Turkey and Tajikistan will mark thirty years of diplomatic relations today.
The two countries have forged close ties since the fall of the Soviet Union. Both are members of the Economic Cooperation Organization, an Asian political and economic intergovernmental organization. Additionally, Turkey was the only country whose embassy remained open during the Tajikistani Civil War. There is room for closer ties—Tajikistan’s ambassador to Turkey recently met with Turkey’s Defense Minister to discuss increased bilateral cooperation on defense.
Expect Turkey to seek increased bilateral cooperation on defense with Tajikistan as it works to increase its influence in Central Asia, where it increasingly navigates for power amongst Russia and China. The arrival of a Russian peacekeeping force in Kazakhstan in response to the recent unrest there shows that Russia still holds considerable sway in the former Soviet republics due to its military capabilities. As ethnically-Persian Tajikistan is unlikely to join the Turkish-led Organization of Turkic States, partnering on defense through joint training is a direct route for Ankara to increase its sway in the country. It is unlikely to pursue more aggressive cooperation including joint military exercises to avoid antagonizing Moscow—on which Turkey is energy dependent—in Russia’s “near abroad.”
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Jon is a Content Editor and Analyst within the Analysis division of Foreign Brief.