As you know, the leading ideologists of the Bashkir political nationalism consistently promoted the federalist agenda, advocating for building contractual relations between the regions of the Russian Federation, which has long ceased being a federation. However, the Kremlin’s decision to start a full-scale war against Ukraine, which became a challenge to the entire civilized world, was a real disaster that will have far-reaching consequences for the peoples of today’s Russia.
With a high probability, this will also apply to the prospects of federalism, which turned out to be a big question along with the future of the state – a world outcast and a bankrupt due in five minutes, the so-called “RF”.
In such a situation, the Bashkir republican forces need to already think about the future foreign policy of Bashkortostan, whether as a completely independent state – which may automatically arise in the event of the death of the current “RF” – or as part of a union association, into which it can be transformed under control of the international community as part of its demilitarization and de-Putinization.
Based on this, the foreign policy strategy prepared by the Bashkir National Political Center consists of two blocks – relations with states that are already foreign to the current “RF”, and with those of its regions that one way or another would also have to become independent states after its reorganization. The former are considered in the strategy as the “far abroad”, and the latter as the “near abroad”.
As for the far abroad, there are three most important directions for Bashkortostan: Europe, the Turkic-Islamic world and the Far East.
Bashkortostan is located on the eastern edge of geographic Europe and, in fact, has been integrated into its cultural space for a long time. Using these factors, our goal in the future will be to introduce in Bashkortostan those political, economic, social and legal institutions, that have proven their effectiveness and successfully work in Europe as a part of the Western world. At the same time, even in the favorable case for post-Putin Russia, if it as a whole or most of its regions move in the same direction, Bashkortostan should have direct access to partners in Europe and the rest of the Western world and not depend in its cooperation with them on any “center”.
For the successful implementation of proven Western institutions, we will first need specialists experienced in them. These will be both Bashkortostanis who live and reached success in the West, whom we will actively involved in the construction of the new Bashkortostan, and Western specialists who are ready to participate in our development for a worthy reward and assessment of their services, including the possibility of granting citizenship.
We will need Western investments and technologies that will come to Bashkortostan when we have political, legal and administrative guarantees to protect the rights of property, investors and business. At the same time, of course, the interests of the economy, residents and environmental protection of Bashkortostan will be put at the forefront, which any businessman will have to take into account.
Our research centers and institutes should establish contacts with the best Western institutions, cooperate and exchange scientific achievements. Scientists of Bashkortostan should engage in joint scientific work with Western scientists, students, graduate students and doctoral students all should participate in exchange and internship programs with the best scientific centers in Western countries.
The priority for Bashkortostan should be the opening of innovation centers, attracting and nurturing its own IT specialists. The creation of the Bashkir Silicon Valley should be our ambitious goal.
At the same time, in active cooperation with Europe and the rest of the West, Bashkortostan needs to proceed only after taking into account our national interests and cultural values, focusing on those who share them with us. In Europe, these are, first of all, the countries and peoples of Eastern, Central and Southern Europe, who remain committed to their national and spiritual values, for which we, along with Turkey, can become a bridge to the Turkic world, which is important for them.
We will need to establish special relations with countries that have a history of fighting for their freedom against a common enemy, as well as successful experience in decolonization and national modernization, such as the Baltic countries, Poland, Ukraine, and Georgia.
In our future development of our relations with Europe we will not forget for a minute that our roots are in the Turkic-Islamic world. On the contrary, such a development of relations on our part, in addition to those relations that Turkey has long had with Europe and the West, will give impetus to other Turkic states that are interested in moving along the same course, in particular Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, to join these processes.
It is especially important for us to establish close and fraternal relations with Kazakhstan, with which it would be ideal to strive for such a degree of mutual support as Turkey and Azerbaijan had achieved.
Bashkortostan will need to join the Organization of Turkic States as a permanent member and seek close cooperation with its lead country, Turkey. It is necessary to return to the practice of opening Bashkir-Turkish-English lyceums. They have proven themselves with exclusively positive results and can become the forges of the future republican elite. Zaki Validi’s brand should become the very bridge in relations between Bashkortostan and Turkey; it will allow this to be done effectively. In the political sphere, one should be guided by the Turkish model of the times of the parliamentary republic – the first decade of the 21st century.
In the Turkic world, one should be guided by the such progressive examples, one of which we must become, like Turkey, but by no means on despotism, from which we shall be protectred by the close cooperation with Europe. Bashkortostan must retain its oriental flavor, Asian spirit, adherence to Islamic values, but at the same time remain a democratic state with a Western political system.
The examples of Japan and South Korea are very revealing. The countries have retained their own unique culture and historical spirit, but at the same time have become states with the most developed economies and democratic institutions.
Adherence to democratic values, transparent elections, change of power, publicity, pluralism, and a multi-party system should become the basis of the republic’s political system. Ideally, Bashkortostan should become a parliamentary republic, but that will require 10-15 years of transitional project government in order to strengthen the statehood and economy.
In the Far East, out of the countries of Asia, our strategic allies should be Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Muslim Malaysia, whose development models must become a benchmark for us.
Since these countries are, in fact, also a part of the Western world, they should be fully covered by the policy that was described above in relation to the countries of the West.
As for China, relations with it must be developed based on practical benefits, and be limited by it as well. We are ready to cooperate with China on a mutually beneficial basis, but not to the detriment of our values, interests and foreign policy priorities. Such a situation, when China dictates foreign and domestic policy to the Turkic countries, as is the case with a number of Central Asian states, will be unacceptable in the future of Bashkortostan. For this, the Chinese influence on the economy and society of Bashkortostan should not exceed reasonable limits.
The policy of Bashkortostan in relation to the near abroad should be based on the fact that after the collapse of Putinism and the imperial model, in addition to the national republics, Russian republics would also be formed on the territory of the current “RF”. It is not yet clear whether their number will be equal to the number of today’s regions or whether they are formed by uniting by geographical layout (Far Eastern Republic, Siberian Republic, Ural Republic, etc.). Nevertheless, we can, already roughly understand what kind of neighbors the Republic of Bashkortostan will have and what kind of relations we will build with them.
But first of all, in this context, it must be recalled that the project of the Bashkir National Political Center proceeds from the fact that future relations between the existing and newly formed republics should be based on the recognition of the current borders of both the current national republics and the current territories and regions. Changes in the boundaries between them are possible only with mutual consent on the basis of signings of relevant agreements.
So, the Republic of Bashkortostan borders:
– In the Northwest with the Republic of Udmurtia
– In the North with the Perm Territory
– In the Northeast with the Sverdlovsk region
– In the East with the Chelyabinsk region
– In the South and southwest with the Orenburg region
– In the West with the Republic of Tatarstan
Northwestern and northern neighbors
- The Republic of Udmurtia is one of the six national republics of the Ural-Volga region. The territory is 42,061 sq km, with a population of 1 million 483 539 people. The capital is the city of Izhevsk.
The Republic of Udmurtia is our natural ally in defending our common national and sovereign interests. At the dawn of the formation of Udmurt statehood, according to the 1926 census, the number of Udmurts in the republic was 52.3%. According to the 2010 census, the number of Udmurts in the republic was only 28%. There is a demographic problem of the Udmurt people, for the solution of which they will need a shake-up in the form of gaining political sovereignty.
The Bashkirs need to help the Udmurts to defend their right to self-determination and support their statehood. According to the 2010 census, 21,000 Udmurts live in the Republic of Bashkortostan. 3,454 Bashkirs live in the Republic of Udmurtia. All of them should have the opportunity both to reside where they live as protected national minorities, and to voluntarily return to their historical homeland under repatriation programs to solve the demographic problem of their republic.
Perm region. The territory is 160,236 sq km, with a population of 2,555,042 people. The capital is the city of Perm.
It is necessary to build friendly relations with the Perm Territory based on economic cooperation. This is a rich region with developed industry, natural resources and minerals. Oil is produced there, which can be successfully processed at the refineries of Bashkortostan. Through Bashkortostan, the Perm Territory can build logistics routes to the countries of Central Asia.
32,000 Bashkirs live in the Perm Territory (2010 census). Basically, these are the so-called Bardym Bashkirs, who are concentrated in the Bardymsky district (25 thousand people or 55%). This area does not border with the Republic of Bashkortostan and is cut off from it by the Kuedinsky and Chernushinsky districts, where Bashkirs make up 6% to 6.6%. In the Bardymsky district itself, the number of Bashkirs is also steadily declining. For example, if in 1989 the number of Bashkirs in the region was 85.1%, then according to the 2010 census, only 55.2% remained. Therefore, it will be necessary to reach agreements with the authorities of the region on guaranteeing the interests of the local Bashkir population, or else (or along with this) a program of their voluntary repatriation to Bashkortostan.
Sverdlovsk region. The territory is 194,226 sq km, with a population of 4 million 261,084 people. The capital city is Yekaterinburg.
The Sverdov region is beneficial for Bashkortostan as a friendly neighbor that has its own regional identity. In addition to being a region very rich in natural resources, it has a well-developed chemical and metallurgical industry, and especially mechanical engineering.
The Sverdlovsk region already has the experience of forming a republic – in 1993 the governor of the Sverdlovsk region announced the creation of the Ural Republic. And although it lasted only three months, the people of Sverdlovsk remember this precedent and keep it in mind in their views for the future. Therefore, Bashkortostan needs to consider their regionalist movement as its strategic partner.
A glorious history connects the Bashkirs with the inhabitants of Yekaterinburg. In the summer of 1918, the Bashkir troops helped to liberate the city from the Red troops, for which the grateful residents of Yekaterinburg presented the Bashkir soldiers with a banner of honor they made with their own hands.
Although the Bashkirs are an autochthonous people of the south of the Sverdlovsk region, 31 thousand or 0.8% of the total number of Bashkirs now live there, mainly in a number of southern regions of the Sverdlovsk region. Therefore, it will be necessary to reach agreements with the authorities of the region on guaranteeing the interests of the local Bashkir population, or else (or along with this) a program of their voluntary repatriation to Bashkortostan.
In the east, the Republic of Bashkortostan borders on the Chelyabinsk region. The territory is 87,900 sq km, with a population of 3 million 416 613 people. The capital city is Chelyabinsk.
The lands of the Chelyabinsk region were previously part of Historical Bashkortostan, the area of settlement of the Bashkir people. And now the largest group of Bashkirs from all regions aside from the republic lives in the Chelyabinsk region – 162,513 people (2010).
Until quite recently, from 1919 to 1934, the Bashkir Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (BASSR) included the Argayash and Yalan cantons (later the Argayash and Kunashak regions), which were then transferred to the Chelyabinsk region.
A large number (65%) and (47%) of the Bashkir population still lives in the Argayash and Kunashak regions. And yet, the total percentage of Bashkirs living there is really small if compared to the total percentage of the population of the Chelyabinsk – only 4.81% (2010).
The territory of Bashkortostan includes a big chunk of the Chelyabinsk region consisting of the Ashinsky, Katav-Ivanovsky, Satkinsky districts, the Ust-Katavsky urban district and the Closed Administrative Territorial Formation Trekhgorny. The total population of these administrative entities is approximately 220 thousand people, of which a little more than 5% are Bashkir.
At the same time, from the side of Bashkortostan, the Beloretsky and Uchalinsky districts enter the territory of the Chelyabinsk region in a sharp wedge, not reaching Chelyabinsk a little. On the other side the Chelyabinsk lands cover the Salavatsky, Kiginsky and Belokataysky districts.
Bashkir politicians have repeatedly expressed their disagreement with the fact that the districts once belonging to the Bashkir ASSR, Argayashsky and Kunashaksky districts, were transferred to the Chelyabinsk region, and such discontent still exists both among the Bashkirs of Bashkortostan and among the Bashkirs of the Chelyabinsk region. Therefore, it will be necessary to reach agreements with the authorities of the region on guaranteeing the interests of the local Bashkir population, or else (or along with this) a program of their voluntary repatriation to Bashkortostan.
The Ural region is very vast and rich. All of the currently existing regions in it can either stand as separate republics or unite into one large Ural Republic. With the unification of the Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk and Kurgan regions into one state entity, the potential of such Ural Republic can increase many times over. It will be an economically powerful republic, with a territory of 353,126 square kilometers (the territory of a large European country) with a population of 8.5 million people.
In the south and southwest, the Republic of Bashkortostan borders the Orenburg region. The territory is 123,702 sq km, with a population of 1,921,908 people. The capital is the city of Orenburg.
The lands of the Orenburg region were previously a part of the lands of Historical Bashkortostan, the indigenous population of which were Bashkirs and partly Kazakhs. The Bashkir clans bordered on kindred Kazakh clans, maintained trade and cultural relations, became related to each other, and united in difficult times. Over time, the Russian empire colonized these lands, building a chain of fortresses and thereby separating the Bashkirs from the Kazakhs. It was because of the construction of Orenburg (now it is the city of Orsk) that the largest Bashkir uprising broke out in 1735, which lasted until 1740. At the beginning of the 20th century, the territory of the Orenburg region belonged to various territorial entities several times. From 1920 to 1925, the modern city of Orenburg was the capital of the Kirghiz ASSR, which later became known as the Kazak ASSR. The Kazakhs still consider the city of Orenburg their city and have their own views on it. Only in 1934 the Orenburg region became its current shape. Today, 46,696 Bashkirs, more than 120,000 Kazakhs and more than 150,000 Tatars live in the Orenburg region.
The Orenburg region is the most important strategic direction in the Near Abroad policy for Bashkortostan. It is through the Orenburg region opens the access to the independent internationally-recognized countries, primarily Kazakhstan. For Bashkortostan, Kazakhstan is the most important and the first-concern priority strategic partner capable of assisting in the development of a young sovereign Bashkortostan. It should also be added that the Orenburg region in the west adjoins the Republic of Tatarstan, which indicates its economic integration with the Turkic republics.
The Orenburg region is a region rich in natural resources with oil, gas, developed engineering and agriculture. The Orenburg region, after gaining independence, is able to become an economically prosperous state, with which Bashkortostan will need to build friendly and cooperative relationship, just as the Orenburg region will need to have such relations with its neighbors, being between the three Turkic states.
In the west, the Republic of Bashkortostan borders with the Republic of Tatarstan. The territory of the republic is 67,847 sq km, with a population of 3,886,640 people. The capital is the city of Kazan.
In the near abroad, the Republic of Tatarstan is the closest neighbor to Bashkortostan. Tatars, like the Bashkirs, are a Turkic people and, like the Bashkirs, profess Islam. In the 90s, both of these republics were the flagships of federalism and the construction of the sovereignty of their republics. Both republics have always had strong national movements.
In the future, in the Near Abroad, Tatarstan will be our closest ally, with which we will need to jointly defend our sovereign rights and interests.
Between Bashkirs and Tatars, as is often the case with close relatives, mutual grievances and claims sometimes arise. The Bashkirs are constantly reminded of the Aktanyshevsky and Menzelinsky districts of the Republic of Tatarstan as lands that were part of Historical Bashkortostan and were previously part of the Ufa province. And just as well the Tatars periodically raise the issue of detaching the northwestern regions of the Republic of Bashkortostan and joining them to Tatarstan. But one must understand that in the future these republics, located practically in the center of Russia, are simply doomed to jointly defend their independence by helping and supporting each other in everything. Only by recognizing each other’s interests and the existing borders of both republics, Bashkortostan and Tatarstan will be able to become strong independent states.
It will also be necessary to involve in the treaty alliance of mutual assistance the other four republics of the Ural-Volga region: Chuvashia, Mari-El, Udmurtia and Mordovia.
Tatarstan, like Bashkortostan, being a Turkic republic, will probably enter the Union of Turkic States, which will strengthen its position on the world stage. The Republic of Chuvashia will also be able to enter it.
Tatarstan is rightfully the most economically powerful neighbor of all the other neighbors of Bashkortostan. The economy of the two republics is interconnected and trade relations have been established, which will only strengthen mutual cooperation in the future.
Our thanks for this translation to The Free Idel Ural.