Below you may find the abstract of my PhD thesis, completed in 2014, on Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East under the AKP. The thesis was recently released online by the University of Warwick. You may reach the full document here.
Turkey – the “new Iran”: Revolution & Foreign Policy (Working Paper no. 52) has been published by the Greece-based Academy for Strategic Analyses, in July 2016.
The first draft was completed in March, 2016 and was updated a few days before publication, after the coup attempt in Turkey.
One of the most important side-effects of the turmoil in the Middle East has been the crisis in Turkey’s relations with its Western partners. However, the events taking place in the Middle East or the Syria war are not the root causes of this friction; merely a triggering factor. The real reasons lie in the multileveled transformation, a sort of “revolution”, that Turkey has been going through over the past years and particularly since the election of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, or AKP) to power in 2002. These domestic changes usher in a new era for Turkey’s political scene that has many similarities – as well as differences – with Iran’s Islamic revolution of 1979. As a result, its national identity and ideological orientation shifts, something that undoubtedly impacts its foreign policy preferences, and as such will pose significant challenges to Western actors that try to work with Turkey and secure their interests in the region.
You may also find the PDF on Academia.edu, here.
The latest developments show that the Turkey-European Union (EU) deal on the refugee crisis is in limbo. On the one hand, the EU (through Merkel) seems to be standing firm regarding Turkey meeting all criteria (including the amendment of the anti-terror law) for the liberalization of visas for Turkish citizens. On the other hand, Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is relentless; he is unwilling to accept the amendment of the law under the pretext of Turkey’s need to fight the Islamic State and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Even though the definition of “terrorism” is so broad that actually allows the violation of freedom of speech and freedom of press since virtually anything could be deemed pro-terrorism propaganda. Academics, journalists and (Kurdish) MPs have already been prosecuted for this reason.
The eastern Mediterranean has been attracting a lot of attention, especially since the early 2010s, mainly because of the natural resource discoveries and the changing interstate relations. I’ve been following these developments since the beginning with a number of opinion editorials in English and Greek. By 2013 my interest started turning into a small research project. The results were published in different – albeit thematically overlapping – papers over the course of 2015 and early 2016 (see below). Though I thought that the latest article would conclude this project, as I’m now turning my focus towards the “Islamic State”, Turkey and the Middle East, it’s likely that the ongoing rapid developments will lead to more research on this subject. Contact me for more information.
A couple of days ago I wrote a post on Facebook. It wasn’t against the French flag Facebook launched, thought it may have seemed that way. It was about the tragedy of ascribing different value to people, based on their geographies, culture and religion. My main point was that we mourn, care, act and react selectively, based on what we feel closest to us. Not based on a principled appreciation of human life. Which is reasonable, but we should maybe think about it more. This was not judgement. It was just highlighting a fact, based on my own opinion. Raising awareness of the reality that this is how our system works, and that this is how we are drawn to act and behave. I had no intention to downplay the Paris tragedy. Nor did I suggest that one life matters more than others, or that one tragedy deserves more attention than others. Quite the contrary. I’m as devastated as anyone who watched these events unfolding from afar. And I definitely do not see that post as any kind of “activism” – in the age of Facebook, this word has lost its meaning. It was just the expression of an opinion. Continue reading
The following is a review of my PhD thesis, written by Dr. George Kyris (University of Birmingham) for Dissertation Reviews:
A review of Turkish Foreign Policy towards the Middle East under the AKP (2002-2013): A Neoclassical Realist Account, by Zenonas Tziarras.
This thesis seeks to explain Turkish foreign policy towards the Middle East under the AKP (Justice and Development Party) government. Drawing on neoclassical realism debates and focusing on foreign policy towards Syria and Israel during the period from 2002 to 2013, the author seeks to offer a “comprehensive and systematically integrated approach which analyses drivers, causal chains and foreign policy behavior.” Continue reading
When the international anti-ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) coalition was formed back in September 2014, Turkey was thought to be a pivotal participant. However, the international initiative divided Turkey’s political scene which appeared reluctant to follow in the footsteps of its traditional ally, the United States (US). Even after October 2, 2014, when the Turkish parliament voted on a motion that would authorize the government to conduct operations in Syria and Iraq as well as provide Turkish soil and military bases for allied operations, Ankara kept resisting any kind of meaningful military engagement of ISIS. Not only that, but it seemed to be turning a blind eye on foreign fighters crossing into Syria through its borders. Continue reading