When President Obama’s visited Turkey in April 2009 he underlined Turkey’s “strong, vibrant, secular democracy”. Turkish-American relations appeared to have reached their peak. As Turkey started to move away from the democratic path relations started to sour not only with the US but also the EU. Then came the Syria ordeal. Turkey was at the forefront of those who were after regime change. President Obama’s decision not to enforce his redline in Syria caused resentment in Ankara because it showed that even the Obama administration, unlike Ankara, had not written off President Assad completely. Okumaya devam et →
On March 15, 2018 the US imposed new sanctions on 24 Russian entities and individuals for interfering in the 2016 election and conducting a series of damaging cyberattacks.
On March 20, President Trump called President Putin to congratulate him on his election victory. “We had a very good call, and I suspect that we’ll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control, but we will never allow anybody to have anything even close to what we have. And also to discuss Ukraine and Syria and North Korea and various other things” he told reporters.
On March 26, the White House announced the expulsion of sixty Russian intelligence officers from the United States and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle due to its proximity to an American submarine base and Boeing.
The same day many EU countries and others also made similar announcements. NATO’s expulsion of seven Russian diplomats followed two days later.
EU’s decision to expel Russian intelligence officers was taken at the European Council meeting of March 22-23 in Brussels. The meeting was already on Council’s calendar and the presence of heads of state and government provided an opportunity to address the Salisbury attack and enabled joint action. Okumaya devam et →
In earlier posts, I have often referred to President Obama’s visit to Turkey in early April, 2009. This is what I said:
“The President arrived in Turkey after attending a G20 summit in London, a NATO summit in Strasbourg and an EU summit in Prague. In other words, this was his first bilateral visit abroad. The following paragraph from the speech he delivered before the Turkish Grand National Assembly reflected the purpose of the visit:
“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…
“The message: Turkey, with its secular democracy has set an example for the Islamic world. Turkey should continue this path, and others should follow.” Okumaya devam et →
June 24, 2017
In the fall of 1966, I took a series of exams to join the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Among other things, we were asked to comment on a widely used metaphor, “Turkey is a bridge between East and West”. I wrote that throughout history Anatolia had been a meeting point of cultures and that Turkey’s future lied in creating a successful synthesis. During my later years in diplomatic service I continuously objected to the use of this metaphor arguing that a bridge belongs to neither of its banks and that Turkey had already made her choice. With the launching of EU accession negotiations in October 2005 I came to believe that we had finally crossed the Bosporus Bridge and were travelling towards the West. This by no means meant a rupture with the East for obvious reasons. Moreover, our good relations with the region were seen as an asset by the EU. Okumaya devam et →
Turkey’s traditional foreign policy stood on pillars. Our relations with the United States and the European Union constituted the first two. A third one was our relations with our neighbors and the region. Prominently among those was Russia. Since the world is in a constant process of transformation Turkey was also searching for new pillars to add to the existing ones. Relations with China, India and other emerging powers offered new prospects. Since they did not constitute alternatives to one another, strengthening each and every one of these pillars was a dictate of Turkey’s interests.
Those pillars have undergone serious damage in recent years for two reasons: our leaving the path of democratic reform and our involvement in the Syrian conflict. Okumaya devam et →
“Turkey’s traditional foreign policy, bitterly criticized by the present Government for having betrayed Turkey’s potential, stood on pillars. Our relations with the United States and the European Union constituted the first two. A third one was our relations with our neighbors and the region. Prominently among those was Russia. Since the world is in a constant process of transformation Turkey was searching for new pillars to add to the existing ones. Relations with China, India and other emerging powers offered new prospects. Okumaya devam et →
Phrases like “radical Islam”, “jihadist terror”, “Islamic extremism” and “Islamophobia” have been with us for quite some time. The Orlando massacre must have galvanized the behind closed doors debate on them. And, while some use them openly and with fury, others find it wiser to avoid doing this.
Mr. Trump, suggesting that all Muslim immigrants posed potential threats to America’s security, has renewed his call for a ban on Muslim migration into the United States and extend it to cover all nations with a history of terrorism. Mrs. Clinton said that a ban on Muslims would not have stopped the attack and neither would a wall. She also said that she’s not afraid to say “radical” Islam as she countered attacks from Mr. Trump that she’s too politically correct to use the phrase.
Although we are less than five months away from the November 8, 2016 US presidential election, I prefer to focus on what President Obama has said following the Orlando massacre. Here are excerpts from his statements: Okumaya devam et →
The EU-Turkey Statement of March 18, 2016 starts with these two paragraphs (*):
“Today the Members of the European Council met with their Turkish counterpart. This was the third meeting since November 2015 dedicated to deepening Turkey-EU relations as well as addressing the migration crisis. “The Members of the European Council expressed their deepest condolences to the people of Turkey following the bomb attack in Ankara on Sunday. They strongly condemned this heinous act and reiterated their continued support to fight terrorism in all its forms.”
Dictionaries define “as well as” in the following way: “and in addition”, “and also”. So, at first look, one may assume that the “meeting of the Members of the European Council and their Turkish counterparts” was essentially about “deepening Turkey-EU relations” and “in addition” or “and also” they addressed the migration crisis. Wrong! Okumaya devam et →
Terrorist attacks continue to claim rising numbers of innocent lives. The word “gridlock” can hardly describe the political atmosphere. The country is polarized like it has never been. Foreign and security policies are in shambles. Tourism, a major source of income and an irreplaceable avenue for interaction with the outside world is on the rocks. Lawlessness is widespread. People are increasingly agitated. There is little respect for rules, even speed limits. A traffic accident can be described by the media as a “vehicle getting out of control” as if the vehicle has an independent mind of its own. Similarly, most of our problems are attributed to foreign hands, dark forces which are determined to stop Turkey’s rise as a regional and global power. Western political support during the early years of the Justice and Development Party (JDP) rule, the launching of accession talks with the EU in October 2005, President Obama’s remarkable visit to Ankara in April 2009, cozy relations with Russia until the downing of the Su-24 warplane and “strategic cooperation” with President Assad’s Syria are conveniently forgotten. In brief, there can never be any wrongdoing on our part. Okumaya devam et →
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 →