What changes the last presidential election in Turkey will bring about in the foreign policy has become a subject of serious discussion. Experts approach to this issue from two perspectives – domestic problems and geopolitical conditions. The common ground they come to is that Turkey is about to grow into a nation, which is going to have its say on a global scale. It is necessary to achieve substantial development in various fields in order to reach this goal. However, experience indicates that myriads of various types of problems exist in the present stage. Official Ankara will encounter difficulties in achieving strategic goals without solving these problems. To this end, the new foreign policy must be crafted.
Changing geopolitical dynamics: emerging new tasks
Intensity of geopolitical processes in the Middle East does not reduce. The general picture of the region is rapidly changing. The great powers already accept it as a reality. Complex geopolitical, military and political developments spanning a number of countries of the region have brought up questions that expect to be answered. Alignment of the foreign policy of the great powers of the Middle East with the major principles of the global geopolitics occupies a special place among them.
In this context, analysts express a special interest in Turkey`s foreign policy because the successor of the Ottomans is a state, which has political, military, economic and geopolitical influence on a regional scale today. In addition, Turkey is the region`s only country, which is getting renewed in a civilized manner. It is surrounded by local wars. Changes are occurring in political circles of some countries. For example, Hassan Rouhani, who was moderate to the West, was elected a President. However, it is only Turkey that is getting renewed in a systematic way. This draws the attention of western analysts and experts. The main essence of the issue they raise is as follows: Will Turkey be able to be renewed and to what extent will it get renewed? Will the USA admit independence of the Turkish foreign policy in the process of renewing the country? Let us confess that Turkish experts think about these issues too. They approach to this problem in a broader aspect. In this context, interesting issues may emerge.
First and foremost, experts admit that the Turkish policy was upgraded and this is understood as continued traditions from time immemorial (see: for example., Richard Falk. Can the U.S. Government Accept an Independent Turkish Foreign Policy in the Middle East? / “Insight Turkey”, vol.16, №1, 2014, pp. 7-18).
It is interesting that transformation stages of the Ottoman foreign policy are being analyzed and changes observed in the modern Turkish Republic are described in this aspect. For example, elements of the Ottoman policy can be traced in the “zero problems with neighbors” thesis reflected in the foreign policy conception of Ahmet Davutoğlu (see the previous source).
Richard Falk deems it necessary to change the ”zero problem” formula in the new stage. He calls the present stage as the second phase. If we look at the Turkish foreign policy from this angle, we have to pay more attention to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan`s election as a president. In fact, this issue is part of the policy pursued by Erdoğan for years. The opinion of Turkish experts on this issue is known (see: for example, Ali Aslan. Türk Dış Politikası Eleştirilerinin Açmazları / “SETA Perspektif”, №64, August 2014). Today, the international relations system regulated by the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) is being modified. Geopolitical essence of the new stage is substantially different from the previous one. Aslan believes that novelties expected in the foreign policy of Turkey should not be looked at in this aspect.
Regional leadership: Ankara in quest of new political course
In this context, there is no need to strategically change Turkey`s foreign policy. Instead, it will be necessary to pursue a very sensitive and balanced policy because of the renewing processes in the Middle East. The main goal is to make Turkey a country having its own say in the world. This thought is shared by majority of Turkish experts (see: Sinan Ciddi. The Erdoğan Presidency and Turkey’s Political Future / “The Georgetown Journal of International Affairs”, 25 August 2014). However, Ankara must find a solution to a number of problems to achieve this goal.
Thus, the beginning of the new milestone in the Turkish foreign policy virtually means Turkey`s becoming an influential nation on a world scale. To achieve this strategic goal, much will depend on how the Turkish President will use his power. Some experts claim this issue is not clear yet.
Professor of the Georgetown University (USA) Sinan Ciddi believes that the Turkish policy will be in a ”uncertain stage” until 2015 (see the previous stage).The main reason for that is that Erdoğan-Gül duo failed to come to the common ground on political matters. Gül has not agreed with Erdoğan`s political stance on some issues. According to the Turkish president, the amendment of the constitution must come first at this stage.
In addition, the Kurdish issue, relations with Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Israel, and the implementation of energy projects remain as important issues. Western analysts think that rapprochement between Turkey and Israel is very important. Washington can even accept independent foreign policy of Ankara for the sake of this issue (see: Richard Falk. Can the U.S. Government Accept an Independent Turkish Foreign Policy in the Middle East? / “Insight Turkey”, vol.16, №1, 2014, pp. 7-18).
The experience shows that official Washington does put obstacles to Ankara on a number of issues. Serious pressure was put on Turkey on the discord with Israel, deployment of the anti-ballistic missile system, Iraq, Iran and Syria issues. Erdoğan had to agree with the USA`s terms. It means some kind of a “red line” was set for the Middle East aspect of the Turkish foreign policy. It is not permitted to cross it (see: the previous source, pp. 16-18). The next paradox for the Turkish policy comes from it because no ”red line” can be set for a country, which seeks to become an influential actor globally. Experts think how this contradiction will be overcome. Much depends on what novelties Erdoğan will bring as a president to the Turkish policy.
It seems as Ahmet Davutoğlu`s appointment as a Prime Minister is not accidental. What it involves is the beginning of the new phase in the Turkish foreign policy. First of all, strengthening the country from economic and military points of view is seen as a vital issue. If Ankara gains success in this, it will successfully ”get out of uncertain political circle” by 2015. Achieving consolidation in the society will ensure sustainability of this process.
Either way, experts talk about the renewing Turkey. Ankara pursues a consistent policy to become one of the strongest nations in the world. The present stage can be decisive in many respects. The 2015 elections are very important from this point of view. We can say for sure that Ankara will have to pursue its policy under complicated circumstances, taking into account the geopolitical contradictions in the Middle East. Terror and plans of some states to spread havoc gave rise to the complicated situation. The organization named the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and some radical Kurdish groupings pose threat to the regional countries.
In addition, the great powers` tussle for geopolitical influence brings new elements. For example, some Western experts say the USA and Russia will have to unite against the ”Muslim terror”. On the other hand, the region’s other counties such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel have leadership ambitions. We should not forget about the Egypt factor. Under these circumstances, Ankara should be very careful in applying novelties in its foreign policy.
The geopolitical situation is radically changing. There is the need to shape ”the course that can manage the change” in the constantly renewing geopolitical system. Experts pay more attention to this aspect of the issue in the Turkish foreign policy. This issue seems much more important than others.