Turkish Foreign Policy explained in 'Insight Turkey'

By Esra Kaymak, Tuesday, March 18, 2014

'Insight Turkey' decodes Turkey's foreign policy on worldwide developments since 2002

'Insight Turkey' decodes Turkey's foreign policy on worldwide developments since 2002

ISTANBUL - 'Insight Turkey', a Turkey-based international quarterly journal has dedicated the first of its 16 magazine issues to decode Turkey's foreign policy on worldwide developments since 2002.

The magazine intends to launch a debate on Turkish foreign policy through highlighting major policies on regional decisions through six commentaries, seven articles and ten book reviews, particularly focusing on the period after 2002 when the Justice and Development (AK) Party came to power. 

With the heading 'Decoding Turkey's foreign policy, geopolitical shifts and challenges', the magazine aims to provide an insight into the creation, analysis and the transformation of Turkish foreign policy. 

Focusing mostly on Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's 'zero problems with neighbors' motto, Turkey's foreign policy started to diversify its relations in the Balkans, Central Asia, Caucasus, Middle East and North Africa, the editor of the magazine, Talip Kucukcan says in the editor's note.

"It's (Turkey's) new foreign policy mandate - investing in economic and political relations, providing humanitarian and developmental aid, active engagement in conflict resolution and public diplomacy and lending support to democratization movements especially in the Middle East all helped Turkey to become an international player," he noted.

Kucukcan underlines in his brief summary of Turkish foreign policy in the period before and after 2002 that policy makers and commentators considered Turkey as one of the emerging regional powers with its vibrant economy, young population, powerful military, political stability, democratization reforms and active diplomacy. He adds the authors of the magazine closely monitor AK Party policies in positioning Turkey vis-a-vis regional and global developments. 

"As testimony to its successes, Turkey has been touted as a model country," Kucukcan noted. "Especially in the Middle East and North Africa, for aptly managing Islam, democracy and secularism."

Professor Richard Falk from Princeton University, an expert of international law, asks in one of the magazine's commentaries whether the U.S. government accepts an independent Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East. 

He debates that Davutoglu's appointment as Turkey's Foreign Minister, emphasized Turkey's independence and activism, causing 'unease' in Washington.

"Nevertheless," he says. "the U.S. has been generally flexible towards a more independent Turkish foreign policy, on condition that it does not threaten vital U.S. interests."

Discussing the issue in eight parts, Professor Falk starts with a brief summary of the period after the Cold War, continuing with the 'AK Party Era', 'Davutoglu's Proactive Foreign Policy', 'Washington's Misgivings and Turkish Diaspora Critics', 'Responding to the Arab Spring', 'Tilting West', 'Acting on Principle' and the conclusion.

Falk states that with Davutoglu's appointment in 2009, Turkish foreign policy independence and activism became more pronounced, and the foreign minister consistently attempted to preserve the basic continuity of Turkish foreign policy, but with a more western alignment.  

Cemalettin Hasimi, Coordinator of Turkish Prime Ministry's Public Diplomacy Coordinatorship, discusses Turkey's international assistance policy with a focus on the last decade. He gives statistics on Turkey's Humanitarian Diplomacy and Development Cooperation in one of the articles of the magazine, citing that Turkey has become the 4th largest donor in development assistance and 3rd in the provision of humanitarian aid in 2012, with development assistance given to 131 countries listed as aid recipients in 2011. 

Hasimi declares that a concrete sign of Turkey's transformation to 'return to global politics as a pro-active agent' has materialized through Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency's (TIKA) work. He cites Davutoglu's statement on Turkey's role after 2000 as 'a central country with multiple regional identities that cannot be reduced to one, unified character.' 

From the magazine's book review, 'Finding Mecca in America: How Islam is Becoming an American Religion' by Mucahit Bilici is reviewed by Karen Leonard. She states that Bilici "takes an optimistic stance, one that sees Muslims becoming part of the whole - developing 'an American asabiyya,' a solidarity that is not only a work of consciousness among individuals who choose to come together but a deeper sense of oneness within a collective individuality." 

"Bilici argues that unification or the agreement on the qibla, the direction of Mecca, for orientation of prayers in American mosques symbolically unifies the disparate Muslim communities," Leonard states, adding several examples from his discussion in the book.  

Insight Turkey is a quarterly journal published by Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) Foundation in Turkey, a non-profit research institute dedicated to innovative studies on national, regional, and international issues.

The full version of 'Insight Turkey', which publishes academic articles on several current issues ongoing worldwide, can be read online as e-book or can be downloaded on the ipad or kindle.

The Arabic edition of the magazine is also available in bookstores in twenty-two Arabic speaking countries.

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