The Silent Death of the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation?
The brain child of Turkey’s 8th President Turgut Özal, the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation died silently in Ukraine this week. According to Yalcin Dogan (1) of Turkish daily Hurriyet, the latest meeting of the BSEC in Ukraine was only represented at the Foreign Ministry level by the host nation Ukraine and the initiator of the organisation Turkey. Foreign Minister Babacan had to leave the meeting after only one hour due to lack of equal diplomatic representation.
The strange thing is, how come the Turkish MFA cannot be informed about this diplomatic fiasco in advance and send his minister to the empty saloon? According to Baris Yinanc’s report in the Turkish daily Referans, Foreign Minister Babacan had to attend the meeting due to Turkey’s special position within the organisation. (2) However, we should not forget that it would be Babacan’s first visit with the FM of member states.
This is nevertheless a great blow for the rhetoric of BSEC which existed mostly in the heads of the Turkish politicians, as a distant dream of Turkish leadership in a region which in 1992 was in chaos, but now much more stable unlike the still volatile Turkish state/society complex. Following the European Union’s eastern expansion, the membership of Romania, Bulgaria and Greece, the members of the BSEC put the organisation to a lower-key profile.
The fall of the BSEC also shows the fall of Turgut Özal’s imprint on Turkish Foreign Policy. to recall, the organisation was the brainchild of Özal, some say that the Sükrü Elekdag was the origin of the idea, nevertheless, it was Özal who elevated it to the highest echelons, and in an era in which the refusal of the EEC of the time paved the way to a great shock for the Turkish aspirations and the humiliation of the national ego. Özal, nevertheless, was a believer of regional interdependency schemes and was eager to show that Turkey is a vital player in the Eurasian region and not a player to be sidelined. He also envisaged a stable Turkey playing a vital financial role in the region.
This was nevertheless the illusion of Özal neo-Ottomanism. Without the economic capabilities and political strength, the ideas and the institutions would nevertheless be fragile and unimportant details. Özal truely had a vision but his vision was mostly utopia, because it had lost the ground with the reality, especially the financial weakness of Turkey and its non-hegemonic state/society complexity.
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