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.
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 “Democratic reform” has been replaced by authoritarian rule proving our constitutional/institutional weaknesses.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.
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 →