What should be said about Turkey's foreign policy under the new AKP government?
In my Turkish-language column on Hürriyet's website, I've recently written about the possible relationship between seemingly unrelated events like the Arab Spring and the political sex scandals in Turkey. They are related, I suggested, because in today's world, everything is related, thanks to the almost-fully-globalized business and communication networks. In such a world, the flap of a butterfly's wings in the Gulf of Mexico can set off a tornado in the Middle East, just like a Twitter-triggered popular unrest in Iran can lead to higher gas prices in the United States.
When we have the globalized business and communication network on one hand and the economic failure of many eurozone countries on the other, we can easily presume that the rising posture of Turkey, thanks to its relative success in economy policies, will effect the EU as well. For instance, the decline of Greece may mean a significant reduction in Turkey's defence budget, canalizing those national funds to other sectors like R&D. In such conditions, Turkey's import-export ratio may be built in a better way, resulting with even a stronger posture.
I believe that when we analyze the Arab Spring, we shouldn't rely on the Turkey-as-a-role-model-pattern. Ankara is really being presented as a role model, especially by the international mass media, but the current relationship between Turkey and the Arab world is more of an interaction. As the Arab countries are being democratized towards the Turkish path, meanwhile, Turkey is sliding towards a more authoritarian political climate.
Democracy defends itself, I believe. Just like we are seeing in Britain, where the system suddenly started to turn against Rupert Murdoch, the monopolizing media mogul, only after he was on the verge of buying BskyB. Similarly, in Turkey, there may be a balancing invisible hand in politics, even inside the AKP government. I relate this presumption to their newly-declared political program.
AKP's program, which is still being debated in the national parliament, is interesting, because it emphasizes the importance of the accession process in a rather overdone tone. It underlines the target of being a full EU member. Sedat Ergin, a leading columnist of Hürriyet, wrote about the program in detail today. It seemed to me that he was also surprised that the EU matter was at the top of AKP's agenda.
There are reasons to be suspicious, though. The negotiation process is de facto frozen now as even Hungary, a pro-Turkish EU country, couldn't open one negotiation chapter in her presidency. The double-standards of the EU is another reason for Turkey to be fed up. So some may say that AKP knows that nothing will happen with the EU, that's why they feel comfortable to put it in their agenda in that exaggerated manner.
I guess that it's unfair. I feel that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is quite decided about the EU this time. He probably sees that it is the best time for Turkey to throttle for the full membership. He probably calculates that one of the pillars of the anti-Turkish lobby in the EU, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is about to leave. Turkey's recent openings for Brussels in the Cyprus issue can also be considered as a sincere effort to solve the problem before the Greek Cypriots took the EU presidency next summer.
Interestingly, Turkey's EU agenda is actually linked to the Syrian problem. It is clear now that Turkey is spearheading the Western inverventionism in Syria, as it is allegedly doing in Central Asia. If an Assad-free Syria can be created quickly, Ankara, with its even greater influence, can decisively concentrate on the EU. And if the conjuncture is suitable (Dominique Strauss-Kahn instead of Sarkozy as the French President?), then Turkey can miraculously be regarded on the track for a full membership again. The side-effects of such a development will surely be less authoritarianism in Turkey.
So this is why I see the world as fully interconnected. And even the political sex scandals in Turkey or New York, are affecting the international politics, whether we like it or not.