Envoys to discuss what went wrong in Turkish foreign policy

Envoys to discuss what went wrong in Turkish foreign policy

The first highly exciting foreign policy event of 2013 will be the Turkish envoys’ annual meeting, which will take place this week in Ankara and İzmir. Will they gather to discuss what went wrong in Turkish foreign policy in 2012? Ideally yes. After all they should not come together to tell each other how great Turkey is.

It is an absolute must for Turkey’s top diplomats to enter a brainstorming session among themselves. Yet Turkey’s foreign policy has never been shaped so single-handedly by one person, and that being Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

I would rather wish that instead of just making the opening statement and giving a main vision to the diplomats, the minister does some listening as well.

Alas, as is the case with all the previous ministers, who became immune to criticism by gaining overconfidence after sitting in that position for a couple of years, Davutoğlu does not look to have his ears genuinely open to criticism.

Could they say for instance:

…The more Turkey distances itself from the EU the less influence it will have in the Middle East, if not now then in the future;

…It’s great to say “one minute,” here and there. But look how Turks behave in traffic. They honk, they swear, they give you the finger; but when the other person attempts to get out of the car with the real intention of having a fight, they’ll hit the gas. So let’s not cross the line from soft power to hard power unless our vital interests are at stake.

I don’t think they can voice their critical reflections to Davutoğlu, who has found the easy way to immediately label all criticism as lack of conscience.

Therefore they probably won’t be able to tell him:

…Foreign policy based on moral values, humanitarian diplomacy, being a virtuous power. All these are good and though you might not accept it; they were always present here and there in Turkey’s past foreign policy principles. But an overdose of idealism can risk your ability to even safeguard your own interests, let alone others’ well being.

…We just cannot be the goalkeeper, striker, midfielder, defender, winger and the fans all at the same time. We can’t be everything to everyone at all times.

…You have recently given the great news that Turkey will become an observer member of the Arctic Council and that Turkey will be informed even when a “leaf moves” in any corner of the world. It’s important to be connected, but it is equally important what you do with that information. There is a need to be selective and to focus. Let’s not get strategically overextended, which, as Paul Kennedy has argued, has led to the fall of empires.

Let’s hope that the meeting does not become a beauty contest with many willing to go on the catwalk.
But one final – personal – wish. I hope there will be someone who will raise the question of why the number of females who entered the ministry in last year’s intake remained under a double-digit number at a time when the ministry is accepting a record number of candidates.