Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey
May 1 2014


Murat Yetkin, our editor-in-chief, and Nuray Mert, one of our prominent
columnists, had interesting commentary pieces recently in the Arabic
daily Asharq Al-Awsat concerning the prospects for Turkey's foreign
policy following the strong support Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdoğan got in the local elections.

Agreeing that Turkish diplomacy over the past few years has been
marked by serious failures, Yetkin and Mert nevertheless concluded
that Erdoğan had little reason to change his foreign policy orientation
under these circumstances.

According to Yetkin, Erdoğan is happy with his foreign policy,
"not because of its diplomatic successes, but because of its domestic
payoff, which keeps him ruling the country." Mert, on the other hand,
argues that "Erdoğan, who considers himself the leader of the Muslim
world, thinks his leadership has been approved once more, not only
by the Turkish electorate, but also by the 'prayers of Muslims all
over the world.'"

The bottom line is that Erdoğan believes he is pursuing a highly
successful foreign policy which he says has been vindicated by the
results of the local elections. This appears delusional when looked
at from the outside, of course. However, it is clear, as is being
pointed out by many, that Erdoğan is only eyeing the domestic gallery
and the approval he is getting there.

In other words, Erdoğan has no real foreign policy concerns. His
only interest is to maintain the support of the "Muslim Brotherhood
International" and the latest death sentences given out Egypt's
military-sponsored kangaroo court have provided him with another
opportunity in this regard to play politics at home.

He provided a fine example of this when he lashed out at the Doğan
Group, which owns this paper as well, only a few days ago, accusing
it of indifference toward the death sentences in Egypt while having
supported the demonstrators in last summer's Gezi protests.

Erdoğan was of course mixing apples and oranges, but who cares if
there is a political dividend involved. His angry response to visiting
German President Joachim Gauck for the latter's highly critical remarks
about anti-democratic developments in Turkey can also be seen in the
same vein.

His request for Washington to extradite Fetullah Gulen, who has not
been convicted in Turkey of any crime - at least not yet - is another
case of demagoguery and populism. But that seems to works for him as
far as a significant portion of the Turkish population is concerned
and that is all that counts.

It is obvious that one cannot talk about a foreign policy under these
circumstances, but only about a domestic political strategy that is
spilling over into the foreign policy domain. In other words, just as
"the emperor is naked," Turkey currently has no foreign policy to
speak of.

Erdoğan's abrasive manner with regard to matters that require
diplomatic delicacy, on the other hand, show that if he should become
president things could end up getting worse, given that he is likely
to hit hard at the West for criticizing his authoritarian rule,
and at the East for his support for the Muslim Brotherhood which is
considered a threat by most of the current regimes in the region.

Erdoğan's groundbreaking message of condolence to the Armenians
last week is also unlikely to go anywhere under these circumstances,
even though this message - regardless of the political calculations
behind it - must be considered a positive development if its result,
as a side product, is that Turks start looking at the events of 1915
in a more objective light.

I suggested recently that Erdoğan had to start drawing Turkey's foreign
policy back to neutral territory to regain what influence it had in
its region in the past, and to be able to play a proactive role in
efforts to resolve the key issues facing the region today. Looked
at from the current perspective - where Turkey has no foreign policy
worth mentioning - that appears to be no more than wishful thinking.



From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress