Turkey’s Critical Position in the US-China-Russia-EU Rivalry

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Recent developments in international politics reveal that the global competition between the United States of America (USA), China and Russia is gradually deepening. Turkey is strengthening its critical position in this global fight each passing day.

As it is known, following the meeting of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Alaska on March 18, 2021, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Wang Yi in Guilin, China on March 22, 2021. On March 24, 2021 Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu contacted with the US Foreign Secretary Anthony Blinken, during the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels. A day later, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Turkey to discuss the various topics in international agenda.

The tension between the US President Joe Biden and the Russian President Vladimir Putin over the “murderer” rhetoric has subsided, in short time, without growing too much thanks to Putin’s moderate approach. However, the USA indicated that it does not hesitate to conflict with Russia and China at the global level. The US, which undertakes the so-called “police” of the world and the European Union (EU) which US has established a “gray alliance relationship”; use the discourse of democracy and human rights to suppress China and impose sanctions on Russia for its aggressive actions in its near abroad.

From a broader perspective, the US considers  Russia, China and Turkey as the biggest obstacle against its global hegemony. The common feature of these states is that they favor multipolarity. In particular, the Washington administration is worried about the collaboration between Russia and Turkey and using NATO as a threat and repression instrument.

In this context, during the meeting in Brussels both Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, has emphasized the role played by Turkey in NATO with reference to send a message to Russia. Blinken stated that, Turkey’s loyalty to NATO is in the interest of both the US and Turkey.[1]  Stoltenberg, on the other hand, stated that Russia will increase its cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia in its immediate vicinity and that this contains clear messages to “every potential enemy” (addressing Russia) of NATO.[2]

In this sense, Washington says, in his message to Turkey “You cannot guarantee your own security without NATO. If you slide into the Russia-China axis in the context of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), you will be left alone and they cannot protect you.” As a matter of fact, the biggest concern of the USA is that Russia and China strengthening the alliance relationship in Eurasia. Because the USA is concerning on the cooperation relations between Turkey and Russia furthered to carried out in Central Asia; which started “Action Plan for Cooperation in Eurasia” signed in 2001, proceeded to the ongoing partnership model with recent “Astana Process” strengthened and the Caucasus “Karabakh Model” continued. On the other hand the Washington administration is also concerned about the potential development of economic-political-military cooperation model in Eurasia which initiated by China and partnered by Turkey.

Wang Yi’s Turkey visit following to his visit to the United States has further increased these concerns for United States. China aspire to take Turkey on its side in order to alleviate the pressure on the US human rights and democracy. Western powers discern this danger (NATO, EU and USA) prevent the development of cooperation between Turkey and China in the Asia-Pacific and Russia in Eurasia. Consequentially, the United States proposes new models of cooperation to Turkey on the matter of “Taliban negotiations and mediation”. However, Washington’s proposal considered as a strategy that leads to a stalemate for Turkey rather than offering a model of cooperation to glorify Turkey in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Similarly, although EU seem to aim to normalize relations with Turkey; it actually aims to acquire putting more pressure on Ankara over the issues related Syria, Libya, Eastern Mediterranean, domestic politics and Syrian immigrants in the Aegean Sea.

Western powers are concerning on Turkey’s building of a lasting partnership-alliance relations with Russia through Eurasian Economic Union (EEA) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Likewise, in the Eurasian security sphere, West does not want Turkey as a full member in the SCO’s development partnership with China. According to the United States, Turkey does not have any other basis to guarantee its own security other than the West and therefore the NATO. This is one of the reasons that the United States putting an intense pressure on Turkey on the issue of S-400. Washington conjectures, NATO as the sole alternative for Turkey. But Turkey possibly choose to accelerate the development of new partnerships quest with Russia and China, in the case of the United States to continue its negative attitude. The “Asia Anew Initiative” opens the door for this end. Regarding this, in the upcoming period, Turkey may choose to develop its own defense industry as well as new partnerships in the axis of Russia and China within the framework of SCO and CSTO.

All these developments indicate that Turkey has a critical role in global competition. Because Turkey’s position as a party in the struggle between the Eurasian and West reveals a major rupture in the international balance of power. Nevertheless, Turkey is committed to pursuing the “stabilizing role” the international order, whatever it may cost.

[1] “Blinken: Türkiye NATO’da Demirli Kalmaya Devam Etmeli”, DW,, (Erişim Tarihi: 31.03.2021).

[2] “NATO Genel Sekreteri Stoltenberg: Rusya’ya Net Mesajlar Gönderiyoruz”, Sputnik,, (Erişim Tarihi: 31.03.2021).



Dr. Cenk TAMER
Dr. Cenk TAMER
Dr. Cenk Tamer graduated from Sakarya University, Department of International Relations in 2014. In the same year, he started his master's degree at Gazi University, Department of Middle Eastern and African Studies. In 2016, Tamer completed his master's degree with his thesis titled "Iran's Iraq Policy after 1990", started working as a Research Assistant at ANKASAM in 2017 and was accepted to Gazi University International Relations PhD Program in the same year. Tamer, whose areas of specialization are Iran, Sects, Sufism, Mahdism, Identity Politics and Asia-Pacific and who speaks English fluently, completed his PhD education at Gazi University in 2022 with his thesis titled "Identity Construction Process and Mahdism in the Islamic Republic of Iran within the Framework of Social Constructionism Theory and Securitization Approach". He is currently working as an Asia-Pacific Specialist at ANKASAM.