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;

  • to restore Ataturk’s dictum “peace at home, peace in the world” as the cornerstone of our foreign policy;
  • to restore our democracy which has always been our principal foreign policy asset;
  • to focus on national interest;
  • to make better use of Turkey’s traditional foreign policy establishment;
  • to inspire confidence;
  • to eliminate the sectarian undertones of current foreign policy;
  • to prioritize diplomacy over confrontation, soft power over hard power;
  • to replace zigzagging with consistency;
  • to ensure transparency in foreign relations;
  • to stop treating foreign policy as a tool of domestic politics;
  • to end the so-called “precious loneliness” by rebuilding friendships;
  • to pull Turkey out of the Syrian conflict;
  • to stop engaging in region’s proxy wars;
  • to restore relations with the European Union;
  • not to carry our domestic quarrels to European countries;
  • to reset Turkey’s relationship with the United States;
  • to take our relationship with Russia back to its healthier days;
  • to relaunch cooperation with regional countries;
  • to start playing a more constructive role at international organizations;
  • to share with the public the rationale of our major defense purchases;
  • to review the logic of establishing isolated military bases in far-away lands;
  • not to conduct cross-border security operations as if these are wars of conquest; and,
  • not to shoot foreign military aircraft for having violated our airspace for 17 seconds, brag about it and then apologize.

Regardless of who wins the election, a thorough foreign and security policy review is a must. Restoration would be similar that of a grand monument ruined in war. The first task would be to secure whatever is left of the main structure. The fine work can then follow.

The opposition promises to start by putting the original architectural plans of Ataturk’s Republic on the wall and proceed full speed ahead.

The question is whether the people of Turkey will give them the opportunity.


About Ali Tuygan

Ali Tuygan is a graduate of the Faculty of Political Sciences of Ankara University. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in January 1967. Between various positions in Ankara, he served at the Turkish Embassy in Brussels, NATO International Staff, Turkish Embassies in Washington and Baghdad, and the Turkish Delegation to NATO. From 1986 to 1989 he was the Principal Private Secretary to the President of the Republic. He then served as ambassador to Ottawa, Riyadh, and Athens. In 1997 he was honored with a decoration by the Italian President. Between these assignments abroad he served twice as Deputy Undersecretary for Political Affairs. In 2004 he was appointed Undersecretary where he remained until the end of 2006 before going to his last foreign assignment as Ambassador to UNESCO. He retired in 2009. In April 2013 he published a book entitled “Gönüllü Diplomat, Dışişlerinde Kırk Yıl” (“Diplomat by Choice, Forty Years in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”) in which he elaborated on the diplomatic profession and the main issues on the global agenda. He has published articles in Turkish periodicals and newspapers.
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