The Analytical Group of AzVision.az

‘Silk Power: What the Turks have to offer to the world | LongRead

// The time is ripe to address the questions about the Turkic civilization correctly

W

e have been recently hearing that the 21st century will be the ‘Turkic era’. We must first clarify what they mean by ‘Turkic era’. If we were to shed all populism and take a more pragmatic approach, the processes planned in the Turkic geography for the first half of the 21st century suggest deepened integration and socio-economic, scientific-technical progress in the region. If these plans are successful, the Turkic Union will grow to be one of the influential forces, even a power centre, in the world towards the second half of the 21st century.

The envisioned plan is detailed in the document called the ‘Turkic World Vision 2040’. The Turkic Council adopted two historic decisions at the 8th Summit held on 12 November 2021 in Istanbul – transforming the Council into the Organization of Turkic States and ‘Vision 2040’ action plan’. The 17-page document can be considered the future development roadmap of the Turkic World. 

The document clearly states that the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) members are intended to ‘turn into a strong economic union that contributes to global economic stability through connecting the East-West and North-South trade corridors’. In addition to that, the documents also envisage to:

• Establish interregional digital relations, support the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the member states of the Organization, integrate more closely economies based on the global information base, through applying the ‘Big Data’ ;

Apply Artificial Intelligence and digital technologies in various fields in order to build digital, ‘green’, and ‘smart’ economies and ‘smart’ cities;

• Consolidate efforts to develop space technologies for peaceful purposes ;

• Shift energy cooperation among member states from supplier-consumer relations to advanced tech-based energy relations that support energy security and efficiency through emphasizing clean/green energy;

Build and develop shared tourism potential and infrastructure along the Silk Road; 

https://azvision.az/photos/2023/03/istanbul-sammiti-1675194060-1678368269.jpg
The 2021 Istanbul summit marked the beginning of a new era in the development of the Turkic world

• Transform the region covered by the Organization of Turkic States into a hub for scientific research, education, and innovation, set up financial mechanisms to support projects in this direction

…and many other vital steps.

Ravshan Nazarov, History Ph.D. and senior research fellow at the Institute of State and Law under the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan remind in his article for Az.Vision.az that the leaders used the November 2022 OTS Samarkand Summit platform to adopt the OTS Development Strategy for 2023-2027 as a part of implementing the ‘Turkic World Vision-2040’ concept. In other words, they have already started taking practical steps


First steps taken at the OTS Samarkand summit towards the year of 2040

The Vision-2040 is a development concept that envelops a wide range of fields. However, just those that we have listed suffice to understand that if these are implemented, the areal of the Turkic states will indeed turn into one of the leading centres in the world. However, this also poses certain questions.

Same field, new player

Shaped towards the mid-20th century, the current world order rests on traditional power centres and they by no means intend to welcome a new force, they see as a competition, bearing flowers in their hands. The increased role of the Turkic countries on the planet will also irritate several states and geopolitical hubs, which might also cause certain tension. One of the concerns about the fruition of the projects envisaged in ‘Vision-2040’ is related to just that – geopolitical competition.

The Turkic states boast a large potential of territory and population. The territory of Kazakhstan alone is larger than the entire Western Europe. Elnur Hasan Mikail, Head of the Department of Political Sciences, and International Relations at Kars Kafkas University writes in his column for AzVision.az that if the Organization of Turkic States were a country, it would be the seventh biggest power in the world with an economy worth 3.8 trillion USD. Therefore, there are certain powers that are highly concerned with the organization of the Turkic states, because such unity creates great opportunities for applying the potential of the Turkic countries, they could not otherwise carry out alone

A new balancing force will take shape in the region after 2040

Yerkin Baydarov, Ph.D., leading researcher at Ramazan Suleimenov Institute of Oriental Studies, shares that the OTS is in for various geopolitical ‘traps’ set by the opponents of the Turkic union. The Turkic States must be ready and act cautiously around those, who see these states as an obstacle in setting their own ‘rules of the game’.

Avoiding potential problems that may arise in this direction requires the Turkic states to be more open globally in terms of media and focus more on promoting themselves, their past, and their true essence. The process of political and economic development should go hand in hand with the increased Turkic participation in the global media. As the Turks have a great advantage: History is on their side.

The Turks must use all means possible to promote their languages, cultures, history, and ethnography. We can rely on the accrued experience of such established international organizations as the Organization Internationale de la Francophonie, Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the Latin Union, the Arab League, and the Hispanidad. Ravshan Nazarov, the Uzbekistani historian, also finds the idea of developing a single history and encyclopedia extremely interesting.

The title of the previous longread on the role of the Turkic world in history, The Blooms of the ‘Back Garden’ of History was not chosen accidentally. The romantic heading was a hint at the bitter truth that scientists globally still fail to righteously estimate the role the Turks have played in history, whereas the Turkic civilizations made great contributions to humanity during its rise and can do the same today. This requires getting to know the Turks better and more objectively. Therefore, we employed a more retrospective approach towards the matter at hand in the previous longread. This time, we choose to look into the perspective.

Power that Strikes Balance

The Caucasus and Central Asia are located bang in the middle of regional powers, such as China, India, Iran, and Russia. The Brits have historically been interested in the region, and they still are. A balancing force is a must to build stability in a such complex region. Professor Ilyas Topsakal, the vice-rector at Istanbul University, believes Turks can be that force:

‘The European Union is an important part in this geography because it is a consumer at the very least. While countries such as China and India are producers. The point where the interests of both the consumers and producers meet is where stability starts. No one, including Russia and China, would want conflict and war in the region. There may be other powers that would. A historical opportunity has arisen for the Turkic world. They can build a space of trade, cultural, economic and social progress through establishing economic and cultural union along the transport corridor stretching from East to West, and ensuring stability.’ 

Ilyas Topsakal

The professor believes that the time is ripe historically. The realization of this project requires deepened integration among the Turkic states. ‘Everyone with logic will see how this project will bring salvation not only to the region, but also to the entire world. both the West and America are too far away. If the people in the region can find common ground in trade and culture, they will definitely come out as the victors’, he notes.

Classical geopolitics believes that whoever controls the very core of Eurasia will play the leading role in the entire continent. This idea inspires a historical paradox: Although the inhabitants of that area, the core of Eurasia, have been Turks, they have never had a say in the region since early new history. This has been a battle ground among Russia, China, and Europe. Well, we now have all the historical conditions to test the theory.

Javanshir Feyziyev, Azerbaijani MP, author of the Turkic World, a 5-volume book collection, suggests that resources, confirmed in the territories of independent Turkic states, total twofold of resources discovered and confirmed in 27 European countries. The population of the Turkic states, on the other hand, is twice as less as that of the European Union. ‘As a result, Turkic citizens have 4 times more natural resources per capita than Europeans, albeit still as raw materials. We now require science and technology to transform them into value’, MP explains. 


Javanshir Feyziyev: ‘Turks must either transform into an independent power hub, or dissolve under the influence of some other’

On the other hand, we do not have the same problems, which emerged while the European Union was built. The peoples of all members of the OTS are united under a common past, language, and culture. The ethnic and cultural unity of Turkic countries and peoples is not an empty phrase. The leaders of the Turkic states are well aware of this, as are most citizens of the Turkic Ecumene, which facilitates integration greatly.

At the same time, the Turkic states and peoples should continue multilateral cooperation not only because they are historically and culturally kindred, but also because it is efficient and lucrative.

Javanshir Feyziyev believes that the Organization of Turkic States is in a transition stage. The ultimate goal is to build a political-economic and military union of the Turkic States. Only then can the Turkic states become a power hub on a global scale. Otherwise, they will be doomed to dissolve under the influence of some other power centre.

‘Corridor’ of Peace

The New Silk Road mainly passes through the Turkic States, just as the historical Silk Road had. There are plans to invest 900 billion USD into the project. And it is not only about the trade corridor. The new Silk Road will affect the socio-economic situation of 68 countries globally. Those countries are a home to 60% of the entire global population and shape over 30% of world economy. The project is expected to generate 19 trillion USD in revenue by 2040, and boost the development of culture, medicine, and other fields in a large region.

Playing the role of a bridge for the Silk Road throughout history has had a great influence on the formation of the Turkic character. Those who suffer from Turkophobia must be plainly explained that not only history, but geography, too, confirms the peacefulness of the Turkic states and peoples because these countries play the role of a crucial bridge between Asia and Europe. States (and their Union) that have undertaken such a role can never want war. The reasoning is rather simple: A bridge needs stability to function.

Professor Mais Amrahov, Doctor of History and Head of the Department of Azerbaijani History at Bakikhanov History Institute at ANAS confirms that the Turkic nations have never harmed the scientific, economic, cultural, or any other potential of the territories they have spread to. The history of the Ottoman Empire illustrates this clearly. There has been no Turkic state until now which has been a threat to others. ‘Did Attila’s arrival in Hungary or the Bulgarian Turks’ in Bulgaria somehow negatively affect the lifestyle of the locals? Quite the contrary! Not only did they not assimilate them, but they even accepted their language as their own when deemed necessary’, the professor emphasizes. 

Mais Amrahov: ‘The Turkic civilization will make exceptional contributions to the development of humanity’

The Islamic world should be particularly interested in a stronger Turkic civilization. Historically advanced Turks have always led to the strengthening to the Islamic world. Turks are an integral part of this civilization. We illustrated in the previous longread that the knowledge deemed ‘Islamic science’ in Europe had often been produced by Turkic scholars. It was the Turks, not the Arabs, who globalized Islam, but this has served the Islamic world as a whole. The same scenario must be played out again, simply because a Turkic person is the bearer and servant of two civilizations at once.

‘Philosophy’ of Civilizations

While Turks are certainly bellicose people, the Turkic civilization has never been either militaristic or aggressive. War has always been the biggest booster of science and technology in Europe. The development of science is impossible to imagine without wars in the West. One of the symbolic examples is when Charles Darwin sailed off on his trip which resulted in his development of the theory of evolution through natural selection on the Beagle, the Royal warship. Most important scientific discoveries, from antibiotics to psychoanalysis, from rocket science to pesticides, have been made possible through wars. 

Unlike the West, science in the East has never been enrobed in militaristic disguise

Even today the US Department of Defence remains the third largest funder of fundamental scientific research in the country. Nothing has changed really: The militarist wagon still pushes science and tech development forward in the West. In the best case scenario, the tech discoveries are applied in civil engineering 10 years after they are developed at DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) laboratories for the Army. Those, who want to delve deeper into the topic, can peruse The Mind in the Fog of War. Science and Technology on the Fields of Battle by Susan Lindy, American historian, and sociologist. Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military by Neil DeGrasse Tyson is also an interesting read that illustrates how science is progressing in the contemporary West.

Unlike western civilizations, the East has never treated science and progress this way, as an accessory to war. Although gunpowder was discovered in China centuries ago, it turned into a weapon only once it reached Europe. There are various theories as to why the Islamic world is losing to the West in development, but one of the reasons may be precisely that science has always been developed separately from military, for the sake of ‘pure’ science. It is crucial to push this tradition, which boasts a glorious history, forward into the future. And Turks will be the ones who will lead the way.

Epilogue

Trade has been the engine of progress for centuries, being considered the main occupation that enriched nations. The Turks were the unofficial protectors of trade of sorts until the age of great geographical discoveries. They played a much bigger role than just that of a bridge between the East and the West while doing so. The situation changed as the sea routes were discovered in the Middle Ages. But the wheel of history is spinning anew: The Silk Road is once again becoming relevant, swelling the role of the Turks on the world stage. They might not be fully related to one another, albeit they are still parts of the same historical process. All the signs indicate that the Turkic states will once again take on a crucial role on the global stage in the new historical era. Based on historical analysis, this promises new opportunities for the world. Time will, of course, tell the rest. 

  13 March 2023    Read: 6623    Can be read: 3 min.

3 min.