July 16, 2019
On July 5, The Atlantic published an article by Thomas Wright, Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. The title was “Trump Couldn’t Ignore the Contradictions of His Foreign Policy Any Longer”. (*)
The article provides interesting insight on the evolution of President Trump’s foreign policy. What attracted my attention more than anything else was the very first paragraph: Okumaya devam et
January 29, 2018
On May 16, 2017 Presidents Erdogan and Trump had talks in Washington. A few days before the visit I had said:
“…neither Ankara nor Washington can afford a too rocky relationship with too many ups and downs. They need one another and a reasonably steady relationship. So, the uneasy, unhappy alliance will continue.” (*)
I may have been over-optimistic. At present, the two capitals can’t agree even on the gist of a phone call between the presidents. Okumaya devam et
January 7, 2017
Turkey remains in diplomatic isolation. Once, the government called this “precious loneliness”, a price Ankara was prepared to pay no matter what for its “principled foreign policy”. However, this policy of needless defiance coupled with the decline of Turkish democracy has become unsustainable. Okumaya devam et
March 27, 2017
Turkish government’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy was nothing but a public relations stunt. Its “regime change Syria” project has turned into a major foreign and security policy disaster, as predicted.
At present, Ankara’s relations with Washington are under clouds of uncertainty because of differences over Fethullah Gülen’s extradition and YPG’s role in combating ISIS. Secretary Tillerson, addressing the Ministerial Plenary for the Global Coalition Working to Defeat ISIS on March 22, said: “Turkey has pushed ISIS off the Turkey-Syria border through Operation Euphrates Shield. This entire border is now inaccessible to ISIS, and we will ensure that it stays that way…” What that means exactly will no doubt be high on the agenda of the talks Secretary Tillerson will have in Ankara at the end of the month. Criticism directed by Ankara at the gone Obama administration continues and is probably seen as an indirect way of sending messages to its successor. Okumaya devam et
March 14, 2017
First, it was “zero problems with neighbors”. Then, it was regime change in Syria. Ankara was so determined that it shot down a Russian fighter-jet provoking a major crisis with Moscow. In May 2016, following an unavoidable government reshuffle, the motto became “more friends and fewer enemies” and that appeared to make sense. Reconciliation with Russia thus started to move forward, at a cost of course. The future of relations with the Trump administration remain uncertain because of the question of Fethullah Gülen’s extradition as well as America’s collaboration with the YPG. And now, Ankara is burning bridges with its traditional European allies who are also Turkey’s major economic partners and home to millions of Turks. The first was Germany (*) only to be followed by the Netherlands not to mention the others. Okumaya devam et
January 9, 2017
In early April 2009 Mr. Obama visited Ankara on his first trip abroad as US President. His address to the Turkish Parliament was full of praise for Turkey’s “strong, vibrant, secular democracy”. In May 2013, Prime Minister Erdogan visited Washington. Remarks made by the two leaders at their joint press conference reflected nothing but a cordial and strong relationship. Four years later, we have a different picture (1). Okumaya devam et
August 15, 2016
In retrospect, one of EU’s major foreign and security policy mistakes was the blunting of whatever momentum Turkey’s accession process had. It goes without saying that this was also Turkey’s failure. Had both sides acted with foresight, even with an open-ended process, Turkey and the EU could have been at a different point in dealing with today’s myriad of Middle East problems. Turkey would have become a channel for promoting democracy in the region. And, Turkey and the EU would have engaged in more genuine cooperation to deal with the Middle East turmoil, beyond the controversial “refugee deal”.
At present, Turkey’s relations with the EU can at best be described as mutual dislike/distrust. The accession process exits only on paper. Okumaya devam et
August 4, 2016
It was only a decade ago that, despite lingering doubts and internal controversy, the EU launched accession negotiations with Turkey. Peoples of the region were following the process with envy. It was less than a decade ago that Turkey was a facilitator between Syria and Israel. Our relations with neighbors were characterized by a determination to open new avenues of cooperation reflecting shared interests. Syria was a close friend. Turkish-Egyptian business relations were booming. In April 2009 Turkey became the first country to host President Obama on a bilateral visit. He addressed the Turkish Parliament and said:
“This morning I had the great privilege of visiting the tomb of your extraordinary founder of your republic. And I was deeply impressed by this beautiful memorial to a man who did so much to shape the course of history. But it is also clear that the greatest monument to Atatürk’s life is not something that can be cast in stone and marble. His greatest legacy is Turkey’s strong, vibrant, secular democracy, and that is the work this assembly carries on today…” Okumaya devam et
July 25, 2016
A year-and-a-half ago I wrote (*):
“We Turks need to understand that our success as a nation, especially in the field of foreign policy, depends first and foremost upon our internal peace and stability. The amount of respect we enjoy, our international status, our regional role, our effectiveness at international organizations, they all depend upon our giving final proof that Turkey is a secular democracy. Since the founding of the Republic by Atatürk in 1923, this has been the world’s expectation because we are or were, the only country with a predominantly Moslem population to have come this far. Turkey needs to prove, once and for all, that we are a democracy and that the point of no return has been crossed.
“Until we do that even the right foreign policy initiatives will yield no result.
“Unfortunately, the “once in a century” historic opportunity is slipping away…” Okumaya devam et
June 6, 2016
On May 24, 2016, Turkey’s new Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım introduced his government’s program in the Parliament. Government programs hardly get any public attention because they routinely reiterate lofty principals, announce visionary policies and contain endless promises. This is Turkey’s 65th government. Had commitments by successive governments been fulfilled, Turkey would have been in the 22nd century today. Okumaya devam et