President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's recent visit to Kazakhstan was of great importance, both in terms of its timing and consequences. Erdoğan and his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, made significant statements during the joint press conference that was held after bilateral talks between the two leaders in Astana. Both leaders came to a mutual agreement over the improvement of trade relations and the expansion of mutual investments. It should be noted that this was not an official and diplomatic wish. Kazakhstan maintains the customs union that it initiated with Russia and Belarus in 2010 and this will continue as the Eurasian Union. When one looks at Kazakhstan's position on the map, it is possible to understand the future significance of Turkey-Kazakhstan relations. As a country that is bordered by China and Russia, it is one of the most strategic countries along the New Silk Road and the Middle Corridor that reaches Europe passing through the Caspian Sea and Turkey. To the south of Kazakhstan are Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, which are very productive countries in terms of the energy market. These countries are also strategically important for the trade routes that reach Turkey passing through Iran and Iraq as a part of the Southern Corridor. When the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway line is completed, Turkey will be connected to Kazakhstan through the Caspian Sea, which has rich energy resources as an inland sea. Apart from carrying these resources by container ships, the Caspian Sea will connect Asia to Europe through Turkey. At this point, it is not so difficult to argue that the tripartite customs union, which has been declared to grow into the Eurasian Union, cannot develop its own trade axis without Turkey. However, this certainly does not pit the Eurasian Union against the EU. Quite the contrary, this introduces a new EU perspective that can overcome the current crisis by expanding toward the east, and enables Russia to look at the outside world and to become more "reasonable."
Russian President Vladimir Putin was right when he said that the Russian economy was robust and survived because it opposed the impositions of the West. However, just opposing the West's impositions is not enough to survive. Russia also needs to adopt an outward-oriented growth and democratic economy administration and to take part in global competition. This is what Turkey does differently from Russia.Turkey is aware of the impositions of the West, considers that they are unacceptable for its economy, does not forget that it is a part of the West, and pursues an original path in line with its interests.This original path is not only for the prosperity of Turkey, but also for a wider geography, which spans an area from Kazakhstan to the countries that were divided as a result of Germany's Balkanization policy in the 1990s.
Turkish companies have a significant role in the flourishing of the city of Astana, which was established after Kazakhstan gained independence. The independence of Kazakhstan means that it can open up to the world, and can freely use its resources and human capital at a global level. Irrespective of whether they have a long history or they are being newly established, economic and political unions, such as the EU and the Eurasian Union, should represent all member countries in the utmost equal way. The major reason for the EU's current crisis is that it is a German-centric union. To the extent that it escapes Germany's domination, the EU will overcome the crisis and expand toward its east as a union in the real sense. This is also the core of all political and economic problems that are experienced between Turkey and the EU. Similarly, if we are talking about a Eurasian union, it cannot prioritize Russia and its interests. At this very point, small EU countries, the Caucasus and Asia need Turkey.
What I propose both for Turkey and the wider region from Romania to Kazakhstan is an open economy that can compete in a global sense with a robust and recognizable financial market, and one that enables global investments to be evaluated at the highest level, since this is the true market economy.
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