Canal İstanbul, called “a crazy project” by ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) government remains high on our agenda. We are a divided, polarized nation but not on this issue. The large majority of Turks object to the project because they do not see the logic of it. They object to it because its economic, environmental, foreign and security policy consequences are more than likely to prove disastrous. But the government appears determined to go ahead regardless.
In June 1961, President John F. Kennedy, on his first overseas trip, visited France. At the time France had not withdrawn from NATO’s integrated military command and the Alliance headquarters was still in Paris.
On June 1, 1961, President Kennedy addressed the North Atlantic Council. The following are from his remarks:
In an earlier post, in addressing West’s Turkey conundrum I said:
“On the one hand, most Western governments now regard JDP’s Ankara only a “nominal ally” if not an adversary, but they cannot turn their back on a country which enjoys a geo-strategic location surrounded by three seas and joining Asia and Europe, when tensions with Russia are on the rise. Turkey is a unique window into the Middle East. Sadly, it has also acquired a critical role in Europe’s dealing with its refugee problem…
“Thus, sanctioning Turkey has increasingly became a balancing act between targeting the JDP government and not alienating the Turkish people…”
Turkey’s joining the Council of Europe and NATO in 1949 and 1952 respectively, and the launching of the EU accession process in 2005 had provided a progressive institutional framework for Turkey’s relations with the West. But our democracy started to falter as the Arab spring threw the region in turmoil. Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP), lacking foresight, put all its eggs in the Muslim Brotherhood basket. It assumed a leadership role in the regime change project in Syria. Non-interference in Arab affairs ceased to be an axiom of Turkish foreign policy.
Last week’s virtual meeting of NATO foreign ministers witnessed an unprecedented exchange between Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu. It made headlines in Turkey but more concerning are the questions currently raised both in Turkey and the West regarding the compatibility of Turkey’s foreign and security policy with NATO commitments, hence its place in the Alliance.
President-elect Joe Biden will assume office on January 20, 2021. Exactly twelve years ago he assumed office as Vice President. Three months later, on April 6, 2009 President 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 a strong relationship. Twelve years on, the US-Turkey relationship is at its lowest point in decades.