After Russia’s attack on Ukraine, NATO is almost united against Russia. Only Turkey is going its own way again.
NATO member Turkey wants to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), whose largest members are China and Russia, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu, Erdogan said Saturday after the organization’s summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, that Turkey wants to discuss its membership goals at the group’s meeting in India next year.
Turkey has “historical and cultural” ties to the Asian continent and wants to play a role in the organization, whose members together account for “30 percent of global economic output,” Erdogan said. Turkey is currently listed as a dialogue partner of the Shanghai Organization. In joining, Turkey would be the first member of the group to join NATO, the Western defense alliance.
Turkey as mediator
Established in 2001 to fight terrorism, the group includes China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Iran, which, like Belarus and Mongolia, previously had observer status, was also admitted to the recent summit. The accession process of Belarus, considered “the last dictatorship in Europe”, also began.
Erdogan accused NATO and the EU, where Turkey has had candidate status since 1999 without making any significant progress, of lacking Turkey’s support. Turkey and Russia, in turn, have common interests and good relations in some areas – although Ankara condemns Moscow’s attacks on Ukraine. Turkey recently tried to mediate between the warring parties, for example, regarding Ukrainian grain exports across the Black Sea.