Etiket arşivi: Turkey

Sad Times for Democracy

July 5, 2020

China had a two-term limit on its president since the 1990s. Xi Jinping became president in 2012. In April this year, the National People’s Congress approved the removal the two-term limit, effectively allowing him to “remain in power for life”.

China is one of world’s leading powers. Henry Kissinger has said, “No other country can claim so long a continuous civilization, or such an intimate link to its ancient past and classical principles of strategy and statesmanship.” However, without even an interlude of democracy in its history, China has failed to make progress in that direction and President Xi’s two terms in office are no exception. Okumaya devam et

Turkish-French Tensions Over Libya

June 29, 2020

Two weeks ago, France accused Turkey of harassing a French frigate off the coast of Libya while it carried out checks on a Turkish ship that it suspected of breaking the UN arms embargo. Turkey denied the charge. A week later, President Macron said, “I have already had the opportunity to say very clearly to President Erdogan I consider today that Turkey is playing a dangerous game in Libya and is in breach of all commitments it took during the Berlin conference.” Turkish officials reacted. NATO is now investigating the incident at sea. Okumaya devam et

An Ultimatum That Boomeranged

(Co-authored with Yusuf Buluç)[i]

The people of Turkey held their breath on the eve of the deadline set in the ultimatum  President Erdoğan served on the Syrian regime promising severe military punishment if  its forces  were not to withdraw to lines drawn in the so-called “Sochi agreement” between Russia and Turkey.  Evidently, there was no way that the regime, still recognized by the UN as the legitimate government of Syria, could heed this warning as it would amount to yielding its hard-won sovereign territory to Turkey’s control. More so, such withdrawal would have been hailed by some jihadist armed groups, listed by the UN as terrorist organizations,  which have taken most of the civilian inhabitants of the Idlib province as hostage in their quest to winning a rump of Syria to be dismembered. The regime, its air force largely under Russian command and control, reacted to the Turkish ultimatum not by resorting to terse and rejectionist rhetoric but unleashing a bombing campaign resulting in massive loss of life not recorded outside Turkish territory since the Korean war. Okumaya devam et

Turkey’s Narrowing Horizons

February 27, 2020

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 has been a meeting point of cultures and Turkey’s future lies in creating a successful synthesis. In 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 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 irreversibly towards the West. This by no means meant a rupture with the East for obvious reasons including geography and history.  Moreover, our good relations with the region were an asset for the EU. Okumaya devam et

The Montreux Convention: Russia’s Perspective

January 28, 2020

“Canal İstanbul”, first introduced to the public as a “crazy project” by Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (JDP) Government, has become the subject of an increasingly heated discussion. Among the various aspects of the project currently debated are its environmental impact, the cost, huge private land purchases in the area and last but not least its implications for the Montreux Convention of 1936 regulating passage through the “Straits of the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus comprised under the general term ‘Straits’ ”. Okumaya devam et

2019: The Year in Review

December 22, 2019

During the past year, climate change, corruption, street protests, polarization and disarray in the West dominated the global agenda.

Frequent fires are part of California’s natural state but since the 1970s, the amount of area burned in the state has increased by a factor of five. As the National Geographic has reported, climate change’s stamp is evident in many of the fires, scientists say, primarily because hotter air means drier plants, which burn more readily. Australia too has always had devastating bushfires, but experts say climate change can and does makes bushfires worse. Despite the evidence, however, the UN climate conference in Madrid could only achieve modest results. Okumaya devam et

Turkey-US Relations: The Downturn Continues

December 15, 2019

On October 29, Turkish National Day, the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to formally recognize the “Armenian genocide”. The Senate voted unanimously on Thursday for the same resolution. Lawmakers in the Senate and the House are busy working on more measures targeting Turkey. Okumaya devam et

The Spiraling Cost of Turkey’s Regime Change Project in Syria

November 1, 2019

The signing of the Treaty of Lausanne on July 24, 1923 was the crowning achievement of Turkey’s War of Independence under Ataturk’s leadership. Soon after, Republic was declared and Turkey’s modernization began. Ataturk’s reforms included the emancipation of women, the introduction of Western legal codes, calendar and alphabet, replacing the Arabic script with a Latin one. Turkey became a secular state. A major overhaul of the education system and the economy was launched. Okumaya devam et

A Sigh of Relief for Now

June 23, 2019

Everybody knew this was a landmark election, the last exit on the road authoritarian rule. And finally, the people of Turkey, for a multitude of reasons including their disapproval of the annulment of the March 31 Istanbul mayoral election said, “enough is enough” to the ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP). With a failing economy, extreme polarization, a chain of foreign and security policy disasters, government’s only hope of winning the rerun was JDP supporters restating their devotion to President Erdoğan and even that didn’t work. Okumaya devam et

The Mecca Summits

June 2, 2019

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held summit meetings in Mecca last week. All three were chaired by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman. The choice of the holy city of Mecca for the meetings was probably aimed at reiterating Saudi Arabia’s now contested claim to the leadership of the Islamic world.

The final communiques of the GCC and the Arab League strongly targeted Iran and the Houthis. While they did not exactly overlap, the message was clear.

The GCC and the Arab League underlined the need for Iran to abide by the principles of Charter of the United Nations and the international law including non-interference in internal affairs and refraining from the threat or use of force. They called on Iran to stop supporting, financing and arming terrorist militias and organizations as well as feeding sectarian conflicts. Okumaya devam et