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Turkey is a Real Country Now, and Gets It (Pt. 1)

October 13, 2010

And by “it” I am referring to business contacts, investment, and money like in a Lil’ Wayne video. And all this while tendentiously playing the Pan-Turanic card.

Busta’s Arab Money ain’t got nothing on Turan Money

Big news came this past week when Hu Jintao and Erdogan met in Ankara. They discussed trade, energy deals, and military cooperation. They did not discuss the Uighurs of Xinjiang/East Turkestan.

Long Recep is Long. And should be way higher than #124

Normally this wouldn’t be a thing, I mean, nobody ever mentions the Uighurs. But this is the Erdogan who called the Han-Uighur violence of 2009 genocide. So such a turn around could only be about one thing: cold hard cash.

Yeah, now that Turkey is taking such a global role, the country has seemed to level off of the rhetoric and started making cold, calculated, decisions. It’s good for the economy, sure. But it is awfully odd in a city with the Dogu Turkistan Vakfi (and attached awesome restaurant) and where there is such huge, state-sanctioned, graffiti in Sultanahmet, in English, of all places:

So yeah. That’s sort of a thing. And now, on an official level, its supposed to have not existed. Or, in other words, the government says one thing to its domestic audience and another thing to the foreigners. Or, in other words, Turkey is just like every other G20 country.

At this point its more weird than anything else, but its worth following forward. The next time something bad happens in, uh, whatever we call the place between Kazakhstan and Beijing, how will Turkey respond?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Asher permalink
    October 13, 2010 12:17 pm

    ADDENDUM: Rebecca showed me this awesome comment by Burak Bedil of Hurriyenglish, which I will flount copyright laws because I can’t find it online by posting it in entirety here:

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s retort to the ethnic clashes in China’s predominantly Uighur provinces in July 2009 was unsurprisingly “a la Davos.” He accused Beijing of behavior “akin to genocide.”

    In the heat of those days, Mr. Erdoğan declared that his government would grant a visa to Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled leader of the ethnically Turkish and Muslim Uighurs, a move it had abstained from before. Industry Minister Nihat Ergün called on Turks to boycott Chinese products because of the “near genocide inflicted upon our kinship.” Mr. Ergün in later days switched to a more diplomatic tone from the initial “boycott” talk and said that “Turkish consumers were intelligent,” i.e. they know they should boycott Chinese products.

    Groups of angry Turks set on fire whatever cheap Chinese products they could bring together in public protests. Following the national pattern of public outrage when we the Turks are offended by a foreign nation, the Turks took to the streets loudly shouting slogans like “Stop the genocide” and “Murderer Chinese state” and, also as part of the custom, gathered in front of Chinese diplomatic missions in protests akin to violence.

    When things on the Ankara-Beijing axis looked dramatic, “Dragon kiss” in this column (July 15, 2009) argued that:

    “Ironically, every Turkish threat to boycott a foreign nation’s produce ends up in flourishing imports from that country,” and “It would be wise if, after the ‘near genocide in Xingjian,’ investors put their money on the likelihood of a ‘made in China boom’ in the Turkish market. In 10 years time, the ethnic conflict between Uighurs and the Han Chinese will probably not have been resolved, but Chinese exports to Turkey could easily reach $50 billion from less than one third of that today.”

    I admit that I was wrong last year to predict the $50 billion bench for bilateral trade (overwhelmingly Chinese exports to Turkey) in the next 10 years. Last week, Turkish and Chinese premiers agreed to attain that level over the next five years.

    So, only 15 months after unpleasant incidents which Mr. Erdoğan said were akin to genocide strained Turkish-Chinese relations, the two countries agreed to become strategic partners, signing several agreements on commerce, culture and transportation. Moreover, as agreed in Ankara during Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s landmark visit last week, Turkey and China will use their currencies in bilateral relations, shunning the U.S. dollar.

    That’s quite an impressively quick recovery from the days one of today’s strategic partners accused the other for behavior akin to genocide. Meanwhile, thousands of Uighurs living in Turkey kept on protesting Mr. Wen, as they always do when a Chinese dignitary is in town. The Uighurs were wise enough to avoid protesting the Turkish government, as that could be akin to protesting the Chinese government in the heart of Beijing.

    Shortly before Mr. Wen’s appearance in Ankara, Chinese fighter aircraft made a sudden appearance in Central Anatolia. They were the first Chinese aircraft to train in NATO airspace, and had been invited to Turkey after Ankara disinvited Israeli aircraft from the same military exercises last (and this) year. According to daily Hürriyet, the Chinese fighters had refueled in Iran before they reached Turkish airspace.

    Turkish-Chinese military cooperation may misleadingly sound oxymoronic. In fact, Turkish and Chinese militaries began discussing cooperation as early as the early-to-mid 1990s when they invented and then went ahead with the idea of jointly manufacturing surface-to-surface missiles.

    But as cooperation deepens it may bring about certain problematic aspects with it. For instance, the Chinese were hoping that the friendly Turkish pilots would be flying their F-16 aircraft during the joint exercises. But the Turks withdrew their F-16s and flew their F-4s instead in order not to offend the Pentagon. Eventually, they offended Beijing.

    Both Mr. Wen and the Chinese SU-27s may have departed already. The Turks may one day make it up for the disappointed Chinese Air Force. Several lucrative Turkish-Chinese deals and government-to-government (and government-to-private) contracts may be in the offing. The Uighurs may be unhappy. The Americans may be cautiously concerned. The Iranians may be rubbing their hands and grinning. Turkish diplomats may be delightful with the prospects of a more visible Turkey at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. All of that looks like a nice Silk Road tale.

    But one question remains. Mr. Erdoğan has chose cold war with Israel because, as now evinced by a U.N. report, the Israeli Defense Forces used disproportionate force and intentionally killed nine Turks aboard a flotilla bound for Gaza at the end of May. Less than a year before the flotilla incident Mr. Erdoğan was similarly angry because Beijing had treated China’s ethnic Turks in a way the prime minister likened to genocide (although it only became evident after the clashes that the majority of casualties among the nearly 200 dead and thousands of injured were ethnically Chinese).

    Nine deaths vs. near genocide. There is no record anywhere that Mr. Erdoğan admitted fault about his wording, or that he publicly apologized for the bold label. So, what keeps him away from the negotiating table with those who killed nine Turks? What pushes him into a strategic partnership with those who committed near genocide against ethnic Turks? How many ethnic Turks is one Turk equal to? How many ethnic Muslim Turks could equal one Muslim Palestinian?

    No doubt, Mr. Erdoğan has proved to be the master of acrobatics between pragmatism and public deception. The Uighurs should be able to understand that they are the unlucky bunch: They are not Palestinians, they don’t have an “audience” among Turkish voters, and their feud is merely with the Chinese who are, sadly, not Jews.


  1. Turkey is a Real Country Now, and Gets It (Pt. 3) | İstanbul Altı

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