President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, also known as the Shanghai Five, at a time when relations between the West and Russia and China are extremely strained due to the occupation of Ukraine and Taiwan tensions.
Erdogan, who will hold bilateral meetings with Chinese and Russian leaders, mainly focuses on expanding grain shipments and resuming peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.
Shanghai partners, on the other hand, aim to improve economic and commercial relations among themselves in the face of Western sanctions and to increase trade in national currencies against US dollar pressure.
President Erdoğan announced in a statement to journalists after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on August 5 that he would attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders’ summit, which will be held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on September 15-16.
Erdogan noted that Putin “asked” to attend the summit, and noted that he planned to attend if his schedule fit.
The participation of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the summit in Samarkand and the fact that these two leaders will meet face-to-face for the first time after the start of the attempt to invade Ukraine are among the most important topics that attract the attention of the international community.
Beijing and Moscow gave the message of being more in solidarity with the West due to tensions in Ukraine and later Taiwan, and even announced that they would hold joint military exercises.
For these reasons, the Putin-Cinping meeting is considered the most important meeting within the scope of this summit.
In the statement made by the Kremlin towards the summit, it was noted that the SCO leaders will meet to address common challenges and new geopolitical realities, and to further enhance their cooperation.
It was also stated that the Samarkand Declaration, which will be published at the end of the summit, will be important in terms of reflecting the priorities and policies of the SCO for the next period.
It is noted that SCO leaders are also planning to discuss a concept document that will further develop areas of cooperation and to adopt a roadmap that aims to increase the use of national currencies to reduce the weight of the US dollar in trade.
ERDOĞAN IS EXPECTED TO MEET WITH BOTH LEADERS
President Erdogan is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with both leaders separately.
Erdogan and Putin last met on August 5 in Sochi, Russia. In the Sochi meeting, which focused on the Ukraine crisis and the operation of the grain corridor, an understanding was developed between Ankara and Moscow regarding the development of economic, commercial and financial relations.
Accordingly, it was agreed that a part of the price of natural gas that Turkey bought from Russia should be paid in rubles and that cooperation in the field of energy would be further deepened.
Kremlin’s Foreign Policy Advisor Yuri Ushakov stated that the meeting between Erdogan and Putin will focus on furthering the issues discussed in Sochi.
In addition to bilateral issues, the most important issue that Erdogan will bring to the agenda will be the start of transporting Russian grain products and fertilizers to world markets within the scope of the grain corridor agreement signed between Ukraine and Russia with the initiative of the UN and Turkey.
Although grain and fertilizer sales are not within the scope of sanctions, exports from Russian ports have not started yet due to the possibility of seizure of the ships that will participate in this process and the evaluations that there may be problems in terms of banking and insurance transactions.
President Erdoğan noted that the start of this process would be a right step.
The latest development that increased the importance of the meeting of Turkish and Russian leaders in Samarkand was President Erdogan’s approach that justified Moscow’s stance in the context of the growing energy crisis between Europe and Russia.
In his speech last week, Erdogan said, “Russia is not a country to be taken lightly. Russia cut off gas, prices rose. Everyone is brooding about how we will get through the winter. Why didn’t you think of it earlier? It is being talked about how the stocks are. Here, when everyone attacks him, Russia will use the means at its disposal, it’s that simple.”
It is envisaged that economic cooperation will come to the fore in Erdogan’s contacts with Cinping and other leaders attending the summit.
It is not known whether Erdogan will discuss the situation of the Uighur Turks in the Xinjiang Autonomous Republic in his meeting with the Chinese leader.
ERDOĞAN’S FIRST SCO SUMMIT
Having shown interest in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization since the early 2010s, Erdoğan discussed Turkey’s participation in this organization, especially in his contacts with Putin.
Noting that in a meeting with the Russian leader in 2012, he criticized the EU for blocking Turkey’s path to full membership, and told Putin, “Take us to the Shanghai Five, let’s review the EU,” Erdogan continued this rhetoric in 2013 as well. .
However, in his later statements, Erdoğan underlined that SCO membership is not an alternative to the EU.
Turkey signed the dialogue partnership agreement with the SCO in April 2013 and laid the foundations of its legal relationship with the organization.
This agreement, signed by the then Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, was approved by the Turkish Grand National Assembly in 2017 and entered into force.
The information provided on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding this agreement states that “Dialogue Partner Turkey and the SCO envisage the development of cooperation on various issues, particularly regional security, the fight against terrorism, the prevention of drug trafficking and organized crime, and economic and cultural fields.” .
In the same briefing, the aims of the SCO are “to strengthen mutual trust, good neighborly and friendly relations among the member states, to make joint efforts for the preservation of regional peace, security and stability, to fight terrorism, fundamentalism, separatism, organized crime and illegal immigration, and development of cooperation in the fields of economy, science and technology, culture and education, energy and environment”.
CHINA PRESS: TURKEY MAY BE AN OBSERVER COUNTRY
Despite this rapprochement between the parties, President Erdoğan did not attend the SCO leaders’ summit before.
Erdoğan, who will attend the summit for the first time in Samarkand with full member, observer member, dialogue partners and other invited country leaders, will thus be included in the family photo.
In the news in the Chinese press, it was stated that the decision to raise Turkey’s dialogue partner status to observer status could be taken at the summit.
WHAT IS THE SHANGHAI COOPERATION ORGANIZATION?
Established in 1996 by Russia, China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, the Shanghai Five was initially established with a framework for security purposes and for member states to act together against terrorism. In the evaluations made at that time, it was claimed that this initiative was a security organization rivaling NATO by Russia and China.
With the participation of Uzbekistan, the Shanghai Five became the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in 2001 and expanded the scope of cooperation to include economy, trade, energy and other strategic areas.
The SCO made its first expansion in 2017 by simultaneously making Pakistan and India full members. Iran was also invited to the organization as a full member in 2021 and the number of members increased to 9.
The three observer members of the organization are Afghanistan, Mongolia and Belarus. It is among the news reflected in the press that Russia wants to make a decision from the summit in order to make Belarus a full member.
Turkey, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal are the dialogue partner countries of the organization.
The granting of dialogue partner status to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar was also agreed in 2021.