In the 21st Century C.E., the structure of liberal economic and political order with relevance to institutions has experienced a potential transformation. After the U.S. hegemonic decline and the 2008 global financial crisis, middle power countries have emerged with strong economic indicators to play a pivotal role in global governance. In this regard, the material capabilities and decisive roles of middle powers are major determinates in international relations and global policy behaviors. The middle powers have significant status in the international arena amid their global position and multilateral partnerships or outreach. The new millennium has allowed middle powers to integrate themselves and provide pervasive grounds for cooperation in international politics. Moreover, the transforming dynamics of today’s political and economic discourse have brought advanced narratives to middle power multilateralism.
The emergence of a middle power in resolving global menaces and indulging in inclusive economic development can be observed under regionalism. New regionalism or regionalization has emerged as a significant trend in international affairs to connect nations. Along with the explicit benefits these processes bring, fundamental pillars of the new regionalism are institutions and organizations that provide integrated platforms to the countries. In this aspect, the group MIKTA (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, Australia) holds an important status in the world’s politics. The paper attempts to analyze the functionality and benefits of MIKTA in the present times. The study also highlights the potential of these emerging and advanced economies amid prospects for Pakistan.
Understanding Middle Powers’ Role in the Multipolar World:
Before discussing the features and benefits of MIKTA, it is pertinent to understand what a middle power is. The characteristics that define what country could be considered a middle power state should be liberal, aligning towards democratic structure, while having legitimate global political concerns. These countries rely on diplomacy and tend to lean towards multilateral foreign policy through forming coalitions. This kind of foreign policy is often called ‘Niche Diplomacy‘. Niche Diplomacy means that states hold one approach and utilize all their resources and specializations in one direction to optimize maximum benefits. Middle powers are limited in the policy objectives and their power capabilities. Therefore, the theme followed by middle power states is mediation and peacemakers. Moreover, these countries are often considered legitimate brokers and stabilizers in the international system for conflict resolution. Their main focus remains to sustain global economic order, debt relief, nuclear non-proliferation, and human rights. These issues do not directly entangle or clash with the great powers’ vital interests and could be considered ‘soft ‘issues. There is such diverse literature on the middle powers with many perspectives and categorizations. Nevertheless, there are two major types of middle powers, i.e., traditional and emerging. The traditional middle power countries are stable, wealthy, socially democratic, and egalitarian. However, the emerging middle power is considered more semi-peripheral, democratized, and shows the regional influence. The concept of middle power is not new to international relations. Nonetheless, the emerging dynamics of middle powers are laying new paradigms in their changing world’s scenarios.
A Brief Prelude and Peculiarity of MIKTA:
MIKTA, a pure middle power multilateral structure, provides a strong and successful institutional framework. MIKTA members have been playing a proactive role in achieving their foreign policy objectives. The association of this group was established in 2013 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Later the continued meetings among member countries had paved the way for its progress. MIKTA countries have diverse traditions, cultures, norms, and values. However, their sustainable integration reflects its unique characteristics and features. MIKTA provides a successful institutional framework that increases its members’ influence as regional or middle power countries. The group supports multilateralism and is inclined towards strengthening global governance. MIKTA’s vision statement outlines that
“MIKTA countries are like-minded on many of the global challenges of our time and are active contributors in major international forums. We have both the will and the capability to contribute to protecting public goods and strengthening global governance.’’
The vision above-mentioned clearly entails the commitment of MIKTA countries to rely on an effective global governance structure, a rule-based mechanism for international cooperation. Moreover, the MIKTA group is explicitly committed
“to the purposes and principles of the United Nations (UN) Charter and other universally recognized norms governing international relations.”
All five member nations have a chair in the G20 table, enhancing transnational and unique features of MIKTA. The countries themselves have a distinguished place at the international level. Each state plays a dynamic role in its respective regions and beyond. For example, Indonesia has been emerging for the last two decades. It holds a potential position in the Asia Pacific region and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Turkey’s visibility in the regional and international arena has been increased and acknowledged. The country has been playing an active role in all international or regional platforms, including MIKTA. Therefore, Turkey strongly supports strengthening cooperation among MIKTA countries and is committed to improving multilateral partnerships to counter global menaces. South Korea’s approach of a ‘New Southern’ and a ‘New Northern Policy’ has also indicated the expansion of its strategic outreach across Asia and the Pacific. Mexico has been playing a constructive role in integrating the countries and enhance its economic outreach through MIKTA’s progressive achievements. Australia, an advanced economy, has been the key partner in conducting the parleys and moving towards attaining inclusive socio-economic and political ambition.
MIKTA is a consultation and coordination platform. The open economies have robust economic growth rates and opportunities to attract other countries. MIKTA aims to strengthen its cooperation to raise its voice on global issues and gain influence within international organizations. The activities of MIKTA are coordinated by the MIKTA Chair, which is appointed each year on a rotating basis. The chair works to promote MIKTA’s core priorities and to drive multilayered and joint cooperation and outreach on the subjects that are the subject of a chair’s annual priority. In 2021, it is expected Australia will be the MIKTA chair. Development cooperation is one of the main significant areas of MIKTA. In this aspect, a combination of well-established, holistic, and robust approaches has laid the foundation for promoting global development agenda. The continued high-level meetings between the MIKTA’s member states show their strong ambition to further achieve their goals. Moreover, the member countries have adopted seven priority agendas that form the core of MIKTA’s mandate:
- Trade and economy
- Good governance, democracy, and human rights
- Sustainable development
- Counterterrorism strategy and security
- Reform’s vis-a-vis international energy governance and facilitating access to energy
- Gender equality
MIKTA Platform and Prospects for Multilateral Integration
There is a strong need to promote national cooperation through multilateralism channels. The diversified dialogue networks play an integral part in building connections among states and people. Therefore, to promote joint ventures and a shared future, regional countries, especially Pakistan, need to build blocks for multilateral cooperation with MIKTA. The prospects and benefits associated with MIKTA would be a boon for Pakistan. Indonesia and Turkey are the closest allies of Pakistan and can promote Pakistan’s interests to get associated with the MIKTA group. The potential expansion of the MIKTA group with relevance to Pakistan would result in constructive engagement and huge dividends to strengthen global causes and tackle common perils together. The pro-multilateralism, proactive role, and productive outreach of MIKTA, including cooperation in the COVID-19 pandemic, have sharpened the presence of these countries in international affairs. In this aspect, the expansion of MIKTA would enhance its weigh and efficacy globally.