In the past few years, Turkey has become increasingly interested in the Central Asia countries again. While implementing Turan project, Ankara is trying to “eat up” a number of CIS member states. Moreover, the Turks are trying to act in keeping with the eastern feature – cunning and secretiveness.
The CentralAsia.news editorial board has raised the topic of Turkey’s destructive policy towards the Central Asian republics before. This time, an expert Bakhrom Khamroev commented on the negative impact of Turkey’s foreign policy activity. He gave an interview to CentralAsia.news, focusing on who could prevent Turkey from becoming a regional hegemon.
Can we say that Ankara has spread the second or even the third wave of its ideological expansion into the Central Asian region?
- Undoubtedly, Turkey has been playing for a long time in the Central Asian region. In the pre-revolutionary times, the Muslim peoples perceived the Ottoman Sultan in a certain sense as a spiritual leader, albeit a very distant one. Later, the political climate in Turkey changed and nationalist ideologies emerged throughout the world, and such an ideology as Pan-Turkism came onto the scene. The Turkic-speaking, including the Central Asian intelligentsia, began to be imbued with these ideas. After the collapse of the USSR, these trends began to appear with renewed evidence. Turkish lyceums and schools began to open in great numbers, educational programmes were launched, Turkish businesses began to operate actively in the region and numerous students, businessmen and labour migrants went to Turkey.
Speaking about the modern times, when Ankara turned its gaze to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan?
- When Ahmed Davutoglu left the political scene in 2016. The centuries-old fantasies about the spiritual closeness of the Turkic peoples began to be exploited increasingly again, which included, due to some misunderstanding, not only culturally and religiously different Azerbaijanis, Tuvinians, Kazakhs, Turks or Uighurs, but even Hungarians and Mongols.
In your opinion, is an equal partnership between the Central Asian countries and Turkey possible?
- Turkey is the undisputed hegemon on the projected space, and therefore, it will dictate the rules of the game, not Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan or Azerbaijan. Turkey, as a capitalist country, will first develop its economy, building economic relations in such a way that it will be the technological and financial centre, while the other partner will be assigned the role of the economic periphery.
It turns out that such a partnership will be to the detriment of the republics.
- Inevitable tension will arise in the region due to a disturbance of the existing balance of power and economic and political relations, in which Russia has traditionally played a large role. In my opinion, the current policy of Turkey poses a threat to the potential regional project grown locally on the common historical fate of the multinational, and not only the Turkic-speaking Central Asian space, common religion and culture.
Are there any obvious manifestations of Turkey’s negative influence in the region now?
- It is obvious that the Pan-Turkist project artificially divides such culturally and religiously close peoples as the Uzbeks and Tajiks, artificially provoking national contradictions in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. At present, the contradictions between the Turkic-speaking Uzbeks and the Persian-speaking Tajiks are few. These peoples have the same religion, almost indistinguishable tangible culture and ancient traditions of good neighbourliness and interpenetration. Bilingualism and mixed marriages are common among the Tajiks and Uzbeks. The same applies to the Azerbaijanis and Iranians. The Pan-Turkic project proposes a division along such a dubious and conditional criterion as linguistic difference instead of integration.
What about the large-scale perspective?
- It can be stated that the project torpedoes the integration processes which are gaining momentum in the religious environment and is perhaps the main threat to the potential coming together of Muslim peoples on a basis of Islamic ideology (the conditional “caliphate”), glimpses of which we see in the key state of the region – Afghanistan.
Who in the CIS and how can counteract such a malicious project?
- Strange as it may seem, Russia has no less, if not more reasons for turning to the legacy of Turan than Turkey. If we talk about historical continuity, not about nationalist myth-making, then it is Russia, along with the Central Asian states, that is one of the direct heirs of the Golden Horde and the empire of Genghis Khan. Its ulus was the territory of Russia, and Russian princes went to Sarai and Karakorum to take the oath of allegiance to the “tsars” - the Chingizids. A half of the Russian nobility came from the Tatar families, who brought the Horde political traditions to Russia, and subsequently almost all the Horde lands were united into a political and economic system of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union.
Did the Russian Federation talk about such a “legacy”?
- In my opinion, the Russian leadership does not understand well this continuity, and the Turkic component of Russian civilization is artificially retouched under the influence of an outdated ideology, which puts the episodic conflicts with the “Pechenegs and Polovtsy” at the forefront, while obliterating much more important traditions of cooperation and good neighbourliness among the nations of the “Big Space” that unites us.