MERVE BÜŞRA ÖZTÜRK

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MERVE BÜŞRA ÖZTÜRK
December 31, 2012, Monday

Foreign policy scorecard

While bidding adieu to 2012 and forging ahead into the new year, Turkish columnists reflected on the past year’s Turkish foreign policy.

Of course, at the center of this year’s foreign policy was the Syrian crisis, which has dragged on far longer than any other Arab Spring uprising and has become a tough ordeal for Turkey. Also, the deteriorating relations with Iran and Iraq and the chaotic state of the Middle East add to the concerns of 2013, according to the columnists.

“Do we have a compass that will help us travel safely in the hazardous Middle Eastern territory?” Radikal’s Cengiz Çandar asks and adds that we have to ask ourselves this question throughout 2013. The columnist argues that the skills of political decision makers will continue to be tested regarding the anticipated collapse of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, security threats from Iran, the fragile succession issue Saudi Arabia faces and the disappointment about a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Middle East will not allow international or regional actors to breathe a sigh of relief, Çandar says, emphasizing the potential conflict in the Middle East in 2013. Turkey will surely be affected by this conflict regardless of whether it gets involved or not. “I am aware that I am not speaking positively on the first day of the year. But should I apologize for not lying? I wish everyone a clear mind and commitment to truths in 2013 instead of ‘peace and well-being,’ which seems like an empty promise to me,” the Radikal columnist notes.

Yasin Aktay from the Yeni Şafak newspaper focuses on Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s foreign policy strategies, in particular the “zero problems with neighbors” policy. Davutoğlu’s confident and strong theoretical discourse resulted in him becoming a target of criticism when Turkey’s relations with several countries deteriorated further in 2012. However, Davutoğlu has previously said the zero problems policy is a paradigm and that this policy, of course, cannot be put into practice 100 percent of the time. Even though Turkey currently has problems with Russia and Iran because of Syria, these problems are not unsolvable. As long as Turkey continues with its policy of not becoming any country’s enemy, the problems we face with other countries’ governments, which are temporary in a way, are not alarming, Aktay asserts.

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