It was a development closely watched by the entire world, marking a significant turning point in the global power struggle. However, there had been no official statement from Ankara. I found myself clutching the phone and checking my sources, asking, 'What's going on?'
The subject of this intrigue dates back to the 15th BRICS summit held in South Africa exactly one month ago, from August 22 to 24. At this summit, the BRICS group, consisting of five countries, expanded its membership for the first time, increasing its number to eleven with the addition of new members (Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, and Ethiopia).
Ankara had previously expressed its intention to join BRICS, and President Erdoğan had even attended the 2018 summit as a special guest, where he stated to accompanying journalists, 'I called on them to include Türkiye in BRICS.'
BRICS did not ignore these statements coming from Ankara. Purnima Anand, Chairperson of the BRICS International Forum, had stated in the past year that BRICS also expected Türkiye's membership. According to Anand, they wanted Türkiye to join the organization as soon as possible. Furthermore, according to Anand, the possible memberships of Türkiye and a few other countries had been discussed by China and Russia in 2022. New additions would undoubtedly 'increase BRICS's global influence.'
However, despite these statements, Türkiye took no steps at the recent summit, raising questions like 'Is Türkiye distancing itself from BRICS?' Especially after the positive turn in relations with the United States following the presidential election, this silence led to speculation. That's precisely the question I had asked my source. The answer I received was, 'Things are not as they seem.' As I had written, 'BRICS is one of the points of contact in Ankara's multifaceted diplomatic vision. The fact that Ankara does not prioritize this issue today does not mean it will not do so tomorrow.'
A SHIFT IN FOREIGN POLICY
At this point, let's briefly mention a speech President Erdoğan delivered a few days ago. Date: August 30, 2023. Location: Kara Harp Okulu (Army War College). In his speech, Erdoğan stated, 'As the cards are reshuffled in foreign policy, new cooperation initiatives are coming to the forefront. Multilateral collaborations such as NATO, BRICS, and the Turkish States Cooperation Organization are gaining weight in international politics.'
This statement came in response to the European Parliament's report containing unjust accusations against Türkiye. The message, 'We can part ways with the EU if necessary,' reverberated widely in Western media.
Additionally, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan's recent statements regarding the BRICS summit and the IMEC (India-Middle East-Europe Corridor) were noteworthy. He emphasized that the dollar was being used as both a threat and a weapon. According to him, 'Under these conditions, there is an even greater need for an international economic and financial system that is more transparent, fair, and inclusive, leaving no one behind.'
THE MANIFESTATION OF A MULTIPOLAR WORLD
BRICS, born with an anti-Western agenda, is now becoming a platform favored by emerging countries seeking to step out of Western hegemony and gain more advantages through multilateral policies. (New member UAE stated, "Our membership will not harm our relations with the West.")
Recent developments show that BRICS members cannot set a common policy on global issues and can exhibit conflicting attitudes even in economic matters. For instance, India is in competition with China. It is among the architects of the IMEC, developed against China's Belt and Road Initiative. Let's also note that the new BRICS members, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, support this anti-China project. Therefore, BRICS membership does not yet provide states with a clearly outlined political vision.
ONE CANNOT REMAIN INDIFFERENT TO BRICS
Despite all these contradictions, there is a growing potential here. The total GDP of BRICS members constitutes 36% of the global GDP (it will rise to 50% by 2030). 47% of the world's population resides in these countries. 42% of natural gas reserves are found in these nations. They account for 35% of global food production.
Given this picture, it is inconceivable for Türkiye, conducting "multilateral diplomacy in a multipolar world," to remain indifferent to BRICS. NATO membership is strategic and valuable for Türkiye (you are aware of what the veto card did to Sweden). However, maintaining relations with the West does not require us to turn a blind eye to the rest of the world. As President Erdoğan stated in 2018: "Being part of such formations means participating in initiatives. This is not a loss but a benefit."