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
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
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
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
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
Co-authored with Yusuf Buluç (*)
May 7, 2018
At his joint press conference with his French counterpart President Trump said:
“And if I might add, the states and, as I alluded to — and countries that are in the area, some of which are immensely wealthy, would not be there except for the United States and, to a lesser extent, France. But they wouldn’t be there except for the United States. They wouldn’t last a week. We’re protecting them…
“… And they will pay for it. They will pay for it. We’ve spoken to them. They will pay for it. The United States will not continue to pay. And they will also put soldiers on the ground, which they’re not doing…” (emphasis added) Continue reading
April 30, 2018
Following North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to China in late March, I said that though many would still say that he remains a ruthless dictator, some may start thinking that he plays his foreign policy cards rather well (*). Indeed, his whirlwind diplomatic campaign upends the title of “reclusive ruler” attributed to him in the West. Six days before meeting South Korean President Moon Jae-in, he declared in a display of confidence that he will suspend nuclear and missile tests and will shut down the testing-site where the previous six nuclear tests were conducted. The announcement received broad international welcome. South Korea’s Presidency said in a statement that this was a meaningful step forward. And days before meeting with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea came the pivot away from nuclear testing toward the economy. Following the announcement regarding the suspension of nuclear and missile tests President Trump tweeted “This is very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress!” But during his joint press conference with President Macron on April 24, when asked what complete denuclearization meant he responded “It means they get rid of their nukes. Very simple…” Continue reading