For decades, since the days of Atatürk and Venizelos, Greek-Turkish relations have been characterized by a roller coaster pattern. Between the years 1997 and 2001, I was the Turkish ambassador in Athens. For a Turkish diplomat serving in Greece has always been a privilege. As I said in an interview before my departure, I not only enjoyed my stay there but I also happened to be the lucky one. Because, after a brief storm, my years there turned out to be a long sunny season.
Clouds have always fascinated people. White clouds turning dark remind people of the coming rain or storm, sometimes inspiring hope, at other times fear. Cloud colors at sunrise or sunset captivate them. Regardless of one’s vantage point, be it on the ground or high up from a plane window, clouds are nature’s constantly changing work of art, untouchable by man. Without clouds, the sky is an empty canvas.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “You cannot step into the same river twice, for other waters are continually flowing on.” He was referring to a constantly changing world. Perhaps, this is even more true for clouds because as we bitterly see now, water can stop flowing in rivers, but clouds never stop moving and they decide whether rivers would resume flowing, if at all.
The “World Happiness Report 2022” was published on March 18, 2022, by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative of the United Nations.[i] This was three weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and nearly three years after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The first report was issued in 2012. These reports are written by a group of independent experts and the views expressed in the reports do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization, agency, or program of the UN.
The Presidents of Iran, Russia, and Türkiye met in the Astana format on July 19, 2022. President Erdogan went to Tehran to secure the understanding of his partners for a military operation against the PKK/YPG in Syria that has been on his agenda for some time. The Joint Statement issued at the end of the Tehran summit addressed Ankara’s terrorism concerns in principle, but in so far as action was concerned it fell short of his expectations.[i]
President Biden’s trip to the Middle East took place against the background of Arab-Israeli disenchantment with the Obama White House, the Netanyahu-Trump relationship, the uncertain future of the Iran nuclear deal, the far-reaching consequences of the war in Ukraine, the strategic competition with China and Russia, and his plummeting approval rates at home.
Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, in an interview with newspaper editors in Cairo in March 2018 said that Türkiye, Iran, and extremist groups represented a “triangle of evil” in the region. This was widely reported in the Egyptian press. Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Ankara issued a statement saying that MBS had mentioned not Türkiye but the Muslim Brotherhood and radical groups.
G7 met in Elmau, Germany, on 26-28 June 2022. The communiqué issued following the meeting stressed G7’s condemnation of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and reiterated that G7 will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.
The communiqué expressed concern about the situation in the East and South China Seas and strong opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion that increased tensions. It said there is no legal basis for China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea. It underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encouraged a peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.
With the war in Ukraine, the “emerging world order” has once again become a current topic even though the use of the word “order” in the global context does not correspond to its Merriam-Webster definition which is “the state of peace, freedom from confused or unruly behavior, and respect for law or proper authority”.
A country’s foreign policy is shaped by its identity, sense of belonging, world outlook, and geographic location. This last one is a constant; the others are subject to evolution, change, and definition/redefinition within the limits of reason. In today’s polarized Turkey, we do not have a consensus on any of the first three and the last one happens to be a double-edged sword. In countries enjoying such consensus, the task of governments is to merge these with national power into policies designed to maximize national interest. This requires realism, calm, poise, prudence, consistency, and determination.
On Monday, April 25, following their visit to Kyiv, Secretaries Blinken and Austin spoke to the traveling press. They were asked the following question:
“… do you see a scenario where international support enables Ukraine to avoid losing this war to Russia, but isn’t able to fully expel Russian forces or reclaim its victory, and how would you think about such a scenario?”