Trans-Caspian International Transport Route International Association Vice Chairman Javid Gurbanov said with the realization of permanent membership of Turkey for the Trans-Caspian route, also known as the Middle Corridor, fellow countries will be united by rail. Pointing out that China and Europe will be united via Turkey. This statement should play a warning light for the European Union community.

About The Author

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Roie Yellinek is a doctoral student in the department of Middle East Studies at Bar-Ilan University Israel, a fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum and China-Med Project, and a freelance journalist.

Trans-Caspian route is one part of a large-scale Chinese’s project called ‘The New Silk Road’ or ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (OBOR) or ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI). The route of the starts in China and passes through Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea area, Azerbaijan and Georgia and will extend to Europe via Turkey.

In 2013 the current Chinese president, Xi Jinping, announced this initiative that has been planned to reestablished routes from China to Europe and vice versa. This initiative cost estimated at about hundreds of billions of US dollar, that have invest in large-scale of infrastructures facilities like roads, railroad, bridges and more. All this is done in order to support the Chinese’s economic growth, and the willingness of China to expend the target markets.

So far, the Chinese have not published a details official map of the project but a short search on the web gives lots of project’s maps, that more or less put Turkey (and Russia) in the middle of the route between China and Europe. This facet, joins to the geography fact that Turkey has the main gate from Asia to Europe. This Turkey, under the rule of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has become compared to Europe, since it neglects the plan to join the European Union.

Instead of the willing to join the European Union, Ankara and Beijing are quickly becoming friends while Turkey’s formerly strong ties with NATO and Germany, who traditionally have a good relationship, have chilled. Amid this fallout, the Turkish Foreign Minister promised in August 2017 to eliminate any anti-Chinese media reports in Turkey, stating ‘we see China’s security as our security’. In May 2017, Turkish President attended the BRI Forum in Beijing, which was the most substantial forum who deals and discuss the Chinese’s initiative’.

Indeed, the European Union started facing the prices of the Chinese involvement in the domestic economy. The main discussion is moderated by strong Western Europe and the other country with less developed domestic economic, and a great eager to Chinese investments. However, it can say that all the European countries want to attract Chinese investment and to expand the volume trade, the different focus in the dosages and question of national security and intellectual property protection.

The Europe Union has trusted Erdoğan to deal with the flow of refugees from the Middle East and Central Asia, in return for a great deal of money. This deal suffered a lot of criticism, focus on the why Turkey take care of the refugees. Now, The Europe Union need to face new challenge regard the geographic location of Turkey. The European tread with China is too much important to put it in the hand of a leader like Erdoğan, who his control of the country in non-democratic ways, and as seems for now he will win the upcoming elections and sit in his chair for another term.

Of course, nothing can change the geographic locations of the countries, but if the Europe Union wish to maintain the Chinese investment coming to Europe and the tread between the sides growth it must find an ‘Erdoğan bypass’. No magic solution will be offered in the next few lines. The options the Europe Union have now is to accept the trend changes and the growing influence of Turkey on Europe or to fight back and make a long-term plan how to use the power Europe has in their hands.

The Europe Union can consider finds bypass way, one of them can be the sea route crossing Cyprus. This route gives ships to and from Europe way how not to be needed to use any Turkish ports or to pass any Turkish coasts. It necessary to say that China already has a big influence in the Greek side of Cyprus, and it can be very useful for the Europe Union to promote this existence and to use the Chinese power on Turkey to find a permanent solution for Cyprus borders problems.


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