Turkey is infringing on Russia’s sphere of influence - analyst
Turkey’s growing influence and expanding footprint in the Caspian region and further afield is effectively stepping on the toes of Russia, which is home to a number of sizable Turcophone minorities, wrote Aslan Doukaev, an expert on the North Caucasus, for Washington-based think tank Jamestown Foundation.
Pointing to Turkey’s burgeoning cooperation with Azerbaijan and “The Shusha Declaration’’ signed between the countries earlier this month, Doukaev said Ankara’s “growing clout,’’ is likely to stretch to ethnically close Turkic minorities in Turkic countries that are part of the Russian Federation, such as Tatarstan.
The Shusha Declaration, signed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Azeri counterpart Iham Aliyev, focuses on defence cooperation, promoting stability and prosperity in the region, as wella s establishing new transportation routes.
Turkish companies have invested over $2 billion in Tatarstan, Doukaev highlighted, citing a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency in Oct. 2020, noting that smaller Turkic republics such as the Balkars, Karachais, Kumyks and Noghais, who make up for some 10 percent of the population of the North Caucasus, view Ankara’s military and political achievements with admiration.
“In recent decades, Chechens, the biggest ethnic group in the North Caucasus after the Russians, have, too, gravitated toward Turkey although they are not Turcophones,’’ the analyst said, pointing to strong interest in Turkey’s drama series, one of the country’s biggest exports and international soft power tool.
“Turkey’s possible focus in the North Caucasus is likely to be on broadening its economic footprint,’’ according to Doukaev, as the country exports its “mass culture and education system’’, and offers religious training at its Islamic institutions.