March 31, 2017
The third Astana meeting on Syria ended two weeks ago, without any progress after the opposition boycotted the meeting. Russia, Turkey and Iran, guarantors of the ceasefire regime, issued a joint statement in which they underlined the interlinkage between the Geneva and Astana processes and expressed their support for the fifth round of Geneva talks to start on March 23, 2017. They also said that the fourth round of the Astana talks would be held on May 3-4 with preliminary expert consultations on April 18-19, in Tehran.
The Geneva talks started as scheduled on March 23. At the end of the day, UN Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura said that he was expecting neither breakthroughs nor breakdowns. He added that agreement on the agenda was in itself a mark of progress. In brief, rounds of talks are following one another in Astana and Geneva but making little headway. Okumaya devam et →
September 15, 2016
Turkey’s foray into the Syrian conflict has been, beyond a shadow of doubt, our worst foreign policy blunder since the founding of the Republic in 1923. The political, security, economic and trade costs are too obvious, unlikely to disappear soon and need no elaboration except to say that the erosion of the trust others placed in us was perhaps our biggest loss.
For a long time, our allies asked us to seal off a 98 kilometer stretch of our border with Syria (*). In response Ankara said that it regards ISIL as a terrorist organization, that it is fighting it but it is impossible to seal off the border. Thus, a porous border combined with Ankara’s Assad obsession gave the impression that Turkey, with an “ends justify the means” approach, had been tolerant of ISIL and al-Nusra, if not supportive. Now, with Turkish armed forces in Syria, the ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) almost claims to lead the fight against ISIL. It is ardently calling for lasting peace in Syria. We no longer call Syria “our backyard” but say “Syria belongs to the Syrians”. What are the underlying reasons for this change of attitude? And, does it represent a genuine course correction? Okumaya devam et →
August 4, 2016
It was only a decade ago that, despite lingering doubts and internal controversy, the EU launched accession negotiations with Turkey. Peoples of the region were following the process with envy. It was less than a decade ago that Turkey was a facilitator between Syria and Israel. Our relations with neighbors were characterized by a determination to open new avenues of cooperation reflecting shared interests. Syria was a close friend. Turkish-Egyptian business relations were booming. In April 2009 Turkey became the first country to host President Obama on a bilateral visit. He addressed the Turkish Parliament and said:
“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…” Okumaya devam et →
July 25, 2016
A year-and-a-half ago I wrote (*):
“We Turks need to understand that our success as a nation, especially in the field of foreign policy, depends first and foremost upon our internal peace and stability. The amount of respect we enjoy, our international status, our regional role, our effectiveness at international organizations, they all depend upon our giving final proof that Turkey is a secular democracy. Since the founding of the Republic by Atatürk in 1923, this has been the world’s expectation because we are or were, the only country with a predominantly Moslem population to have come this far. Turkey needs to prove, once and for all, that we are a democracy and that the point of no return has been crossed.
“Until we do that even the right foreign policy initiatives will yield no result.
“Unfortunately, the “once in a century” historic opportunity is slipping away…” Okumaya devam et →