Hurriyet, Turkey
Jan 1 2012


>From no problems with neighbors to no friends

YUSUF KANLI
Monday,January 2 2012, Your time is 9:45:55 PM


The year 2011 was more than different, definitely for Turkey. Perhaps
no one would think decades of absolute governments with leaders who
appeared strong as the legendary steel of Japanese swords would fall
apart within days or weeks.

What happened, and indeed what is still continuing to happen in the
Arab neighborhood, is a multifaceted challenge to Turkey, as the
developments are at the same time shaping the future of this country.

As rightly put by President Abdullah G├╝l at a recent conference,
perhaps Turkey has never been faced with so many challenges at the
same time, which are not only important, but also giving priority to
Turks as much as other peoples of this geography. The `No problems
with neighbors' foreign policy strategy of Foreign Minister Ahmet
Davuto─?lu unfortunately evolved in the past year into a `No friends'
reality.

2011 was a year when -- contrary to the post expectation of improved
relations with Armenia -- a resolution to the Cyprus problem,
furthering intimate relations with Damascus of brother Bashar
al-Assad, enhancing peaceful influence in Libya and beyond, and such
lofty rhetoric of previous years fell victim to `proactive' and
`pro-American' foreign policy objectives and ambitions Turkey would
become a regional and perhaps global game setter.

The year started with Turkey firmly allied to Colonel Moammar Gadhafi
and yelling `What's the place of NATO in Libya?' Half way through the
year Turkey was proudly participating in the French and the British
led American-orchestrated Libyan operation of NATO. As if that was not
enough, to win back the sympathy of yesterday's rebels who were
inclined to have `brotherly relations' with Paris and London rather
than Ankara, $ 300 million in cash was carried in bags to Benghazi to
buy back their loyalty.

Syrian relations also showed a similar U-turn. After a six-hour long
meeting with al-Assad, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto─?lu concluded the
Alevite leader of predominantly Sunni Syria was not sincere in his
pledges of stopping use of indiscriminate force, or indeed brutality,
towards civilians. Thus, yesterday's `brother Assad' became `dictator
Assad' and Ankara, which has traditionally opposed sanctions on its
neighbors because of spillover impacts on Turkish border areas,
pioneered sanctions on Damascus.

Armenian relations could not be kept in the fridge like the previous
year when the so-called protocols of friendly relations remained in
the Foreign Ministry's dusty archives of `caduceus documents.'

Palace in Paris, a handful of French politicians initiated a process
of criminalizing opposition to Armenian charges of genocide; relations
of Ankara not only with Armenia but France as well, seriously derailed

Furthermore, it does not require fortune telling capabilities to
estimate the probable impacts of the derailment on overall
Turkey-European Union relations, particularly in view of the upcoming
Greek Cypriot term presidency in the second half of the New Year.

We shall continue on WednesdayŽ
January/02/2012