TURKEY IN SEARCH OF A NATIONAL STRATEGY OF EURASIAN COOPERATION

Nikolai KIREEV


Nikolai Kireev, Professor, D.Sc. (Econ.), chief researcher, Institute of Oriental Studies, RAS (Moscow, Russia)


The end of the Cold War and the confrontation of blocs that accompanied it call for novel approaches to mutually acceptable conceptions of interstate cooperation across the vast expanses of Eurasia in the context of globalization. Russia, the new states of Central Asia and the Caucasus, and Turkey that has become one of the key regional powers are equally involved in a dialog about the concept of Eurasia. Nursultan Nazarbaev is one of those who is promoting the idea in an active and consistent manner.1 The way the discussion developed has clearly demonstrated that the main preliminary condition of a viable Eurasian alliance accepted by all parties involved in the dialog is the right of its participants to state independence and equality. In their relationships with Russia the Central Asian and Caucasian states are demonstrating a natural desire to preserve and increase their economic, cultural, and scientific potential inherited from the U.S.S.R. They are also willing to establish good-neighborly relations with Turkey—numerous cultural, economic, and political contacts and understandings are an evidence of this. Below I offer my opinion about Turkey’s stand on the future of its Eurasian connections.

Turkism as a State Ideology

In the nineties, the idea of Eurasia became a state ideology and a new phenomenon in the Turkish society’s spiritual life. I shall demonstrate here that the idea of Eurasia in Turkey rests on the concept of Turkism and contains nothing new that would enable the country to respond to the challenges of worldwide integration and to serve its desire to join the European Union. In fact, the ideas entertained in Turkey have much more to do with cooperation among the Turks than with the ideas of Eurasia. This substitution is rooted in the past and can be easily explained.

Early in the 1920s, after Bolshevik Russia’s victory over the Entente Kemal Ataturk and the secular elite that sided with him turned to the ideas of modernization and Westernization of their country. He replaced the bankrupt idea of the ideology of the Ottoman Empire with a new ideology, Turkish nationalism, or Turkism. It seems that Turkism (a derivative from the Turkish term Türk) is the correct term applied to Turkish nationalism. The term has two meanings: a Turk, a native or inhabitant of Turkey, and a Turk, a member of any of numerous Asiatic peoples speaking Turkic languages (Azeris, Bashkirs, Kazakhs, Tartars, Turks, Uzbeks, Yakuts, etc.). In the same way, the term Türkçülük (Turkism) derived from the word Türk also has two meanings: Turkish nationalism and a poly-ethnic community of the Turks. Here I have accepted the latter meaning based on how Ismail Gasprinski interpreted it.2

The ruling People’s Republican Party that until the late 1940s had been the only one in the country used the local party organizations, People’s Houses and other ideological institutions, educational establishments and the army (in which illiterate peasants learned to read and write) to plant the new ideology as a sort of a religion. Indeed, in the 1930s Turkism was accepted as the second religion. It was the time when preservation of Turkish statehood was on the agenda and the official ideology was, to a great extent, of a protective, or defensive, nature. At the same time Europe, the center of colonial empires, also provided examples of aggressive nationalism, chauvinism, and racism. Today certain Eurocentrists are obviously reluctant to mention them or refer to them as an unexplainable and temporary insanity of the highly developed civilization.

In the process of its formation Turkish nationalism, being one of the key elements of state ideology, was influenced by many factors: the victorious march of the Ottoman Turks across Europe when by fire and sword they had paved the road to Vienna, a nearly complete withdrawal from Europe, a crushing defeat in World War I, and a very real danger of disappearance as a nation. These factors shaped Turkism as a cruel and irreconcilable ideological instrument used against the Greeks, Armenians, and Kurds (who looked at themselves as autochthonous peoples and at the Turks as alien newcomers). Turkish sociologist Cahit Tanyol has written: “Ataturk was very much concerned with the necessity to provide historical justification for Turkism in Anatolia and its Anatolian roots. He feared that, after the loss of our territories in Europe, Anatolia might also be divided.” And further: Ataturk feared “Western imperialist hostility toward the Turks.” Tanyol writes: “Since the time of the Crusades the West has been convinced that the Turks should be driven away both from their European possessions and from Anatolia.”3

It is no exaggeration to say that it was the national ideology (around which society closed ranks thanks to the Kemalist efforts) that cured the “the sick man of Europe.” Through the authorities and the party Ataturk was closely watching the nationalists. Even the most radical of them, to say nothing of Pan-Islamists, had to behave themselves and make their ideological statements at home, within Turkey’s frontiers and coordinate their actions with “Peace at home, peace in the world” principle the new power had formulated.

The Kemalists wanted good-neighborly relations with the Soviet Union, its ally in fighting against the Entente. It is interesting to note that recently an official publication quoted from Ataturk who back in 1933 spoke about the Turks of the Soviet Union (no complete speech and no source were given, neither the circumstances under which it was discovered described). The quotation makes it clear that Ataturk highly valued friendship with the U.S.S.R., which Turkey badly needed. At the same time he seemed to be aware that, like all other empires (the Ottoman and Austria-Hungary) the Soviet Union might also fall apart. He said: “In this case Turkey should have a clear idea of what it should do. Today, our brothers who speak the same language and share the faith and roots with us are living under the power of this friend of ours. We should be prepared to defend them but this needs preparation.”4

The ethnic minorities and the non-Muslims have never felt at home in Turkey, even under Ataturk. Quite often they faced a choice: either to leave the country or to become assimilated. When Ataturk died in 1938 Turkish nationalism spread far and wide and assumed radical forms (chauvinism, racism, and Pan-Turanism, or Pan-Turkism). This was especially evident during World War II when Turkey, not involved in fighting, lent an ear to what the new ideologists of transformation of the world from the Third Reich had to say about the coming rout of the U.S.S.R. Turkey was willing to listen to their promises to share with it some of the Soviet territories in the Caucasus, the Crimea, and Central Asia populated with Turks. Turkish delegates visited southern regions of the Soviet Union occupied by the Nazis and, more often than not, traveled there via Berlin where they met Goebbels and even Hitler. They discussed a possibility of a Caucasian federation, a state of Turan or a Greater Turkestan. The Pan-Turanists who cooperated with the Nazi and who received ideological injections from them demanded that Turkey “enter the war on the German side.”5

Nihal Atsız, one of the most dedicated ideologists of Pan-Turanism wrote with conviction: “From a very early age, there was only one Turkic state in Central Asia that has been changing the nature of its power in the course of time.”6 In September 1944 when the coming rout of fascism had become evident A. Türkeş, the pupil and follower of Nihal Atsız, was tried on a charge of racism (Turanism). Twenty-three of his comrades-in-arms were condemned (and later amnestied), many of them were rabid Pan-Turkists. Speaking at the trial Türkeş insisted that Russia was the worst enemy of Turkey: “It was Russia that reduced us to our present state; it has been nursing a grudge against us and destroyed our empire.”7 Till his dying day (in spring 1997) Türkeş remained at the head of the Turkish Pan-Turkists. Here is how H. Çetinkaya described one of Türkeş’s meetings with his supporters: “In October 1978 Alparslan Türkeş spoke in one of the Berlin halls. The auditorium was shaking with shouts ‘Bashbug Türkeş!’ (Türkeş is our leader). One of those present shouted: ‘Islam über Alles!’... Türkeş called on all to fight the Communists, Jews, and the Left. ‘I would like to see Greater Turkey; I would like to see Turan stretching from Vienna to China. A single nation, a single country, a single leader.’”8 In the wake of the events of 12 September, 1980 Türkeş and his supporters were put on trial for a fascist coup designed to replace the constitutional regime with a regime of personal power, for setting up armed organizations, etc. In all, the case of the National Movement Party and its organizations (“gray wolves,” “the idealists,” and others) involved 587 people, 16 among them were leaders. Public prosecutor demanded death penalty for 220, Türkeş included, and from 5 to 20 years in prison for the others.9

One should admit that after its victory in World War II the northern neighbor did indeed presented certain military and ideological threat to Turkey. All means (Pan-Turkism, Pan-Islamism) would be welcome to counter this threat. On its side the Soviet Union could not for a long time forgive Turkey, the one-time ally in the national-liberation struggle, its hopes that having destroyed the Soviet Union the German Nazis would transfer the Turkic union republics to Turkey.

The Present Day of the Idea of Eurasia

The Turkish publications of the nineties, including those that have appeared in the Internet, other materials, speeches delivered by Turkish statesmen and academics testify that the Turkish variant of the Eurasian idea rests on the idea of Turkic specificity. Certain authors have even transformed it into a so-called Turkic-Islamic synthesis addressed both to Turkism and Islamism. On the whole, the strategy of unification does not proceed from cooperation among civilizations, confessions, and ethnic groups of Eurasia but from Turkism and Islamism. From this it follows that the Turkish ruling elite is prepared to accept the idea of Eurasia based on the clan, ethnic, and religious unity in which all Muslim Turks are “ours,” while all other nations are “aliens.”

Some of the Turkish historians concentrate on the Turkic roots of the ethnic and cultural evolution in Asia Minor and sometimes refer to the blood-based kinship. In so doing, they are trying (contrary to what is generally accepted by the historical science) to ignore the other roots. Here I have in mind Byzantine culture, the Slavic, Greek, Armenian, and other ethnic elements that, in the course of history, contributed to the region’s culture. It should be said that the nationalists and Islamists today cannot always tie up the loose ends, that is, to correlate the Turks’ centuries-old desire to be part of the West (of the EU countries with millions-strong Turkish populations; there are enough nationalists among them who have no desire to return to their homeland) with the call “to turn to the East” and strengthen there a Turkic unity with kindred peoples.

Upon the Soviet Union’s disintegration some of the ideologists hastened to announce that Turkey had a “historically justified” priority of access to the former Soviet Turkic republics. One of the numerous euphoric forums in Turkey (in the wake of Gorbachev’s perestroika) put forward an idea of a Turkic Bloc and of a single Latin-based Turkic alphabet after the Turkish pattern, etc. Assistant professor at the Çukurova University Muammer Tekeoğlu has written, for example, that Turkey acquired a “historic chance” to set up a Turkic alliance, “unheard of before.” It was expected “to be oriented toward Turkey.” He also said that “the twenty-first century has invited Turkey to become a great power.”10

Following the disintegration of the U.S.S.R. Turkish publications are discussing the plans of creating a Greater Turkey stretching from the Adriatic Sea to the Great Wall of China that would appeal to the millions of Turks now living in Western Europe, in the Balkans, as well as the Turks of Russia, the Southern Caucasus, and Central Asia. “The language used from Munich to China is not the English or any other language. This is the Turkish language. We should prepare ourselves to a union of the Turkish states. Turkey should become elder brother and leader for the millions of its ethnic relatives.”11 Radical nationalists, including the “gray wolves” of Türkeş, have become especially active recently at an unofficial level. Troubles and terrorism in Azerbaijan and the North Caucasian republics were, to a great extent, kindled by their presence there.

When talking about a “single Turkish nation” one should bear in mind that there is a different opinion on the difference between the tribe and the nation (ethnos). For example, S. Erman from Turkey writes: “The original Turkic core that had arrived from Central Asia, settled in Anatolia and moved mainly to the West lost its original characteristics long ago in numerous wars and migrations.”12 Other Turkish sociologists recognize that cultural evolution and synthesis of cultures took place. İsmet Birsel has written: “The many centuries of coexistence of the Turkish and European states inevitably resulted in synthesis of cultures. The Ottoman and the Western culture became blended in the same melting pot. The result is something that is called today Turkish culture.”13 D. Eremeev, Russian specialist in Turkey, is convinced that “in Asia Minor hundreds of tribes and ethnic groups were melted like in a melting pot before the latest result, the Turks, appeared. Nobody will probably dispute the fact that Anatolia, Eastern Mediterranean, is the homeland of the Turks.”14

In January 1992, a Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) was set up at the Foreign Ministry of Turkey, to coordinate, at the state level, the efforts to bring all Turks together. It invites academics from the above-mentioned republics (historians, philologists, and linguists). The Agency has started several journals in Turkish, English, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Turkmen, and Uzbek. It helps the Turkic republics realize all sorts of educational, scientific, social, and other projects.15

In 1994 when delivering a vast paper at a conference on Eurasia Today organized by the agency the then president of Turkey Demirel outlined the Eurasian world: “We are talking, first and foremost, about the Turkic-speaking republics and Turkey’s neighbors.” He stressed that “Turkey wanted neither Pan-Turkism nor Pan-Islamism” and pointed out that he had in mind a “great Turkic community that stretched from the Adriatic to the East China Sea” that, he added, “had not functioned as a single state at any period of its history.”16

As distinct from other initiatives related to tribal unions that have become a thing of the past recently or not recently, the Turkic tribal alliance remains relevant. This is what one is inclined to think when reading about regular kurultais of friendship, brotherhood, and cooperation among Turkic states and communities gathered mainly on Turkey’s initiatives. For example, the 1998 Sixth Kurultai in Bursa (Turkey) was attended by the host-country, seven Turkic republics, 12 autonomous units and federal republics, and Turkic societies from 26 countries. They demonstrated that they were prepared not only to look into their common past by restoring ancient rites and worshiping ancient gods but also to look into the nearest common future to be able to confront globalization. Devlet Bahçeli, who became leader of the National Movement Party after Türkeş, has stated: “If the Turkish states and communities hold hands they will be able to find a proper place in the new global structures in the twenty-first century.” Tansu Çıller, leader of the True Path Party, has expressed her conviction that “the Turkish version of globalization now under way has no obstacles. The twenty-first century will become a century of Turkic globalism. We should set up a council of the Turkic world.”17 All other annual kurultais were more or less the same.18

Obviously, it was the Turkish political elite that needs deliberations about a “brotherhood based on blood” to justify the nationalist ambitions of a new regional power. Other participants in the new tribal community also need this to enlist support, when needed, of their new elder brother (a NATO member, by the way) and keep a distance between themselves and the elder brother of the past. The ideals and myths of the past cannot screen an obvious and quite logical pragmatism and the desire of the new states to strengthen their independence by all available means. At the same time, “brotherhood based on blood” contradicts the Eurasian idea and cannot guarantee unity.

Late in 1999, Faruk Mercan wrote in the Zaman newspaper that the Foreign Ministry of Turkey approved of the idea of Turkic globalism. He referred to the book by Onur Öymen, a former Turkish ambassador to NATO, who calculated that in the third millennium Turkey would have the right to claim the role of a world leader, mainly because of the clan factor. When Turkey joins the EU it will have the same number of deputies in the European parliament as Germany while 50 years later it will have the largest population in Western Europe. The author believes that Russia will share the fate of Western Europe: in 50 year-time its population will decrease by 30 million, while the Turkic states will acquire 30 million of people to reach 90 million. As an influential country under the EU umbrella Turkey will become the leader of the Muslim world under the “umbrella of Islam.” The Zaman observer is convinced that the Foreign Ministry approves of such views. To confirm he quotes from Foreign Minister İsmail Cem: “By relying on its historical and cultural heritage and by tapping the advantages of its status of a European and Asian country Turkey can claim the role of a central force in Eurasia... Its past role of a regional power is developing into the role of a global power.”19

These ideas have undoubtedly determined the fundamental properties of the concept of Eurasia Turkish style. They can be detected in what certain influential members of the Turkish intellectual elite, historians and political scientists, say. Is there any difference between a Turk as a native of Turkey and a Turk as a member of any Asiatic people speaking a Turkic language? Prof. Seyfi Taşhan had the following to say about this in Ankara in December 1994: “The distinction between the terms ‘Turkish’ and ‘Turkic’ is not apparent in the Turkish language. In Turkey it is argued that the distinction is actually an artificial one imposed by Western scholars to separate what is in fact a common people of Turkish origin.” This was commented on by English professor Winrow who had taught at the Bosporus University: “But with the independence of the Soviet republics, the sudden rediscovery of almost forgotten peoples of Turkic origin led to inflated hopes and unrealistic expectations on the part of some Turkish officials. Ankara’s enthusiasm to develop and expand ties with the Transcaucasus and post-Soviet Central Asia was spurred on in part by Western governments, which feared the possible spread of Iranian influence in the region...The importance of Turkic solidarity is still emphasized, given the background of the upsurge of nationalist feeling in Turkey.” According to his personal observations in post-Soviet times the terms “Turki” and “Turkik” were more frequently applied to the newly independent “Central Asian peoples” than the term “Türk.” This corresponded to the terms “Turkic” and “Turkish” in English. “However, the term ‘Turk’ was soon universally adopted for the Central Asian states to emphasize the close relationship between them and Turkey.”20

Prof. Mehmet Saray confirmed this opinion in his book published in 1996. It should be added that according to him it was Moscow rather than Western academics that was responsible for the evolution of the Turkic tribes into modern nations. At the very beginning he says: “Each of our brothers is an inalienable part of the Turkish nation.” He continues: “The fact that today they are not called Turks but individual nations—Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Turkmens, Azeris—is a result of the ‘divide and rule’ policy used by Moscow.”21

It seems that Nazarbaev had this in mind when he said (referring to the late President of Turkey Turgut Ozal rather than Prof. Saray): “I should say that we have also entertained such ideas. Many people thought that Turkey would be able to resolve all our problems... This meant that we should discard the newly acquired independence, sever our traditional ties with the neighbors and replace one elder brother with another hanging around our neck... I suggested that the lost ties should be restored in a civilized way, with due respect for the newly acquired independence and sovereignty of each state. President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov supported me. Newspapers wrote a lot about Nazarbaev rebuffing the Pan-Turkist ideas. We should give Ozal his due. As a wise politician he understood and accepted my arguments and we were able to preserve our friendly relations.”22

Ideological expansion of nationalist hegemonism planned for distant future and realized with a great deal of patience in Eurasia is bearing fruit. At the same time it has become clear that the main aim of the radical Turkish nationalists, a Pan-Turkic alliance, has avoided them. The newly independent states had the final say on the matter. One has to recognize, however, that the idea of a certain unity in Eurasia of “one’s own” states and nations in opposition to “aliens” based on political Islam and clan kinship (“blood kinship” as certain Turkish authors are fond of saying) are quite viable. Even moderate politicians exploit them during election campaigns or while pursuing other political and economic aims. They give little thought to those of the Turks in other countries who might take their slogans at face value.

The democratic circles in Turkey believe that after the parliamentary elections of April 1999 radical nationalists acquired majority in the country’s power structures. Some authors have written that “after the Soviet Union’s disintegration the state has made it its policy to claim the former Ottoman territories. The state’s foreign political approaches smack of Turanism preached by the National Movement Party.”23 This was how publicist writer O. Çalışlar commented on this party’s advent to power: “Turkey was swept with a nationalistic paranoia from the left and right. The leather-necks who are now representing the latest Turkish/Turkic state have the helm... Look at Franco’s dictatorship, at Hitler’s Nazism and Mussolini’s fascism. All of them were nationalists for their nations.”24

Having filled the post of a deputy premier in the new cabinet the leader of the National Movement Party abandoned Pan-Turkic rhetorics, at least in public, something that his predecessor Türkeş liked very much. He never tires of repeating that creating a Turkish world should be promoted to a national strategic aim. Each and everyone should extend and promote these relationships.25 Ercüment Konukman, a party veteran, admitted: “We have failed to close ranks from the Adriatic Sea to the Great Wall of China,” yet, says he, “a large number of aims posed by the nationalists have been attained.” “There were people who demanded a single language, a single culture and ideology. This has not been completely fulfilled, yet time has come to think about an economic alliance.”26 The followers of Türkeş have changed their tactics27 and plunged into legal activities under the leadership of their striking forces—“the idealists” (ülkücü) and “gray wolves.” In 2001, 1,500 young “idealists” spent time in a summer camp at Caesarea. There were also tents of “representatives of Eastern Turkestan, Chuvashia, Tatarstan, the Balkans and the Caucasus, as well as of the Federation of Turkish Societies of Democrat-Idealists of Europe (Avrupa Demokratik Ülkücü Türk Dernekleri Federasyonu).” This was the 12th Kurultai of Victory, an annual event organized by the NMP. Devlet Bahçeli and the ministers-members of the party watched an Ergenekon (the ancient epic of Turks) show and an equestrian parade in front of a sculpture of a gray wolf (bozkurt).28 The “gray wolves” have not abandoned their terrorist activities.29

Official materials issued by the government have acquired a new section on economic statistics called Cooperation with the Turkic States that singled out certain states not because their social and economic indices were close to those of Turkey but because they belonged to the same “tribe.” There was a voluminous publication that provided details of the political and economic ties with the above-mentioned Caucasian and Central Asian countries, outlined their specific features and supplied forecasts of their possible developments. The publication appeared within the preliminary work on the eighth five-year plan of Turkey’s development (2001-2005). It said, in particular, that the disappearance of the Soviet Union “has given Turkey chances and advantages that no other country had.” This referred not only “to the five countries with common roots, language, religion, and culture,” but also to “the Turkic groups and communities in the Russian Federation, the Caucasus and Central Asia.” This official document justified the need to set up a Turkic alliance and said there were many similar alliances in the past and present: “Greek poleis among them, the Italian city-states (Venice, Florence in the sixteenth century), the Russian principalities, Prussia,” etc. “Today there are many groups in Europe, Asia and Africa based on linguistic, racial or religious kinship, for example the British Commonwealth of Nations, the alliance of the Francophone countries, the Slavic Union, the Union of the Arab States. It is interesting to note that certain people and organizations do not regard these unions as dangerous. At the same time they are prepared to regard as such the Turkic alliance that does not differ from other similar structures.”30

Certain Turkish publications are nearly ignoring Russia’s presence in Eurasia. The Eurasian File published by the TIKA, a well-informed journal with large circulation, rarely mentions cooperation between Russia and Turkey. Yet, the figures quoted there say that Russia is the largest trade partner of Turkey’s in Eurasia. In 1998, Russia accounted for 36 percent of Turkish export to the Eurasian countries and 48 percent of import.31

Recently the Internet is being actively used to disseminate nationalistic and Pan-Turkism propaganda: one cannot but feel amazed with the amount of similar materials, based on the net of Turkey and paid for by it. Criticism, disclosures, and persecution on the Internet expanses are aimed at the Russian Federation accused at least of imperialism and hegemonism. For example, the site of the Türk Dünyası Araştırmaları Vakfı set up in July 1980 carries an article “Internal Strife in Russia” (as a socially useful according to the government) asserting that the Russian Federation is entering a period of disintegration. It instructs the leaders of the Turkic republics in Russia and the Turkish authorities how to behave in this situation. “It would have been better if disintegration proceeds stage-by-stage since Kalmykia, Tatarstan, Sakha, the Republic of Altai and Tuva have not yet reached a stage when an independent economic policy is possible. With no military and political forces that can ensure their security these republics have to divide power equally with Moscow and to work toward their independence. In this connection the authorities, the civilian structures and the business community of the Republic of Turkey have to assume special responsibility. They have to invest in these regions in the economic, political, and cultural spheres without much haste and without attracting Moscow’s attention. These regions are the vitally important sphere of the Turk.”32 Numerous other sites, including Turan, Bilginet, Turkmens, Bozkurt that are part of the website center “Türk Dünyası” are also dedicated to Pan-Turkism and calls on all Turks to close ranks under the leadership of Turkey. The site of the Ötüken journal repeats again and again what Türkeş used to say: “The Turkish alliance will be created by all means... It is very important for Turkey to have a final say in settling all problems in the new Turkish states of Central Asia.”33

One should say in all justice: there are serious Turkish researchers who are aware of the fact that Eurasia with its variety of cultures is much more than simply the Turkic world. Prof. Kemal Karpat, a prominent historian now living in the United States, says that quite often he turns to the works of Pushkin, Tosltoy, Dostoevsky, and Gorky and that he “believes that Eurasia will realize itself.” At the same time one can hardly agree with the professor when he says that as a “mere utopia” Pan-Turkism should not be treated seriously. Indeed, the past and the recent events have testified that frequently utopias are rejected, cursed and condemned only after many years of suffering and bloodshed for the sake of the “purity of the idea, faith, nation, and blood,” etc.34

Islamism and Eurasianism

The Turkish elite does not limit its Eurasian ideas to Turkism or Pan-Turkism. The Turkish Islamists have their own ideas about Eurasianism: they believe that Islam is the major factor of the unity of Eurasian peoples. Since the 1950s, political Islam has experienced radical changes and acquired a new image in Turkey. Despite the efforts of the Turkish military the Islamists united into a legal political party. In recent years, it was known as Refah (The Welfare Party) and then Fazilet (The Virtue Party). The military regularly ban them in court—substitute parties appear with the same regularity. Since the mid-1990s, political Islam has been supported by millions of voters. Today, Fazilet, now banned, has been replaced with two Islamist parties that represent two wings—“traditionalists” and “trailblazers.” The former create the party they called Saadet (Happiness,) the latter AK (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi—The Justice and Development Party).

The secular regime is facing a strong opposition from influential Muslim brotherhoods, societies, groups, and financial foundations. They have considerable landed property, real estate in the form of mosques, shelters, boarding schools, and day schools. Certain authors are even convinced that “the tarekats banned in 1925 have lived till their golden age. Their members are active at all levels of political life: they are visible in parties, the cabinet, public organizations, among intellectuals, and in business.”35 Globalization and the latest information technologies added unprecedented strength and influence to pro-Islamic holdings active in industry and trade, and in information and propaganda business. In the late 1990s Jamaat and the Muslim money have united in the country and the region as a whole to invade the information sphere, the so-called “propaganda industry.” Their money bought them the latest publishing and printing technologies; they are using Turkish satellites to have an access to the Internet.

The prosecution of the Islamists force them to step up their propaganda among the Turkish Diaspora in Western Europe, Germany in the first place with its 2.5 million of Turks. The Turks living abroad are preserving close ties with their homeland. The Islamists active in these countries are exploiting the fact that the Turkish criminal laws are not applied abroad. They are also making use of the liberal regimes there and condemn them at the same time. With every passing year the politicians there have to pay more and more attention to Turkish and Islamic votes.

At the end of the twentieth century the Turkic-Islamic countries of Eurasia got from Turkey the Fethullah Gulen society, an influential and rich religious organization that makes a skilful use of all contemporary propaganda means, and passes for a disinterested charity organization. It does all it can to avoid answering the key question: “Will secular principles or Shari‘a serve as the basis for uniting all Turks and Muslims of Eurasia?” The Gulen societies are active in Russia, too: in Moscow, Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan. The Turkish media enumerated the companies involved in setting up educational centers in Yakutia, Tuva, Khakassia, Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, Tatarstan, and also in Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Ukraine (including the Crimea), Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia.36 The Zaman newspaper published by the Gulen society in Turkey used to be printed as a weekly in Moscow, Kazan, and Ufa. It has numerous electronic versions that supply information about the Muslim movement in the United States, Western Europe, Bulgaria, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and other places.

The Gulen-owned Samanyolu TV channel once asked the owner about the aims pursued by the Turkish schools in the new Eurasian countries. The hoja cited many arguments to support his expensive initiative. He has said that the children there should be introduced to the culture of Turkey, its historic values, and ideas. They should be “inspired by their greatness,” said he. Further he held on about the missionary nature of his initiatives as an effort at salvation: “If we failed to come to the aid of these people then the West would have brought its advisors and missionaries. It can still do this—there are also people there. But these countries lived under czarist Russia and later were thrown under the caterpillar tracks of communism that leveled out their thoughts and deprived them of their feelings. Turkey should protect them lest they find themselves once more under exploiters’ oppression.”37 General (ret.) Kemal Yavuz, former General Secretary of the National Security Council of Turkey, had the following to say about Gulen’s charities in Radikal: “Radikal: B. Ecevit is convinced that if Fethullah Gulen did not exist Iran would have been dominating Central Asia while the Refah party would have been dominating Turkey. Yavuz: In plain words this means: ‘a drowning man will grasp a snake.’ Turkey is not drowning to grasp snakes! I cannot agree to the fact that while my children are deprived of education, in Central Asia education is organized on the latest level. Why does my child have no chance to learn the Independence March since there are no schools or teachers in Kars, Palu and Bingel while even Russian children are taught it?”38

In the fall of 2000, after several failures, the Turkish military finally insisted on criminal investigation of Gulen’s activity. An action was brought in his absence: by that time Gulen had been undergoing cure in the United States for eighteen months. The indictment insisted that Gulen, “with the help of people trained and educated in the schools, boarding schools, and courses he owns intended to discard the principles of Ataturk and do away with the secular republic to put in its place a state based on the Shari‘a.” The document emphasized that the schools the Gulen community owned abroad were set up to train administrators for these countries, to ensure, in future, their loyalty to Turkey which would have been an Islamic state by that time. The verdict was: imprisonment from 5 to 10 years.39

The Turkish media said: “The schools Fethullah had abroad caused worsening of the relationships with Uzbekistan. The government closed down all schools opened by Iran and Gulen. The Turkish attaché for education was deported and the Uzbek students called back from Turkey.” The libraries of these seemingly official schools were packed with books that attacked the idea of a secular state and Ataturk. The pupils were offered books by Gulen that promoted the ideas of his Nur sect.40 Ahmet Necdet Sezer, the new president of Turkey, also touched upon the subject when talking about his trip to the Turkic republics in autumn 2000. He reminded that the schools had caused a crisis between Uzbekistan and Turkey and suggested “that instead of the schools functioning there the Turkish state should open its schools. This is met with a positive response.”41

It should be said that radical Islamism and radical Turkism are cooperating in the sphere of ideology. The Turkish-Islamic synthesis is especially efficient when used to support Islamist and nationalist movements in the new states of the Caucasus and Central Asia, and in the republics of Russia. In particular, they act together in the Northern Caucasus, Chechnia in the first place.

The ideological patterns described above notwithstanding Turkey has not abandoned its economic relations with Russia. There the “ours-aliens” approach is not applied: the leaders of the Turkish business community agree that Russia is important for Turkey as a large regional and world trade partner.42 This Eurasian subject merits closer attention. Russia and Turkey, together with the new Eurasian states, have a chance to become the founders of the Eurasian Alliance through economic cooperation, by overcoming lack of confidence and alienation and winning over the enemies of Eurasian rapprochement.


1 See: Draft document by N. Nazarbaev, “On Setting up an Eurasian Alliance of States,” in: N.A. Nazarbaev, Evraziiskyi soiuz: idei, praktika, perspektivy. 1994-1997, Moscow, 1997, pp. 38-50.

2 See: L.A. Iamaeva, “O politicheskoi doktrine tiurkizma v Rossii,” Vestnik Akademii Nauk Respubliki Bashkortostan, Vol. 5, No. 1, Ufa, 2000, p. 33.

3 Cahit Tanyol, Atatürk ve halkçılık, Ankara, 1984, pp. 143-144.

4 Sekizinci Beş yıllık Planı. Türkiye ile Türk Cumhutiyetleri ve Bölge Ülkeleri ilişkileri. Özel İhtisas Komisyonu Raporu, Ankara, 2000, P. X.

5 C. Koçak, Türkiye’de Milli Şef dönemi (1938-1945), Ankara, 1986, pp. 191-193, 200-201.

6 Türk ve Dünya ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, Cilt 1, Istanbul, 1983, p. 498.

7 Alparslan Türkeş, Temel görüşler, Istanbul, 1975, pp. 362-363.

8 Cumhuriyet, 27 March, 1998.

9 See: Yankı, 24 August, 1981, pp. 7-8; Turkey, 1982. Almanac, Ankara, 1982, pp. 147-148.

10 Yeni Forum, Ankara, Cilt 11, No. 251 (Mart), 1990, pp. 24, 25; Ibid., Cilt 13, No. 274, 1992, p. 37. The idea of a single alphabet is being realized: on 1 August, 2001 the Latin alphabet was introduced in Azerbaijan, the Tartar authorities have decided to do the same (for more detail, see: Turtsia mezhdu Evropoi i Aziei. Itogi evropeizatsii na iskhode XX veka, Moscow, 2001, pp. 447-448; Sabah, 2 August, 2001).

11 Aslan Ozmen, 2000 yılında Türkiye, Istanbul, 1991, pp. 100-101.

12 Cumhuriyet, 23 March, 1995.

13 Tarihi gelişmeler içinde Türkiye’nin sorunları sempozyumu (Dün-buğün-yarın), Ankara, 1992, p. 186.

14 D.E. Eremeev, Na styke Azii i Evropy. Ocherki o Turtsii i turkakh, Nauka Publishers, Moscow, 1980, p. 41.

15 See: TIKA. T.C.Dışişleri Bakanlığı. Türk İşbirliği ve Kalkınma Ajansı, Ankara, 1994, pp. 10, 23.

16 Günümüzde Avrasya, TIKA, Ankara, 1994, pp. 10, 14.

17 Radikal, 21 March, 1998.

18 See: Avrasya Dosyasi, TIKA, Ankara, March 2000, p. 1.

19 Zaman, 15 December, 1999 [http://www.zaman.com.tr/ssayfa/odosya/milenyum.htm].

20 Gareth M. Winrow, Turkey in Post-Soviet Central Asia, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, 1995, pp. 3-8.

21 Mehmet Saray, Yeni Türk Cumhuriyetleri Tarihi, Ankara, 1996, p. 3.

22 N.A. Nazarbaev, Na poroge XXI veka, Almaty, 1996, pp. 216-217.

23 Erdoğan Aydın, Kabustan demokrasiye. Milliyetçilik, şeriat ve alevilik, Istanbul, 1999, p. 15.

24 Cumhuriyet, 21 September, 1999.

25 See: [http://www.mhp.org.tr/].

26 Zaman, 31 December, 2000.

27 Türkeş is still regarded as the movement’s symbol. This is confirmed by numerous materials about him and collections of his pronouncements found in the Internet.

28 See: Sabah, 5 August, 2001.

29 On 23 November, 2001 the news program “Now” on TV-6 carried information that “gray wolves” from Turkey paid for terrorist acts in Chechnia.

30 Sekizinci Beş yıllık Planı. Türkiye ile Türk Cumhutiyetleri ve Bölge Ülkeleri ilişkileri Özel İhtisas Komisyonu Raporu, p. X.

31 See: Eurasian File, Ankara, No. 124, October 1999, pp. 5-6.

32 Türk Dünyası Araştırmaları Vakfı [http//www.turan.org/].

33 See: [http://www.otuken.net/ 10.03.2001].

34 DA. Diyalog Avrasya, Istanbul, No. 1, 2000, pp. 42-43.

35 Ümit Cizre, Muktedirlerin Siyaseti, Merkez Sağ-Ordu-İslamcılık, Istanbul, 1999, p. 107.

36 See: Radikal, 15 January, 1997.

37 Osman Özsoy, Türkiye’nin imaj sorunu. 2000’li yılların eşiğinde yeni vizyon arayışları, Istanbul, 1998, p. 345.

38 Radikal, 21 March, 1998.

39 See: Cumhuriyet, 1 September, 2000.

40 See: Cumhuriyet, 3 September, 2000.

41 Radikal, 25 October, 2000.

42 See: Türkiye-Rusya ilişkilerindeki yapısal sorunlar ve çözüm önerileri, TÜSİAD, Haziran, Istanbul, 1999.


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