to get ahead of ourselves, but, according to the North Atlantic Treaty, any state can withdraw from it by simply sending a note to the US Government. In this case, the exit procedure will be completed in a year. In any case, it will be Ankara's decision based on careful weighing of the pros and cons. But the treaty, concluded in 1949, clearly does not meet the current interests of Turkey, since it gives it almost nothing in return, not to mention the fact that NATO membership did not make it easier for Turkey to join the EU, where it has been kept in the front for decades “on a stool ". My recent contacts on this issue in Turkey confirm the serious interest of its political class in further rapprochement with Russia. It will serve the interests of both countries and the entire region.
The logic of the historical process requires filling the civilizational, political, economic, cultural vacuum at the border of Europe and Asia. Here, more than ever, an impulse is needed that will pull on the path of development of the country and the territory of the region. Now the leaders of the two states have consolidated their leadership, they see clear evidence of support for their peoples, and the moment is coming when they can and should set themselves an unprecedented historical task - to open a new chapter in the history of their peoples, region, continent, and the entire world. If the decisive step is not taken now, not only our countries, but the whole region, in the era of tectonic shifts that mankind is now experiencing, risks being put on the margins of world progress, of a new civilization. It's time to understand that for our region, neither Europe, nor the United States, nor China is not a way out, not a salvation. We are strangers to them, with whom at best they are ready to put up as an inevitable evil, which must be kept at a distance until we are swallowed up in parts. It's time to stop pretending that we are the toughest ! It's time to get the toughest!
Farhad AKHMEDOV, ex-senator, entrepreneur, philanthropist