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New Era in Turkish Foreign Policy

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Erhan KAYA




Approval of the Graduate School of Economic and Administrative Sciences

Prof. Dr. Ali Engin Oba

I certify that this thesis satisfies all the requirements as a thesis for the degree of Master of Science.

Prof. Dr. Esat Arslan
Head of Department

This is to certify that we have read this thesis and that in our opinion it is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of Science.

Examining Committee Members
Prof. Dr. Esat Arslan ________________
Prof. Dr. Ali Engin Oba ________________

I hereby declare that all information in this document has been obtained and presented in accordance with academic rules and ethical conduct. I also declare that, as required by these rules and conduct, I have fully cited and referenced all materials and results that are not original to this work.

Name, Last Name: Erhan Kaya Signature:

I would like to thank Professor Ali Engin Oba for all his help. It was absolutely invaluable. I would also like to thank Assistant Professor Oguz Dilek for his great efforts and for being so kind to accomplish my study. And thanks to Professor Esat Arslan who gave countdown to me to prepare for this thesis for my future career plan.

Assumption: New Turkish Foreign Policy, which premises on the Westernization, due to a wide-range of diplomatic moves and good neighborhood policy elevated Turkey to a state of great prominence within the proximate geographies.

Kaya Erhan

Seminary Thesis: Department of International Relations
Advisor: Prof. Dr. Ali Engin Oba

June 2011, 26 Pages

Turkish foreign policy has been developing new perspectives and adopting new approaches. The aim of this study is to analyze these new approaches with its reflections. In this context, Turkish foreign policy has been diversified from the Middle East to Central Asia, from the Caucasus to North African Countries and other regions without only depending on the West. Turkey is a country increasingly known for its regional ties, economic dynamism and secular democracy. Turkey is one of the rare countries whose financial institutions made profits in the last three years at a time of global economic crisis. Turkey is the world’s 16th and Europe’s 6th biggest economy and is also the country in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with the biggest growth of economy. Turkey has been playing a mediator role in the Middle East in order to provide peace between regional states. From these perceptions, in this study, Turkish foreign policy will be analyzed within its new dimensions.
Keywords: Turkish Foreign Policy, Regional Power, Economic Dynamism and New Approaches.

Kaya Erhan
Seminer Tezi: Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü
Danışman: Prof. Dr. Ali Engin Oba

Haziran 2011, 26 Sayfa

Türk dış politikası yeni perspektifler geliştirmekte ve yeni yaklaşımlar benimsemektedir. Bu çalışmanın amacı, bu yeni yaklaşımları yansımalarıyla birlikte incelemeye çalışmaktır. Bu bağlamda, Türk dış politikası sadece Batıya bağlı kalmadan Ortadoğu’dan Merkez Asya’ya, Kafkaslardan Kuzey Afrika ülkelerine ve diğer bölgelere çeşitlendirilmektedir. Türkiye giderek artan bölgesel bağlarıyla, ekonomik dinamizmiyle ve laik demokrasisiyle bilinen bir ülkedir. Türkiye küresel ekonomik kriz zamanında geçen üç yıl içerisinde finansal kurumları kar eden nadir ülkelerden biridir. Türkiye Dünya’nın 16. ve Avrupa’nın 6. büyük ekonomisidir ve ayrıca Ekonomik Kalkınma ve İşbirliği Örgütü (EKİÖ) içerisinde ekonomisi en çok büyüyen ülkedir. Bölge ülkeleri arasında barışı sağlamak için Türkiye Ortadoğu’da arabulucu rolünü oynamaktadır. Bu algılamalardan, bu çalışmada Türk dış politikası yeni boyutlarıyla incelenecektir.
Anahtar Kelimeler: Türk Dış Politikası, Bölgesel Güç, Ekonomik Dinamizm ve Yeni Yaklaşımlar.

Page Number
CHAPTER 1 1. NEW CHALLENGES AFTER THE END OF THE COLD WAR 2.1. Changing Security Environment of Turkey 2.2. Turmoil in The Back Yard
CHAPTER 3 3. MULTIPLE FACES OF THE NEW TURKISH FOREIGN POLICY 4.4. Relations with The Middle East 4.5. Relations with Southern Caucasus 4.6. Relations with Central Asian 4.7. Relations with The Balkans 4.8. Relations with The United States
CHAPTER 4 4. MAJOR CHALLENGES 5.9. The Gaza Incident 5.10. Iranian Nuclear Program

In the theatre of international relations after the end of the Cold War, Turkey is living a transit term which does not conform to traditional definitions. There has been living a shift of power in the global system. Usual political, economic and cultural paradigms have been questioned and balances have been created again. Turkey is one of the determinant actors of the future and tries to respond to the changed conditions and expectations.
A different and visionary approach in foreign policy has adopted recent years in order to protect and improve the national interests of Turkey, to contribute to the global peace and stabilization and to try to centralize Turkey for Eurasia. This vision, in summary, seeks Turkey’s historical, geographical, political, strategic, economic and cultural opportunities and advantages, which could not be benefited up to now due to the cumulative reasons, through the national interests and the regional stability and the provision of the development.
While Turkey is paving the way with countries in its region for much more integrity, it also adopts an effective diplomacy approach for other regions. In other words, Turkey continues to donate its authentic contributions and added values to peace, stabilization and development efforts in the global scales. All these efforts have created a new and positive cognition for Turkey in the global scale. Turkey is seen such a country which can change the way of international developments with principle approaches and is much more powerful and respectable country.
In summary, after the end of the Cold War, Turkey had to deal with an extraordinarily wide range of international question, mainly due to its geographical position. The disintegration of the former Soviet Union, the transformation of the political and strategic landscape of Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the eruption of violent ethno-national conflicts in the Balkans and the Caucasus profoundly affected Turkey. All of these changes altered Turkey’s foreign policy environment and created new opportunities to expand its role while posing new risks and challenges. With the opening of new playing fields for Turkey in the post-Cold War era, Turkey has entered into intensive economic and cultural relations with the newly independent states of Caucasus, Central Asia and the Balkans. Hence, Turkish foreign policy had to diversify and become multidimensional.

The Soviet disintegration left Turkey in a comprehensively new international environment with more political instability. Emergence of ethnic-national crisis surrounding Turkey’s geography meant also new challenges for Turkey. William Hale points out the strategic position of Turkey in this environment, in the following statements:
“Turkey is the only state, apart from Russia, with territory in both Europe and Asia, and is affected by and affects international politics in both south-eastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean, in Transcaucasia and the southern regions of the former Soviet Union, and in the northern part of the Middle East. Historically, Turkey's most strategically significant asset has been its control of the straits of Dardanelles and Bosporus, on which Russia had depended for direct maritime access to the Mediterranean, and the only route through which Britain, France and later the United States could challenge Russia in the Black Sea (or try to assist it during the First World War).”
Turkey is located at the crossroads of seaways and land connections of Europe, Asia and Africa and surrounded by various neighbors with different characteristics, ideologies, regimes and political goals. In Turkey’s geography interests of several great powers intersect and this situation increases Turkey’s strategic importance as the number of the actors increase. In addition to its strategic position, Turkey is surrounded with the geo-politically problematic areas of world politics. The existing political realities and the international recognition of the territories in the region from the Northern Caucasus to Kuwait in the south completely contradict. The autonomous Chechnya and Abkhazia in pursuit of international recognition, Azeri territories under partial Armenian invasion, Iraq with undefined territorial integrity and chronic Kurdish question, are all inconsistencies in the chaotic territories of Eurasia. Geo-economic dimension of those land pieces (oil potential of Azerbaijan, the water resources of Eastern Turkey, and the oil fields of Kirkuk in Northern Iraq, Iran and Kuwait) entangles the picture in a negative way, as well. This is why these lands are full of civil wars, regional tensions and tactical maneuvers to have a word in shaping politics in these regions. 2.1. CHANGING SECURITY ENVIRONMENT OF TURKEY
By the end of the Cold War, the way of challenges and threats to Turkish security shifted. The main threat to Turkish security came from the North (from the Soviet Union) during the Cold War. To contrast, today, Turkey confronts a much more diverse set of security threats and challenges: rising Kurdish nationalism and separatism; sectarian violence in Iraq; the possible emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran on Turkey’s doorstep; and a weak fragmented Lebanon dominated by radical groups with close ties to Iran and Syria. As a result, most of these challenges and threats are close to Turkey’s southern border and Turkish strategic attention is focused much more on the Middle East than it had been in the past due to the key challenges and threats to Turkish security. Additionally, Turkey’s economic interests have shifted towards the east and south. 2.2. TURMOIL IN THE BACK YARD The U.S.-led coalition that invaded Afghanistan and Iraq has caused undesired geopolitical ramifications, especially by bringing Iran greater power in the Gulf region, in Iraq, and in Lebanon, at the same time as the Syrian regime’s regional influence appears to be ascending. Yet, regional dynamics have also provided brand new opportunities for Turkey, not only by opening up lucrative new markets, such as the reconstruction of Iraq, but also by providing opportunities for Turkey to fulfill its hitherto latent desire to be the key regional negotiator and peacemaker. Turkey has also found itself under pressure to rethink its engagement in the Caucasus, as Russia’s renewed desire to expand its regional political power has created worrying tensions with Europe and with Belarus, Georgia, and Ukraine. The ongoing energy tensions between suppliers and consumers offer Turkey an opportunity to turn itself into a neutral energy route as it seeks ways to achieve energy stability by diversifying energy needs and relationships. All of these developments demanded a radical shift in Turkish foreign policy. Ankara had to pursue the EU as it was still in its strategic interest, yet it had to diversify its economic and political ties to strengthen its own hand, especially in energy. It had to seek stability in its neighborhood and emerge as a neutral economic and diplomatic bridge between parties in conflict. Ultimately, Turkey has had to become more proactive in order to avoid being crushed by turbulent global developments.
The case Cyprus is the best example of the changing foreign policy discourse. When AKP came to power with an election, AKP promised to solve the Cyprus problem by following a less confrontational strategy instead of the policies of “no solution is the solution in Cyprus” and “status quo in Cyprus is the solution”. Prime Minister Erdoğan repeatedly stated that Turkey’s Cyprus policy was based on a “win-win” strategy. Turkey and Greece had signed only 35 agreements throughout their 87-year-old relations, but the two countries signed 22 agreements only in a single day in May, 2010. This was a clear sign of a new principle in Turkish foreign policy, named as flexibility by Davutoğlu.
Turkey’s response to the crisis that resulted from the publication of a serious of cartoons by a Danish newspaper that portrayed Muhammad in an offensive manner could also be considered an example of this change. There were many demonstrations against this event in Muslim countries that ended in violence and casualties. However, the Turkish government approached the issue with calm and called for moderation. As the co-chairs of the UN-initiated Alliance of Civilizations, Prime Minister Erdoğan and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero made a joint declaration to the world on the cartoon crisis and called for calm. 3.3. THE DAVUTOGLU VISION The AKP has had both the domestic support to radically rethink Turkish foreign policy and the intellectual depth to do so under Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who started as chief advisor to Erdogan in 2003 and has been foreign minister since 2009. Davutoglu has argued that Turkey needs to have ‘‘zero conflict’’ with all of its neighbors and must develop ‘‘strategic depth’’ in all of its relations by using soft power and the historical legacy of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East. This means that while Turkey should pursue EU membership and continue its ties with United States and NATO, it will also talk to Middle Eastern states, as well as non-state actors like Hamas, to solve all regional disputes including the never-ending Armenia and Cyprus issues. In other words, his theory is that Turkey should pursue a multi-dimensional foreign policy, driven by long-term security and economic prosperity, in which Turkey would be mediator and a constructive actor, using international institutions and economic interdependence to facilitate Turkish and regional security. In parallel with this, Davutoglu gave a new direction to the foreign policy different from the former criteria diversified by developing relations with Syria and Iran, getting into touch with the cumulative political facets in Iraq, and paying further close attentions to the Middle East, the Balkans and Caucasus. The foreign minister envisions a proactive Turkey that will be a mediator, guarantor, and stabilizing force in the region. Davutoglu foreign policy vision has Turkey’s domestic transformation in the background, specifically the consolidation of political and economic stability in the country. Turkey’s domestic reform and growing economic capabilities have enabled the country to emerge as a peace-promoter in neighboring regions. Davutoglu developed his foreign policy on the basis of a novel geographic imagination which put an end to what he calls “alienation” of Turkey’s neighboring countries. In early 2010, Davutoglu said that unlike the Cold War, when Turkey was part of the frontline of the Western alliance against the Soviet Union, it is now at the center of a variety of regional constellations. Such a pivotal location, in Davutoglu’s view, means that Turkey can, and must, play a more active role in forging global stability. During his first year as foreign minister, Davutoglu undertook 100 foreign visits: 28 to Europe, 27 to the Middle East, 18 to the Balkans, 9 to Asia, and 8 to the United States. He is not only a man of deep intellectual vision, but also a tirelessly hard worker. In a limited amount of time through mind-boggling hyperactivity, Davutoglu has positioned Turkey in the center of events, ranging from engaging Serbia for peace in the Balkans, to negotiating between Sunni and Shiite factions in Iraq, to attempting to make peace between Syria and Israel, to boosting regional economic engagement by signing free customs agreements with Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, to reaching nuclear and natural energy deals with Russia, to normalizing relations with Armenia, Greece, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Syria. His energy, strong will, and intellect have won deep respect around the world, as well as fame as being a hard man to deal with. Some, however, see him as an overzealous academic with visionary ambitions beyond Turkey’s actual foreign policy capacity.
While Turkey was mainly know for its military-strategic contribution to NATO in defense of freedom during the Cold War era, today, Turkey is increasingly known for its regional ties, economic dynamism, and secular democracy. Turkish diplomacy has become an active force in projecting peace and stability in a wider geography extending across the Balkans, the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The changing nature of the foreign policy activism has attracted widespread attention, has become a topic for vivid public debate both in domestic and international circles and has already generated a large literature. In domestic discussion of the recent foreign policy approach, frequent references are made to “a shift of axis”, suggesting a drift away from the predominantly Western orientation which has been the hallmark of Turkish foreign policy throughout the post-Cold War 2 period, toward a more “eastern oriented” pattern of foreign policy behavior. Turkey has been rediscovering its neighbors and trying to capitalize on its geopolitical position. Turkey has clearly been responding to the changing global context which involves a diversification of economic relations and the opening of new markets, especially at a time when Europe is faced with deep stagnation and the global economic axis has clearly been shifting in the eastern direction with the global financial crisis.
Turkey has not only managed to strengthen its strategic ties with NATO, EU and Council of Europe, but it has also expanded its cooperation areas with neighboring countries and extended its activities to new regions such as Africa, Far East and Latin America. Davutoglu said Turkey blended the values of the East and the West in the best way and added:
"We have all the opportunities to act as a country that creates solutions in areas of clash and leads the way for others. We have the chance to become the world's wise country. This is our next goal. We want to become a country that has principles and values and a certain power of influence." As a consequence, the recent pressures are completely different due to the result of structural changes in Turkey’s security environment, especially since the end of the Cold War. The disappearance of the Soviet threat opened up new opportunities and vistas in areas that had previously been neglected or were off-limits to Turkish policy, particularly in the Middle East and the Caucasus/Central Asia. Ankara attempted to exploit this new diplomatic flexibility and room for maneuver by establishing new relationships in these areas. 4.4. RELATIONS WITH THE MIDDLE EAST
During the Cold War years, Turkey ignored the East or the Middle East due to some conjectural or ideological reasons despite the fact that the Middle East and Turkey have historical, physical and cultural borders. However the West and Westernization had been basic policy orientation for Turkey in terms of security and political considerations. In those years, the security situation stemmed from the structure of international system imposed Turkey to take the Western consideration in dealing the problems in the Middle East. Post Cold War developments gave some opportunity for Turkey and the Middle Eastern countries to reevaluate the political consideration and historical misperceptions and develop new types of engagements with each others. And still Turkey has strategic, political and economic reasons to construct intense relations with the region.
However, as a result of internal and external changes, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, Turkish foreign policy has been reshaped by new political decision makers. Surely, the political conditions arose after 2003, gave some opportunity and encourage the political leaders to pursue a new policy. In this atmosphere, Turkey tried to set a new model of relations depend on mutual understanding, mutual respects, recognition of territorial integrity and constructing trust building relations with the regional countries in every level.
The issues of the Middle East directly affect Turkey’s interests from security to economy. The relative costs of traditional policies were so high that in the beginning of 2000s Turkey can no longer pursue a non-involvement policy. Turkey has the potential to drive the regional trends and establish friendly relations among the regional countries in order to solve the existing problems while protecting its interests. Turkish foreign policy goals towards the region are mainly strategic and depend on to develop mutual trust and mutual respect. In parallel with this, a multi-dimensional policy, zero problems with neighbors, positive engagement, sincere and long-standing relations, an independent foreign policy, win-win strategy explain the new Turkish foreign policy activism. All these features enable Turkey to become the most prominent actor of the region.
Turkey is cultivating new friendships in the region, offering trade, aid and visa-free travel. Turkey maintains cordial relations with all countries of the region. Turkey supports every effort aimed at bringing about a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Turkey has become an important regional actor in the Middle East Peace Process. Bilateral relations with its neighbors Syria, Iraq and Iran focus on fighting against the PKK and the Kurdish question. It is defined as the ‘major regional power’ or ‘regional superpower’ in most of the interviews made in the Middle East and there are a lot of articles emphasizing Turkey’s active regional role as a mediator not only Israeli-Syrian case but also in Lebanon crisis, Iraq-Syrian crisis, Iran’s nuclear efforts, Hamas-PLO dispute.
Moreover, the economic factors inspired Turkish new engagement to the Middle East. Even though Turkey had economic relations with some neighboring countries especially with Syria, Iraq and Iran, these were largely characterized through the border trade and could not be compared with the share of Turkey’s other trade partners. But in the new era the needs for Turkish economic growth stimulated to search new markets and it’s seen that there were nearly nothing invested in the Middle East market. So, the rapid growth in Turkish economy brought the new investments in the Middle East and the trade volume with the region so increased that never can be compared with the past. The improving economic relations and the political ones sometimes reciprocally accompanied and facilitated the engagement and encouraged each other.
Consequently, the new Turkish activism in the Middle East is constructed on the desire for regional stability and never aim to change regional balance by using military power. As Turkey develops and continues its relations with the West and the rest of the world, it has tried to set a new model of relations depend on mutual respect, recognition of territorial integrity and constructing trust building relations with the regional countries in every level. 4.5. RELATIONS WITH SOUTHERN CAUCASUS Being the transit region between East and West and South and North, South Caucasus lies at the intersection of Eurasia’s major energy and transport corridors. Stability, peace and prosperity in the region have special importance for Turkey. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Turkey has recognized the independence of the three countries (Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia) of the region, established diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan and Georgia and provided economic support. Turkey attributes great importance to the strengthening of these countries’ independence, preservation of their territorial integrity and realization of their economic potential. Turkey also actively supports these countries’ aspirations for integration with Euro-Atlantic structures. Turkey has already become the biggest trade partner of both Georgia and Azerbaijan. It has also become the second biggest investor in Georgia, having build road networks and a couple of airport terminals, as well as investing a glass factory, cell phone and airport operation business, and numerous small-to-medium scale companies. Although the land border with Armenia is currently closed to traffic, trade is booming between the two countries, mainly through Georgia. According to reports in the Turkish press and by Armenian sources, approximately 400 trucks per month passing to Georgia are actually destined to Armenia, and there are about 10.000 Armenians engaged in so-called “luggage trade” with Turkey, as well about 40.000 Armenians working in Turkey, mostly illegally, and sending back remittances. The strategic importance of the region has increased with regional projects such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Crude Oil Pipeline (operational since 2006), Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum Natural Gas Pipeline (operational since 2007) and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway (groundbreaking ceremony of which was done in 2007), further increasing the importance of the region for the attainment of stability and prosperity in the entire Eurasia. All these projects are aimed making Turkey a regional energy player. Turkey’s Caucasus policy is primarily driven by energy security and maintaining a friendly balance between actors in the Caucasus on both a regional and global level. Additionally, with a strong determination it will be pursued the placement of a comprehensive, permanent and sustainable peace and stability in Southern Caucasus. It is clear that Turkey has undergone a dramatic shift away from its traditional policy of isolationism. The emergence of independent republics in the Caucasus represented a turning point in Turkey’s regional role and policies. Turkey has become of the important players in a region where it previously had only marginal influence and no active involvement. It is clear that the tensions in the region will continue to be a contributing factor for Turkish security planning. 4.6. RELATIONS WITH CENTRAL ASIAN Central Asian countries during the initial years of their independence were able to reach out to the outside world through Turkey. Turkey was among the first countries to recognize the Central Asian republics immediately upon their independence in the early 1990s. With the demise of the Soviet Union, Turkey launched a campaign to establish good ties with Central Asian countries. Turkey has established a more functional policy toward these countries. The first principle is to help these countries strengthen their independence and to remain neutral during conflicts either between these countries or different groups in a single country. The second principle is to complete the process of institutionalization of relations between Central Asian countries. Another target is to enable Central Asian countries fully integrate with the international community through active roles in organizations.
Turkey has become like a window to the world and an important partner for them in their integration with the international community. Turkey has provided assistance to the Central Asian countries in order to ensure that they become respected members of the international community, become a member of UN, ECO, integrate fully into the OSCE, and participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. Turkey gained self‐confidence to develop a more durable and constructive policy toward the Central Asia. Turkish policy makers see this new policy line in a wider framework of following balanced relations with regional countries like Russia, Iran, Pakistan, India and China and maintaining good relations with the U.S. and the European Union. Turkey facilitates good relations with regional and international actors to gain strategic depth in Central Asia through bilateral relations with the countries in the region. It is also pursuing a multi‐dimensional policy line to become a key political and economical partner in the region.
Turkey’s current policy toward Central Asia is more realistic and has reachable goals. It aims to create an environment of cooperation and eliminate regional power constellations. While Turkey’s achievements are carried to the region by means of the state and civil society organizations, it prioritizes economic development and political stability in the Central Asian states. Marred by many factors of instability such as growing nuclear activities, international terrorism, drug trafficking and illegal immigration as well as international competition for domination, Turkey’s policy towards Central Asia seeks to contribute to peace and stability. The recently growing number of mutual visits and the diversity of activities designed for the region are strong signs that Turkey’s contributions to the region will continue. 4.7. RELATIONS WITH THE BALKANS The Balkans is a priority for Turkey from the perspectives of geographical location, economy, culture as well as historic and human bonds. Developing relations to the highest level with the Balkan countries, with which Turkey has historic, cultural and humanitarian ties; enhancing the existing atmosphere of regional peace and stability; keeping the transportation connection of Turkey with Western and Central Europe open summarize the basic elements of Turkey’s policy towards the Balkans.
Turkey closely monitors the developments that can affect the future of the region. In this framework, Turkey has supported the international initiatives that have been conducted to prevent ethnic cleansing and bloodshed, acted in line with the international community, and participated actively in the decision-making bodies of the international presence in the region during the Bosnia- Herzegovina and Kosovo crisis. Turkey has participated in NATO operations and peacekeeping missions, contributing to the KFOR and the United Nations police mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), as well as the EU-led police mission “Proxima” in Macedonia. For the reconstruction efforts Turkey is part of launching the Southeastern European Cooperation Process (SEECP), and the Multinational Peace Force Southeast Europe (MPFSEE)/Southeastern Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG). Turkey also plays a role in regional economic initiatives as well as the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe initiated by the EU and the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI). Turkey has played a constructive role within these international bodies to take long-lasting measures that are in conformity with the realities of the region. 4.8. RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES Over seven years later, U.S.—Turkish relations still have not fully recovered from the refusal of the Turkish Parliament to allow U.S. troops to use Turkey for the March 2003 Iraq campaign. The reaction of the Turkish Parliament accurately reflected Turkish public opinion toward Iraq’s invasion. Although the current soft power policies of the Obama administration and President Barack Obama’s choice of Turkey as the site for his first foreign visit to a Muslim country have improved relations between the countries, the current adventures of Turkish foreign policy and efforts at the U.S. House of Representatives to officially acknowledge the 1915 massacres of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as genocide have strained them once again.
Careful diplomacy played by the White House and the U.S. Department of State in meeting Turkish interests on the genocide resolution, on Iraq, on the Kurdistan Workers Party (which has been labeled a terror organization), and in U.S. backing for Turkish efforts to normalize relations with Armenia as well as to enter the EU have all helped to win the trust of Turkey. Still, the Turkish fallout with Israel has caused serious domestic difficulties for the Obama administration. Turkish rapprochement with Iran, the Tehran research reactor uranium enrichment deal signed by Brazil, Iran, and Turkey, and the subsequent Turkish ‘‘no’’ to the UN Security Council’s June 2010 vote on further sanctions on Iran have brought Turkey into conflict with vital U.S. strategic interests.
Despite these bilateral tensions, neither Turkish—Iranian relations nor Turkish desires to have stronger links with Russia represent ideological shifts away from the United States or the West. Turkey’s relations with the United States and the EU complement its presence in Eurasia and the Middle East and are not mutually exclusive. The intensification of its relations with Syria and Russia does not indicate a shift of axis. What has become obvious is that the bipolar alliances of the Cold War era are no longer sustainable. The United States cannot assume that Turkey will seek a special alliance only with it, and refuse rapprochements from other powerful countries, such as China, or economically rewarding engagements with lucrative energy sources such as Iran.
Washington is likely to continue to treat Ankara sensitively, perhaps offering new incentives and assurances to refresh Turkey’s bond with the United States. Given the non-ideological and practical nature of Turkish—Iranian relations, it will probably not be too long before Turkey realigns itself with the United States, provided that it is convinced that to do so will be in its interests. The bottom line is that as long as U.S. foreign policy does not pose a major threat to Turkish national interests, and as long as positive U.S. cooperation on economic, security, and diplomatic issues is communicated effectively to the Turkish public, there is no reason to anticipate the end of the historical alliance between Turkey and the United States.
In short, the US has to deal with a very different Turkey today than the Turkey during the Cold War. The disappearance of the Soviet threat has reduced Turkey’s dependence on the United States for its security and deprived the U.S.-Turkish security partnership of a clear unifying purpose. At the same time, Turkey’s geographic role and interests have expanded. Turkey now has interests and stakes in various regions it did not have two decades ago. It is thus less willing to automatically follow the U.S.’s lead on many issues, especially when U.S. policy conflicts with Turkey’s own interests. This does not mean that Turkey is turning its back on the West or the United States. Stephen Larrabee, responsible for RAND Cooperation European Security Researches, stated that interpreting Turkey’s active politics in the Middle East as moving away from the West is utterly wrong. He indicated that this situation is an outcome of a decision taken after the Cold War according to Turkey’s changing security need. He emphasized that it means Turkey’s recent policy has made Turkey more independent; has adapted more flexible security environment; and has expanded its foreign policy sphere and he adds:
“American government and military analysts are not aware of the fact that Turkey is a very different country now. They think that Turkey is a country which does everything the USA wants and is tied to the USA’s apron strings; actually they want it. Now Turkey has different goals. Consequently, Turkey will be a much more independent actor.”

CHAPTER 4 4. MAJOR CHALLENGES 5.9. THE GAZA INCIDENT Turkey was the first Muslim majority country to recognize Israel and the second of all nations to do so after the United States. Its cooperation has continued uninterrupted for more than six decades. The relationship between the Turks and the Jews took root long before that, extending through five centuries. Turkish-Israeli relations have long been a positive factor in a world where we witness violent conflicts based on religion and faith. The friendship between Turkey and Israel is jeopardized by the incident surrounding the Gaza Aid Convoy that nine civilians dead-eight Turkish citizens and one Armenian citizen of Turkish descent. The Israeli raid against the Gaza Humanitarian aid convoy in May 31, 2011 and subsequent developments fed the negative caricature of a supposed change in Turkey’s foreign policy direction. This is the first time in the history of the Republic of Turkey that its citizens were killed by a sovereign state in peacetime. What made it worse was that this attack came from a friend.
The recent report of the Fact-Finding Mission set up by the UN Human Rights Council stated that Israel’s armed interception of the convoy in international waters was clearly illegal, that Israeli soldiers used disproportionate force and resorted to unwarranted violence, that the interception represented a grave violation of human rights law as well as international humanitarian law and that Israel’s own national investigations did not inspire confidence.
Despite all the anger and resentment among the Turkish public in the wake of the Gaza attack, Turkey was ready to address this profound crisis with Israel in a manner befitting two friends. Turkey held the view that, as a friend, Israel should accept its wrongdoing, apologize to the Turkish people for the killings and compensate the losses incurred by the families of the victims and those who were injured. However, Israel refused to apologize for the Gaza raid. Davutoglu pointed out that relations with Israel can never be the same again. 5.10. IRANIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran as any country that is party to Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. As a neighbor of Iran, Turkey has to tread a careful and sensitive line while addressing the issue of Iran’s nuclear program. The difference of Turkey over Iran is primarily over tactic. Turkish government believes sanctions against Iran will not be effective and will only serve to reinforce Iranian intransigence. In fact, Turkish government believes the only way to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear military capacity is to engage it more effectively on the economic and diplomatic fronts.
Turkey’s policy toward Iran is not driven by cultural or religious affinity. It is determined by geopolitical realities and historical experiences. To set the record straight, Turkey is categorically against Iran’s development of a nuclear weapons capability. This principle is in full compliance with Turkey’s policy of a nuclear-weapon free Middle East. Iran’s development of a nuclear arsenal would gravely threaten peace, security and stability in the region by triggering a nuclear arms race. That is completely against the vision of Turkish foreign policy.
CHAPTER 5 5. A REGIONAL ECONOMIC POWER Just within two decades, Turkey has experienced four major crises in addition to the minor jolts. However, the 2001 financial crisis was a milestone for Turkish economy in the sense that the GDP shrank by 7.4 per cent in real terms, inflation increased to 68.53 per cent, and the currency lost 51 per cent of its value vis-à-vis other major currencies. The banking sector came very close to the destruction, and many banks went into bankruptcy. After Turkey experienced a severe financial crisis in 2001, Ankara adopted financial and fiscal reforms as part of an IMF program. The reforms strengthened the country's economic fundamentals and ushered in an era of strong growth - averaging more than 6% annually until 2008, when global economic conditions and tighter fiscal policy caused GDP to contract in 2009, reduced inflation to 6.3% - a 34-year low - and cut the public sector debt-to-GPD ratio below 50%. Turkey's well-regulated financial markets and banking system weathered the global financial crisis and GDP rebounded strongly to 7.3% in 2010, as exports returned to normal levels following the recession. Additionally, when the OECD published a report on the Turkish economy in September 2010, its secretary-general, Angel Gurria, said that Turkey would be the organization’s fastest-growing member this year and likened its performance to that of the emerging-market BRICs. Turkish firms are leading lights in many manufacturing industries, notably in construction, furniture, textiles, food-processing and car making. Turkey is now the world’s biggest cement exporter and second-biggest jewellery exporter. It is Europe’s leading maker of televisions and DVD players and its third-biggest maker of motor vehicles. Turkey is the industrial giant of its region, the 6th largest economy in Europe and 16th largest in the world. Oil began to flow through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in May 2006, marking a major milestone that will bring up to 1 million barrels per day from the Caspian to market. Several gas pipelines also are being planned to help move Central Asian gas to Europe via Turkey, which will help address Turkey's dependence on energy imports over the long term.
A tangible shift in trade patterns, a sign of a diversified foreign policy portfolio, has also taken place. Since 2002, exports to neighboring and Black Sea countries (Bulgaria, Greece, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Romania and Ukraine) have risen year after year – from 11 percent of total exports in 2002 to 20 percent in 2008. Imports from these countries, over the same period, have jumped from 15.5 percent to 27.6 percent. Turkey, under the AKP, has also signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Syria, Egypt, Albania and Montenegro. Turkey is a major country in the region and has developed lively economic relations with its neighbors. Economic partnership is critical in helping build peace since it is often economic deprivation that lies at the bottom of conflict. In that respect, the Turkish government has taken important initiatives such as the recent mediation efforts between Syria and Israel and the visit of the Turkish president to Armenia. As a secular, democratic state and as an official EU candidate, Turkey is a source of inspiration in the region for tackling rapid social, political and economic changes that sometimes overwhelm the region. As a consequence, improving trade relations, promoting a culture of entrepreneurship and acting as a responsible link between East and West will help Turkey maintain its role as a key economic player. As a bridge between East and West, Turkey occupies a unique place in the world both economically and geopolitically, along with its commitment to human rights and democracy.
The zero‐problem with neighboring countries policy followed over the last five years fixed, to a considerable extent, the problems with Turkey’s bordering neighbors. Turkey’s new policy attitude put former bad neighborhood atmosphere aside and changed Turkey’s regional profile for a more active role in neighboring areas. Namely, good neighborhood policy, which is similar to appropriation of EU’s neighborhood policy, also facilitated Turkey’s reaching beyond its immediate border regions. Turkey’s borders remained same but the newly generated self-confidence created a momentum in extending Turkey’s sphere of influence, among others, in the Middle East, Gulf region, the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia. In the process, Turkey gained a strategic depth, and through his new vision in foreign policy, started acting with its new identity of a “central country”, leaving behind the rhetoric of a “bridge country.”
As Turkey makes progress on the EU road, its relations with other regions gain depth and influence. While moving towards the West, it is generating a sphere of influence in the East. With its new geographical aspiration, it has started following a foreign policy that validates regional and international legitimacy and aims to reconcile ethical principals with strategic interests. Within the context of this new strategy, the Central Asian region and the Caspian Basin stand out as a potential sphere of influence, in which Turkey seeks an active role. In a sense, Central Asia expanded the borders of the Middle East northward, introduced a new sense of depth for southern Asia, and connected the peoples of both West Asia and East Asia to the Eurasian region.
Turkey was closely involved in the decisions concerning international tensions as a temporary member of the United Nations Security Council within 2009-2010. Turkey is now a vocal member of the G20 club of important economies and maintains observer status in the African Union. Turkey undertook the chairmanship-in-office of the South-East European Cooperation Process. In the Alliance of Civilizations, which was established in order to overcome the clash of civilizations, Turkey is a co-chairman. The current president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference are Turkish. Turkey is chairing three critical commissions concerning Afghanistan, North Korea and the fight against terror. Turkey is in a position of having the most important power in NATO. Turkey has also launched new diplomatic initiatives by opening 15 embassies in Africa and two in Latin America, and is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol. It is knocking on the door of the BRICs club of emerging giants. The balances in the world are changing, but the importance of Turkey is increasing and the roles that it plays are diversifying. The importance of Turkey and the roles that Turkey plays are increasing.

[ 1 ]. See The Historical Background of Turkey’s Foreign Policy see MARTIN, G. Lenore and Dimitris KERIDIS, “The Future of Turkish Foreign Policy”, Cambridge, 2004, pp. 9-37.
[ 2 ]. SAYARI, Sabri, Turkish Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War Era: the Challenges of Multi-Regionalism, Journal of International Affairs, Fall 2000, Vol. 54/No. 1, p. 169.
[ 3 ]. HALE, William, Turkish Foreign Policy; 1774-2000, Frank Cass Publishers, London, 2000, p. 192.
[ 4 ]. DAVUTOGLU, Ahmet, “The Clash of Interests: An Explanation of the World (Dis)order”, Perceptions: Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 2/No 4/December 1997-February 1998, pp. 6-7.
[ 5 ]. See “Turkish FM: Turkish Foreign Policy Should Not Be Assessed From A Single Frame”, The Journal of Turkish Weekly, 30 November 2010,
[ 6 ]. RAMADAN, Tarık, “Free Speech and Civic Responsibility: Cartoon Controversy 2”, International Herald Tribune, 2006, php (accessed November 20, 2008)
[ 7 ]. See Ahmet Davutoglu, Strategic Depth: Turkey’s International Position, Globe Publications, Istanbul, 2001.
[ 8 ]. KOHEN, Sami, “Davutoğlu ile Yeni Dönem”, Milliyet Gazetesi, 5 Mayıs 2009.
[ 9 ]. See Ahmet Davutoglu, “New World Geopolitics: How Turkey is Contributing to Global Peace and Security as a member of the UN Security Council” (speech, International Institute for Strategic Studies, London, 2010),
[ 10 ]. TAN, Namık, “Turkish-U.S. Strategic Partnership”, Turkish Policy Quarterly, Vol. 9/ No. 3/2011, pp. 13-21.
[ 11 ]. ÖNİŞ, Ziya, “Multiple Faces of the “New” Turkish Foreign Policy: Underlying Dynamics and a Critique”, Insight Turkey Vol. 13/ No. 1/2011, pp.47-65.
[ 12 ]. See “Turkey to Become World’s Influential Wise Country In 2011, Turkish FM”, The Journal of Turkish Weekly, December 29, 2010,
[ 13 ]. See Simon Tisdall, “Turkey’s decisive role”, 19 January 2009,
[ 14 ]. AYDIN, Mustafa, “Turkey’s Caucasus Policies”, UNISCI Discussion Papers, May 2010, Madrid, pp. 177-191.
[ 15 ]. See “Üçüncü Büyükelçiler Konferansı Sonuç Bildirisi”,
[ 16 ]. See Gilles Whittell, “Turkey Recalls Ambassador after US Vote on Armenia ‘genocide’”, Times, March 5, 2010,
[ 17 ]. For more on the deal, see “Iran Signs Nuclear Fuel-Swap Deal with Turkey”, BBC News, May 17, 2010,
[ 18 ]. See Janine Zacharia, “Spat over Iran May Further Strain Relations Between Allies U.S., Turkey”, Washington Post, May 24, 2010,
[ 19 ]. TAN, Namık, “Turkish-U.S. Strategic Partnership”, Turkish Policy Quarterly, Vol. 9/No. 3/2011, pp. 13-21.
[ 20 ]. See for more, “Changing Global Power Balances and Turkey” Conference-the 2nd Session, Institute of Strategic Thinking (Stratejik Düşünce Enstitüsü), 10 May, 2010,
[ 21 ]. United Nations General Assembly, Human Rights Council, A/HCR/15/21, 27 September 2010,
[ 22 ]. YELDAN, Erinç, “Turkey 2001-2006: Macroeconomics of Post-Crisis Adjustments”, 2006, pp. 2.
[ 23 ]. See for more, “Turkey: The Sick Man Walking”, 10 May 2010,
[ 24 ]. See for more, A Special Report on Turkey, The Economist, 21 October 2010,
[ 25 ]. HISARCIKLIOGLU, M. Rifat, “Asian Business: Re-setting Priorities Amid Shifting World Economic Balance”, 25th CACCI Conference, Istanbul, March 2011,
[ 26 ]. See for more, “Turkish foreign policy: from status quo to soft power”, European Stability Initiative (ESI), April 2009,

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