16/09/2011

Turkish foreign policy: a model for Europe?

On tour in countries that have recently reversed their respective leaders, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has seen the popularity of Turkey and its political and economic model in these countries. The recent strong stance of Turkish Prime Minister vis-à-vis the Jewish state are of course no stranger to this popularity. Europeans, despite the warm welcome received by Messrs. Cameron and Sarkozy in Libya, seem less able to influence the Mediterranean as Turkey does.

Turkey’s AKP seems to take the leadership in the Mediterranean region, behind which the European leadership seem to run. Yet undermined a few months ago following the procrastination of Turkish diplomacy deal with current events in Syria and Libya, Erdogan seems to know where he now heads. His visits to Egypt, Tunisia and Libyan had, as the signal Jean Marcou on the site of the Observatory of Turkish politics, is threefold.

The first was to defend the international position of Turkey against the Jewish state. The sanctions imposed by Ankara against Israel are intended to show the extreme isolation of the Netanyahu government, while the Palestinians are preparing to ask the UN General Assembly admission as a state and hope to persuade 150 countries to provide support to this project. Clearly, this position was received very favorably in these countries, example given by the Egyptian Prime Minister who did not hesitate to say that the Treaty of Egyptian-Israeli peace was not « sacred ». It is quite obvious that such position could be accepted with great enthusiasm by people accustomed to the weakness of their leaders against the Jewish state.

However, the hostile position to Israel remains insufficient to allow Turkey to strengthen its international emerging stature. The second objective of the tour Arab Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was thus to present the political, economic or diplomatic performances of his country during recent years. His speeches on the relationship between political power and religion were received with more sympathy by the Tunisian Islamic party Ennada and the whole Tunisian society in general than by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

Finally, these visits also demonstrate an evolving Turkish foreign policy that deviated slightly from the rule of recent years « zero problems with neighbors ». Indeed, in addition to the very tense relations with the Jewish state, Turkey has come under fire from Iran because of its willingness to keep military links close with the United States. Relations with the Syrian regime mired in a bloody crackdown, are also likely to deteriorate seriously in the coming months. Turkey seeks to forge new partnerships in the region. It seems that the Turkish Prime Minister will be completely managed with regimes which, it must be remembered, are « provisional ». Nothing is nonetheless won yet.

Will Erdogan make Turkey a major player in the Mediterranean region? It seems to be on the road and takes the fame away from Europeans, yet all crowned by the fall of Qaddafi, still unable to respond strongly vis-à-vis Damascus, always so obliging to the Israeli government and still unable for many years to create a real Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.

Finally take clear positions towards all governments that violate people’s rights and international law and stop constantly to demonize Islam, as does Turkey, could be the way forward. In other words, Europeans would do better to ensure that their foreign policy is consistent with the values ​​that the EU claims to embody and defend.

Geoffroy d’Aspremont