Aylık arşivler: Aralık 2015

2015 in Retrospect

December 28, 2015

Arab Spring turmoil has continued to dominate world’s agenda with the war in Syria, ISIL terrorism and the refugee problem as top items. The confrontation over Ukraine has somewhat receded confirming predictions of a frozen conflict. The only good news in 2015 were the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The rising cost of its involvement in Syria aside, this puts Tehran on top of the very short list of winners in 2015. Okumaya devam et

UN Security Council Resolutions 2253 and 2254

December 21, 2015

On December 17, 2015 the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2253 (*) to suppress the financing of terrorism. The 28-page resolution covers asset freeze, travel ban, arms embargo and listing criteria for ISIL, Al-Qaida and “associated individuals, groups, undertaking and entities”. Through the Resolution, the Security Council reiterated the obligation of States to ensure that their nationals and persons in their territory deny economic resources to those actors, including direct and indirect trade in oil and refined oil products, modular refineries and related material. It reaffirmed that those responsible for committing, organizing or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable.

And, on December 18, the Security Council adopted, again unanimously, Resolution 2254 (**) approving the roadmap which had emerged from International Syria Support Group’s (ISSG) Vienna meetings of October 30 and November 14. Okumaya devam et

Downing of Russian Su-24: The NATO Dimension

Co-authored with Yusuf Buluç (*)

December 16, 2015

Downing of Russia’s Su-24 bomber on November 24, 2015 has led to tensions between Ankara and Moscow putting decades-long cooperation in danger.

Before the incident, a Russian military delegation headed by Major General Dronov, Deputy Commander of the Russian Air Forces visited Ankara on 15 October 2015. According to the statement issued by Turkey’s General Staff, the purpose of the visit was to clarify the reasons underlying the violations of Turkish airspace on 3-4 October and the measures taken to prevent their recurrence. Apparently, the Russian side also apologized and that was the end of it. Why the two sides did not conclude a “de-confliction agreement”, like Russia and the US had done, remains an open question. Yes, Russian and American military aircraft are engaged in combat operations over Syria and Turkey is not, but more could and should have been done. Okumaya devam et

Turkey Needs to Build Trust

December 14, 2015
In a world of contradictions foreign policy is no exception. The West, for example, always takes care to wave the democracy flag but can become oblivious to democratic values in its dealings with Middle East tyrannies. Russia constantly underlines that it is up to the people of Syria to determine their own future but becomes less generous when the question becomes the people of Ukraine determining their future. Nevertheless, they all somehow try to make their contradictions less conspicuous; devise ways and means to justify them; draw attention to what is doable and what is not and thus bridge the gap between words and deeds. Turkey understandably cannot be the exception to the rule. But discrepancies between what it says from one day to the next and between what it says and does are turning Ankara into an “unpredictable partner” at best. Okumaya devam et

Moment of Truth for Turkey’s Syria Policy

December 3, 2015

On November 27, 2015 the Wall Street Journal reported that the Obama administration was pressing Turkey to deploy thousands of additional troops along its border with Syria to cordon off a 60-mile stretch of frontier that U.S. officials said was being used by the Islamic State fighters in and out of the war zone. This coincided with Turkish press reports that convoys of heavy weaponry were heading towards the south.

On November 30 President Putin held a press conference in Paris at the end of the UN Conference on Climate Change. He was extremely critical of Turkey: Okumaya devam et

EU-Turkey Brussels Summit: “The Deal”

December 2, 2015

The EU summit held in Brussels on December 17, 2004 decided that accession negotiations with Turkey would start on October 3, 2005. The process was accordingly launched at the Luxembourg Intergovernmental Conference. This was two years after the Justice and Development Party (JDP) had come to power and “democratic reform” appeared to be high on the agenda. In early April 2009 President Obama visited Turkey. He addressed the Turkish Parliament and referred to Turkey’s strong, vibrant, secular democracy as Ataturk’s greatest legacy.

Turkey’s accession to the EU would have been a landmark development for the world for two reasons. Firstly, it would have shown that a determined Moslem country could achieve the highest democratic standards. And secondly, it would have proven that the EU could embrace a Moslem country which had attained those standards. The project, however, required genuine political will from both sides. Unfortunately, that kind of will was never there. Okumaya devam et