However, given that a violation of airspace is an ordinary incident, it is obvious what should matter is the downing of the plane by Syria on purpose and without any warning. On the other hand, it is also being asked to what extent this incident can be attributed to Syria or Russia. The whole incident says that Syria is trying to “externalize” its domestic warfare, considering it was possible to follow the movement of the plane, the plane did not hide its identity and it was unarmed and unaccompanied by other planes.
It appears that Turkey’s policy so far of making reference to human considerations and ethical concerns has put the country in a delicate position. The cost associated with provoking Turkey becomes less significant in the face of Turkey’s increased isolation resultant from Syria because of the lack of strong political support by Western actors for the policies it has pursued in the Syrian crisis. If Syria is attempting to expand its sphere of warfare and its battlefield in order to dilute its own domestic war and to create a new atmosphere of a cold war, Turkey is the best option through which to provoke such a war. From this perspective, it is not hard to guess that Syria will find the justification it has been looking for.
The question should be why Turkey has put itself in this delicate position. One of the primary reasons for this is the ethical dimension of its foreign policy. It should be recognized that this style of policy reflects a new approach and point of view that the world needs. However, we also need to think about what sort of perception Turkey’s approach has created because this ethical approach does not rely solely on humanistic considerations. It recalls Turkey’s Ottoman past and delivers the message that it may claim rights and responsibilities in the eastern Mediterranean, which was part of the territory of the Ottoman state in the past, and in the Middle East, where the Ottoman Empire remained the sole ruler for centuries. This is a natural demand and feeling for Turkey. But this could be viewed natural and normal only if other nations are entitled to claim the same rights and emotions. On the other hand, we should not be unfair to Turkey because it has spent a great deal of effort to do this. However, even where sufficient support has not been extended, Turkey has preserved this ambitious position and dismissed other indirect options.
Turkey’s assurance and asset throughout this whole process has been its soft power, namely its rising appeal to the international community and people in the fields of economy and culture. However, in the world of nation-states, foreign policy dynamics refer to one simple reality: the precondition for the effectiveness of soft power with respect to other nations depends on the development of those nations in terms of democracy. The functionality of the attraction and appeal of another country is linked to the ability of people to raise their voices in demand for additional rights and freedoms. In short, Turkey’s ability to promote a new style of policy based on its soft power is dependent upon the democratic structure of other countries in the region. Otherwise, as seen in the Syrian example, Turkey’s soft power is viewed as a direct external intervention, leading to an inescapable state of enmity.
Therefore, it is impossible in the face of countries like Syria not to move to more hawkish policies; it should be noted that the Syrian side rushes to test Turkey’s hard power. There are two major reasons for Syria’s courage in doing so. First, it has concluded that the West does not want a war. Aside from the fragile structure of the EU, the US does not intend to wage a new war before the presidential elections. At this point, we should also note that Turkey gives the impression it will unilaterally intervene, or at least that this perception has generated a policy of “let’s wait and see” in the US. Secondly, Turkey’s soft power is not as influential because it faces a lot to risk due to its fragile economic structure; its Kurdish problem, which has remained unresolved for many years; and other major problems.
In recent years, Turkey has held dreams for its future. However, given the homework to be done, it could be said that it needs at least 10 more years to make these dreams true.