Who will pull the strings of Turkish diplomacy after the election?
With just a month to go until the snap elections, all political parties are set to finalize their election manifestos, outlining the fundamental political lines they will pursue in the fields of the economy, social issues and foreign policy if elected on June 24.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is putting the final touches to its election manifesto, which will be unveiled on May 24. Still, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s address to ambassadors and representatives of foreign missions in Ankara could give an idea about the main elements of the foreign policy to be pursued after the election if he is re-elected.
An important point that Erdoğan underlined is the fact that the world is going through a very challenging and painful process due to problems stemming from “terrorism, violence, racism, discrimination, starvation, poverty, irregular migration, humanitarian crises and natural disasters.”
“No one in the world, no matter where they are, feels totally secure,” he said, adding that the remedy for a global address to these problems is diplomacy as the primary way to “overcome the current crises and prevent new ones.”
“Sadly, we cannot make enough use of the means of diplomacy during a period when we need to apply them much more. We cannot actively use diplomatic means that would solve bilateral and multilateral problems, improve cooperation and dialogue, and make our world more livable for everyone,” he said.
Erdoğan’s highlighting of diplomacy is particularly important given the fact that Turkey’s ties with a number of prominent countries, including its NATO allies, have long suffered from a lack of sound communication and therefore a lack of an efficient diplomacy. In many cases, the Turkish leadership has been perceived as if it has completely abandoned the use of normal diplomatic means in favor of a megaphone diplomacy.
Turkey and many of its European counterparts may be able to gradually normalize their relations as they have generally ceased public-bashing and heated rhetoric against each other in the recent period. Erdoğan’s citing of the importance of diplomacy is therefore worth taking note of when considering future foreign policy pillars of his potential government.
But one of the questions that need to be answered after the elections should be about how foreign policy will be carried out. To put it more simply: Who will pull the strings of diplomacy in the new government?
Of course, as the head of the government President Erdoğan will be primarily responsible for everything. But it is expected that one of his vice presidents will be assigned to oversee diplomacy along with the foreign minister.
Current Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is running for parliament, so according to the constitutional changes it is highly likely that Erdoğan will appoint a new foreign minister. There are two top candidates for this position: EU Minister Ömer Çelik and Erdoğan’s chief foreign policy advisor and spokesman, İbrahim Kalın. Many believe that one of these men will occupy the seat of a vice president and the other will become foreign minister.
Kalın has long been the right-hand man of Erdoğan. He has been very active in shaping and conducting diplomacy in coordination with Çavuşoğlu and other relevant institutions. It would therefore be no surprise to see Kalın becoming the new foreign minister in Erdoğan’s prospective post-election cabinet.