BRICS Membership for Turkey: How Not to End Up in Chaos

“Turkey is not a country that can change the balance of power in the world, but if you ask the question whether Turkey deserves membership in BRICS – yes, it does”, former Turkish foreign minister Yaşar Yakış told

Last week Johannesburg, South Africa, hosted a summit of BRICS, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his wish to join the bloc. On the issue of Turkey’s joining BRICS, not only the country’s interests are at stake, but the very concept of the bloc: pundits say that it will inevitably expand, but must admit new members carefully.

“Actually, the recent meeting in South Africa showed that there are certain BRICS countries that are open to the enlargement, and Turkey is regarding this possibility, as the rules of joining BRICS are not set yet. I do not know if it will work, because there is no criteria of joining BRICS, countries shall find some, and there are some other countries that are interested. If it will be opened to many countries that are of different levels, sizes and fractions, it will end up in chaos”, Yaşar Yakış said.

According to Yakış, Turkey is a perfect candidate for this first trial expansion. In recent years, Turkey, on the one hand, continues moving away from the West and seeking allies among other forces (like Russia and Iran), and on the other, it makes its way east and pursues a policy in this direction. Along this path, however, it needs to take care of its own security and not to get hurt.

“Turkey was pushed aside by the US and the European countries. Turkey’s membership is being questioned by certain circles in certain countries. Turkey finds itself sidelined in international relations. But the criteria are not very clear for joining BRICS so far. If you ask the question whether Turkey deserves membership in BRICS – yes, it does, it is a great middle-size country, not very poor, not very rich, something in the middle. It is eager to join, but whether it will work depends on the attitude of member countries”.

“And one of the reasons why Turkey wants to join BRICS are the threats by the US to impose sanctions on Turkey or make Turkey part of the sanctions that are to be imposed on Iran”, the expert explains. “The threats, of course, qualm Turkey a little bit, because it will be negatively affected by such sanctions, and these sanctions could threaten its goods, financial institutions etc. Although such a mechanism is not yet developed, BRICS initially said that it will be harder to impose such sanctions on its member that on any other country. It will counter the threats on goods and institutions”.

Regarding whether Turkey’s joining BRICS could change the global alignment of forces, Yaşar Yakış is a bit skeptical. As he stressed, it is more about the interests of the country and the further development of the bloc.
“Turkey is not a country that can change the balance of power in the world, but on the local level it may. First, if it becomes a member, it will be the only NATO country in BRICS, which is meaningful. Turkey will be with countries that look more like itself, unlike Western countries. They are closer from many standpoints – socially and politically. Turkey is closer to the structure and the future of the BRICS countries that to that of the Western countries”, Yakış concluded.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.