As the world enters a new year, new developments also await the turbulent Middle East. In this new year, new foreign policy initiatives await Turkey, which has been following a stable course from many perspectives, despite major shocks taking place all around her over the past three years.
One can examine these expected developments in various spheres. First of all, we may say that we are facing a Turkey whose relations with the European Union in particular are becoming increasingly tense. This is no longer a secret; in 2014, the respective national interests of the EU and Turkey became prominent and ran up against one another in a number of areas that had an impact on the other side. For example, the EU expected Turkey to react more strongly to Russia’s attitude toward the domestic turmoil in Ukraine and to its seizure of Crimea than it did. Turkey not only did not take part in sanctions against Russia, but also decided to improve trade relations even further. This had a negative impact on the EU, and in terms of diplomatic relations, we have entered one of the most stagnant period of the last 50 years. Looking at the same issue from Turkey’s point of view, it is easy to see that Turkey made a difficult choice and had to protect the interests of its own citizens before others. While Turkey had no close relations with the Arab world before the AK Party came to power, it had increasingly improved relations with Northern African countries up until the Arab Spring and based many commercial equations on relations with these countries and their peoples. Although it managed to maintain domestic calm in the political sense during the Arab Spring, it is still impossible to say that it emerged scot-free from this process. If neighbors with whom you enjoy close relations are changing regimes one after the other, overthrowing their leaders and are preoccupied with civil war, uprisings and protests, then you need to look for alternative havens in order to protect your economy, especially if you share a border with two of those countries and have undertaken the responsibility of looking after two million refugees, then you are obliged to protect the lives of your own people and those of your neighbors.
It was under those conditions that Turkey decided to step up its trade relations with Russia. Trade with the EU is not sufficiently profitable for Turkey because of the provisions of the Customs Union. That being the case, Turkey must not risk its relations with Russia and the Turkic republics whether that pleases our ally the West or not. We see that Turkey will continue to implement that decision in 2015 as well. Being a member of NATO, Turkey will not join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Neither the nature of the Turkish people nor Turkey’s international agreements make that possible. However, in terms of bilateral relations and trade, if the EU does not invite Turkey to sit down to the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement negotiating table, its allies will see Turkey entering into warmer and closer relations with other states.
One of the neighbors with which Turkey will enjoy a different convergence in 2015 is Greece. Following Russia’s decision to link the natural gas distributed in Europe to Greece over Turkey instead of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey working together on this huge project has become a current issue. Besides this, Greece who has received massive amounts of rescue funding since 2010 will, of course, pay the price for that in the long term and it appears that its loneliness in the financial world will continue. It seems unlikely that there will be much demand for Greek bonds from major investors over the next decade or so. That means that, even if it persists on carrying out its policies regarding Cyprus that are against our policies, Greece will be obliged to draw closer to Turkey due to its healthy economy. As it is known, Prime Minister Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu paid an official visit to Greece at the beginning of December and carried out important meetings on a number of subjects: Goods from Turkish industry are a reasonable option for the moribund Greek economy, which needs to be revived, because they comply with delivery dates in a disciplined manner compatible with European standards and are cheaper, yet of far better quality than the products of Far East industry.
The general assessment we can make regarding the course Turkish relations will take in 2015 is that Turkey will look favorably on better relations with all countries, irrespective of what pact or union they may belong to. With our new Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, being a foreign policy expert himself, it appears that it will become even smoother to building new and constructive links in terms of international relations.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Pakistan Observer: