More chaotic political scenes would harm Turkey’s image internationally, says US expert

More chaotic political scenes would harm Turkey’s image internationally, says US expert

Hürriyet / ISTANBUL
More chaotic political scenes would harm Turkey’s image internationally, says US expert

Turkey faces a chaotic and revolutionary environment, Lesser says. Hürriyet photo, Emre YUNUSOĞLU

A more chaotic political scene would harm not only Turkey’s economy, but also its image in the international arena and its positive role in the region, a U.S. expert has claimed.

“Turkey’s Western partners are very concerned about the reaction of the government. There is an active debate over press freedom, internet freedom and the relationship between the government and the judiciary. All of these things will be prominent in the agenda between Turkey and the EU, and so with Washington,” Senior Director of the U.S.-based German Marshall Fund and Turkey Specialist Dr. Ian Lesser told Hürriyet in an interview. 

 “I don’t know how this crisis will unfold, but there is potential for considerable harm being done to the relations with partners that Turkey needs more than ever to manage the problems in its neighborhood,” he added. 

Referring to Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan’s accusations of the U.S. interference in Turkish domestic politics at the beginning of the corruption probe, Lesser said it was very misleading and not useful to accuse the U.S. of a role in Turkey’s current travails. 

‘Very damaging effect’

“The Turkish government needs to be aware this has a very damaging effect on Turkey’s reputation as an ally in Washington and Brussels. It causes dismay. American observers don’t understand how a NATO ally can be described in these terms. I think it is harmful and it makes it harder for American policy makers to adopt positions supportive of Turkey,” Lesser said, adding the U.S. also has a stake on what happens in Turkey. 

“The U.S. is a NATO ally and it is a major stakeholder in the prosperity of the Turkish economy and society. Certainly we don’t want to see anything that will disturb Turkey’s development or security. And the current political crisis in Turkey holds a risk of disturbing the dynamism of the economy and the society and Turkey’s positive role in the region. All these things the U.S. cares about could be disturbed by the political crisis in Turkey,” Lesser said. 

The expert stressed that over the last decade, Turkey has played a very active role in the region, which was due to Turkey’s own dynamism and very important policy of “zero problems with neighbors.” 

“But over the last two or three years, the conditions have changed dramatically. Turkey faces a chaotic and revolutionary environment in its neighborhood and I think different kinds of strategies are required. Containment of risks coming from the Syrian border, increasingly in Iraq as well and the spillover effects in Turkish territory should be the priority, rather than the intervention,” Lesser said.