Eurasia is not just a map, it exceeds geography: Suver

Eurasia is not just a map, it exceeds geography: Suver

Eurasia is not just a map, it exceeds geography: Suver Dr. Akkan Suver, the head of the Marmara Foundation that has organized the Eurasian Economic Summit for the past 19 years, responds to questions by Hürriyet Daily News. 

How did the Eurasia summits start?

We started in 1998 with seven Caucasian and Central Asian countries aiming to establish greater cooperation. The following year we had participation from European countries, and over time it expanded to include participants from a total of 45 countries. We preferred to focus on energy and the economy.

Is the “Eurasia” concept getting less popular today?

Just as Europe’s value is not limited to its geography, you should not measure Eurasia’s value only by its geography either; Eurasia is not simply a map. But we should not forget that with the introduction of China’s Silk Road project, Eurasia is about linking a geography from Beijing to London. 

Turkey is at the center of this geography.

We call our summit the Eurasia Economic Summit, but we have participants from Australia and the United States. Obviously the Eurasia of 1992 is not the same as present-day Eurasia. The countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia have changed since 1992. 

In the past we [Turkey] used to tell the Europeans to go to Central Asia with us; we told them it would be easier to find partners in these new countries if they went with us. We also told the Central Asian countries to go to Europe together with us. But today,Europe is present in Central Asia and central Asia is present in Europe without us In the early 1990s the Central Asian states had just gotten rid of one big brother. They did not want a new big brother. Turkey was a little late in understanding that. These countries are now celebrating their 25th year of independence. We can only continue our cooperation by respecting them. They are asking for relations on an equal footing.

Is the fall in oil and gas prices damaging the importance of Eurasia?

This is temporary. But at any rate the players in the region have already done their planning according to worst-case scenarios. We will hear about this from them, but Eurasia’s importance in terms of energy will continue.

What is Turkey’s image in Eurasia?

Our partners expect more from us. They want Turkey to show more interest. We don’t show them enough interest. During the times of former presidents Turgut Özal and Süleyman Demirel these relations were much stronger and warmer. Today they are limited to diplomatic talks.

Climate change is a core issue in this year’s summit…

We can see that the stipulations of the climate change agreement reached in Paris are not being abided by and countries are finding it difficult to adapt. But all countries, including Turkey, have put their signature to the agreement. This will end up being a big problem. Unfortunately, the Paris summit was not debated well enough in Turkey. Eurasian countries also signed the agreement but it is not on their agenda either. When we talked about arbitration in 2002 and 2003, we were not taken seriously. Nobody believed in it. But a few years later they did understand the importance of it. We cannot escape the dictates of the climate change agreement. Countries have been given time to adopt and take the necessary measures. We have to start thinking about it, but I’m not sure this is being done or there is even an intention to do so. Climate change is a reality of our age. We can’t run away from it.