What do Türkiye’s latest foreign policy moves lead to?

What do Türkiye’s latest foreign policy moves lead to?

Interview by Şafak Erdem

Türkiye has recently taken steps to repair relations with the United States and the European Union. Türkiye gave the green light to Sweden’s NATO membership and expressed its willingness to turn a new page with the EU, which was also backed by the USs official statements.

We asked United World International author Dr. Mehmet Perinçek about the reasons and possible consequences.

The impact of Türkiye’s new economic policy on foreign policy

Why did Türkiye make such a decision? Is this a turnaround? How realistic are Türkiyes gains here?

First we need to say that one of the most significant reasons for Türkiye to make this decision is its new economic policy. If you align your economy with the West or appoint Western officials to lead the economy, you are inevitably forced to realign your foreign policy with the West.

Türkiye can overcome the ongoing economic crisis. One way is through a production revolution by strengthening Türkiye’s internal dynamics and productive capacity alongside with the Eurasian alliance. Otherwise, if the West provides economic support by sending ‘hot money’, it also imposes some preconditions for it. As a result, you gradually move closer to them not only in the economic realm but also in foreign policy. Here is the crux of the matter. No matter how nationalist or patriotic you are, if you surrender the economic dynamics to the West, you inevitably align in other realms as well. No doubt, this has negative implications for Turkish-Russian relations.

The US wants confrontation between Türkiye and Russia”

The crucial point to emphasize here is that the US sought to encircle both Russia and Türkiye in the context of Ukraine. The Ukraine issue is used to bring Türkiye into confrontation with Russia and weaken the relations between Ankara and Moscow. By driving a wedge between Türkiye and Russia, the United States can more easily pursue its plans in the region. If Türkiye and Russia are engaged in conflict or competition, this provides advantageous conditions for the US plans in the region.

Moreover, the conflict or antagonism created between Türkiye and Russia by the US is not limited to the Ukraine issue. Türkiye has significant shared interests with Russia in different regions. One of the significant issues is the Astana process which is Türkiye’s official policy concerning the Syrian issue. How can Türkiye fight against terrorist organizations like the PKK/PYD in Syria? Türkiye cannot rely on NATO; on the contrary NATO provides money, education and arms to the PKK/PYD. Moreover, there is even a strategic objective to establish a quasi-state with these groups. Now, Türkiye is undermining its own interest, to eliminate the PKK/PYD as decided upon in the Astana process, with its steps in Ukraine.

The Eastern Mediterranean dimension

This issue extends beyond the mentioned regions, involving also the Eastern Mediterranean. Türkiye faces a significant naval and air power bloc consisting of the US, France, Greece, and Southern Cyprus. These powers consistently exert pressure on Türkiye and even attempt to subdue it. For Türkiye to protect its rights and interests, it is necessary to counter-balance this bloc. Having strong own capabilities, such as a powerful army, navy, and air force, as well as a conscious people are certainly fundamental; yet, considering the strength of the opposing forces, the need for international alliances becomes evident.

The Eastern Mediterranean issue is also related to the Cyprus dossier. How will Türkiye resist these major powers? Türkiye can and should act together with other countries facing the similar threats and aggressiveness of American imperialism. However, because of its Ukraine and NATO policies, Türkiye is missing the opportunity to form international alliances to defend itself.

Another ironical case for Türkiye is here: the CIA is gathering mercenaries from tribes in Syria to bring to Ukraine and Türkiye is supporting the NATO membership of the army in which the PKK/PYD is fighting.

Reciprocal obligations

Among Turkish experts, there is a view that Russia will not react to this issue because it is obliged to Türkiye due to the Ukrainian issue and its economic repercussions. What do you think about that?

Of course, Russia is obliged to cooperate with Türkiye. However, those who make such statements fail to see the other side of the equation. Türkiye is obliged to that as well.

Besides, it would be inappropriate to use the difficult situation of your partner or ally to go behind its back. The question partly is whether Türkiye bases its policy only on necessities or whether it involves developing a strategic friendship? Without doubt, strategic friendships progress along with necessities, yet once again you should not attempt to benefit from the difficulties of the other.

If this trend of Turkish foreign policies continues, Russia will react to it. Some Russian officials have already stated that Türkiye has been transforming from a neutral country into a non-friendly one. If that happens, no matter what “necessities” exist, energy projects and other joint initiatives will be jeopardized.

Russia does not want to completely lose Türkiye to the West and therefore can maintain a kind “diplomatic balance”. But this does not mean Russia is not disturbed by Türkiye’s new orientation and will not take any steps against it.

Türkiye cannot rejoin the Western Club’”

And the AKP government needs to understand that they no longer have a chance to regain favor from the West. The West has already discarded Erdoğan and the AKP.

Yes, they have lost the opportunity to rejoin the “Western Club” or lead the “Greater Middle East Project”. On the contrary, with these moves Erdoğan is making himself more vulnerable to Western interventions and operations. Do not forget that the crisis of downing the Russian plane was the first step leading to the coup attempt on July 15th, 2016. Indeed, as a result of these policies, Türkiye will be negatively affected in terms of its economy and national security. Türkiye will become more isolated in the Eastern Mediterranean and face difficulties in taking steps to eliminate the PKK and PYD in Syria. It will also encounter challenges in the South Caucasus and the Black Sea region.

It is important to note that the matter is not only limited to foreign policy. These policies also empower the pro-American forces in Türkiye, which want to overthrow Erdoğan.

Mehmet Perinçek

Historian and political scientist (Türkiye)

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April 2024