Commentary: Turkey’s Zero Problem Foreign Policy And its Multiples


By Edmond Y. Azadian

Turkey’s hawkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu entered the foreign policy arena disguised as a dove, advocating a new foreign policy for his country that would reduce to zero all the problems with its neighbors. Since Mr. Davutoglu prefers to define his country’s foreign policy in mathematical terms, the results or the sums of that policy can be measured in the same mathematical terms. Mr. Davutoglu’s zero was multiplied with many zeros to give a zero result as appraised by Armenia’s Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian. The protocols with Armenia yielded a zero. Negotiations with Cyprus regressed, rather than progressed, when Turkey refused to abide by the European Union’s demand to open up its ports and airports for Cypriot transport. Next, after kissing and hugging President Bashar al Assad of Syria, Turkey emerged as the vanguard in undermining that country’s sovereignty. Turkey engineered a stand off with Israel, and finally, after signing a $20-billion energy agreement with Iran, and thumbing the warnings from the West, relations between the two nations are frosty.

All these problems — far from being reduced to zero — have inexplicably boosted the Turkish leaders’ arrogance. At the NATO conference in Chicago last month, Ankara insisted on keeping out

Israel and the NATO leadership gave in. The Turkish Israeli policy is multifaceted and that apparent hostility also has a silver lining; had Turkey been really hurting Israeli interests, the latter’s operatives in Washington would tame Ankara right away. Instead, Israel giving in to Turkey’s quest allowed Ankara to gain brownie points in the Arab world and thus in the end to boost Israel’s basic interests in eliminating unfriendly regimes in the region, one by one. After Iraq and Libya, now it is Syria’s turn. The collapse of Assad’s regime, to which Turkey is fully subscribed, has more value for Israel than an apparent defeat at a Chicago conference. Washington fully understands — and, in fact, orchestrates — these multi-level policies.

Since 2005, Turkey has begun the accession negotiations with the European Union. Turkey wants to have its cake and eat it. The EU has set some basic conditions for Turkey to be eligible for membership; the EU requests the removal of article 301 from Turkish penal code, the resolution of the Cypriot problem, the opening of borders with Armenia and the recognition of (all) genocides. Ankara refuses to abide by those conditions and wishes to be entitled for membership.

Recently, Turkish leaders have raised the ante and puffed their chests further, pretending that the EU needs their country rather than the other way around.

On the sidelines of the EU-Turkey talks, Mr. Davutoglu has participated in a joint press conference with the EU foreign policy chief, Baroness Catherine Ashton, and the EU enlargement commissioner, Stefan Fule.

Davutoglu has made outrageous announcements, including freezing relations with the EU as long as Cyprus serves as president, from July 1, 2012 through January 2013. In addition, Turkey will block countries and companies exploring oil and gas within Cyprus’s continental shelf.

He has particularly indicated: “EU-Turkey relations and the political contacts we are currently establishing will continue as they are. Yet no ministry or organization of the Turkish Republic will take part in any activity that will be presided by southern Cyprus.”

For his part, Egemen Bagis, the Turkish minister in charge of EU affairs, has added: “Turkey will determinedly progress in its course towards the EU.”

The 25 nations constituting the EU have agreed to Cyprus’ presidency. Yet Turkey, still not a member, has been defying their decision. This unbridled bullying must give a pre-taste to all members of

the EU who wish to admit Turkey in the union. Armenia’s foreign policy architects believe that if Turkey’s joins

the EU, by extension Armenia will be bordering Europe. Now they can predict what to expect from that Europeanized neighbor.

Any observer at this press conference would expect that Baroness Ashton would stand up and tell Mr. Davutoglu that beggars cannot be choosers. But instead, what do we see? The Baroness, who when in Yerevan, walks and talks like a commanding general, radiating the arrogance of power through her body language, has become a pussycat in front of the Turks. Instead she thanks Turkey for sheltering nearly 27,000 Syrian refugees who have fled violence in their country, where forces loyal to President Assad [the Syrian army] are waging a crackdown on an uprising. She would rather thank Turkey for playing its surrogate role perfectly by hosting a Syrian government in exile, by training and arming mercenaries to wreak havoc in a country which was one of the most stable nations in the Middle East.

The Baroness concludes her remarks by adding: “We are horrified by the violence and determined to work together in support of solutions.”

Today arms and money are pouring into Syria, mostly through the Turkish border and raising the level of violence to such an atrocious level where it will be convenient to blame the government forces, which are trying to bring order and save the lives of citizens caught in the crossfire of the army and foreign intruders. Turkey has been enhancing its power by efficiently executing assignments from the West and as compensation, it is allowed even to bully the European Union.

All indications are there to conclude that Turkey is ready to accomplish another dirty job in the region, when pressure on Iran heats up, after the collapse of the regime in Syria.

Turkey’s hawkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu entered the foreign policy arena disguised as a dove, advocating a new foreign policy for his country that would reduce to zero all the problems with its neighbors. Since Mr. Davutoglu prefers to define his country’s foreign policy in mathematical terms, the results or the sums of that policy can be measured in the same mathematical terms. Mr. Davutoglu’s zero was multiplied with many zeros to give a zero result as appraised by Armenia’s Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian. The protocols with Armenia yielded a zero. Negotiations with Cyprus regressed, rather than progressed, when Turkey refused to abide by the European Union’s demand to open up its ports and airports for Cypriot transport. Next, after kissing and hugging President Bashar al Assad of Syria, Turkey emerged as the vanguard in undermining that country’s sovereignty. Turkey engineered a stand off with Israel, and finally, after signing a $20-billion energy agreement with Iran, and thumbing the warnings from the West, relations between the two nations are frosty.

All these problems — far from being reduced to zero — have inexplicably boosted the Turkish leaders’ arrogance. At the NATO conference in Chicago last month, Ankara insisted on keeping out

Israel and the NATO leadership gave in. The Turkish Israeli policy is multifaceted and that apparent hostility also has a silver lining; had Turkey been really hurting Israeli interests, the latter’s operatives in Washington would tame Ankara right away. Instead, Israel giving in to Turkey’s quest allowed Ankara to gain brownie points in the Arab world and thus in the end to boost Israel’s basic interests in eliminating unfriendly regimes in the region, one by one. After Iraq and Libya, now it is Syria’s turn. The collapse of Assad’s regime, to which Turkey is fully subscribed, has more value for Israel than an apparent defeat at a Chicago conference. Washington fully understands — and, in fact, orchestrates — these multi-level policies.

Since 2005, Turkey has begun the accession negotiations with the European Union. Turkey wants to have its cake and eat it. The EU has set some basic conditions for Turkey to be eligible for membership; the EU requests the removal of article 301 from Turkish penal code, the resolution of the Cypriot problem, the opening of borders with Armenia and the recognition of (all) genocides. Ankara refuses to abide by those conditions and wishes to be entitled for membership.

Recently, Turkish leaders have raised the ante and puffed their chests further, pretending that the EU needs their country rather than the other way around.

On the sidelines of the EU-Turkey talks, Mr. Davutoglu has participated in a joint press conference with the EU foreign policy chief, Baroness Catherine Ashton, and the EU enlargement commissioner, Stefan Fule.

Davutoglu has made outrageous announcements, including freezing relations with the EU as long as Cyprus serves as president, from July 1, 2012 through January 2013. In addition, Turkey will block countries and companies exploring oil and gas within Cyprus’s continental shelf.

He has particularly indicated: “EU-Turkey relations and the political contacts we are currently establishing will continue as they are. Yet no ministry or organization of the Turkish Republic will take part in any activity that will be presided by southern Cyprus.”

For his part, Egemen Bagis, the Turkish minister in charge of EU affairs, has added: “Turkey will determinedly progress in its course towards the EU.”

The 25 nations constituting the EU have agreed to Cyprus’ presidency. Yet Turkey, still not a member, has been defying their decision. This unbridled bullying must give a pre-taste to all members of the EU who wish to admit Turkey in the union. Armenia’s foreign policy architects believe that if Turkey’s joins the EU, by extension Armenia will be bordering Europe. Now they can predict what to expect from that Europeanized neighbor.

Any observer at this press conference would expect that Baroness Ashton would stand up and tell Mr. Davutoglu that beggars cannot be choosers. But instead, what do we see? The Baroness, who when in Yerevan, walks and talks like a commanding general, radiating the arrogance of power through her body language, has become a pussycat in front of the Turks. Instead she thanks Turkey for sheltering nearly 27,000 Syrian refugees who have fled violence in their country, where forces loyal to President Assad [the Syrian army] are waging a crackdown on an uprising. She would rather thank Turkey for playing its surrogate role perfectly by hosting a Syrian government in exile, by training and arming mercenaries to wreak havoc in a country which was one of the most stable nations in the Middle East.

The Baroness concludes her remarks by adding: “We are horrified by the violence and determined to work together in support of solutions.”

Today arms and money are pouring into Syria, mostly through the Turkish border and raising the level of violence to such an atrocious level where it will be convenient to blame the government forces, which are trying to bring order and save the lives of citizens caught in the crossfire of the army and foreign intruders. Turkey has been enhancing its power by efficiently executing assignments from the West and as compensation, it is allowed even to bully the European Union.

All indications are there to conclude that Turkey is ready to accomplish another dirty job in the region, when pressure on Iran heats up, after the collapse of the regime in Syria.

That will add another zero to Mr. Davutoglu’s “peaceful” foreign policy.