Turkey: foreign policy is coming of age

Not since the heady days of Ottoman power has Turkey so effectively pulled its weight in world affairs.

Previously one of Israel's only local allies to the extent of even conducting joint military exercises, Turkey at first distanced itself from its former friend. Turkish PM Erdogan has now branded Israel not only a "barrier to peace" but a regional "threat".

On Palestine, the Turkish government has pushed for statehood, with Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying that support for Palestinian independence was an "obligation not an option."

Then on Syria, Turkey has joined EU officials in vowing to step up sanction measures against Damascus. This in spite of vetoes by two permanent security council members in a recent vote on a UN resolution on the matter. 

In asserting its independent foreign policy strategy, Turkey is taking on the big boys: America on Israel and Palestine; and then Russia and China on Syria.

Turkey's positions are having an effect, as Tzipi Livni, an ex-Israeli PM and opposition Kadima Party leader, has proposed that Turkey and Israel sit down together to sort out their differences. She appears to appreciate the extent of Turkish influence and military prowess, even if her country's PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, does not.

Netanyahu's recent speech on Palestine at the UN may have fallen on deaf ears despite drawing polite applause, as UNESCO has decided to back Palestinian independence. This has induced ire from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who stated that the cultural body's stance was 'inexplicable'.

Turkey's raised foreign policy profile accompanies its economic advance.  It now veers east and south to its old Ottoman-era stomping grounds and to Turkoman states south of Russia and north of Iran. And then deep into Sub-Saharan Africa.

While it still proposes EU membership, present Euro troubles and political stagnation have meant that that debate has gone off the boil in Ankara, at least for the time being.

Where will this all lead? 

Possibly to a re-assessment by all significant international players of new Turkey's status in world affairs. Already a model for many emerging Arab democracies figuring out how to combine Islamic faith with a pluralist approach to managing the state, Turkey's influence is set to grow, presumably. 

World trade and diplomacy is likely to be reshaped by a resurgent Turkey.

Check out all commentaries here.    

No comments:

Post a Comment