Accurately interpret Turkish foreign policy

Those people who put on their ideological glasses before watching Turkey’s foreign policy cannot interpret new developments with precision.

Sometimes, under the influence of Western media opposition to Turkey’s use of hard power, they use labels such as “adventurism”, “Islamism” and “neo-Ottomanism”. Other times, intimidated by Turkey’s active demarches in places like Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, they ask “what business” the country has there. Finally, they accuse the Turkish government of being a “subcontractor of the imperialists”.

Turkey’s attempts to normalize relations with Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, in turn, were quickly described as a “turnaround.” Needless to say, the chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, has made the most romantic statements to date.

Kılıçdaroğlu claims that, if elected, he will dismiss all asylum seekers with a big party. He also promises to restore peace to the Middle East, instantly, by reaching out to regional powers and Turkey’s neighbors. These statements are not only targeting the government. They also create bigger problems, including losing sight of the emerging balance of power in the world and failing to notice the changing realities of Turkey’s neighborhood. They also prevent the opposition from making sense of Turkey’s multidirectional foreign policy, which operates on multiple platforms, and grasping the reasons for policy changes.

In truth, Turkey has become a global player in recent years. In places where the country uses hard power, Turkey’s activities consolidate its defense industry and trade relations. At the same time, instruments of soft power – including the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB), the Turkish Radio and Television Company (TRT) and the Maarif Foundation – serve to create a permanent foundation for bilateral relations. In this sense, the investments of the business world are also combined with the foreign policy initiatives of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

These countries must be visited to fully appreciate the value and dynamism of this synergy. Interestingly, however, the opposition, which has completely isolated itself within Turkey’s borders, is not able (or does not readily appreciate) these developments. Indeed, the inhabitants of Turkey’s neighborhood more often realize its new active role than national actors.

Western unrealism

For the record, Turkey’s current role is quite genuine – unlike unrealistic Western media references to the “Turkish model” around 2011. When it comes to democracy, political stability, economic interests and competition, the new country’s role reflects realistic experience. Despite the turbulence and tensions, this new role emerges from Turkey’s growing capacity and Erdoğan’s diplomatic experience and hard work.

I personally witnessed this reality during Erdoğan’s last trips to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. The other obvious example is the Bayraktar Akıncı, an unmanned aerial combat vehicle (UCAV).

The Turkish president was monitoring developments in Afghanistan as he paid a visit to the Balkans which contributed to regional stability. It’s no secret that the Balkans and Central Asia have long been Turkey’s top foreign policy priorities. In both regions, the country stands out for promoting stability, negotiation, making investments and inspiring confidence.

The territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina rests on the fragile complexity of the Dayton accords. Its sustainability depends on Russia, the European Union and Turkey, the main heavyweights in the geopolitics of the Balkans. In this regard, Turkey is taking advantage of its strong presence in this region to pursue closer relations with Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Turkey is also implementing various projects to promote cooperation, such as the Sarajevo-Belgrade highway, to prevent a return to the bloodshed of the 1990s. The fact that the Bosnian Serb and Croat leaders also recognized the role Turkey’s “guarantor of peace and stability” – a role Erdoğan is ready to play – underscores the country’s success.

Akıncı’s role

At the same time, Akıncı, which was developed by Baykar Defense, has just been accepted into the inventory of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). This new equipment will further improve Turkey’s efficiency in asymmetric operations. Capable of carrying up to 1,350 kilograms (2,976 pounds) of ammunition, Akıncı will take Turkey’s fight against terrorism to the next level. After all, it will be able to carry heavy bombs, hitherto reserved for warplanes.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (center) and Baykar officials and employees celebrate the arrival of Akıncı drones in the inventory of Turkish security forces in Tekirdağ province in northwestern Turkey on 29 August 2021. (Photo AA)

Using this new drone, Turkey will easily eliminate threats in places where terrorists take shelter, such as caves. At the same time, Akıncı will play an important role in ground offensives, thus extending the life of Turkey’s predator fleet. As such, the country will fully integrate drones into its conventional defense doctrine to increase its level of military activity.

With the addition of Akıncı, Turkey has become one of the three countries in this particular sector. The country now aims to become a world leader in this field.

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About Eleanor Blackburn

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