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GEOPOLITICS, GEOCULTURE AND TURKISH FOREIGN POLICY

Dr. Abdullah Yuvaci PhD Assistant Professor Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences Department of Political Science and International Relations Meliksah University, Kayseri, Turkey ayuvaci@meliksah.edu.tr and Salih Dogan Research Assistant Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences Department of Political Science and International Relations Turgut zal University, Ankara, Turkey sdogan@turgutozal.edu.tr

The aim of this paper is to enhance the understanding of contemporary Turkish foreign policy and how Turkish foreign relations are inuenced by its geopolitical and geocultural positions, especially in the context of the post-Cold War environment. A special emphasis is given to Turkeys relations with Iraq, Syria, Iran and the Central Asian region. It is argued that Turkeys geopolitics and geoculture signicantly shape its foreign policy-making with these countries. To take the full advantage of its geopolitics and geoculture, Turkey pursues an independent and active foreign policy, which results in conicts with the United States and surrounding countries, notwithstanding the fact that Turkey aims to implement a zeroproblem policy with its neighbors.

Introduction
With the 17th largest economy in the world, a population of over 70 million and a strong military, Turkey captures the attention of both policymakers and intellectuals who try to understand what drives Turkish foreign policy and where it headed. This paper attempts to increase the understanding of contemporary Turkish foreign policy, especially how changing geopolitical and geocultural factors inuence Turkeys foreign policy toward the United States and its neighbors. Due to space limitations, special attention is paid to Turkish relations with the United States, Turkeys southern neighbors (Iraq, Iran and Syria) and the countries of Central Asia. The West has identied Iran, Iraq and Syria as the main security threats in the post-Cold War era. Central Asian countries also bear special importance in the post-Cold War environ9 | 2012. december

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ment since their political and economic orientation became a major concern since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moreover, their importance further lies in the fact that some Central Asian countries are blessed with rich natural resources. Finally, it should be noted that Turkey has religious and historical connections with its southern neighbors and religious, linguistic and ethnic ties with the Central Asian countries. For the purpose of this study, geopolitics refers to the relation between politics and a given territory. Similarly, geoculture is concerned with how a state might utilize its cultural bonds such as religious, historical, linguistic or ethnic ties with other countries in the pursuit of political-economic interests (Sandkl, 2011). There are three main arguments in this paper. First, it argues that Turkeys geostrategic location and geocultural position signicantly shape its foreign policy. During the Cold War, Turkeys unique geography attracted the Great Powers attention, as it ultimately served the West as a bulwark against the spread of Communism. In the post-Cold War era Turkey realized that it could use its geostrategic location to advance its economic and security interests. In fact, to this end, Turkey has been investing in its geopolitical and geocultural positions by undertaking infrastructure projects such as railroads that connect the East to the West; taking a leading role in the establishment of regional organizations; making attempts to economically integrate the region; removing visa restrictions and opening consulates in many countries; trying to become a hub for energy pipelines; culturally presenting itself as a role model in the region; making attempts to promote democracy in the Arab world; improving ties with the ethnically related countries of Central Asia, etc. Second, the paper argues that with the end of the Cold War, Turkeys cultural characteristics started playing greater roles than they did during the Cold War on inuencing its foreign policy. Especially with the emergence of terrorism with its root in fundamentalist interpretations of Islam as a major threat to the West, the Turkish model emerged as an alternative model for political and cultural development in the region. Finally, the paper argues that Turkeys new active and independent foreign policy leads to conicts with the United States and surrounding countries in the region. These conicts emerge in spite of the fact that the zero-problem concept has become one of the cornerstones of Turkish foreign policy principles in the last decade. The paper is organized as follows. The next section briey analyzes the forces that inuenced Turkish foreign policy during the Cold War. Then we consider concepts that dene Turkish foreign policy in the post-Cold War era, especially during the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalknma Partisi AKP) governments (2002 present), and then how changing dynamics in world politics inuence geopolitics and geoculture of Turkish foreign policy are discussed. The nal section is designed to conclude the study.

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Geopolitics, Geoculture and Turkish Foreign Policy

Turkish Foreign Policy during the Cold War


Turkey is one of the most geopolitically and geoculturally important countries in the world as it bridges, both geographically and culturally, the West with the East. In terms of its geography, Turkey is uniquely situated between the Middle East, the Balkans and the Central Asia region. Moreover, the only sea route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, goes through Turkey, which further enhances its geopolitical importance. During the Cold War, it was Turkeys unique geographical location that drew Western powers attention most. Turkey bordered the Soviet Union, standing between the Soviet Union and the politically and economically important countries of the Middle East and Eastern Europe. In fact, before and even during the Cold War, the Soviet Union was putting pressure on Turkey to gain privileged access to the Bosporus and Dardanelles channels. Near the end of the Second World War the Soviets annulled the Treaty of Friendship and Non-Aggression that it had signed with Turkey in 1925, and then claimed the Kars and Ardahan regions, which were located in the eastern part of Turkey near the Turkish-Soviet border. Against this background, Turkey became one of the most important countries for the Western alliance to contain communism. Under the leadership of President Harry S. Truman, the Western bloc started providing nancial and military aid packages to Turkey in 1947. Turkey also became a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and was admitted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1952, which formalized the Turkish-American alliance. Once under the NATO defense system, the United States began to establish military bases in Turkey, which in return received signicant amounts of military and nancial assistance from the United States. Hale (2000, 123) reports that the number of the U.S. military personnel serving in Turkey reached 24,000 by the late 1960s. Coming right after Egypt and Israel, Turkey also soon became the third largest recipient of the U.S. military and nancial aid (Kirisci 2001, 1301). Thus, the Cold Wars atmosphere had forced Turkey to make a choice between the East and the West. As the Cold War turned into an intense ideological battle between these two blocs, Turkey had already oriented its foreign policy in accordance with Western interests. For example, Turkey played an important role in the establishment of regional alliances according to the wishes of the West, such as the Balkan Pact of 1953 and the Baghdad Pact of 1955. It even supported France against Algeria, a country with which Turkey has historical and religious ties, during a 1958 UN vote on Algerias independence because it did not want to irritate a NATO ally (Akgn 2009, 21). However, as Turkey became dependent on the Western alliance for its security and economic interests, it had several disappointing experiences in its relations with the West. Two of these are worth noting. The rst major blow to the relationship came with the Cuban Missile Crisis of the early 1960s, when the United States decided to remove from Turkey the Jupiter missiles that it had previously deployed, in exchange
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for the Soviet withdrawal from Cuba. A second incident that created resentment on the part of Turkey took place when the U.S. President Lyndon Johnson wrote a letter to the then Turkish Prime Minister smet nn in 1964, asking Turkey not to engage in military conicts with Greece, with which Turkey was on the brink of war over the Mediterranean Island of Cyprus. The letter further stated that the United States would not come to the aid of Turkey if it were attacked by the Soviets because of its military involvement with Greece. Turkey initially complied, but after managing to sign a Good Neighbors Agreement with the Soviet Union in 1972, it intervened in Cyprus in spite of the U.S. opposition and took over approximately one third of the Island in 1974. Under the inuence of the powerful Greek lobby the United States then responded with a military embargo against Turkey, which lasted until the end of the 1970s, when the United States nally lifted the embargo following the end of the dtente with the Soviet Union. However, these incidents greatly disappointed Turkish policymakers, who started questioning the value of Turkeys alignment with the West. They had come to the realization that Turkey had actually become too dependent on the West for its security and economic needs, and was unable to pursue its own interests independently. As a result, they took some modest steps to improve Turkeys relations with the Eastern bloc and Islamic countries. For example, Turkey sought nancial aid from the Soviet Union, signed natural gas and pipeline agreements with the Soviet Union, attended Islamic Conference meetings and increased its dialogue with the Non-aligned Movement (Akgn 2009, 234). However, this was not a realignment of Turkish foreign policy, which was indeed too difcult for a geostrategically located country like Turkey under the Cold War environment. In fact, these steps came to an end with the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. Turkey and the United States signed a Defense and Economic Cooperation Agreement in 1980, which paved the way for more military and nancial aid to Turkey, which in return allowed the United States to use its soils against the Soviet Union (Hale 2000, 1657). Thus, no major realignment occurred in Turkish foreign policy during the Cold War, as Turkey remained rmly in the Western alliance against the Soviet Union.

Turkish Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War World


Once the Cold War was over many people in Turkey as well as in other parts of the world started debating what the main source of conict would be in this new era. Cold War conicts were largely ideological in nature; and as a front-line state in the eastern frontier of the Western alliance, Turkey had little room to maneuver independently. Once the Cold War ended, some in the United States as well as in Turkey claimed that Turkey would no longer be a strategically important country to the West, as there was no communist threat left (Hale 2000, 191). However, it soon became clear that the post-Cold War era would not be conict-free. In fact, ethnic
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Geopolitics, Geoculture and Turkish Foreign Policy and religious identities became more visible throughout the world, leading to violent conicts/encounters in many areas. It soon became clear that the importance of Turkeys geopolitical location had not diminished with the end of the Cold War. As the only country in the world that simultaneously borders Iraq, Iran and Syria, the countries that were identied as a security threat to the West in the post-Cold War period, Turkey could play crucial roles for the West in maintaining stability in the region. Moreover, located between natural-resource-rich Central Asia to the east and the Middle East to the south and energy-dependent Europe to the west, Turkey could become the center for energy pipelines to supply the needs of Europe and provide an alternative energy route to Russia. The following paragraphs will examine in more detail how the changing international environment inuenced Turkish foreign policy in the post-Cold War period. It will further analyze how Turkey tried to prot from these changing conditions, as the end of the Cold War allowed it to pursue a more independent foreign policy.

Conceptualization of Turkish Foreign Policy


With the end of the Cold War Turkey was no longer trapped between the Soviets and Americans, which created a space where Turkey could pursue a more independent foreign policy. Turkey could still maintain good relations with the Western powers, but at the same time it could take advantage of the new opportunities to enhance its economic and political ties with the countries that are located to its east and south. This was not an axis shift in Turkish foreign policy, but a multidimensional policy with a more proactive, practical and cooperative approach. In fact, Turkey still considers European Union (EU) membership as a key cornerstone of its foreign policy. According to Turkish policymakers, Turkeys perception of its EU membership and being a rising power in the region are not two different steps; on the contrary, these are very much codependent and reinforce one other. Thus, Turkey could improve its relations with the South and East and pursue its own foreign policy interests while still presenting itself as a Western country. Turkeys interest in its southern neighbors in the post-Cold War era was also out of necessity. Their vast natural resources and relatively less competitive markets were promising, but they also posed a major security threat to Turkey. Turkeys southern neighbors were politically and economically instable and prone to ethnic and religious fundamentalism and divisions that could result in major civil or interstate wars in the region. Thus, major security threats to Turkey in the post-Cold War era came from its southeastern neighbors. Central Asian countries also had an abundance of natural resources, which was especially attractive to natural-resource-dependent Turkey. However, the Central Asian countries, although to a lesser extent, also had their own security challenges. First of all, Turkey had ethnic, linguistic and religious ties with them; any instability in Central Asia therefore had implications in Turkish
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domestic politics. More importantly, with the end of the Cold War political and economic orientations of the Central Asian countries were unclear: they could quickly fall into political and economic chaos, North Korea-type communism or religious fundamentalism. Thus, Turkey adopted one of the most well known assumptions of liberalism as one of the guiding principles of its foreign policy: integration and economic interdependence bring political stability. Political stability in the region was in the national interest of Turkey, as it could ourish economically and feel secure politically only in a stable environment. For that, Turkey had to follow an active foreign policy, use its geostrategic and geocultural resources and even intervene when necessary to shape surrounding political events according to its own interests and never isolate itself from what is happening nearby. However, pursuing such an active foreign policy in an unstable region could result in frequent political and military tensions for Turkey. Thus, Turkish policymakers, especially Ahmet Davuto lu, who became the rst chief foreign policy adviser for the AKP government in 2002 and was then named Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2009, dened this activism in peaceful terms by using the concept of zero-problem policy. The term implied that Turkish foreign policy activism would aim to settle its disputes with neighboring countries peacefully through negotiation and to enhance good relations with surrounding countries. During the Cold War, political-military interests overshadowed Turkeys economic interests. However, Turkey had adopted an export-oriented growth policy in the 1980s, and started actively seeking new markets for its exports and raw materials to fuel its growth. The end of the Cold War opened new markets and created economic opportunities for Turkey. In fact, as mentioned earlier, the Turkish government believes that economic development and political stability reinforce each other: political stability leads to economic development and enhancing economic relations helps bring political stability. To this end, Turkey has started investing in its geopolitical and geocultural assets. It signed agreements to promote trade relations with the countries in the region. As a result, Turkeys trade gures with the Middle East and Central Asia increased dramatically over the last decade. Turkey removed visa barriers with many countries, opened embassies and consulates and hosted international and regional meetings in Istanbul, which is planned to be a major nancial center in the region. The Turkish government has been investing heavily in international airports, harbors, roads and railways that connect the West to the East and to the South. For example, a major railroad project that connects Baku, Azerbaijan, to Turkey (through Georgia) is underway. Pipeline projects connecting the West to the East and vice versa further strengthened Turkeys hand. The Turkish government and Turkish philanthropists opened many schools in Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries, and also gave scholarships to students from these regions to study in Turkey. Turkey actively broadcasted in these countries, sometimes even in their own languages. In fact, several Turkish TV programs and series are today the most popular programs in Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries. In short, Turkey saw it was in its best interest to pursue an independent and active
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Geopolitics, Geoculture and Turkish Foreign Policy foreign policy to promote economic interdependence and political stability in the region in the post-Cold War era. It could in part rely on its geopolitical and geocultural assets to achieve its goals. The challenge was to follow such a foreign policy with a zero-problem approach in an unstable region.

Geopolitics and Turkish Foreign Policy


In August 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded neighboring Kuwait, an action that posed a major threat to the oil supplies from the region and the security of Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia. The United States and its western allies responded swiftly to save Kuwait and contain Saddam. Turkey joined the Western camp by cutting all bilateral trade relations with Iraq and shutting down the Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline, which was carrying half of Iraqs oil exports and was therefore a signicant revenue source for the Saddam regime, as well as for Turkey. Turkey also let the western forces use Turkish air bases to carry out strikes against Saddam from the north. Moreover, Turkey also allowed the coalition forces to use Turkish air bases to patrol northern Iraq until the 2003 occupation of Iraq. Turkeys 1990 Iraq policy was to a degree driven by a desire to show the western world that it was still part of the alliance and that its geostrategic importance was undiminished in the post-Cold War period. However, this also demonstrated that Turkey was not yet ready to formulate a foreign policy independently from the West in the 1990s, which in some part can be attributed to the fact that Turkish policymakers, with the sudden and unexpected end of the Cold War, were still puzzled over what parameters would guide Turkish foreign policy in this new era. However, throughout the 1990s Turkish policymakers and intellectuals frequently complained that Turkey was not compensated for its economic losses from the 1990 Iraq war. By giving full support to the coalition forces, Turkey had lost its major trade partner Iraq and was also now deprived of the Iraqi pipeline fees. It created resentment on the parts of Turkish statesmen. When the United States knocked on the doors of Turkey in 20022003 to ask for permission to use Turkish soils to deploy troops into Northern Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein, Turkish ofcials from the newly established and thus inexperienced government of the AKP were hesitant. The September 11 terrorist attacks had greatly increased the geostrategic importance of Turkey, which is the only country that simultaneously borders Iraq, Iran and Syria and is in close proximity to Afghanistan. The United States wanted to remove Saddam from power after the September 11 terrorist attacks, and for that it needed Turkeys assistance. Reminding the United States that Turkey had yet to be compensated for the 1990 Iraq war, the Turkish government initially started negotiating a foreign aid deal with the U.S. administration, which at some point offered 6 billion dollars in grants and 20 billion dollars in loans and even a trade agreement that would allow some Turkish products to enter the U.S. market duty-free. The U.S. was condent that its faithful
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ally Turkey would side with the United States against the Saddam regime. However, the Turkish Parliament unexpectedly turned down the government motion that would have opened Turkish borders to U.S. troops against Iraq on March 1, 2003. What were the reasons behind Turkeys refusal of the motion? One reason was that Turkish public opinion was overwhelmingly against the occupation of Iraq by the United States. Helping the United States occupy another Muslim country was a hard sell both in the religiously conservative AKP structures and in the public. Some in Turkey also had security concerns, since after Saddam was there a possibility of the establishment of an independent Kurdish state in Northern Iraq, which could ignite similar demands in Kurdish-populated southeastern Turkey. Another reason was that, as mentioned previously, Turkey was not adequately compensated for its economic losses following the 1990 Iraq war, which resulted in resentment among Turkish politicians. In fact, Turkey had already become less supportive of Americas Iraq policy after 1996 and started improving its economic and political relations with Iraq and other Arab countries (Larrabee and Lesser 2003, 1356). To the dismay of the U.S., Turkey had even re-established diplomatic relations with Iraq by reopening its embassy in Baghdad in 2001 (Larrabee and Lesser 2003, 167). However, in the end, the Turkish refusal of the U.S. basing request was the rst signicant sign that Turkey had started dening its security and economic interests independently of its long-time ally the United States (see Brown 2007, 104). Such a foreign policy action also led some in Turkey as well as in the West to claim that the religiously oriented AKP was shifting the foreign policy axis of Turkey, a claim that was rejected by the AKP leadership. Such claims were raised despite the fact that the Turkish government later started assisting the United States in Iraq by granting the U.S. ight zone permission, authorizing the rotation of U.S. troops through Turkish military bases, and providing logistic supplies for U.S. troops in Iraq. In return for Turkeys belated cooperation, the U.S. supported Turkeys military operations against the Kurdish separatist group, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), by providing intelligence regarding the moves of PKK militants and tolerating Turkeys cross-border operations into Northern Iraq, where the PKK camps were located. The U.S. administration also put pressure on Congress to drop a vote on an Armenian genocide resolution from the agenda in 2007 in order to not antagonize Turkey (The New York Times, 17 October 2007). Although Turkey had conicting interests with its allies on Iraq, its foreign policy interests on Central Asia were largely in line with those of the United States and the western powers. The Central Asia region is blessed with natural resources. When Soviet rule ended in these regions with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkey realized that it could play a vital role in the transfer of energy resources from Central Asia to world markets through pipelines. Turkey then started lobbying intensively to persuade the interested parties such as the Central Asian countries, oil companies and major powers to support a major Caucasus-Turkey pipeline project that would greatly enhance Turkeys strategic importance while providing Turkey with handsome revenues. The
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Geopolitics, Geoculture and Turkish Foreign Policy United States and major European countries also favored Turkey over its alternatives Russia and Iran for a pipeline route, although a pipeline going through Russia or Iran would be much more economically feasible than a pipeline going through Turkey. Finally, with the strong support of the United States, Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan signed the intergovernmental agreement for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline on November 18, 1999 in Istanbul (Baran 2005, 107). A similar pipeline project, called Nabucco, is also scheduled to start in 2013. The Nabucco Pipeline Project, supported by the United States and European countries, aims to connect the worlds richest gas regions the Middle East, Egypt and Caspian region to Europe via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. However, 66 percent of the pipeline will go through Turkey. The Turkish oil company, BOTA , is one of the six contractors, with a share of 16.67 percent (Journal of Turkish Weekly 2011). Turkeys self-governing foreign policy orientation and zero-problem approach recently became more noticeable when Turkey decided not to support the western powers Iran policy. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed a resolution on 9 June 2010, calling for a multilateral embargo against Iran, which was accused of developing nuclear weapons. However, to the dismay of the United States and European powers, Turkey and Brazil, as non-permanent seat holders in the Security Council, refused to support the resolution. Turkey and Brazil were strongly against the use of hard power policies such as economic sanctions against Iran. In fact, they had been in contact with the Iranian government to strike a deal before the resolution come to a vote in the Council. However, the resolution passed the Council, in spite of the objections of Turkey and Brazil. The UN resolution did not meet the expectations of American and European policymakers, who had wanted to implement tougher sanctions against Iran. Under veto threats from Russia and China, the UN sanctions against Iran had excluded energy trade, the most important source of income for the Iranian government. For that reason, the United States and the European Union countries decided to complement the UN embargo with unilateral sanctions, which covered energy trade with Iran. The United States pressured the Turkish government to comply with the American and European bilateral sanctions. However, upsetting the United States, the Turkish government announced that it would comply with the UN sanctions, which largely focused on military sales and investments, but not with the American and European sanctions that included energy trade. One important reason driving Turkish policy was that Iran is a major oil and gas supplier to Turkey, who, as an energy-dependent country, needs to diversify its energy providers to maintain its economic growth. Iran and Turkey had a 10 billion dollar trade volume in 2010, 8 billion dollars of which were energy resources that Turkey imported from Iran. Further irritating the United States was the Turkish governments goal of increasing the existing trade volume with Iran to 30 billion dollars within a few years. Turkeys post-Cold War Syrian policy, however, has had its ups and downs. In the 1980s and 1990s Turkey was accusing Syria of nurturing and providing a safe haven for the PKK, a Kurdish separatist terrorist organization that was led by Abdullah
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calan and had been operating in the mountainous parts of the Southeastern Turkey. The tension over the PKK between Syria and Turkey rose so high in 1998 that the two countries came to the brink of war. Bilateral relations began to improve soon after Syria expelled PKK leader Abdullah calan, who was later captured in Kenya in February 1999. When the AKP government gained power in 2002, Syria became one of the most important test areas for the new governments foreign policy principles, such as zero-problem policy and the policy of enhancing economic integration with neighbors. In spite of U.S. opposition, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo an established a personal friendship with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Turkey and Syria signed mutual visa removal agreements and took steps to improve bilateral trade and tourism relations. Turkey even sought a EU-like integration with Syria by proposing to establish a regional free trade organization that would initially cover Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, with Turkey being the leading country. The projected organization, called Samgen, was recently interrupted by the uprisings in the Middle East (Milliyet, 23 August 2011). However, relations with Syria once again turned negative when the Arab Spring, the series of mass public movements across the Middle East that called for regime changes and democracy, spread to Syria. When uprisings erupted in Syria, Ankara initially appeared to be siding with the Syrian President Bashar Assad, yet at the same time asked President Assad to undertake democratic reforms in the country to calm down the opposition. The AKP government on many occasions stated that Turkey could not tolerate instability in Syria and would pursue an active even implying an interventionist foreign policy to help Syria avoid falling into the abyss. Instability in Syria would mean the failure of AKP foreign policy, result in massive refugee ow to Turkey, and create new shelter and logistic supply grounds for the PKK. The AKP leadership initially did not support calls for UN action against the Syrian regime. It instead chose to utilize personal friendship and bilateral diplomacy to persuade President Assad to undertake reforms to stabilize the country. Meanwhile, the Assad regime was using military force to brutally suppress the mass public protests. AKP leaders paid regular visits to Syria, and after intense negotiation between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto lu and Syrian President Bashar Assad, Davuto lu publicly declared that the Syrian government had nally agreed to undertake major reforms in the country: the rst reformist steps were expected within hours. However, while Turkey was waiting for the promised reforms, President Assad unexpectedly increased the use of brutal force against the opposition. Assads rejection of Turkish involvement created resentment and even humiliation on the part of AKP leaders, who declared that they no longer supported the Assad regime and decided on unilateral economic sanctions against Syria. The Turkish government also called the UN to take action against the Syrian regime. Moreover, the Turkish government agreed to host Syrian opposition leaders in Turkey and allow them to open an ofce in Turkey to direct their activities against the Assad regime.

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Geopolitics, Geoculture and Turkish Foreign Policy As of early November 2012, President Assad is still in ofce and has been able to successfully resist domestic and international pressures.

Geoculture and Turkish Foreign Policy


Ideology overshadowed identity during the Cold War, as the left-right tension drove both the world and domestic politics. The end of the Cold War was associated with an increase in identity-related politics both at the international and at the domestic level. Samuel Huntington published his widely circulated Clash of Civilizations article, arguing that post-Cold War international conicts would be driven by civilizational identities, the most important being Islam and that of the West. Ethnic conicts and genocides from the Balkans to Africa conrmed the view that identity, whether it is in the form of ethnicity or religion, would be the main source of conicts in this new era. The September 11 terrorist attacks, with their roots in radical Islamist ideology, further reinforced Huntingtons culture-based theory of conict along Islam versus the West lines. Against this background, Turkey emerged as a crucial country in the post-Cold War environment. This is because Turkey connects the East to the West, not only geographically but also culturally. It is the only successful democratic, secular and Western-oriented country with a Muslim population. Its moderate understanding of Islam as well as its religious parties like the AKP or religious schools and orders that tend to hold a more moderate view of Islam when compared to their counterparts in other countries could be a role model in the Middle East and Central Asia. It is also a NATO ally, debunking the Christian club image of the organization. Thus, the end of the Cold War and the emergence of Islamist politics as an international force increased Turkeys importance in the region. Moreover, several Turkic countries (Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan) gained independence with the end of the Cold War. Using its historical, cultural and ethnic bonds, Turkey could play an important role in integrating these countries with the West in politics, economics and culture, especially considering the fact that Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia stood as alternatives to Turkey in providing guidance to them. In fact, The Economist Journal in October 1991 noted that a Turkic world from the Adriatic Sea to the Wall of China had suddenly surfaced with the collapse of Communism, creating new integration opportunities for Turkey. The unexpected and sudden end of the Soviet Union led many people, especially those in Turkey and the West, to raise questions about the future orientations of these countries. For example, Turkeys moderate understanding of Islam could be an alternative to the Saudi or Iranian interpretation of Islam for the region. In short, Turkey gained an opportunity to expand its cultural sphere of inuence and establish political and economic links with Central Asia following the end of the Cold War, which, in fact, was also in the best interest

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of the United States and European powers given its effect of limiting the inuence of Russia and Iran (Hale 2000, 290). Turkey quickly moved to take advantage of its unique cultural base in the post-Cold War era. Under the leadership of Necmettin Erbakan, a religiously oriented Prime Minister of Turkey who was in ofce from 1996 to 1997 until he was forced by the military to step down, an economic organization called Developing Eight (D-8) was established among Islamic countries. The D-8 includes Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey. The rst summit of the organization was held in Istanbul in 1997. The D-8 declared its goals as contributing to the economic development of the member countries, improving their positions in the world economy, creating new markets in commercial affairs and increasing involvement in the global level policymaking process. With ten other regional countries (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia and Ukraine Serbia also joined in 2004), under the leadership of Turgut zal, the Prime Minister of Turkey from 1983 to 1989 and President from 1989 to 1993, Turkey led the establishment of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) on June 25, 1992. It was later transformed into a competent regional economic organization called Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (OBSEC) on May 1, 1999. Turkey also paid special attention to enhancing its cultural links with Central Asia starting in Turgut zals presidential term. First, Turkey granted scholarships to thousands of students from the region and also opened several schools and colleges in Central Asia and the Caucasus. This led to a signicant amount of student exchange between these countries. Turkey also promoted Turkish TV programs and dramas in the Middle East and Central Asia, and even started operating an Arabic TV channel. In fact, the most popular TV programs in the Arab world and Central Asia are Turkish productions. Turkish dramas became so popular in the Middle East and Central Asia that some even started debating whether these Turkish TV programs alone could bring change to the region (see Li 2011). Some businessmen even claimed that the popularity of Turkish TV dramas and programs in the Middle East and Central Asia positively inuence Turkeys trade with these countries (see Yeni afak, 12 December 2010). Turkey also provided military assistance and training to Azeri, Georgian, Uzbek and Kazakh militaries (Larrabee and Lesser 2003, 1046). More recently, a Parliament of Turkic Unity planned to be opened. The Parliament will be funded by Turkey and headquartered in Istanbul (Bozkurt 2007). Moreover, the Congress of Friendship, Brotherhood and Cooperation of Turkic-speaking Countries and Communities was established in the mid-1990s and it was decided at the 2007 Congress to open a permanent secretariat for the Congress in Istanbul (Todays Zaman, November 26, 2007). Another important initiative led by Turkey, along with Spain, was the Alliance of Civilizations (AoC), which was assumed under the framework of the United Nations and also supported by the United States to promote international, intercultural and interfaith dialogue and cooperation, which gained special importance in the wake
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Geopolitics, Geoculture and Turkish Foreign Policy of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Perhaps more signicant was emergence of the AKP as an important political force in Turkish domestic politics and its impact on the Islamic world. The AKP government, whose leaders are known as devout Muslims but appear to be holding the opinion that secularism, democracy and Islam are compatible values, inspires many similar movements from Morocco to Malaysia. The AKP model became especially more important as mass protests led to sweeping regime changes in the Middle East. Many Islamist groups in the Middle East openly stated that they had the intention of following the AKP model, which has proved to be successful in Turkey. AKP leaders, in fact, have on many occasions called for democracy, secularism and respect for human rights in the region and asked Middle Eastern leaders to undertake liberal reforms. For example, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo an undertook an Arab Spring Tour in September 2011, which involved ofcial visits to Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. The tour started with an opening address to a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo, Egypt. In his remarks, Turkish PM Erdo an put forth Turkey as a model for the Arab world (Michael and Keath 2011). In his visit to Egypt, he stressed the need for freedom, democracy and human rights and even suggested a secular constitution for Egypt ( diz 2011a). However, even such cultural steps in the region cause conicts between Turkey and its neighbors. Most signicantly, Iran is known to be making frequent statements against Turkish Islam and the AKPs crusade for liberal democracy and secularism in the region. For example, Iranian leaders made harsh statements against Turkey when Turkish PM Erdo an called for secularism in Egypt ( diz 2011b).

Conclusion
This paper examined how Turkeys geopolitics and geoculture inuence its foreign policies under changing environmental conditions, such as the end of the Cold War, the September 11 terrorist attacks and U.S. interventions in the region. The paper suggests that Turkish foreign policy interests to a degree reect its geopolitical and geocultural locations. In fact, the AKP government, which has been in power since 2002, has conceptualized Turkeys foreign policy principles according to its geostrategic and geocultural location, and further claimed to follow an independent and active yet at the same time a zero-problem policy with its neighbors. The implication was that Turkey would pay greater attention to its relations with its south and east, where major security threats, as well as economic opportunities, existed for Turkey. To a degree Turkeys new multidimensional foreign policy has been a success story. Turkeys economic relations and trade volume with its neighbors improved. Some even started discussing Turkish soft power, as Turkish companies and cultural products such as TV programs became more visible and the Turkish model of government was presented as a role model in the region. However, Turkish foreign policy faces difculties in maintaining its zero problem policy. This is in large part due to the fact that
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the goal of pursuing an independent and active foreign policy inherently clashes with the principle of a zero-problem approach in a highly unstable environment like the Middle East. Most of the time, an active foreign policy forces the Turkish government to make difcult policy choices between two conicting countries or even between two different political groups within the same country. For example, Turkey had to stand against the United States when it refused to support the UN Security Council vote on Iran in 2010. In the case of Syria, Turkey experienced serious conicts with the Assad regime when it tried to mediate between President Assad and the opposition movement and is currently openly supporting the Syrian opposition against the ruling Assad regime. Witnessing such disputes in Turkish foreign policy, some observers of Turkish policy even claim that today the governments zero-problem policy has collapsed (see Dilek 2011). Yet, Turkish policymakers also realize that a passive and isolated Turkey would have no chance of achieving its economic and security goals. For that reason, especially as Turkey further grows economically and political problems surrounding the country add up, it we are likely to see a Turkey more active in foreign affairs, which will create further conicts between Turkey and the other players in the region.

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