Spotlight on Geopolitics

Hedging one’s bets

At the periphery of the European Union, two candidates for membership are trying to hedge their geopolitical bets.

Turkey, the largest of the two, is a long-standing NATO member but has also gained recently ” dialogue partner “status within SCO (Shanghai Co-operation Organization) , which includes China, Russia and four of the “five stans”. While some Western analysts consider Turkey’s SCO membership bid as a bluff used by Ankara in order to speed up EU accession talks, insiders claim that the move is intended to bring in line its military alliances with the country’s new geopolitical agenda, as well as to secure access to the oil and gas reserves from Central Asia. On the 29th of April 2013 Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Dmitry Mezentsev has stated that the “dialogue partner” status given to Turkey would make the organization more influential. ( as quoted by Turkish Weekly )

Mezentsev’s positive remarks came after Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu commented on further Turkish-SCO cooperation on Friday. “ We declare our destiny to be the same as that of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization countries,” . (Today’s Zaman )

The same negotiating difficulties with the EU determined Serbia to apply for membership within the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization ) , a military alliance founded in 1992 by Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Serbia obtained candidate status last year and was given observer status as of April the 11 this year. According to general Leonid Ivachov, former director of international military co-operation within Russia’s defense ministry, Serbia’s possible membership of the CSTO “ represents a breakthrough for Russia and its allies, which will help it defend its geopolitical interests in Southern Europe “. (Nezavissimaia Gazeta from Moscow, as quoted by Courrier International ) According to Ivachov, Serbia’s membership also gives Russia the possibility to deploy in the Balkans peace keeping forces and to extend to Belgrade military aid on very favorable terms.

Meanwhile, both Serbia and Turkey continue to negotiate with Brussels and are making sustained political efforts to mend fences with the Kossovars and the Kurds, respectively.

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