AKP’s former big gun: Now time to mend ties inside Turkey

AKP’s former big gun: Now time to mend ties inside Turkey

Nuray Babacan - ANKARA
AKP’s former big gun: Now time to mend ties inside Turkey A senior founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has lauded Binali Yıldırım government’s initiatives for mending bilateral ties with both Israel and Russia, but noted the acute need to restore relations inside the highly polarized country.

“The agreement which the government has struck with both Israel and Russia are very important. This was needed both by the related parties and Turkey,” former Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek said in remarks published in daily Hürriyet on June 6.

“While taking these steps outside of the country, we also need to increase the number of our friends inside. It is in the open that there is tension inside Turkey, too. We need to build a bridge of love. When you’re speaking of a bridge, it is meant to say that it has two legs. Even this, in itself, is sufficient to explain the outlook in Turkey. The bridge has two legs but it doesn’t have any connection with each other,” Çiçek said.

On June 27, Turkey announced the restoration of diplomatic ties with Israel after a six-year rupture and expressed regret to Russia over the downing of a warplane, seeking to mend strained alliances and ease a sense of isolation on the world stage. 

The deal with Israel after years of negotiation was a rare rapprochement in the divided Middle East, driven by the prospect of lucrative Mediterranean gas deals as well as mutual fears over growing security risks. 

The moves come as a new Turkish government packed with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan allies re-evaluates its foreign policy. Ankara has seen relations strained not only with Israel and Russia, but also with the United States and European Union in recent months. 

Turkey’s worst nightmare in Syria has come true: Russian support has enabled its enemy President Bashar al-Assad to remain in power, while Kurdish militia fighters have benefited from U.S. support as they battle jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), bolstering their position in territory adjacent to the Turkish border.