Turkey nds itself in the
uncomfortable situation of being
a ip-opping regional power,
confronting accusations it used to lob at the West for its doublestandards and hypocrisy in theregion.
oreign policy o urkey championed by the three-termruling AKP has brought with it a realignment and re-eval-uation o Ankara’s traditional positioning in world politics.No longer simply a bridge or instrument “o” or “rom”the West, urkey has established its own agency in the lasttwo terms o the AKP through a pro-active oreign policy that seeks to balance its pragmatic interests and principles.Whether or not this will continue to be possible in theAKP’s third term remains to be seen.urkey’s domestic political transormation and its democ-ratization under the AKP have played an important role inthe expansion o urkey’s international relations. Despitethe traditional hostility o urkey’s secular
elitetowards its Muslim and Soviet neighborhood in avor o amore comprehensive partnership with the more powerulWest, the popular sentiment o most urks remains skep-tical towards the West
as evidenced by polling done by Pew.Consequently, in periods o democratically elected civiliangovernments, urkey has pursued closer relations with itsneighborhood. Tis is most clearly demonstrated by theoreign policy initiatives o Prime Ministers Menderes andÖzal, long beore the AKP.
Te rise o the AKP and the “Anatolian igers,” repre-senting the new business elites o the urkish heartland inKayseri, Konya, or Gaziantep rather than the traditionalWestern centers o the Marmaris, has redened the oncedominant narrative o urkey’s heartland being economi-cally backwards and too religiously conservative, as the
elites and military once propagated. oday, urkey under the AKP operates according to a new vision o thecountry’s long-term economic and geopolitical objectives,turning away rom its once exclusively Western orientationand instead towards its own regional neighborhood. Tisre-orientation is marked by the concepts o “zero problemswith neighbors” and “strategic depth,” as explained by thecurrent Minister o Foreign Aairs Ahmet Davutoğlu. Tedirect impact this has had on business and trade is a reo-cusing o attention and energy within rather than beyondurkey’s immediate neighborhood.
This has been seen in polling most recently completed by the Pew Global AttitudesProject http://www.pewtrusts.org/our_work_report_detail.aspx?id=85899362116
Despite the initial successes o urkish oreign policy inopening new markets and expanding into its neighbor-hood, throughout the Arab Spring, Ankara has been orcedto conront the new realities o the Middle East. Havinginitially inspired great admiration in both the Arab worldand the West or its early embrace o changes in unisia andEgypt, urkey misjudged Libya by initially rejecting sanc-tions and even opposing NAO’s involvement, losing muchcredibility beore changing course. Now with the ongoingprotests and brutal repression by the AKP leadership’s“brother” Bashar Assad, Ankara has only reluctantly spokenout as Syrians poured across the border and continue tobe killed during protests every day. Syria has been theshowcase o AKP’s policy o engagement in the MiddleEast thereore the time it has taken or them to “run outo patience” with Assad will be consequential or urkey’suture role in the region. urkey nds itsel in the uncom-ortable situation o being a ip-opping regional power,conronting accusations it used to lob at the West or itsdouble standards and hypocrisy in the region. Now the EU,urkey, and the United States nd themselves in the sameboat without any tangible benets.Unlike previous oreign ministers such as Abdullah Guland Ali Babacan that spoke soly and in unison with theprime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu’s tenure has been raughtwith domestic disagreements over important oreign policy issues such as Armenia, Cyprus, and Israel to name only the most recent instances. Te voice o the prime ministerhas typically drowned out the work and voice o the oreign