World Bulletin/News Desk
NATO member Turkey signed up on Friday to became a "dialogue partner" of a security bloc dominated by China and Russia, and declared that its destiny is in Asia.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu Friday said that the memorandum of understanding signed with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was a declaration of a "common destiny."
"This is really a historic day for us," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in Kazakhstan's commercial capital Almaty after signing a memorandum of understanding with Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Secretary General Dmitry Mezentsev.
Davutoglu, who was on a formal visit to Kazakhstan said "Today we announce that as Turkey, our destiny is the same as those states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization." "The partnership would strengthen Turkey's ties with the organization especially in the fields of economy and transportation, and would provide the opportunity of collectively fighting against threats," Davutoglu added.
China, Russia and four Central Asian nations - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - formed the SCO in 2001 as a regional security bloc to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighbouring Afghanistan.
Since then, Central Asia's former imperial master Russia has watched with unease China's economic expansion in the resource-rich region, with Beijing investing billions of dollars in oil and gas and issuing large loans to local governments.
Turkey has displayed interest in closer ties with the SCO at a time when it is upset by the slow progress of accession talks with the European Union.
Ankara began talks on joining the EU in 2005 but has only completed one of the 35 policy areas, or "chapters", every candidate must conclude to be allowed entry due to disagreements largely over the divided island of Cyprus.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has called Turkey's wait to join the bloc "unforgivable" and has accused Brussels of not being a fair or genuine negotiating partner.
While China vies with Russia and the West for access to Central Asia's vast natural resources, some analysts view the SCO as a potential counter-balance to NATO.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan speak Turkic languages, and while pledging to cooperate with the SCO economically and in fighting terrorist threats and drug trade together, Davutoglu stressed common historic roots.
"Turkey will be part of a family, which is composed of the countries which lived together not for centuries - for millennia," he said.
Turkey's "dialogue partner" status, also granted to Sri Lanka and ex-Soviet state Belarus, is below that of observer status held by India, Pakistan, Mongolia, Iran and Afghanistan which participate in SCO meetings but have no right to vote.
Davutoglu, upbeat and smiling, stressed however that this status was "just the beginning".
"I hope at the next summit in (the Kyrgyz capital) Bishkek we will be present, as well as at ministerial meetings," Davutoglu said. "This is the beginning of a long way, walking together, hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder."
Turkish defense industry exports increased by 21 percent in January-August period reaching over $1 billion, according to the national association of exporters.
High inflation figures are largely related to food prices, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said.
Turkish Aerospace Industries handed last four of modernized F-16 fighters to Pakistan in a ceremony in Ankara on Tuesday.
Tuesday's newspapers cover the corruption probe targeting President's Erdogan's son, PM Davutoglu’s unveiling of the new government program as well as more detentions in Turkey’s ‘wiretapping’ sweep.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry urged Israel to withdraw their decision and stick to international law.
'To open the Halki Seminary (historic theological Greek school) is easy, but Greek side should take similar steps,' said President Erdogan.
The Turkish Exporters' Assembly announced a 5.2 percent rise in exports for August.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry rejected claims about the country’s general consulate staff in Mosul, who have been kept hostage by rebels in Iraq since June 11.
New Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu outlined the coming government’s program, highlighting the resolution of the Kurdish question.
The programme put emphasis on a strong economy, envisaging a monetary policy which stepped up the struggle against inflation but also supported growth and employment
Erdogan and Davutoglu, who was appointed prime minister last week, have both made clear that their efforts to curb Gulen's influence will continue in their new roles
Amasya MP Mehmet Naci Bostanci is elected ruling AK Party's new parliamentary group deputy chairman.
Turkey's President Erdogan made his first foreign visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as president on Monday.
Ali Babacan will retain overall responsibility for the economy in the new cabinet, government spokesman Bulent Arinc said
Monday's newspapers cover German weekly Der Spiegel’s claims on foreign spying on Turkey, Turkish intelligence service’s purchase of a lie detector and ongoing construction works of Turkey’s Eurasia Tunnel Project.
Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will discuss the issue of spying claims on Turjey with American and German leaders at the upcoming NATO summit and U.N. general assembly.