Kremlin bats away Turkey proposal to build alternative to UN

Kremlin bats away Turkey proposal to build alternative to UN
Erdogan addressed the UN General Assembly in New York in mid-September. / Anadolu news feed, screenshot
By bne IntelIiNews November 1, 2023

The Kremlin has batted away a proposal from Turkey that an alternative to the United Nations should be created.

Arguing that the UN Security Council "and similar international structures are unable to solve global problems in full and have even begun to deepen them and lead to crises", Turkish presidential spokesperson Fahrettin Altun wrote—in an article marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic—that Turkey was preparing to create a new international structure.

However, news agencies reported that Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov shut down the proposal during a press briefing on October 31.

"We believe that the UN system, despite its great inefficiency on vital issues on the agenda, remains the only and uncontested international mechanism," Peskov told reporters.

The Turkish proposal would "require international consensus at a minimum", he added.

Altun, in his commentary published on the Turkish government's website, said: "It is clear that it is necessary to establish new international organisations, consistent with the spirit of the new century and new era, taking into account new balances."

"Turkey is making preparations for the new multi-dimensional and multi-actor international conjuncture in accordance with the motto of 'The World is Bigger than Five' declared by our President," he added.

"The world is bigger than five" is a slogan that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used frequently in calls for UN reform. It refers to the UN Security Council's five permanent members, namely the US, China, France, Russia and the UK.

Erdogan in the past week has slated the UN for what he said was a failure to adequately respond to the thousands of civilian deaths cause by Israel’s bombardment and besieging of the Gaza Strip in response to the Hamas massacre of Israelis in early October. However, while Erdogan in typical fashion has hurled plenty of angry rhetoric on the issue, it is clear there are many Palestinian critics who desire to see more action and less words from Ankara.

In September, Erdogan said the UN Security Council was “no longer the guarantor of international security”. Arguing that it has become a battleground where the political strategies of five countries clash,” he added: "We must immediately restructure institutions under the UN roof responsible for ensuring world peace, security, and welfare. We must build a global governance architecture that is capable of representing all origins, beliefs and cultures in the world."

In a Carnegie Endowment think tank analysis published on October 31, three analysts—Christopher Chivvis, Alper Coskun and Beatrix Geaghan-Breiner—conclude that Nato member Turkey wants to maintain strategic independence by working with Russia and China even as it sustains its ties to the West.

Commissioned by Carnegie as part of a series of articles under its American Statecraft Program, the analysis observes that Turkey runs “360-degree foreign policy”. The approach, it says, “prioritizes flexibility and strategic independence, with the aim of regenerating Türkiye’s historical role as a major world power. This was no doubt among the calculations that led Ankara to distinguish itself from the West in its harsh criticism of Israel's retaliatory actions in Gaza.”

Noting that Erdogan recently said that he trusts the Russians as much as the West, the article continues: “Turkish chief of intelligence Ibrahim Kalin has said that Türkiye does not equate engagement with the Kremlin to approval of Russian actions. But Kalin also said that Türkiye does not see Russia as a threat. ‘The fact that we are a Nato member, that we are part of the Western alliance doesn’t prevent us from having a good relationship,’ Kalin said”. 

After noting that Washington’s efforts to leverage points of tension into a tougher Turkish policy on China have largely failed, the analysis ends: “Ankara values alternatives to Western-dominated international organizations. Unlike other Nato nations, Türkiye has expressed an interest in joining both the Shanghai Cooperation Organization [SCO] and the BRICS group. Ankara sees these groupings as vehicles to amplify Turkish influence on the world stage and build out alternatives to the current system.

“Like many other emerging powers, Türkiye seeks a middle course with a flexible foreign policy. Ankara dreams of making itself a global power center again and will seek to leverage strategic competition to create space for its return to the world stage. It is unlikely to turn against Beijing but will seek to deepen relations with the United States when it can, while leaving itself enough room to adapt to changing geopolitical circumstances.”