October 10, 2022
Almost five years ago I said that the alliance between Türkiye and the US which, despite ups and downs had stood the test of time, was under considerable strain, and the so-called “telephone diplomacy” which did not allow for an in-depth exchange of views raised more questions than it resolved. This was the time when President Trump, despite having sent the most discourteous letter in the history of modern diplomacy to his Turkish counterpart, was still Ankara’s only “friend” in Washington.
Okumaya devam et →
September 19, 2022
The Middle East:
In December 2009, the communique issued at the end of the Damascus meeting of the “Turkish-Syrian High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council” referred to a “strategic partnership”, at the time a fashionable label for Türkiye’s relationships with other nations. It mentioned common threats and challenges confronting the two countries. A year later, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu, in remarks to the press with his Syrian counterpart in Latakia, underlined that the exemplary relations between Syria and Türkiye were serving as a model for regional partnerships and that the two countries were aiming at total economic integration with neighbors.
Okumaya devam et →
October 26, 2021
On October 19, the European Commission published its “Turkey 2021 Report”. For a first impression I took look at the “Key findings of the 2021 Report on Turkey”. The word used to characterize our democracy, civil society issues, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, social policy, media, and EU-Turkey political dialogue on foreign and security policy was “backsliding”. In the report the word was used thirty-three times. Then I checked the report for the word “progress” and saw that it was used twenty-seven times. Unfortunately, however, it was mostly preceded by words like “no”, “some”, and “limited”.
Okumaya devam et →
February 10, 2021
In December 2009, the communique[i] issued at the end of the Damascus meeting of the “Turkish-Syrian High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council” referred to a “strategic partnership”, at the time a fashionable label for Turkey’s close external relationships. It mentioned common threats and challenges confronting the two countries.
A year later, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu, in remarks to the press with his Syrian counterpart in Latakia, underlined that the exemplary relations between Syria and Turkey was serving as a model for regional partnerships and that the two countries were aiming at total economic integration with neighbors.
Okumaya devam et →
February 4, 2021
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’s (JDP) coming to power when 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. At the time Turkey’s hard and soft power was appreciated. Its contribution to regional stability was valued.
A decade later we still have the JDP in power but another Turkey. “Democratic reform” has been replaced by authoritarian rule proving our constitutional/institutional weaknesses. In 2017, with only 51.41% of the vote, Turks approved the so-called “presidential system”. Since then, our polarization has deepened because people have seen only its failures.
Okumaya devam et →
August 20, 2018
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 →
March 28, 2018
It has been two roller coaster weeks.
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 →
October 16, 2017
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 →
May 31, 2017
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 →