Daniel Pipes

Recent steps taken by the Government of Turkey suggest it may be ready to ditch the NATO club of democracies for a Russian and Chinese gang of authoritarian states.

Here is the evidence:

Starting in 2007, Ankara applied three times unsuccessfully to join as a Guest Member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (or SCO, informally known as the Shanghai Five). Founded in 1996 by the Russian and Chinese governments, along with three (and in 2001 a fourth) former Soviet Central Asian states, the SCO has received minimal attention in the West, although it has grand security and other aspirations, including the possible creation of a gas cartel. More, it offers an alternative to the Western model, from NATO, to democracy, to displacing the U.S. dollar as reserve currency. After those three rejections, Ankara applied for "Dialogue Partner" status in 2011. In June 2012, it won approval.

One month later, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reported about his saying to Russia's President Vladimir Putin, "Come, accept us into the Shanghai Five [as a full member] and we will reconsider the European Union." Erdogan reiterated this idea on Jan. 25, noting stalled Turkish efforts to join the European Union (EU): "as the prime minister of 75 million people," he explained, "you start looking around for alternatives. That is why I told Mr. Putin the other day, 'Take us into the Shanghai Five; do it, and we will say goodbye to the EU.' What's the point of stalling?" He added that the SCO "is much better, it is much more powerful [than the EU], and we share values with its members."


Daniel Pipes

Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum.