World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


TURKISH FOREIGN POLICY 2/2 - Turkish Foreign Policy and the Middle East (437) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: FRI, 23 / 11.30 am - 1.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: Chair: Francisco José Veiga (Professor of History- Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Paper presenter: Erhan Kelesoglu (Assistant Professor, Istanbul University, Turkey), “New Turkish Foreign Policy: Is Turkey shifting axis?"
After the Second World War Turkey allied itself with the West in the Cold War. With the demise of the Soviet Union, newly emerging regional balances meant tough challenges for the Turkish foreign policy makers who used to think in a national security focused ideology. Surprisingly, being descendants of an empire which ruled Balkans and the Arab Middle East for centuries these policy makers were quite novice about social, political, economic and ethnic composition of the neighbouring regions. Yet the advent of the new century witnessed a shift in the traditional Turkish foreign policy. The strategic alliance with Israel almost collapsed after Turkey’s harsh criticism against Israel regarding Gaza War in July 2008 followed by Prime Minister Erdogan’s hot debate with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The improving relations with Iran and Sudan which are isolated by the West, loss of enthusiasm regarding accession to EU, and the Islamist backgrounds of ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) cadres only served the concerns about an Islamist change in Turkey’s foreign policy. The new policy which is formulated by foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu focuses on ‘zero-problems with the neighbours’. His ‘strategic depth’ theory tries to locate Turkey’s position in ‘geocultural basins’, such as the Middle East and the West. In a historical perspective I intend to analyse this new policy which caused fears that Turkey has begun moving away from its traditional Euro-Atlantic orientation, towards the Middle East and the Muslim world.

Paper presenter: Salih Bicakci (Asst. Prof. of International Relations, Isik University, Turkey), “Between Neo-Ottomanism and Kemalism: Turkish Foreign Policy Recovers Its Memory?”
The recent maneuvers and strategy of Turkey has increased its prestige and improved its capacity to be effective in international politics from Eurasia to the Middle East and from Central Asia to South East Asia. Turkey's recent proactive foreign policy is associated with Ahmet Davutoglu starting from his chief advisory to Prime Minister Erdogan and continuing to his appointment to ministry of the foreign affairs. Some researchers preferred to give the title of his book 'Strategic Depth' to the grand strategy of Turkey. Others have conceptualized Turkey's promise as a regional and global player, as related to its historical legacy, as Neo-Ottomanism. The term was first used in regards to the foreign policy implemented by Turgut Ozal's government after Turkey's interest in influencing the Turkic States. However, different from that period, Davutoglu is pointed out as a key actor in the strategies. As a professor of International Relations, he published 'Strategic Depth' to tackle the strategy, and geography of Turkey's policies relating to the European Union, the Middle East, Eurasia, and the Balkans. In this book, he listed geography, history, population and culture as constant data and constituents of a state's power. His construction of geography and history followed several different axes than those of the regular teaching of the state. He offers a wider imagination at both levels. The depth of his strategy depends on the reinvention of Turkey's facts and rhetoric. Davutoglu's strategy promises that Turkey will be a pivotal state. His multidimensional policies started to achieve their goals shortly. Despite the success of his strategy and the foreign policies of the government labelled as neo-Ottomanism, Davutoglu has refused the claims because of the term's connotations to the regime. On the other hand, an MP of the Justice and Development Party defined ne0-Ottomanism as 'a slow recovery of memory' by referencing the history of the republic over the cities of Istanbul and Ankara. This explanation also gives clues to the hidden rivalry of neglected Islamic groups and the political elite of the regime. In this presentation, one intends to understand the roots of neo-Ottomanism by looking into the historical references of the theme at a social level. By answering the questions: What are the roots and sources of neo-Ottomanism? How does neo-Ottomanism shape identity? Is it really a recovery of memory? Is it a normalization of the Republic of Turkey with its history? Is it really possible to implement neo-Ottomanism as foreign policy?

Paper presenter: Ulvi Keser (Assoc.Prof., Dr., Atilim University İncek/Ankara), "Turkish-Greek Solidarity and Humanitarian Aids During Grand Famine in Greece in World War II Period"
The Second World War has had a great and suffering impact upon the countries which participated in the war. Unfortunately, one of those countries has had a very tragic and terrific results of the war since it has been invaded twice firstly by Italy, and then by Germany. Out of the military invasion, on the other hand, Greece has suffered mostly because of the starvation which lasted about 5 years in the country. This long and terrific period is named the Grand Famine or as it is mostly and generally known "μεγάλος λιμός" (famine) for Greece. taking into consideration that some 3.000 Greek people have lost their lives a day due to the famine during WWII Grand Famine Period, it will be easier to understand how much Greece had suffered from that disaster and terrific situation. The only country helping Greece during the period of invasion and famine is Turkey, and Turkish people trying to do their best for a neighboring and comrade country. This article will focus on Greek famine period and Turkish-Greek solidarity during WWII period, making use of the Turkish and Greek archives as well as Red Crescent and Red Cross archives. Key Words; Greece, Turkey, Red Crescent, Red Cross, Grand Famine, Starvation, WWII.