Time for common sense on foreign policy
Because of our general state of anger and outbursts of heroism, we cannot find the time to see the big picture and review ourselves.
We are absolutely justified in our reactions to the Netherlands. That country cannot defend what it has done with any international document. But our disproportional discourses have worked against us and have pushed even those in Europe who are against the extreme right to react against us.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told daily Hürriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi, “If this had happened not in the Netherlands but in Turkey, the whole world would have protested.” That’s true.
But no other country but Azerbaijan protested, and there was no voice from the Muslim world.
Since we cannot conduct such a foreign policy any further, we have to stop and think.
Look at this story from nine years ago on Oct. 17, 2008: “Turkey has been elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2009-2010 term as the candidate of the Western European and Others group.”
Turkey was elected by obtaining 151 votes in the first round when 192 countries voted, which was much higher than the necessary two-thirds of 128 votes.
It was a tremendous success to receive 151 votes from the whole world and be a candidate of the Western European group.
Now let us look at this story dated Oct. 14, 2014: “In the secret ballot held at the U.N. General Assembly, Spain received 121 votes and Turkey received 109 votes in the first round in the Western Europe group. In the second round, Spain received 120 votes while Turkey remained at 73 votes.”
Shouldn’t we ask, “From where to where?”
At the EU Summit in Brussels on March 18, 2016, there were optimistic developments; then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was giving positive statements.
However, relations with Europe have become extremely strained in recent months. One reason for this is the effects created by the Syrian crisis. Another reason is the rising anti-Turkey populism in the West.
But, yet another reason is our drive toward epic patriotism in reaction to incidents occurring in Europe, instead of developing an analytical diplomacy by precisely calculating the pros and cons.
The scandal staged by the Netherlands has increased this epic patriotism. One pro-government columnist with common sense, Ahmet Taşgetiren, asked in his column in daily Star on March 15, “Will rationality emerge from tension?”
More issues are waiting at the door. Even the Justice Ministry has not grasped the significance of the Venice Commission’s report on a “Turkish-type presidency.” As a matter of fact, the report is an alarm.
After the Constitutional Court stepped aside due to its “lack of jurisdiction” in media-related cases, the European Court of Human Rights started accepting press cases. This is an alarm in terms of the credibility of Turkey’s domestic judicial avenues. A council made up of respected jurists should immediately convene and review all of these developments.
It is high time now that we move foreign policy from town-square political rallies to serious expert councils and state institutions.
In this environment, even the opposition has joined the populism race by saying “Let’s severe relations with the Netherlands.” The fact that Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci issues statements that suit the maturity of a statesman creates hope for common sense. We need common sense so very much.