Con­fer­ence: Turk­ish For­eign Pol­icy in the Light of Chang­ing Global Dy­nam­ics and Re­gional De­vel­op­ments, An­talya

Turkish Review - - CONTENTS - PROF. DR. TARIK OĞU­ZLU, SEPAM Di­rec­tor, An­talya In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity

The year 2014 has seen rad­i­cal de­vel­op­ments at global and re­gional lev­els, and Turkey -- a ma­jor player in its neigh­bor­hood with strong as­pi­ra­tions to take on a lead­er­ship role in for­eign pol­icy -- has faced se­ri­ous chal­lenges. One of the crit­i­cal ques­tions fac­ing Turk­ish for­eign pol­icy in re­cent years has been how Turkey can in­te­grate with the emerg­ing global or­der in terms of its con­sti­tu­tive norms and evolv­ing power align­ments. Whether Turkey aligns it­self with lib­eral demo­cratic coun­tries of the de­vel­oped West or de­cides that im­prov­ing its trade and strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion with ris­ing il­lib­eral au­toc­ra­cies is more vi­tal to its na­tional in­ter­ests is a burn­ing ques­tion both at home and abroad. How Turkey will re­spond to the emerg­ing geopo­lit­i­cal com­pe­ti­tion be­tween Rus­sia and the West re­gard­ing the Ukraine cri­sis is another cru­cial ques­tion fac­ing Turk­ish decision mak­ers. The dy­nam­ics of Turkey’s evolv­ing re­la­tions with key Mid­dle East­ern ac­tors (most no­tably Iran, Iraq, Syria, Is­rael and the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil, GCC, coun­tries) will also be a key fac­tor in anal­y­sis of Turk­ish for­eign pol­icy in the years to come.

With th­ese ques­tions loom­ing, An­talya In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity’s Cen­ter for So­cial, Eco­nomic and Po­lit­i­cal Re­search (SEPAM) or­ga­nized “Turk­ish For­eign Pol­icy in the Light of Chang­ing Global Dy­nam­ics and Re­gional De­vel­op­ments” on May 5, 2014. This is the sec­ond of SEPAM’s Turk­ish for­eign pol­icy sym­po­sium se­ries; the first was held on May 10, 2013.

To dis­cuss th­ese crit­i­cal ques­tions and ex­plore the am­bi­gu­i­ties and chal­lenges fac­ing Turk­ish for­eign pol­icy in light of global and re­gional de­vel­op­ments, SEPAM, cog­nizant of its re­spon­si­bil­ity to Turk­ish so­ci­ety, in­vited a group of dis­tin­guished for­eign pol­icy schol­ars and ex­perts to An­talya. The par­tic­i­pants in­cluded for­mer Turk­ish For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter and re­tired Am­bas­sador Yaşar Yakış; Prof. Dr. Ersin Kalay­cıoğlu from Sa­bancı Univer­sity; Prof. Dr. İl­ter Tu­ran from İstanbul Bilgi Univer­sity; Prof. Dr. Harun Arıkan of Çukurova Univer­sity; Prof. Dr. Mustafa Kibaroğlu from Okan Univer­sity; As­soc. Prof. Dr. Ersel Ay­dınlı from Bilkent Univer­sity; As­soc. Prof. Dr. Özlem Tür from Mid­dle East Tech­ni­cal Univer­sity; Asst. Prof. Birol Başkan from Ge­orge­town Univer­sity’s Doha cam­pus; Hasan Kanbolat, a colum­nist for To­day’s Za­man; and Nur Batur, a veteran for­eign pol­icy colum­nist.

The sym­po­sium con­sisted of three ses­sions: one on chang­ing global dy­nam­ics and their re­flec­tions on Turk­ish for­eign pol­icy, another deal­ing with Turk­ish for­eign pol­icy in the con­text of the Ukrainian cri­sis and re­la­tions be­tween Rus­sia and the West, and fi­nally a ses­sion on the chang­ing dy­nam­ics in the Mid­dle East in the wake of the Arab Spring, with a fo­cus on Turk­ish for­eign pol­icy.

The open­ing re­marks, de­liv­ered by Rec­tor of An­talya In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity Prof. Dr. Ci­hat Gök­tepe and this re­viewer, SEPAM Di­rec­tor Prof. Dr. Tarık Oğu­zlu, were fol­lowed by the first ses­sion, which was chaired by Oğu­zlu. Tu­ran gave a pre­sen­ta­tion on the chang­ing global or­der in which he un­der­lined that po­lar­iza­tion is not likely to oc­cur in the cur­rent cir­cum­stances. He pointed out that in the emerg­ing world or­der, re­gional struc­tures are weak­en­ing. For him, in to­day’s world no state is pow­er­ful enough to emerge as the sole su­per­power. “We know where we started and how we have come to this point, but we don’t know where we are head­ing,” he said.

Kalay­cıoğlu ad­dressed Turkey’s do­mes­tic trans­for­ma­tion and the grow­ing chal­lenge of adapt­ing to global trends. He em­pha­sized the con­nec­tion be­tween democ­racy and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, ar­gu­ing that in the ab­sence of democ­racy, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment is not sus­tain­able. He said: “In terms of the


in­de­pen­dence of the ju­di­ciary, Turkey ranks 88 out of 142 coun­tries. We are not do­ing well, ob­vi­ously.”

The last speaker of the first ses­sion, Ay­dınlı, dis­cussed lo­cal­ism, re­gion­al­ism and glob­al­ism in Turk­ish for­eign pol­icy. Ay­dınlı ar­gued that Turkey’s for­eign pol­icy in­ter­ests are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an on­go­ing shift in ge­o­graphic fo­cus. Turkey’s con­tacts with Europe, he said, have sharply de­creased in re­cent years, while con­tacts with non-Euro­pean re­gions -- most no­tably the Mid­dle East -- have been steadily in­creas­ing.

Yakış chaired the sec­ond ses­sion. After ad­dress­ing the re­cent de­vel­op­ments in Ukraine, he stated that the EU, NATO, the US and Rus­sia “must be cau­tious in the Ukraine cri­sis, but Turkey must be twice as cau­tious as oth­ers.” Ac­cord­ing to Yakış, Turkey’s geostrate­gic im­por­tance in world pol­i­tics has in­creased due to its prox­im­ity to tur­bu­lent re­gions, and this should push Turkey’s lead­ers to adopt a more cau­tious for­eign pol­icy stance.

Kanbolat, then pres­i­dent of the Cen­ter of Mid­dle East­ern Strate­gic Stud­ies, talked about the dy­nam­ics of Turkey-Rus­sia re­la­tions and un­der­lined the im­por­tance of per­cep­tions in bi­lat­eral re­la­tions. He un­der­lined that “the terms of the Mon­treux Con­ven­tion should be re­spected by all ri­par­ian states in the Black Sea, and Turkey needs to walk a fine line be­tween the US and Rus­sia.”

Arıkan gave a pre­sen­ta­tion on Turkey-EU re­la­tions. Europe would likely grow stronger after the Ukraine cri­sis, he ar­gued, while Turkey’s now-tabled ac­ces­sion process is likely to get a boost in the years to come. For him, the Ukraine cri­sis could bring Turkey much closer to the EU, mainly for strate­gic rea­sons.

In the third ses­sion, which was chaired by Batur, Kibaroğlu dis­cussed Turkey’s po­si­tion on the on­go­ing nu­clear ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Iran and the P5+1 coun­tries. He un­der­lined that the fu­ture of Iran’s nu­clear pol­icy will have a large im­pact on Turkey’s se­cu­rity per­cep­tions and that the sanc­tions im­posed on Iran would not neg­a­tively af­fect Turkey. How­ever, an Iran with nu­clear weapons would change the re­gional bal­ance be­tween Turkey and Iran -- and in the lat­ter’s fa­vor. Of all Turkey’s pol­icy op­tions vis-à-vis a nu­clear Iran, he did not rec­om­mend that Turkey de­velop its own nu­clear weapons.

Başkan gave a pre­sen­ta­tion on the im­por­tant role of Saudi Ara­bia and the GCC in Turk­ish for­eign pol­icy. He said that Turkey had pur­sued an im­par­tial pol­icy in the pre-Arab Spring era, which put Turkey in an ad­van­ta­geous po­si­tion in its re­la­tions with th­ese coun­tries. The Arab Spring led Turkey’s lead­ers to make a choice be­tween peo­ples and dic­ta­tors, he added. While he praised Turkey’s ef­forts to speak the lan­guage of hu­man rights and col­lec­tive con­scious­ness, he crit­i­cized the ero­sion of Turkey’s im­par­tial re­gional stance as the Arab Spring ap­proached Turkey’s bor­ders.

Tür ad­dressed Turkey’s re­la­tions with Is­rael. She did not fore­see a rad­i­cal im­prove­ment in bi­lat­eral re­la­tions as long as the com­po­si­tion of gov­ern­ments in both coun­tries re­mains the same.

SEPAM will or­ga­nize the third sym­po­sium of this se­ries next year, 2015. The world around Turkey is rapidly chang­ing, and Turkey is un­der­go­ing a rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion at home. It is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of re­search in­sti­tutes to make an ef­fort to un­der­stand such pro­cesses. This will not only help in­crease so­cial aware­ness of vi­tal in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal de­vel­op­ments, but also con­trib­ute to more so­phis­ti­cated dis­cus­sions at the high­est lev­els.


A high-level meet­ing be­tween the US and Turkey at NATO head­quar­ters in Brussels.

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