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Brazil–Turkey Relations in the 2000s: Deconstructing Partnership between Emerging Powers

Uncertainty about the state of the new global order and the dynamics that govern it permeate academic literature and policy inquiries. In this new world order “picking allies, making friends and containing adversaries […] promises to be an unclear, ambiguous and delicate process.”1 Using Brazil and Turkey as an example, this paper aims to understand how and why emerging countries choose to “partner up.” The paper focuses on the growing relations between the two countries in the areas of political and economic cooperation between 2008 and 2012. The theoretical proposal of the paper is to test whether realist or more constructivist explanations can account for the approximation of these seemingly unlikely partners. This is done by examining the ideas and interests behind the moves towards stronger bilateral ties between the two states.

Brazil Turkey Relations in the 2000s Deconstructing Partnership between Emerging
President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, welcomes the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff upon her arrival for the G20 summit held on November 2015 in Antalya. AA PHOTO / CEM ÖKSÜZ
 

Introduction

“If ‘Darwin prizes’ were to be given to the countries that have best responded to challenging times, Brazil would be the runaway first-prize winner, with possibly Turkey in second place.”2 This statement from The Globalist expressed a widespread perception of the two countries in the period following their joint initiative to broker a nuclear deal with Iran in 2010. While the deal was rebuffed by the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and thus never came to be implemented, the initiative of the two “emerging powers” received global attention by political leaders and the media. The joint activism of two countries with traditionally weak economic and political ties, on a global security issue, suggested that the rapid economic growth and social development of middle powers in the early 20th century had implications beyond the economic and trade sphere. The so-called “emerging” powers were seen to be developing shared agendas on global issues, and to be claiming a greater share and a greater voice in issues of global relevance and global governance. More interestingly, the partnership between Brazil and Turkey posed the question whether these “emerging powers” were developing common identities and interests, which could bring former “strangers” on the international scene closer in pursuit of joint goals. 

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