Turkey’s Election Campaign: Foreign Policy

June 15, 2018

A friend suggested that I should write a post comparing the foreign policy of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party with the outlook of the opposition. I believe the foreign policy record of the JDP speaks for itself and needs no elaboration. As for the opposition, I gather they promise; Continue reading

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The Singapore Summit

June 13, 2018

On April 22 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said that “under the proven condition of complete nuclear weapons, we no longer need any nuclear tests, mid-range and intercontinental ballistic rocket tests, and that the nuclear test site in northern area has also completed its mission.” And, in a span of a few   months, DPRK’s “reclusive leader” moved to the center stage of world diplomacy almost as an astute statesman, one who acts but avoids unnecessary talk. He visited China twice; he met South Korean President Moon Jae-in twice; Secretary of State Pompeo visited him twice in Pyongyang and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov delivered him an invitation by President Putin to visit Russia.

Throughout the Singapore summit President Trump acted as if he was the host. His body language and remarks were designed to underline who was the principal actor.  The meeting no doubt also had an internal politics dimension. After the talks, President Trump said that he had formed a very special bond with Kim Jong Un. Thus, he showed once again that he is determined to remain Mr. Unpredictable. Continue reading

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Global Uncertainty and Turkey

June 3, 2018

At the opening session of the Munich Security Conference on February 16, 2018, NATO’s Secretary General Jean Stoltenberg underlined NATO’s past successes and then said:

“… But the paradox is that, throughout our history, people have questioned the transatlantic partnership, from the Suez Crisis to the Iraq War, from America’s Pivot to Asia, to perceived lack of support for Article 5, and unfair burden-sharing. All of this has fueled an impression of weakening transatlantic bond. But the reality is that the bond has proven to be resilient, because both Europe and North America benefit from the bond. What we see now is North Americans coming back to Europe, just as Europeans are stepping up their contributions to our shared security…” (emphasis added)

Since then, however: Continue reading

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Turkey’s Election Campaign: Clashing Manifestos

 

Co-authored with Yusuf Buluç (*)

May 31, 2018

With the publication of political parties’ election declarations Turkey’s election campaign has gathered steam.

In Turkey, political parties’ election declarations/manifestos are much longer than those of Western parties. For example, UK’s Conservative and Unionist Party Manifesto 2017 and Labor Party Manifesto 2017 were 84 and 123 pages respectively. US Democratic and Republican party platforms were even shorter, only 51 and 58 pages.

JDP’s Election Declaration is 360 pages long and those of the Republican People’s Party (RPP) and the Good Party (GP) are 226 and 134 pages respectively. They are so voluminous as to discourage even keen followers from perusing these texts in their entirety. At best, they may serve as speaking notes for campaigning party candidates. Continue reading

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Turkish People’s Democracy Test

May 21, 2018

The EU summit held in Brussels on December 17, 2004 decided that accession negotiations with Turkey would start on October 3, 2005. The process was accordingly launched at the Luxembourg Intergovernmental Conference. This was three years after the Justice and Development Party (JDP) had come to power when “democratic reform” was high on Turkey’s agenda. Our relations with allies were strong. Our relations with Russia were mutually rewarding and steady. Our relations with neighbors were characterized by a determination to open new avenues of cooperation reflecting shared interests.

At midnight on January 1st, 2005 Turkey knocked six zeros off the lira. The BBC reported that the change marked the end of dizzyingly-high denominations as five million lira – enough for a short taxi ride – and the 20m note, worth $15. “The new lira is the symbol of the stable economy that we dreamed of for long years” said Sureyya Serdengecti, then Governor of the Turkish Central Bank. At the time a dollar was worth 1.34 lira.

In early April 2009 President Obama visited Turkey. He addressed the Turkish Parliament and referred to Turkey’s strong, vibrant, secular democracy as Ataturk’s greatest legacy. Regional countries were looking at Turkey with envy.

In brief, we were riding a wave of optimism. Continue reading

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“Recognizing the Reality”

May 16, 2018

President Trump has called his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “recognition of the reality”.

His National Security Advisor John Bolton, speaking to ABC’s “This Week” on May 13 said, “If you’re not prepared to recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and that’s where the American Embassy should be, then you’re operating on a completely different wavelength. Recognizing reality always enhances the chances for peace.”

If recognizing the reality indeed enhances the prospects of peace, then what about the reality of:

  • Turkish Cypriots having a state of their own for decades;
  • South Ossetia and Abkhazia being independent states; and,
  • Crimea being a part of Russia?

At the inauguration ceremony of the new embassy PM Netanyahu said, “Remember this moment, this is history. President Trump, by recognizing history, you have made history… The Israeli people thank you for keeping your word, for your courage, for your determination, and for your firm, unwavering stand alongside the State of Israel.”

Making history! Not many would agree. Continue reading

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The US Withdraws from the Iran Nuclear Deal

May 9, 2018

Yesterday President Trump announced that he is terminating United States’ participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and re-imposing sanctions lifted under the deal.

From the very beginning of his presidency Mr. Trump has denigrated his predecessor, past administrations and their achievements. His principal target has been the Iran nuclear deal. He has said that the deal is one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into; that it has failed to address Tehran’s growing missile capability and expanding influence in the Middle East. He has called it “insane”. Such public criticism of one’s predecessors particularly in high office is bad enough but the language he has used must have offended the other four other permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany as well. Because what it means is that they were either duped or devious. CNN’s headline “World holds breath for Trump’s Iran deal decision” and others which said “European allies are on edge” must have delighted him. However, by withdrawing from the JCPOA before seeing the outcome of his summit with Kim Jong-un, Mr. Trump has put himself on the spot. And how all of this relates to his internal troubles is worth thinking about. Continue reading

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