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Why does a NATO member suddenly want to join BRICS?

There are benefits and drawbacks to Türkiye potentially joining the bloc of emerging economies

At the beginning of this month, news of Türkiye’s desire to join BRICS drew global media attention. The announcement was made by Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan during his visit to China. “Of course, we would like to become a member of BRICS. Let’s see what we can achieve this year,” said the minister, as quoted by the South China Morning Post.

This issue was also discussed at the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting in Nizhny Novgorod, attended by Türkiye’s chief diplomat, Hakan Fidan. Türkiye’s desire to join is not entirely new – during the BRICS summit of 2018, where Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was a participant, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ankara could join in 2022. However, subsequent events on the world stage apparently delayed that ambition, and Ankara is only now showing renewed interest.

What is BRICS?

BRICS is an international association initially comprising five major developing economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Established to enhance cooperation and strengthen global positions, its name comes from the initial letters of member states’ names.

The concept began in 2001 when Goldman Sachs analyst Jim O’Neill coined “BRIC” for the fastest-growing major economies at the time: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. The first formal meeting occurred in 2006 at the UN General Assembly. The first BRIC summit was held in Yekaterinburg in 2009. South Africa joined in 2011, making it BRICS. As of January 1, 2024, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have also joined.

BRICS aims to promote economic growth, strengthen trade and investment, develop infrastructure, and maintain financial stability through mechanisms like the New Development Bank (NDB) and Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA). It seeks greater roles in international institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. BRICS also focuses on scientific and technical cooperation in energy, medicine, and agriculture.

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The association strengthens economic ties, contributing to mutual development and trade. By providing alternative funding sources, it reduces dependence on Western financial institutions. BRICS countries work together to defend their interests and promote a more equitable global order. They also address global challenges like climate change and pandemics.

BRICS is unique due to its diverse membership spanning different continents and cultures. Without rigid legal frameworks, it allows flexible action focused on practical cooperation and specific projects to improve citizens’ lives. This attracts more non-Western countries to join the association.

BRICS vs G7

With the confrontation between the countries of the global majority and the West growing, BRICS is considered to be emerging as an alternative to the G7. This is determined by several key reasons related to economic, political, and social aspects. The G7, comprising leading economically developed countries – the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan – has traditionally dominated the international arena, shaping the global economic and political agenda. However, the emergence and development of BRICS have changed this balance, offering an alternative view on global governance and cooperation.

BRICS unites the largest developing economies in the world, which together account for a significant share of global GDP and population. Collectively, BRICS countries possess vast resources and potential for economic growth, making them important players on the global stage.

To provide a clearer understanding, let’s compare some indicators. With its five new members, BRICS now accounts for almost 34% of the world’s land area, while the G7 accounts for 16%. BRICS countries are home to 45.2% of the world’s population, compared to just 9.7% in the G7. The combined GDP based on purchasing power parity in BRICS countries is 36.7% of the global total as of 2024, compared to 29.6% for the G7. Data on oil reserves show that BRICS countries now hold 45.8% of global volumes, while the G7 holds only 3.7%.

Thus, in many respects, BRICS surpasses the G7. The economic power of BRICS allows these countries to propose alternative models of development and economic cooperation, differing from the Western approaches represented by the G7.

Due to international contradictions and the destructive hegemony of Western countries led by Washington, questions about the need to transform the world order are actively arising. BRICS advocates for a multipolar world, where the balance of power is more evenly distributed among various regions and countries. While the G7 represents the interests of economically developed Western powers, BRICS focuses on the issues and interests of developing nations, which are often marginalized in global politics. This makes BRICS an important platform for countries seeking greater autonomy and independence from Western influence.

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Moreover, the creation of the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) demonstrates the BRICS countries’ desire to establish alternative financial institutions capable of competing with traditional Western institutions, particularly the IMF and the World Bank. These new mechanisms allow BRICS countries and other developing nations to obtain financing on more equitable terms and with fewer political conditions.

BRICS actively develops cooperation in fields such as science and technology, education, healthcare, and the environment. These initiatives aim to improve the quality of life for citizens of member countries and address global challenges such as climate change and poverty. Unlike the G7, which focuses on issues relevant to developed countries, BRICS places particular importance on the problems faced by developing nations.

BRICS represents a broader spectrum of cultures and regions than the G7, making it a more inclusive and representative organization on the global stage. This diversity allows BRICS countries to consider different perspectives and needs, promoting a fairer and more balanced approach to solving global issues.

This explains the interest of many countries in becoming part of the association. To date, almost 30 countries have expressed a desire to become full members of the association or to gain partner status. These include Azerbaijan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Venezuela, Vietnam, Honduras, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Kuwait, Morocco, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Senegal, Syria, Thailand, Türkiye, Uganda, Chad, Sri Lanka, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, and South Sudan. However, only some countries from this list have officially applied for membership: Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and Thailand.

Thus, BRICS plays a significant role in modern global politics and economics, contributing to the development of multilateral cooperation and strengthening the positions of developing countries on the global stage.

Why Does Türkiye Want to Join BRICS?

Türkiye shows significant interest in joining BRICS, seeing it as an important step toward enhancing its international influence and economic potential. This aspiration is driven by several key factors related to economic, political, and geostrategic aspects.

Possessing one of the largest economies in the region, Türkiye aims to diversify its economic ties and strengthen cooperation with rapidly developing countries. Joining BRICS would give Ankara access to a vast market and opportunities to increase trade and investment with the leading economies of the developing world. This is especially important in the context of global economic challenges and uncertainties, where diversifying partners becomes a key factor for sustainable growth.

Türkiye has repeatedly faced financial difficulties and restrictions imposed by Western financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Joining BRICS would provide Türkiye with access to the New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement, allowing it to secure funding on more favorable terms and with fewer political commitments. This is particularly relevant for Türkiye, which seeks to maintain its economic independence and minimize external pressure.

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Türkiye actively supports the idea of a multipolar world, where the balance of power is more evenly distributed among various regions and countries. BRICS, advocating for multipolarity and fair global governance, represents an attractive platform for Türkiye, which strives to enhance its political independence from Western countries and blocs such as the European Union and NATO.

In this context, it is also worth noting that Ankara views its desire to join BRICS as a gesture towards the EU, a bloc it once sought to join. This is confirmed by the words of Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan. During his visit to China, he noted that some European countries oppose Türkiye’s accession to the EU, and thus Turkish authorities see BRICS as an alternative platform for integration. “We cannot ignore the fact that BRICS, as an important cooperation platform, offers some other countries a good alternative. … We see potential in BRICS,” he explained.

Türkiye’s geographic location makes it an important link between Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Joining BRICS would strengthen Türkiye’s geopolitical position and enable it to effectively use its strategic location to advance its interests and strengthen ties with other member countries. This would also contribute to enhancing Türkiye’s role in regional and global security.

Membership in BRICS would significantly strengthen Türkiye’s international influence and prestige. Türkiye would be able to participate in the development of global economic and political strategies, offering its ideas and solutions to address global problems. This would bolster Türkiye’s positions on the world stage and facilitate its more active participation in international organizations and forums.

Türkiye seeks to join BRICS for several reasons, including economic development, access to alternative financial institutions, political independence, geostrategic interests, and the enhancement of international influence. Joining BRICS would open new opportunities for Türkiye, strengthen its positions on the global stage, and ensure more balanced and equitable participation in world affairs. Membership in BRICS would enable Türkiye to play a more active role in international affairs and contribute to the creation of a more balanced global system.

Barriers to Türkiye’s Entry into BRICS

Although Türkiye’s entry into BRICS could bring significant benefits to Ankara, there are serious barriers that complicate this process. These barriers include domestic political realities, economic challenges, and external pressure from the West.

The domestic political situation in Türkiye creates significant obstacles to joining BRICS. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for the first time in 22 years lost to the opposition in municipal elections held on March 31 this year. The Republican People’s Party (CHP), which traditionally supports pro-Western positions, gained control over 35 cities, while Erdoğan’s party succeeded in only 24 cities.

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The CHP’s victory in the municipal elections indicates a shift in Ankara’s political direction toward the West. Even within the AKP, there are proponents of closer ties with the West, complicating the decision to join BRICS. The deputy chairman of the Turkish party VATAN (“Homeland”), Hakan Topkurulu, noted that Türkiye should join BRICS but also acknowledged the presence of a strong pro-Western group in Türkiye, connected with NATO membership since 1952. These groups are part of all political parties and exert significant influence on the government, creating an internal conflict between Atlanticist and Eurasian-leaning forces.

Türkiye has close military and economic ties with Western countries, making the question of joining BRICS even more complex. Türkiye’s decision to become a BRICS member could provoke strong pressure from Washington and its Western allies, who see BRICS as a threat to their dominance on the international stage. This could manifest as sanctions, economic restrictions, and political pressure, negatively affecting the Turkish economy and its international relations.

The economic situation in Türkiye also presents a serious barrier to joining BRICS. The country’s economy is in a dire state, and high inflation forces economic authorities to seek investments. Currently, Türkiye relies more on the West in this regard, as BRICS countries are mainly developing economies themselves and cannot offer such significant investments.

Although BRICS countries have great economic potential, they face their own internal economic problems and may not always provide the necessary financial support to Türkiye. This makes joining BRICS less attractive to Türkiye from an economic standpoint, especially in the short term.

Thus, despite the potential benefits of joining BRICS, Türkiye faces several serious barriers. Domestic political realities, including the influence of pro-Western forces and internal disagreements, create significant obstacles to the decision to join BRICS. External pressure from the West and close economic ties with Western countries further complicate this process. Finally, the economic challenges Türkiye faces make seeking investments in the West more attractive than the possibility of joining BRICS. All these factors together create a complex and multi-layered picture that hinders Türkiye’s intentions to become part of BRICS.

However, in the long term, BRICS membership opens new opportunities for Türkiye, and considering the transformation of the global order, it could allow Ankara to secure a strong position in the future. Thus, Türkiye will weigh all the pros and cons, striving to extract maximum benefit for itself. It would not be surprising if Turkish authorities decide to join BRICS, as this aligns with Erdoğan’s paradigm of conducting a sovereign foreign policy in the interest of his country.

June 29, 2024 at 08:56PM
RT

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