COMMENT: So what did happen to that claimed Turkish aspiration to join BRICS?

COMMENT: So what did happen to that claimed Turkish aspiration to join BRICS?
Look, no Erdogan. /
By bne IntelIiNews August 24, 2023

Five 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.

So given the big BRICS announcement made at the group’s South Africa summit on August 25—namely that the existing members (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have invited six more leading emerging economies (Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) to join their club from January 2024—the question of whether Turkey ever had any real interest, and, if yes, still retains such an interest, is newly pertinent.

Perhaps Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who appears to have good personal relations with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is in the know, but the situation is far from clear.

South Africa’s BRICS ambassador, Anil Sooklal, told journalists in Johannesburg last week that as many as “22 countries have formally approached BRICS countries to become full members” of “BRICS+”. He also claimed that there were more than 40 countries that want to join the group.

However, while officials from many non-BRICS countries attended the BRICS national security advisors meeting in Johannesburg back on July 25, Turkey’s representation was, observed Turkish Minute, limited to a single deputy from Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Arif Demirkiran. He reportedly turned up upon the advice of Russian diplomat Andrey Klimov.

Klimov, who serves as deputy chair of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs, confirmed during a press conference at the BRICS Political Parties Plus Dialogue in Johannesburg on July 18 that he and other Russian officials were in Turkey a few days prior to arriving in South Africa. They were there, he said, to talk about the failed Black Sea grain export deal, and during their visit invited Demirkiran to the South Africa gathering of national security advisers.

So what about an eventual Turkish membership of BRICS? There’s not a squeak out of Ankara. If any membership application has gone in, formally or otherwise, it is being kept mighty confidential. It does, though, seem rather improbable. As a Nato member, Turkey would likely face an irate West if it made a big noise about desiring to join the expanding BRICS club. And Erdogan doesn’t generally like to sign up too closely with any one side in international affairs. Given Turkey’s fortune in having such a crucial geostrategic "crossroads" position on the map, he can usually afford to sit back and play one side off the other.