In a decision expected to give Ankara leverage over the West, Turkey has announced that it will seek full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), becoming the first NATO member country to become one of China-led bloc that includes Russia.
Turkey has been a dialogue partner of the SCO since 2013, whose members also include India, Pakistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
After attending the SCO summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that joining the SCO would move his country’s relations with its member countries to another level.
“This step will take our relations with these countries in a completely different direction,” said President Erdogan.
When asked by reporters if he meant SCO membership, he said, “Of course that’s the goal.”
Turkey has “historical and cultural” ties to the Asian continent and wants to play a role in the SCO, which accounts for “30 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP)”, the Turkish president said.
As part of his bilateral talks at the SCO summit, Erdogan also met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The announcement of Turkey’s membership of the SCO comes shortly after President Erdogan expressed disappointment to the US, NATO and the EU over security concerns, particularly in dealing with Kurdish insurgents and Greece.
Turkey and Greece, both NATO neighbors, have long had sea and air border disputes. President Erdogan hinted at military action earlier this month, warning Greece it would pay a “heavy price” if it continued to harass Turkish warplanes over the Aegean Sea.
Erdogan had also recently expressed his disappointment at delays in the delivery of F-16 fighter jets from the US and warned that Turkey would turn to Moscow if Washington failed to fulfill its promise.
According to an SCMP report, President Erdogan attempted a one-on-one meeting with US President Joe Biden during the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Meanwhile, at a dinner in New York on Sunday, Erdogan said he expected US cooperation in the fight against terrorist groups like the PKK/YPG and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
Speaking about his country’s partnership with the US and NATO, Erdogan said Turkey’s position should be well understood and decisions made accordingly.
“Be it funding, be it land forces, Turkey is one of the top five partners providing this support in NATO,” he said.
“Therefore, Turkey’s position should be well understood and known, and appropriate decisions and steps should be taken,” he added.
The Turkish President is currently in New York to attend the 77th session of the UN General Assembly.
https://www.ibtimes.com.au/after-drifting-away-west-turkey-turns-china-led-sco-includes-russia-1838484?utm_source=Public&utm_medium=Feed&utm_campaign=Distribution After drifting away from the west, Turkey is turning to the Chinese-led SCO, which includes Russia