New PM signals shift in foreign policy: More friends than enemies

New PM signals shift in foreign policy: More friends than enemies

New PM signals shift in foreign policy: More friends than enemies

AFP photo

Turkey’s new prime minister, Binali Yıldırım, has signaled a comprehensive shift in foreign policy based on “earning more friends than enemies,” suggesting Ankara could restore ties with countries like Israel, Egypt and Russia in the near future. 

“Turkey has a lot of problems. We have regional problems. The conflicts taking place in our region and the EU, Cyprus, Caucasus increase the importance of our country in our region. We are aware of it. So what will we do? Very simple: We’ll increase the number of our friends and we’ll decrease the number of our enemies,” Yıldırım told ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers in his first group meeting on May 24 after his cabinet was approved by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

“Because, we have always been on the side of the oppressed all along our history. The history gives us very important responsibilities. We’ll either discharge this responsibility today or we’ll forever feel the sin of the disappointment in our hearts. We will not let our people feel this,” he said.  

Turkey was under criticism because of its foreign policy that left the country isolated on many fronts as its relations with almost all neighboring countries were strained in the last years. Turkey and Israel are close to a deal but the former needs more political investment to mend ties with Egypt and Russia. 

On the ongoing unrest in Turkey’s southern neighbor, Yıldırım called the civil war in Syria a “meaningless war,” a description Turkish senior officials have not been using. “This meaningless war caused the lives of hundreds of thousands of our brothers,” he said, recalling that Turkey had opened its border and shared its food with 3 million Syrians since 2011. 

New charter first priority

Yıldırım recalled that the real leader of the AKP was Erdoğan and that his government’s priority was to fix the “malfunctioning system” through a constitutional amendment. 

Calling on the three political parties represented in parliament to support the AKP’s efforts to renew the constitution, in what he called a “historic opportunity,” Yıldırım said: “Let’s come all together and make this new constitution which is also your promise to the Turkish people. Be part of this honor. But if you drag your feet, we know what we’ll do. Our mind is clear and our road is light. We’ll do what is necessary.”