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Kazakhstan: The Heartland of the “Geopolitical Triangle”

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Although there are different approaches to the “address of the heartland” in the “New Great Game”, where the power center started to change hands again from the West to the East, all developments take us to the “Caucasus-Central Asia-South Asia Geopolitical Triangle”. The main issue here is whether this new world order will be built after a devastating war or wars of attrition, or whether a constructive approach centered on cooperation will dominate the process. The Turkish-Islamic world, which is located in the center of this geography, especially Kazakhstan and the Turkic Council, advocates the second approach/thesis. This thesis undoubtedly points to the “softening buffer” role of Central Asia in the power struggle between East and West.

The fact that geography has successfully put forward the diplomacy-cooperation mechanism within itself against the planned/systematic crises that have emerged in the region recently confirms this. In this sense, with its geographical size, demographic structure with different ethnic and religious communities, and experienced-visionary leadership structure, Kazakhstan appears as an significant “synthesis” for both the East and the West.

“Peace Founder” Country…

Located in the center of Eurasia, which all geopolitical theories define as the heartland, Kazakhstan is located in a vital geography in Russia’s south expansion policy, and is one of the main routes preferred in China’s strategy of opening up to the West within the framework of the Belt-Road Initiative. The fact that Kazakhstan is a transit route enables Central Asian countries to establish relations with Moscow and Beijing. This situation makes Kazakhstan a key actor for Russia, China and Central Asian countries.

It should not be overlooked that the Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabil-Peshawar railway line, which is planned to be established with South Asia through Uzbekistan, will make Nur-Sultan even more valuable especially in terms of geography. It is also worth remembering that the ports of Kazakhstan, such as Aktau and Kuryk, located in the Caspian Sea, connect Central Asia to the Western World via the routes of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

In short, the geopolitical position of Kazakhstan makes this country a bridge between north-south and east-west; The multi-dimensional foreign policy followed in the wisdom of the Founding President of Kazakhstan, Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, has enabled Nur-Sultan to become an important actor. In addition, under the leadership of Mr. Nazarbayev, the geopolitical cleverness and diplomatic experience of President Mr. Kasım Cömert Tokayev also serve to centralize Kazakhstan’s position and turn the country into a respected country in the international arena.

Kazakhstan is also taking various steps to establish regional peace and stability through these policies under the leadership of Mr. Nazarbayev and Mr. Tokayev. Mr. Tokayev, who has an significant diplomatic experience with the wise leader Nazarbayev, is aware that peace and stability in Central Asia is in the interests of the Asian continent, Russia and China. During the conflicts between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Kazakhstan’s policy towards reducing the tension has once again confirmed this.

Trans-Caspian Corridor

One of the issues related to regional security is the Trans-Caspian Corridor, which is linked to the Central Corridor. The corridor aforementioned draws attention as a new and powerful alternative stretching from China (and even South Asia in the process) to Europe. In the current situation, it is not possible to say that the sea routes are safe enough for the Beijing administration. In particular, the increasing influence of the USA in the Pacific, the problems occured over Tawian and the visible of competition in the Arctic are leading Beijing to land corridors, which is a safer route. In addition, China is concerned about an unstable region like Afghanistan while it goes to the West via land. For this reason, the Trans-Caspian Corridor appears to be the safest route for Beijing.

The fact that Central Asia is a transit route and is connected to the Caucasus can have a significant impact on the recovery of the economies of the states in the region and the increase in their living standards. This positive effect is likely to enable the way for both Central Asia and the Caspian region to turn into a geography of peace and friendship. Therefore, the developments to be experienced coincide with the interests of Russia, which needs a secure Central Asia to maintain its relations with the region in a healthy way and to open up to South Asia.

 The Geopolitical Vision Extending from the Great Steppe to the Anatolian Steppe

The Trans-Caspian Corridor has an impact on all these developments that centralize the position of Kazakhstan, which is located in the center of the Great Steppe. Because the Trans-Caspian Corridor reflects a geopolitical vision extending from the Great Steppe to the Anatolian Steppe. Strengthening the Trans-Caspian Corridor and increasing its function will also contribute to peace in the Caucasus. In particular, it can be predicted that Kazakhstan’s relations with Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia will deeper.

The corridor in question will also contribute to the realization of the “The Platform of Six” idea, which was put forward after the Second Karabakh War, based on regional peace, prosperity and development. In particular, the importance of the Zengezur Corridor in the China-Central Asia-Caucasus-Turkey-Europe route will increase. In this context, the economic stability achieved in the Caucasus will also attract Armenia and encourage Yerevan to be included in the Sixth Cooperation Platform and regional peace.

In fact, Kazakhstan, if it is implemented, may become the most important unifying force in the cooperation between the said platform and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). As a result of this, Nur-Sultan will not only be a bridge between East and West; It will become one of the leading actors in Asia by moving its influence out of its geography. It is possible to evaluate the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Mr. Mukhtar Tileuberdi to Azerbaijan on 22 June 2021, in this context.

As a matter of fact, during the meetings, the plans for the implementation of the projects within the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (the Trans-Caspian Corridor on the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey route via the Kazakhstan-Caspian Sea) were outlined and efforts were made to strengthen the commercial and economic ties between the parties and to develop the transit-transportation potential. Kazakh companies were invited to take an active role in the restoration of Karabakh. Therefore, Tileuberdi’s visit to Azerbaijan once again revealed the fact that Nur-Sultan is a vital actor in Central Asia, the Caucasus and Asia.

Trans-Caspian Diplomacy

Nazarbayev’s stance on the status problem in the Caspian, the thesis and especially the mediator and constructive diplomacy that he followed in the conflicts between the Turkic Republics in the region have started to give positive results today. In this context, Turkmenistan’s agreement with Azerbaijan on the Friendship Oil Field also contributes to the transformation of the Caspian Sea into a “Deep-water Friendship”.

 

The policy followed by Kazakhstan in the context of the Turkic Council clearly shows itself in the Trans-Caspian extend. The decision of President of Turkmenistan, Mr. Kurbankulu Berdimuhammedov to participate in the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking Countries (Turkic Council) Leaders’ Summit, which will be held in Istanbul in November this year, reinforced the spirit of unity and solidarity of the Turkic Council countries.

Lapis Lazuli Route, which is the Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan-Afghanistan transit transportation corridor, will also increase the importance of the Caspian Region in this process. With Kazakhstan’s inclusion in this corridor, the last link of the Central Asia-Europe integration initiative will be completed. Thus, the “Multilateral Transport Policy” that has been put forward will find its place in real terms.

As a result, Kazakhstan is becoming one of the most important actors of cooperation, peace and stability in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea at a time of increasing tension in world politics. It is clear that many actors will achieve significant gains thanks to the road map presented by Tokayev, who benefited from the experience created by Mr. Nazarbayev. This will accelerate the rise of the Caucasus and Central Asia in particular and Asia in general. The relations developed especially within the framework of the Turkic Council will encourage the intercontinental “handshake” position as well as being the balancing power of the imbalance in the multipolar world of the Turkic World. In this context, the Caspian region, the heartland of the “Geopolitical Triangle”, may witness many different developments in the coming period. At this point, it is not necessary to be a diviner to say that Kazakh diplomacy will once again have a job.

Prof. Dr. Mehmet Seyfettin EROLhttps://www.ankasam.org/author/mse/?lang=en
1969 Dörtyol-Hatay doğumlu olan Prof. Dr. Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, Boğaziçi Üniversitesi (BÜ) Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden 1993 yılında mezun oldu. BÜ’de 1995 yılında Yüksek Lisans çalışmasını tamamlayan Erol, aynı yıl BÜ’de doktora programına kabul edildi. Ankara Üniversitesi’nde doktorasını 2005’de tamamlayan Erol, 2009 yılında “Uluslararası İlişkiler” alanında doçent ve 2014 yılında da Profesörlük unvanlarını aldı. 2000-2006 tarihleri arasında Avrasya Stratejik Araştırmaları Merkezi (ASAM)’nde görev yapan Erol, 2009 yılında Stratejik Düşünce Enstitüsü’nün (SDE) Kurucu Başkanlığı ve Yönetim Kurulu Üyeliği görevlerinde bulundu. Uluslararası Strateji ve Güvenlik Araştırmaları Merkezi (USGAM)’nin de kurucu başkanı olan Prof. Erol, Yeni Türkiye Stratejik Araştırmalar Merkezi (YTSAM) Uluslararası İlişkiler Enstitüsü Başkanlığını da yürütmektedir. Prof. Erol, Gazi Üniversitesi Stratejik Araştırmalar Merkezi (GAZİSAM) Müdürlüğü görevinde de bulunmuştur. 2007 yılında Türk Dünyası Yazarlar ve Sanatçılar Vakfı “Türk Dünyası Hizmet Ödülü”nü alan Prof. Erol, akademik anlamdaki çalışmaları ve medyadaki faaliyetlerinden dolayı çok sayıda ödüle layık görülmüştür. Bunlardan bazıları şu şekilde sıralanabilir: 2013 yılında Çağdaş Demokratlar Birliği Derneği tarafından “Yılın Yazılı Medya Ödülü”, 2015 yılında “APM 10. Yıl Hizmet Ödülü”, Türkiye Yazarlar Birliği tarafından “2015 Yılın Basın-Fikir Ödülü”, Anadolu Köy Korucuları ve Şehit Aileleri “2016 Gönül Elçileri Medya Onur Ödülü”, Yörük Türkmen Federasyonları tarafından verilen “2016 Türkiye Onur Ödülü”. Prof. Erol’un 15 kitap çalışması bulunmaktadır. Bunlardan bazılarının isimleri şu şekildedir: “Hayalden Gerçeğe Türk Birleşik Devletleri”, “Türkiye-AB İlişkileri: Dış Politika ve İç Yapı Sorunsalları”, “Avrasya’da Yeni Büyük Oyun”, “Türk Dış Politikasında Strateji Arayışları”, “Türk Dış Politikasında Güvenlik Arayışları”, “Türkiye Cumhuriyeti-Rusya Federasyonu İlişkileri”, “Sıcak Barışın Soğuk Örgütü Yeni NATO”, “Dış Politika Analizinde Teorik Yaklaşımlar: Türk Dış Politikası Örneği”, “Krizler ve Kriz Yönetimi: Aktörler ve Örnek Olaylar”, “Kazakistan” ve “Uluslararası İlişkilerde Güncel Sorunlar”. 2002’den bu yana TRT Türkiye’nin sesi ve TRT Radyo 1 (Ankara Radyosu) “Avrasya Gündemi”, “Stratejik Bakış”, “Küresel Bakış”, “Analiz”, “Dosya”, “Haber Masası”, “Gündemin Öteki Yüzü” gibi radyo programlarını gerçekleştirmiş olan Prof. Erol, TRT INT televizyonunda 2004-2007 yılları arasında Arayış, 2007-2010 yılları arasında Kanal A televizyonunda “Sınır Ötesi” ve 2020-2021’de de BBN TÜRK televizyonunda “Dış Politika Gündemi” programlarını yaptı. 2012-2018 yılları arasında Millî Gazete’de “Arayış” adlı köşesinde dış politika yazıları yayımlanan Prof. Erol’un ulusal-uluslararası medyada çok sayıda televizyon, radyo, gazete, haber siteleri ve dergide uzmanlığı dahilinde görüşlerine de başvurulmaktadır. 2006-2018 yılları arasında Gazi Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde ve Ankara Üniversitesi Latin Amerika Araştırmaları Merkezi’nde (LAMER) de dersler veren Prof. Erol, 2018’den bu yana Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde öğretim üyesi olarak akademik kariyerini devam ettirmektedir. Çok sayıda dergi ve gazetede yazıları-değerlendirmeleri yayımlanan; Avrasya Dosyası, Stratejik Analiz, Stratejik Düşünce, Gazi Bölgesel Çalışmalar, The Journal of SSPS, Karadeniz Araştırmaları, gibi akademik dergilerde editörlük faaliyetlerinde bulunan Prof. Erol, Bölgesel Araştırmalar, Uluslararası Kriz ve Siyaset Araştırmaları, Gazi Akademik Bakış, Ege Üniversitesi Türk Dünyası İncelemeleri, Demokrasi Platformu dergilerinin editörlüklerini hali hazırda yürütmektedir. 2016’dan bu yana Ankara Kriz ve Siyaset Araştırmaları Merkezi (ANKASAM) Kurucu Başkanı olarak çalışmalarını devam ettiren Prof. Erol, evli ve üç çocuk babasıdır.