World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


TURKISH FOREIGN POLICY 1/2 - Continuity and Change in Turkey's External Relations (410) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: FRI 23, 9-11 am

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: Chair: Carmen Rodríguez (Researcher, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain)

Paper presenter: Emine Tirali (Dr., Bosphorus University, Ataturk Institute, Turkey), “Critical Periods in the Turkish-USA Relations in the last ten years”
In this study I will analyse the changing nature of the last ten years of Turkey-USA relations, and evaluate the problems arising between the two countries. Several points need to be emphasized in Turkish-USA relations. Firstly, these two countries have cooporated in many areas over the years, despite this relationship having passed through some periods of crisis. The most critical of these occurred with the Iraq war. After Turkey refused to send troops to support the USA’s invasion of Iraq, from the USA's perspective, a debate started over whether Turkey should remain ‘indispensable’ if it was not a part of the most important military operation in Iraq. Secondly, after the 11 September terrorist attacks on the USA, a project was raised by G.W.Bush, called ‘the Greater Middle East Project’, which claimed to bring the USA, Europe and Middle East together in a set of commitments to help transform the region politically and economically. It was promoted as a way to establish stability and peace in the Middle East, which Bush viewed as a terrorist threat to the USA, and gave the major role to Turkey as ‘co-president' of the project. According to the USA, Turkey could be a bridge between Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. However, 'the Greater Middle East Project’ was questioned in many ways, as well as the role of Turkey in this project. On the one hand, Turkey was given a special role as democratic Muslim country, in Washington’s new parlance ‘moderate Islam’, and was seen as capable of making an important contribution to the process. This term sparked much discussion in the Turkish media. Public opinion and the military gave a negative response, because they thought it was as an attack on secularism and democracy. Turkey is a country founded on secular principles, rather than religious ones. This contributed to a growing anti-Americanism. On the other hand, in some issues about the Middle East, Turkey does not share the same opinion with USA. As an example, I can show the resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, where Turkey supports the dominant Arab view. Meanwhile, there would be so many issues to be discussed among two countries ranging from Iran’s nuclear program to Russian regional ambitions.

Paper presenter: Ahmet Kasim Han (Assistant Prof., Dr., Istanbul University, Turkey), “Turkish foreign policy under the Justice and Development Party: The ‘conscientious constraint’ or national interest?”
Turkish foreign policy under the Justice and Development Party: The ‘conscientious constraint’ over national interest? Following the end of the cold war Turkish foreign policy, which has been portrayed with its pro status-quo countenance, has taken a new direction since the late 1990s. The so called multi-dimensional foreign policy of the late 1990s that was the answer to the challenges of the ‘new world order’ has taken a new turn with the coming to power of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2002. The AKP’s foreign policy approach has been formulated by Ahmet Davuto’lu and widely effected by the new challenges presented by 9/11, can be conceptualized mainly within a ‘neo-Ottomanist’ framework. Basing the policy on ‘zero-problems with neighbours’ and making Turkey an active player in all conflicts in its surrounding regions ‘that were a part of the former Ottoman territories’ Turkey is presented as an ideal player as the ‘master of these lands’ with its cultural and historical depth. A special emphasis is also given to the political roots of the AKP, coupled with a self-attributed exceptionalism as the true inheritors of the Ottoman legacy. In the words of Davudoglu this new foreign policy was ‘pro-active’, apparently underlining the ‘passive’ nature of the previous approach and bringing forward the difference stated above. However, to what extent there is a consensus on this re-direction of foreign policy, even within the decision making circle, is largely questionable and widely criticized on the basis that this new activism in Turkey’s foreign policy is not formulated according to national interests but on party and identity interests of the ruling group disregarding the ?national interest?. The critique goes on to argue that AKP is trying to garner support for itself domestically and more importantly abroad, by using an activism in foreign policy. While bringing out the ‘conscientious’ stance as a regular theme invoked while addressing foreign policy issues this pro-active, ‘liberal’ foreign policy approach, is in fact used by the party to boost the identity politics and thus the Islamic characteristic of the nation. Starting with Israel’s Gaza Operation, to the episode in Davos, this paper will use a case study approach to analyze the dynamics of the so called ‘neo-Ottomanism’ and the critiques towards such re-orientation of foreign policy. In this light Turkish foreign policy will be analyzed by studying AKP documents, newspaper pieces and speeches of party leaders as well as by using semi-structured interviews with parliamentarians, AKP foreign policy team, the journalists and scholars.

Paper presenter: Suleyman Seydi (Associate Professor, Suleyman Demirel University), "Turkish-American relations in the context of Cold War politics (1955-1965)"
This paper will first examine the objectives and main principles of American foreign policy towards the Middle East in the late 1950's. Then it will analyze Turkish foreign policy posture in the context of Cold War politics with a special focus on foreign policy developments in the country before the military coup of 1960 and shortly afterwards. The papers will seek to answer following questions: what policy consideration shaped American approach towards Turkish foreign policy making process and how did Turkey respond to it. This paper will try to support the contention that Turkey's failure to bring Middle Eastern countries, particularly Iraq, Egypt and Syria, into western camp under the Baghdad Pact of 1955, undermined Ankara's role and its credibility in the region in the eyes of American policy makers. As a result of which, Turkish government began to build a multilateral foreign policy through making an effort to have a closer relations with Moscow; in fact, the USSR had already promised financial aid to Turkey. Adnan Menderes, Turkish prime Minister and Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet Premier, declared their wish to an exchange of official visits sometime in 1960. The American policy makers were quick to interpret such development as a policy shift in Turkish Foreign policy which would have implications for the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East with a possible Soviet influences in these regions. Hence, Washington put pressure on Turkey for cancelling the planned visit. Therefore, this paper assumes that the Turkish military coup of May 1960 prevented Menderes's effort to establish a closer relationship with Moscow, as when military government came into power it took Washington's fear into consideration. But shortly after, new issues such as missile crisis and Cyprus question generated new challenges for both parties which crated credibility dilemma in USA-Turkey relations. This paper will finally evaluate how much these issues shaped the future relations of both countries.