Rising Central Asia-Caucasus Geopolitics and New Cooperation Areas in a World That Has Lost Its Strategic Compass

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The Russia-Ukraine War continues to be on the agenda as a global crisis that has largely shaped the 21st century. Due to the multidimensional security problems it has caused, the ongoing geopolitical earthquakes and the deep anxiety-fear-centered uncertainties that manifest itself, this war has ceased to be between the two countries and has begun to gain an international character. Because, with the Russia-Ukraine War, not only are the borders tried to be changed with a war for the first time in Europe after the Second World War, but also the current status quo, which was built during the Cold War and tried to be preserved as of after, and in this context, the “global division of labor/sharing” within the framework of the understanding of “interdependence”, which is thought to “guarantee peace”, has also started to be a part of this crisis in a serious sense. Therefore, our world is faced with a multidimensional security problem that forces states to break their will and force them to a new international system/order.

Although the possibilities of “nuclear war” are brought to the agenda by some actors from time to time as a result of security concerns/searchs, the common consensus that this will actually be a “war of the apocalypse” seems to have led the states to other “deterrent”, “persuasive” and “subduing tools” and intervention methods against their opponents. . In this context, we come across two main security problems: “Energy” and “food”. Considering the issue of “routes/corridors” along with “supply/supply chains”, which are synonymous with these two security problems, it is seen that other problems that will trigger each other and create a domino effect will come one after the other. For example, immigration movements.

And this actually shows us a new process that aims to destabilize the socio-economic structures of states, and therefore their domestic and foreign policies, to break their unity and to break their resistance through such security problems. As a matter of fact, as a result of this security dilemma, countries and unions in many geographies, especially in Europe, started to lose their strategic compass. All the states that are worried about the future and deeply feel the possibility of being in the “losers’ league” at this point have started to seek new cooperation. In this context, states that face multidimensional security problems, especially “energy”, “food” and “transport/transport corridors”, have accelerated their search for new “trust-based” cooperation.

Rising Address in Energy Security: “Central Asia-Caucasus”

The Central Asia-Caucasus regions, which started to come to the forefront as an anti-thesis with the search for cooperation against the tendency of destabilization and division, which started to show itself in the world in general, appear as the only addresses that can present their potential as a constructive instrument to the world under reconstruction. In particular, beyond the two great strategic-geopolitical advantages in terms of energy and corridors/routes they have, the issue of “reliability”, the value of which is more clearly understood in today’s world, is the biggest distinguishing feature here..

In an environment where the problem of energy security has started to peak for the whole world, especially in Europe, Central Asian and Caucasian countries are in the position of “shining stars” with their energy resources. Apart from Azerbaijan, the geopolitical-strategic position of the other countries in the Caucasus region at the point of corridors undoubtedly brings the region to the forefront in terms of multidimensional energy security.

To put it more concretely, the Central Asia-Caucasus region’s “short distance” in the context of the route and the “security” dimension here are a great advantage as well as the “costs” in terms of energy security. More importantly, these states have a great potential to solve the energy problem of all states, especially in Europe, east and west, with the infrastructure they already have at the point of energy acquisition/supply.

The Need for New Addresses in Food and Logistics Security

One of the important results of the Russia-Ukraine War was the “food security”, which manifests itself in the context of the “grain crisis” and the “grain corridor”, as well as the “logistics-transportation problems” at production acqusition/supply and delivery points, which manifest themselves in many needs of today’s world, especially technological products. With the Covid 19 pandemic, the difficulties that have started to manifest themselves in the supply and transportation of Chinese origin products, which are described as the “factory of the world”, are expected to have a more clear effect in the next 3-5 years, although it is not considered a global crisis for now.

When the climate problem is added to this, a more complicated, deep and wide chaos environment will be inevitable for our world. Therefore, there is a need for a reliable “strategic compass” and, in this context, “addresses of hope” in the process of building an “open-ended” new world order, which has been quite painful for all humanity.  At this point, it is seen that the world needs alternative new production factories, logistics-supply centers. In a sense, the regions located in the center of east-west, north-south routes and having cheap and qualified labor force as well as raw material resources to feed these productions to a large extent are undoubtedly candidates for being a reliable “constructive partner” in the compensation of these security concerns.

At this point, it is obvious with current-historical examples that the whole world desperately needs addresses that center on cooperation instead of disruptive-divisive polarization. Together with the polarizations and search for order that led to the First World War, the League of Nations, which could not prevent the Second World War, and finally the desperation of the United Nations (UN), whose shelf life has largely expired with the end of the Cold War, compels this in a sense. Confidence, faster, effective and constructive small-scale regional cooperation will be a facilitator in solving many problems facing the world in the short-medium term, especially climate, energy, food, logistics, transportation and corridors problems.

Organization of Turkish States as the New Address for Cooperation Based on Trust

In this context, the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) come to the forefront as a coordination address for new energy-based-priority search for cooperation. OTS, which primarily aims to raise the political, economic, social and cultural standards among the member states, presents an approach based on political dialogue, technical cooperation and joint action within the organization. In this context, it is seen that OTS adopts a roadmap that prioritizes the development of member countries and thus the creation of a welfare-stability area in the first place, and then aims to add a larger-scale regional and global dimension to it. In this context, it is seen that OTS members, centered on common history and geography, pursue a multi-vector foreign policy. Therefore, instead of being a closed structure, OTS appears as a new address that is open to cooperation with the whole world on an economic-commercial basis with its multi-vector foreign policy understanding.

Looking at the OTS structure, which currently has bilateral military cooperation between member states, it is seen that it is not a military structure like the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). OTS member states are aware that in an environment where the world is polarized and doomsday scenarios are spoken, such military cooperation will not contribute to the process and on the contrary will make them a target too. Therefore, at this stage, there is no need for the OTS to turn into a military structure, and there is no such will or quest. As a matter of fact, there is no such item, target and agenda in the founding mission of OTS, in the accepted documents and roadmap.

Therefore, OTS, which focuses on cooperation in the Central Asia-Caucasus region, stands out as an address of trust in the search for overcoming security problems, especially energy, in the process of building a new world order. OTS and its geography will continue its march in the construction of a more prosperous world with its potential and universal understanding of cooperation.

Prof. Dr. Mehmet Seyfettin EROL
Prof. Dr. Mehmet Seyfettin EROL
Born in 1969, Dörtyol-Hatay, Prof. Dr. Mehmet Seyfettin Erol graduated from Boğaziçi University (BU), Department of Political Science and International Relations in 1993. After completing his master's degree at BU in 1995, Erol was accepted to the PhD program at BU in the same year. After completing his PhD at Ankara University in 2005, Erol became an associate professor in the field of “International Relations” in 2009 and a professor in 2014. Erol worked at the Eurasian Center for Strategic Studies (ASAM) between 2000 and 2006 and and served as the General Coordinator of ASAM for a period. In 2009, he served as also Founding Chairman and Board Member of the Institute for Strategic Thinking (SDE). He is also the Founding President of the Center for International Strategy and Security Studies (USGAM) and the President of the International Relations Institute of the New Türkiye Strategic Research Center (YTSAM). Prof. Erol has also served as the Director of Gazi University Strategic Research Center (GAZISAM). In 2007, Prof. Erol received the “Turkish World Service Award” from the Writers and Artists Foundation of the Turkic World (TÜRKSAV), and has received numerous awards for his academic work and his activities in the media. Some of them can be listed as follows: 2013 “Print Media of the Year Award” by the Association of Contemporary Democrats, 2015 “APM 10th Year Service Award”, “2015 Press-Intellectual of the Year Award” by the Writers' Union of Türkiye (YTB), “2016 Volunteer Ambassadors Media Honor Award” by the Anatolian Village Guards and Martyrs' Families, “2016 Türkiye Honor Award” by the Yoruk Turkmen Federations. Prof. Erol has 15 book studies. The names of some of them are as follows: “The United States of Turks from Dream to Reality”, “Türkiye-EU Relations: Foreign Policy and Internal Structure Problems”, “The New Great Game in Eurasia”, “The Search for Strategy in Turkish Foreign Policy”, “The Search for Security in Turkish Foreign Policy”, “The Republic of Türkiye-Russian Federation Relations”, “The Cold Organization of Hot Peace: The New NATO”, “Theoretical Approaches in Foreign Policy Analysis: The Case of Turkish Foreign Policy”, “Crises and Crisis Management: Actors and Case Studies”, “Kazakhstan” and “Current Issues in International Relations”. Since 2002, Prof. Erol, who has carried out radio programs such as “Eurasia Agenda”, “Strategic Perspective”, “Global Perspective”, “Analysis”, “File”, “News Desk”, “The Other Side of the Agenda” on TRT Türkiye's voice and TRT Radio 1 (Ankara Radio), made the programs “Arayış” on TRT INT television between 2004-2007, “Beyond the Border” on Kanal A television between 2007-2010 and “Foreign Policy Agenda” on BBN TÜRK television in 2020-2021. Prof. Erol, whose foreign policy column “Arayış” was published in Milli Gazete between 2012-2018, is consulted for his expertise in numerous national and international media outlets such as television, radio, newspapers, news websites and magazines. Prof. Erol, who also taught at Gazi University Department of International Relations and Ankara University Latin American Studies Center (LAMER) between 2006-2018, has been continuing his academic career as a faculty member at Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University Department of International Relations since 2018. Since 2006, Prof. Erol has also taught in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Ufuk University. The main areas of interest and expertise of Prof. Erol and the titles of his courses at the undergraduate, master's and doctoral levels in this area are as follows: “Geopolitics”, “Security”, “Intelligence”, “Crisis Management”, “Current Issues in International Relations”, “Turkish Foreign Policy”, “Russian Foreign Policy”, “US Foreign Policy” and “Central Asia and South Asia”. Prof. Erol, whose articles-evaluations have been published in many journals and newspapers, has been editor of academic journals such as “Eurasia File”, “Strategic Analysis”, “Strategic Thinking”, “Gazi Regional Studies”, “The Journal of SSPS”, “Black Sea Studies”. He is currently in the editorial boards of “Regional Studies,” “International Crisis and Political Research,” “Gazi Academic View”, “Ege University Turkish World Surveys”, “Ankara International Social Sciences”, “Democracy Platform”. Prof. Erol, who has been working as the Founding President of the Ankara Center for Crisis and Political Studies (ANKASAM) since 2016, is married and has three children.