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Turkish Elections

Turkish Elections

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Michael Werz, Caroline Wadhams, Matthew Duss, and Sarah Margon on what Turkey's June elections mean for for U.S. foreign policy in the region.
Michael Werz, Caroline Wadhams, Matthew Duss, and Sarah Margon on what Turkey's June elections mean for for U.S. foreign policy in the region.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Jun 24, 2011
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1Center or American Progress | Ater Turkey’s June Elections
After Turkeys June Elections
A Review of Avenues for U.S. and Turkish Foreign PolicyCooperation in the Wake of Turkey’s Parliamentary Elections
urkey’s parliamenary elecions earlier his monh se he sage or how urkish leaderspursue reorm a home and approach he many challenges and opporuniies in hecounry’s umuluous neighborhood. How his all plays ou will have imporan implica-ions or U.S. oreign policy in he region. Why? Because U.S.-urkish relaions as hey relae o he many conics in he region may well be key o addressing hese conicseecively o he bene o boh counries. As expeced, urkish Prime Miniser Recep ayyip Erdogan and his Jusice andDevelopmen Pary, or AKP, is urkish acronym, will say in charge wih a solid major-iy in he urkish parliamen. Bu because he and his pary were unable o mee he wo-hirds requiremen needed o change he consiuion, Erdogan will need he supporo he opposiion o pursue he key reorms o he consiuion, such as changing o apresidenial sysem.Te opposiion consolidaed is posiion. Te social-democraic Republican People’sPary, or CHP, expanded is voer base by over 3 million compared o he dismal resulso he las elecion in 2007 when he pary garnered he voes o only 19 percen o heelecorae. And imporanly, he Kurds dramaically increased heir represenaion inhe parliamen due o a srong showing o he Kurdish candidaes in he souheas o he counry; he Kurdish Peace and Democracy Pary, or BDP, will now have 36 seasand a voice in wha will be a core issue o he consiuional reorm debae: heKurdishminoriy conic.Te recen elecion carries inernaional implicaions, oo. urkey’s success on heglobal sage over he pas decade has brough added responsibiliies or is leadership. As a regional power urkey has o wresle no only wih a rapidly changing environ-men in he Easern Medierranean bu also wih accusaions o double sandards because o is srong criicism o Israel and is iniial silence when i came o arociiescommited in Libya and Syria.
2Center or American Progress | Ater Turkey’s June Elections
Tese predicamens challenge urkish oreign policies, which have already undergone aremendous conversion over he pas eigh years, mainly driven by urkey’s economicoureach o is Arab neighbors, o norhern and sub-Saharan Arica, and o he Balkans.Tis economic success sory alongside increasing civil liberies a home—independeno coninuing concerns abou press and religious reedom—have raised he visibiliy o urkish poliics in he region and beyond. A recensurvey by he urkish Economic and Social Policies Foundaion , or ESEV,documens hese changing percepions in he region. urkey’s approval raing in seven Arab counries is above 75 percen, and is role as a mediaor is seen posiively, evenhough—or, some would say, because o—is relaionship wih Israel coninues isdownward spiral.Percepions o he U.S.-urkish relaionship by urks are murkier. While less han onehird o he urkish populaion see he Unied Saes as being “riendly oward urkey,”hree quarers believe ha urkey is riendly oward he Unied Saes and urkey’sregional neighbors. Ye in an apparen conradicion rom he rs resul, over hal o heurks see he U.S. bilaeral relaionship in a posiive ligh, and an impressive 67 percenhink ha he Obama adminisraion is conribuing posiively oward inernaional sa- biliy. I hese numbers are correc, i appears ha here is public suppor or a srongerU.S.-urkish relaionship.Tese daa indicae ha regional percepions o urkey are an imporan key o under-sanding urkey’s emerging inuence in inernaional relaions in he wake o hismonhs elecions. Sabiha Senyücel Gündoğar, who direcs ESEV’s oreign policprogram, argues ha based on isregional survey urkey is no only he mos popularcounry in he region bu also “he only counry ha gained ground while all he ohercounries were losing populariy.”Te rebellions in Norh Arica and he Middle Eas have only increased urkey’ssraegic relevance or he inernaional communiy. And he ac ha many saes inhe region see inernaional poliics mainly hrough he prisms o he Israeli-Palesinianconic and he nuclear armamen o Iran urher enhances he counrys sanding givenhe recurring populis atacks agains Israel by members o he Erdogan governmen.By becoming a regional acor, urkey eners he realm o realpoliik and he world o double sandards, even hough he oen moralizing ofcial rheoric may say oherwise.urkey’s hesiancy o urn on Syrian Presiden Bashir al-Assad and his bloody crack-down on democracy proesors is jus one o a growing number o dilemmas urkey willace piting is sraegic ineress and poliical values agains one anoher.In he long run, his developmen may open up more opporuniies or pragmaic cooper-aion wih he Unied Saes. Policymakers in boh counries oen say ha in 90 perceno he cases U.S. and urkish sraegic ineress overlap, bu in realiy he wo govern-
3Center or American Progress | Ater Turkey’s June Elections
mens look a he world rom quie dieren angles. Tis issue brie will explore he mosimporan opporuniies or U.S.-urkish cooperaion in he region o demonsrae how imporan Presiden Obama’s renewed eors o improve U.S.-urkish relaions are osabiliy and securiy in he region.
 Turkish economic expansion in the region
Economic growh is an imporan acor in deermining inuence abroad. urkey’seconomic growh and increasing expors, especially ou o cenral and easern Anaolia, where he rapidly growing ciy o Gazianep is a hub in he cener o he new Levan,have inuenced and shaped is oreign policy.In cenral and easern urkey over 20 ciies now generae over $1 billion o rade each, andemerging small- and medium-sized businesses in ormerly negleced pars o he counry are aggressively developing new markes abroad. Teir producs, many o which are inconsrucion and semi-advanced indusries, such as exiles, are hugely successul in hegreaer Middle Eas. urkish companies are managing a subsanial par o he reconsruc-ion work in norhern Iraq. Syria is anoher major ronier o urkish rade expansion, ashe 2004 Free rade Agreemen preceded a quadrupling o urkish expors since hen.urkey has also quadrupled rade wih sub-Saharan Arica in he pas hree years. All o hese developmens are a clear indicaor ha urkey’s evolving oreign policy hasa lo less o do wih “neo-Otoman” desires han wih very pracical economic ies ohe region. Inernal shis wihin urkey have conribued o he emergence o a middleclass in pars o he counry where i has no exised beore, and his ransormaion hasdirec consequences or he way he counry posiions isel in he region.Tese imporan inernal changes aciliae and drive urkey’s new oreign policy, whichis “boh a blessing and a curse or he counry” as Mensur Akgün direcor o he GlobalPoliical rends Cener in Isanbul noed during a recendiscussiona he Cener or American Progress. Te new oreign policy is a blessing because i grealy enhancesurkey’s regional inuence and economic ies, bu hose policies can become a curse because no regional acor can mainain consisen sandards and moral high ground ashe urkish governmen oen preends.
Distant cooperation: Afghanistan and Pakistan
urkey is an imporan parner o he Unied Saes in is eors o sabilize Aghanisanand creae peace in he region. Is long-sanding hisorical ies o Aghanisan andPakisan and urkey’s membership in NAO enables i o serve as rused inerlocuor beween he NAO coaliion and Aghanisan, and beween Aghanisan and Pakisan, whose relaionship remains srained.

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