Ankara’s top diplomat holds out prospect of Turkey joining BRICS

Ankara’s top diplomat holds out prospect of Turkey joining BRICS
Turkey is again indulging in a certain amount of fluttering of the eyelids at BRICS. Fidan (right) has suggested, like Erdogan did six years ago, that Ankara could join the grouping. / Turkish presidency
By bne IntelliNews June 4, 2024

Ankara’s top diplomat Hakan Fidan on June 3 held out the prospect of Turkey joining the BRICS grouping as he commenced a three-day visit to China.

Fidan was reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) as saying that he looked forward to attending a meeting of the mechanism in Russia next week when foreign ministers from BRICS countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—will meet in the western Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod as part of the lead-up to an October summit in Kazan, the capital of Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan.

He was further quoted as saying that BRICS could offer Turkey a “good alternative” to the European Union to boost its economic prospects, according to Ankara’s top diplomat.

Fidan continued that while Turkey was in a customs union with Brussels, it was also looking at new opportunities for cooperation with several partners in different platforms such as emerging economies platform BRICS.

“Identity politics”, he said, meant Turkey has never been allowed by some major EU nations to become an EU member, even though it had been trying to join for a long time.

“So you have to look for other alternatives,” Fidan was reported as saying.

BRICS, he added, still “has a long way to go”, but “we cannot ignore the fact that BRICS, as an important cooperation platform, offers some other countries a good alternative… We see potential in BRICS.”

Although Turkey has never formally stated an intention to secure accession into BRICS, Fidan also remarked: “Certainly, we would like to become a member of BRICS. So we’ll see how it goes this year.”

He was speaking during an event at the Centre for China and Globalisation (CCG) in Beijing.

On June 4, Fidan met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and Vice-President Han Zheng.

SCMP also reported Fidan as saying that Turkey welcomed Chinese investment, especially in key infrastructure projects, but in recent years, there had been a slowdown in joint investment projects.

“This is one of the things that I want to raise while I’m here in China, to really fix this slowdown, to try to speed it up, to identify what are the obstacles, what are the reasons that we are experiencing this slowdown,” he added.

Fidan was also set to address Turkey’s huge trade deficit with China.

Given Turkey’s often transactional foreign policy in which it typically plays one power bloc off another as it seeks to secure gains from all sides—as a country geostrategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Iran, the South Caucasus and Central Asia, Turkey is an ally nobody wants to lose—Fidan’s comments on BRICS should be viewed with requisite circumspection.

Six years ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the leadership of BRICS to admit Turkey as a member of the association. However, subsequently, in the following years Turkish officials were not seen at any BRICS meetings.

When officials from many non-BRICS countries attended a BRICS national security advisors meeting in Johannesburg in July last year, Turkey’s representation was limited to a single deputy from Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

As a Nato member, Turkey would likely face an irate West if it made a clear move to join the BRICS club.