President Erdoğan: Our goal is membership in Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

President Erdoğan: Our goal is membership in Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

President Erdoğan commented on recent developments and answered journalists' questions at the end of his visit to Uzbekistan for the 22nd Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. "The next phase is a step towards the highest level of cooperation." President Erdoğan stated.

President Erdoğan noted that he attended the Shanghai Cooperation Summit for the first time as a "special guest" at the invitation of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan and said that Türkiye had been a "dialogue partner" of the organisation since 2012.

President Erdoğan indicated that Türkiye also assumed the term presidency of the SCO’s High-Level Group on Energy in 2017 and held the 3rd High-Level Group Meeting in Ankara accordingly, underlining that a certain connection has been established between the organisation and Türkiye.

President Erdoğan stated that since its inception, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has made significant strides in the areas of security, economy, and commerce and has continued to develop within this framework, adding, "The significance of the Asian continent to the world economy is already apparent. The organisation's territory encompasses 60% of the Eurasian continent and is home to 3.2 billion people. The organisation's members generate more than 30% of the global GDP, with a total economic size of 20 trillion dollars."

"We discussed the steps we can take together"

President Erdoğan emphasised that Türkiye's desire to further advance bilateral and multilateral cooperation with Asian nations as part of the Asia Anew Initiative remains unwavering, adding:

"In my address at the summit, I have stated that we regard the security, stability, and prosperity of Asia, our ancestral homeland, with which we have historical, cultural, and humanitarian ties, to be among our foreign policy priorities. We emphasised the significance of cooperation in ensuring security and stability in our region and beyond. At the summit, we discussed the steps we can take together to strengthen the resilience of our economies during the post-pandemic recovery period.

During the meetings, we also addressed global economic developments. We discussed the significance of cooperation in the fight against global inflation. We are pleased to observe the desire and intent to further the cooperation with our nation inside the organisation. This summit was a significant opportunity to highlight our country's priorities and voice our potential contributions to the organisation's main topics."

President Erdoğan noted that they held fruitful bilateral meetings with the presidents of Azerbaijan, China, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Russia, and Iran, as well as the prime ministers of Pakistan and India on the margins of the summit, and said that, in addition to bilateral relations, they exchanged views on current global issues, and he hoped that the meetings and discussions would lead to positive outcomes.

"They thanked us for our role in in the Russia-Ukraine war"

President Erdoğan responded to a question on Türkiye's place in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, its vision for the future, and if the organisation has extended an invitation or membership call to Türkiye as follows:

"Initially, this organisation was established as the 'Shanghai Five,' but it is no longer a quintet. Currently, it has nine members. It has three observer states. In addition, it has nine dialogue partners along with us. Almost every leader I met thanked us for our role in reducing tensions, particularly in the Russia-Ukraine war. They said, 'We really appreciate and congratulate you on your role in this issue.'

All of them eventually brought this up in our bilateral meetings because there is, unfortunately, no one among the powers in the world in the Russia-Ukraine war that ask, 'What can we do, how can we resolve this issue?' With the balanced policy we have pursued from the start, we have given the necessary response to the West and all other countries, particularly the United States, with our initiatives. Of course, the most important one is the grain corridor."

Noting that they also discussed the grain corridor with President Vladimir Putin of Russia at the summit, President Erdoğan stated, "As you are aware, the grain corridor should serve the least developed nations rather than developing nations. That's the actual role we play in this issue. We talked about it again here, and we said, 'Let us get the least developed countries to use this grain corridor; let us reach out to them; let us make an effort to this end. Of course, Mr Putin is also paying attention to this issue."

President Erdoğan said, "In the upcoming period, inshallah, we will endeavour to make it function in the most optimal manner possible, considering ways to get the least developed countries to use this corridor and reach these regions,” and continued:

"All these countries have focused on this issue. Of course, we have been focused on it in the same way. Obviously, we are not members of the Shanghai Five. We are here as special guests at the invitation of the host nation, Uzbekistan. Mr Shavkat and I have a close bond, of course. Because of this close bond, he has personally invited Mr Ilham and me here. The next phase is a step towards the highest level of cooperation. This step, of course, will be brought to the agenda at a more advanced stage in the meetings in India, which will be the host in the upcoming period. Being a member or not is a different issue, but with this step, our relations with these countries will change significantly."

Asked whether the issue he meant was the country's membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, President Erdoğan said, "Surely. That's the goal."

"It is important that Armenia focuses on peace and cooperation"

When asked about the fact that Armenia has resumed its attacks against Azerbaijan and whether Türkiye will send a military unit to the region in accordance with the Shusha Declaration, President Erdoğan said:

"According to Azerbaijan, the operation it initiated in response to Armenia's provocations has been completed. Now that the operation is over, there is no point in rocking the boat for the moment. According to the information I received from Mr Ilham, our Azerbaijani brothers and sisters have now assumed a secure position. It is important here that Armenia gives up its provocations against Azerbaijan and focuses on peace and cooperation as soon as possible by acting in accordance with its previous commitments. We hope that the normalisation processes in our region will be completed successfully and that permanent peace and stability will be established in the region."

In response to the question, "The European Union has issued a ban and embargo on it, but they buy it, particularly the fertilisers, themselves. The restriction is still in effect for Asian, African, and Latin American countries. You mentioned sending grain to those regions in particular but would it be possible also to send fertilisers?" calling to mind that in relation to the grain corridor, Russia was unable to remove its own grains and fertilisers because of the lack of guarantees and the seizure of Russian ships, President Erdoğan noted:

"Of course, we are holding negotiations, talks with all relevant countries about any type of product coming from Ukraine or Russia, may it be grain or fertiliser. We are moving forward by discussing it with the interlocutors via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or relevant ministries. Since we have taken all our steps through negotiations and consultations, we have not encountered any serious setbacks. Today, Mr Putin and I have confirmed our shared belief that this process needs to move forward with the same degree of caution."

We will be able to inaugurate the first power unit of Akkuyu within 2023”

Upon being asked, “There have been some comments that the Russian Federation may recognise the TRNC. Has this issue been brought up? Is it possible to take further steps, such as expanding Türkiye and Russia's current cooperation areas in the Eastern Mediterranean? You were following a certain procedure to prevent any setback in Akkuyu. Are there any details you could share with us?” President Erdoğan said:

"Not just to Russia, but to the whole world, we lay out our position on Northern Cyprus and explain our expectations and the reasoning behind them. The matter of Akkuyu has also been settled. Upon this settlement, they reached an arrangement with the Turkish company IC there. We will accelerate the process henceforth and finish building the first unit, and inshallah, be able to inaugurate the first power unit of Akkuyu within 2023."

When asked about whether Türkiye’s stand on Karabakh or the Zangezur Corridor and Türkiye’s position in Syria were brought up in his meeting with President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran and whether there was any contact on Astana Process during the Summit, President Erdoğan responded, "To be honest, the Astana Process was not discussed, but my counterparts and I have had separate talks on finding a long-term solution to the Syrian issue. Regarding the Karabakh issue, it is crucial that all neighbouring countries strongly and unwaveringly back Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. On October 20, we will inaugurate the Zangilan Airport. Mr Ilham specifically asked for an inauguration date, which we have provided. He said, ‘After the inauguration of the Zangilan Airport, we will travel to Jabrayil and, inshallah, hold the ceremony there.’ We agreed. Perhaps he'll even personally invite some of the leaders.”

When reminded that a photograph taken while he was conversing with leaders was a topic of talk and asked how the picture came to be, President Erdoğan said, “Mr Ilham left that chair to me, and he took the other one. Since most participants spoke Russian, the interpreter translated our conversation into Russian. They all enjoyed the conversation there. It was a memorable moment.”