The Balkan Trust for Democracy
o what the AKP government is doing is indeed a continu-ation o trends that began either during the rule o the latePresident urgut Özal or in the latter hal o the 1990s. Acursory look at the speeches and writings o the late İsmailCem, the ormer oreign minister, will show that many ideas currently identied with the AKP government havebeen expressed earlier. What truly distinguishes the currentgovernment rom its predecessors is its innate and tirelessactivism in all the regions that surround urkey and itsunwillingness to be le outside o any development in the vicinity.It is in view o these realities that one must debate the issueo urkey’s place in the West and whether or not its oreignpolicy has been hijacked by an ideologically committedparty intent on taking urkey in a dierent direction.
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In the wake o the Gaza otilla disaster and the UnitedNations vote on Iranian sanctions, the urkish govern-ment saw and understood the limits o its prowess and theboundaries o its autonomous room or maneuver. At theend o the day it proved less easy to break relations withIsrael, even or this government. Aer all, the radicalismo the government’s discourse appears to have backred,as a signicant part o the public showed unease with thehijacking o the Gaza issue by radical Islamists. On Iran,urkey’s realization that it ound itsel isolated nally sank in, even i this is not to be openly acknowledged and eventhough there will be some continued role or Ankara to play on this issue.Finally, and perhaps paradoxically, the importance o urkey’s Western ties and its place in the Atlantic alliance asthe anchor o urkish oreign policy was enhanced withinthe country in the wake o these developments. Tere wasa realization that it serves urkey’s purposes ar better tomove in a more coordinated ashion with allies, particularly with the United States. A sense that urkey might be pulledinto the quagmire o the region without its Western anchorwas enhanced, partially because o the incessant debateabroad about its direction.In an interview with Newsweek, Ahmet Davutoğlu, urkey’soreign minister, put the matter most succinctly: “We are apart o the West. I the West sees us as outside and an objectthat can be lost or won, their logic is wrong. We have anequal right to speak in NAO as any other country. No onehas the right to see the Western alliance as its domain andname another as inside or outside o it. I Western valuesare so power, economic interdependency, human rights,then we deend them. We, however, are now acing a test.Nine civilians were murdered on the high seas [during theotilla incident]. Are we going to voice objection whenhuman rights are violated by an Eastern or Muslim country but remain silent when Israel violates human rights? I thisdouble standard is a Western value, we are not or it.” Inthe rest o the interview though, when addressing urkey’spolicies towards Muslim countries, Davutoğlu made himsel vulnerable to charges o double standard as well. When hedealt with the human rights record o Muslim countries andhis government’s record o dealing with the likes o Sudan,Iran, and others, he betrayed a bias based on religiousafnity, but the gist o his argument in this particular quota-tion resonates with the urkish public.Te reneging o major members o the EU on their prom-ises to urkey, combined with urkey’s own domesticstruggle to dene its identity and the urkish public’sperception o American policies, account or this reserv-edly antagonistic approach to the West. Under the circum-stances, the EU’s internal ocus, and the resulting lack o impact on urkey’s domestic developments, the country’srelations with the West will primarily consist o bilateralrelations with the United States. In that regard an interviewgiven by the outgoing American ambassador James Jerey highlighted the administration’s outlook vis-a-vis urkey’srecent oreign policy steps.Ambassador Jerey argued that “the question about[urkey’s] orientation is one that could have been posedto De Gaulle’s France in the 1960s…nobody questionedwhether France was part o the West and many people inurkey take umbrage o that and it’s their right to… there-ore, we don’t worry too much about the big picture but interms o urkey’s specic set o policy options under givengovernments, sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’tagree.”President Obama, who since the beginning o his termtried to build a tighter relationship with urkey, addressedall these issues in a recent interview with the Italian daily