Turkish foreign policy has always been a puzzling issue for both Western and non-Western scholars. Yet, the ascendance of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi – AKP) to power in 2002 made things even more complicated as it signified the gradual break of a national ideological tradition and the emergence of a post-Kemalist, neo-Islamist, ideological framework. Despite the various existing explanations, analyses and interpretations of the AKP’s foreign policy, this paper seeks to contribute to this debate by employing a different (multi-scenario) approach. It assumes that the conduct of Turkish foreign policy is based on the existence of probable scenarios, often substitutionary to each other. If that is indeed the case, then Turkish foreign policy is conducted in an opportunistic way which lacks a specific Western or Eastern orientation, and aims at the maximization of benefits in different isolated issues thus diminishing the possibility of having a comprehensive grand strategy. Through this prism it is made clear that every important issue on Turkish foreign policy agenda plays a central role in its indecisiveness and leads de facto to a Multi-Scenario foreign policy.
Εδώ και 15 περίπου μέρες γίνεται λόγος στα Μέσα Μαζικής Επικοινωνίας για το 105σελιδο έγγραφο, συσσυγγραφής Τούρκου ΥΠΕΞ Αχμέτ Νταβούτογλου και Υπουργού Ευρωπαϊκών Υποθέσεων Μεβλούτ Τσαβούσογλου, που κατατέθηκε στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση (ΕΕ) κατά την 52η συνεδρία του Συμβούλιο Σύνδεσης Τουρκίας-ΕΕ, την 23η Ιουνίου 2014. Το επίμαχο σημείο του εγγράφου, που ξεσήκωσε αντιδράσεις, είναι ο χαρακτηρισμός της Κυπριακής Δημοκρατίας ως defunct («εκλιπούσα» ή αλλιώς… «μακαρισμένη» – περισσότερα πιο κάτω).
Και ενώ η είδηση έχει καλυφθεί από διάφορα Μέσα, σε επίπεδο πολιτικής τηρείται σχετική σιγή, πλην της αντίδρασης της Κύπριας ευρωβουλευτού, Ελένης Θεοχάρους, η οποία ήγειρε το θέμα στην Ολομέλεια του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοινοβουλίου κατά την παράδοση της ελληνικής προεδρίας της ΕΕ στην Ιταλία. Εκεί, η ευρωβουλευτής είχε φέρει τον Έλληνα Πρωθυπουργό, Αντώνη Σαμαρά, και τον Έλληνα ΥΠΕΞ, Ευάγγελο Βενιζέλο, προ των ευθυνών τους σχετικά με την απραξία της Ελλάδας και της ελληνικής προεδρίας της ΕΕ για το συγκεκριμένο έγγραφο και το περιεχόμενό του. Γεγονός που έβαλε την Ελλάδα σε δύσκολη θέση και εξόργισε, καθώς λέγεται, τον Έλληνα ΥΠΕΞ ο οποίος κινητοποίησε το ελληνικό ΥΠΕΞ στέλνοντας ρηματική διακοίνωση στο αντίστοιχο κυπριακό (περισσότερα εδώκαι εδώ). Continue reading →
According to a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Turkey has to pay 90 million Euros in damages to Cyprus in compensation for its 1974 invasion of the island. Turkey was again called by the ECHR to pay a 13 million Euro compensation to Cyprus over property rights violations in the occupied territories, in 2009.
The Court’s decision is a victory, not only for Cyprus and its people, but also for Justice itself. An internationally renowned Court has yet again ruled the Turkish invasion and occupation of 37% of the island illegal, along with a big number of United Nations Security Council resolutions. Continue reading →
In February, 2014, Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, during an interview with Al Jazeera, repeated Turkey’s three preconditions for normalization of relations with Israel: i) the Israeli apology, ii) Israel had to pay for reparations, and iii) the Gaza embargo has to be lifted. Elaborating on the latter he said that “all kinds of aid to go unhindered from Turkey to Palestine.”
Erdoğan, acknowledged the steps that had been taken by Israel through its apology and the negotiations for the reparations payment. However, he did emphasize that the issue of the Gaza embargo is still pending and that normalization of relations without this component will not work. Continue reading →
While presenting my paper on a Neoclassical Realist theorization of Turkish foreign policy, yesterday (28/03/2014), I was “accused” of being wrong that systemic-geopolitical factors and national security considerations were the primary factors that turned Turkey against Syria (from friend to enemy) in late 2011. Some scholars (including Turkish ones) were saying that Turkey’s regional image, model, and legitimization (i.e. to be a promoter of democracy and “on the right side of history”) were more important.
Well, in the leaked tape (attached below) regarding Turkey’s Syria policy, you can see that national security, including the Kurdish (PKK) threat (which was one of my points), is central to Ankara’s decisions with regard to Syria. It is also clear that they have been wanting to do more (i.e. intervene) all along – which is, again, one of the arguments I make in articles and my PhD. However, a number of factors, which I will not mention here, led Turkey to adopt only an indirect involvement (e.g. supporting the rebels and sanctions). As occurs from the tape, they are today regretting the fact that they did not take more drastic measures in the recent past, although they do acknowledge the practical, tactical and logistical difficulties. Continue reading →
It was June, 2013. I arrived in Ankara, Turkey, right on time to witness the development of the protests that began at Istanbul’s Gezi Park and spread throughout the country’s urban centers, as well as to experience and participate in the social and political discussion that was taking place at that time. The purpose of my visit included the participation in a conference on Turkish foreign policy and some field research. That gave me the opportunity to speak and exchange views with students of International Relations, academics, experts, and diplomats.
A widespread understanding was that Turkish society had been left without a political alternative. In other words, the political opposition – most notably the Republican People’s Party, CHP – was not an adequate opponent to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). And there was no other option. Most of the people I discussed with were open in expressing their discomfort with the AKP’s policies. Others, mostly people affiliated in one way or another to the government, appeared more reluctant to directly criticize the AKP. Yet the consensus was clear: The AKP has made significant improvements with regard to the country’s democratization, economy, and foreign policy. But this did not change the fact that it became gradually authoritarian by having a majoritarian approach to democracy. As often argued, this was also reflected in foreign policy. Continue reading →
It is well known that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” So here is the question: Given that Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, does not possess absolute power and yet is considered by many to be corrupt and increasingly authoritarian, where would his pursuit of absolute power lead him and what would that mean for Turkey? In this light, the importance of the current protests in Turkey lies not so much in the political change that they could bring about, but in the possibility that they might not bring about the political change they would like to.
When he first assumed power in 2003, Prime Minister Erdogan entered the political scene with a reformist dynamic. A promising dynamic for Turkey’s economic development and growth, its relations with the EU, its civil-military relations and its democratization process, its abidance with the international and EU law, and the overall political, economic and social stability of the country as well as its increasingly important position in the region and the world. Erdogan, and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), succeeded to a great extent and Turkish people loved him for that. He gave Turkey the impetus that many believed it should have. But this is not the whole story. The more PM Erdogan and the AKP consolidated their power over the state and at the expense of the political power of the military, the more their control became “asphyxiating” (for many) and their policies reflected a top-down conservative social engineering project. Continue reading →