Between Iran and Turan – New Horizons of the Greater Eurasian Partnership
The Great Eurasian Partnership opposes hegemony imposed from outside. However, it’s not a closed club. What the new format of relations will be after overcoming inequality is difficult to answer today. The process ahead is to develop a model acceptable to all members of the Greater Eurasian Partnership, write Kubatbek Rakhimov and Alexey Mikhalev.
Relying on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a foundation and closely interacting with the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), the Greater Eurasian Partnership acquires features.
Basil Nikitin wrote about in the early twentieth century: using the categories of Iran, Turan, Eurasia, and China to denote extraordinary civilisations, he drew a natural border of Eurasia along the Ukrainian-Polish border. Today, when a logical question arises about whether a Eurasian economic integration project can exist without Europe, the answer, unexpectedly, is to be found in the material of debates dating back to the late 1920s.
It would seem that modern reality, both economic and political, has changed dramatically. At first glance, an appeal to the texts of Nikitin seems like archaic speculation on historical material. But it was Nikitin, analysing the layers of cultures of Iran and Turan, who showed that for Russia, a Eurasian future is only possible with close cooperation with these two worlds. Russia’s current balancing act between Tehran and Ankara confirms the same ideas. The question remains: is it possible to do without Europe?
Need to overcome Europe’s claims to hegemony
Here, it is vital to immediately outline the boundaries of what kind of Europe we are discussing – Europe as part of the Euro-Atlantic bloc, claiming world hegemony. The answer to the question is not so obvious. It requires a deep look into the future. In the case of Eurasian integration based on BRICS, SCO, ECO and with the participation of North Korea, a relatively coherent paradigm of regional relations is obtained.
Its success will, over time, push Europe toward cooperation, most likely on more equal terms than it currently has. These circumstances necessitate, first and foremost, the need for the Eurasian world to overcome Europe’s claims to hegemony. A strong Eurasian economic bloc cannot go unnoticed without involvement in the world economy.
In this situation, we come to Nikitin’s reasonable thesis, expressed in 1926: “We, Eurasians, are looking for the correct formulation of our national, cultural and political consciousness, in which, correctly understood, Asianism has so far been absent. Neither Euro-hatred nor Asia-obsequiousness: this is my profound conviction.
Turan, Iran, Russia and China – the core around the economic development of the non-European world
Turan and Iran are, according to Nikitin, the internal and external East to Russia. Their relationship sets the dynamics of the development of Eurasia. In our case, Turan is the totality of all Turkic and partly Iranian peoples inhabiting the space of the former USSR, primarily Central Asia. By and large, Turan, Iran, Russia and China are the core around which the economic development of the non-European world will be built.
Today, as the BRICS association is becoming one of the most dynamically expanding economic conglomerates of states in the world, it is evident that the trend of economic growth is shifting towards non-European countries. Just to let you know, the SCO and BRICS are two mutually interrelated projects. Iran, a member of the SCO and ECO, will become a member of BRICS on June 1, 2024.
The Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP)
The Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP) will take on new contours shortly. Despite its youth among all other integration solutions, this model is already being transformed against geopolitical changes. Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly announced this project in 2015, and since then, the situation has been constantly shifting towards developing specific issues related to the GEP.
In particular, the general approaches that define the principles of functioning of the Greater Eurasian Partnership are already set out in key strategic planning documents affecting the international activities of the Russian Federation. These include the 2021 National Security Strategy and the 2023 Foreign Policy Concept. Following the basic guidelines, the Greater Eurasian Partnership has been declared a flagship foreign policy project designed to become a “broad integration contour.”
This means that the GEP, the core of which can be the EAEU, SCO and ASEAN, will also use the capabilities of such complementary formats as the Chinese Belt and Road initiative and will be able to create the necessary preconditions for the transformation of Eurasia into a single continental space of stability, mutual trust, development and prosperity (from the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation 2023).
BRICS in the context of the Greater Eurasian Partnership
When discussing BRICS in the context of the Greater Eurasian Partnership, it is worth recalling Nikitin’s idea about India’s connectedness with the “ocean continent” of Russia-Eurasia-China. Today, more than ever, this relationship is becoming a reality. If, in the early 20th century, Eurasians talked about certain cultural foundations for the proximity of huge civilization-states, now the economy has become a core for integration. However, cultural studies help one to perceive the changes that are taking place more easily. In the complex political metaphysics of Eurasianism, culture and history have performed and continue to serve the vital function of forming a political language for describing international relations.
The confluence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Economic Cooperation Organisation and the Organisation of Turkic States is significant from the point of view of Turkey’s active involvement in building new continental relations, even though Turkey is a NATO member state. However, over the last decade, Turkey has given us a unique example of a country that realises its national interests while cooperating in many areas (Syria, Ukraine, etc.) Ankara’s role is vital in the Economic Cooperation Organisation and the Organisation of Turkic States, while the Republic of Turkey is a dialogue partner in the SCO.
Existing without Europe
Will this complex system of economic relations continue to exist without Europe? Politically, the chances of this happening have never been higher. In essence, Europe will remain a partner, but as a hegemon, it will become a thing of the past. This thesis is one of the key ones. The Great Eurasian Partnership opposes hegemony imposed from outside, but it’s not a closed club. What the new format of relations will be after overcoming inequality is difficult to answer today. The process ahead is to develop a model that will be acceptable to all members of the Greater Eurasian Partnership. However, overcoming hegemony is also seen differently in different parts of Greater Eurasia.