His promise is a promise

His promise is a promise

Your columnist, when young and doing the extremely boring journalistic job of covering finance and its markets, discovered a safe and smart way to make prudent predictions in Turkey: First, find the pundits who most stubbornly make bad guesses but remain in the hall of fame; second, follow their columns and speeches meticulously; third, find out what their common denominator about the future is; and, finally fourth, now you know what is NOT going to happen. 

Applying this homemade technique to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu can be equally useful.   

On May 20, 2010, then-Foreign Minister Davutoğlu’s article “Turkey’s Zero-Problem Foreign Policy” was published in the U.S. magazine Foreign Policy. It is too late to take his predictions over five years ago as “the way forward,” but they still make an amusing reading today when the Kurds are fighting the jihadists and the jihadists are fighting both the Kurds and the Turks and the Turks are fighting both, plus the Syrian, Israeli, Libyan and Egyptian governments. 

That situation was described by Mr. Davutoğlu in 2010: “In this new world, Turkey is playing an increasingly central role in promoting international security and prosperity … Turkey remains committed to establishing harmony between its current strategic alliances and its neighbors and neighboring regions.” 

Then Mr. Davutoğlu mentions that the first “methodological principle” of Turkey’s foreign policy is its “visionary” approach. “For example,” Mr Davutoğlu wrote, “Turkey has a vision for the Middle East.” This is not even funny, when you look back at what Turkey has calculated since 2010 and what has actually happened.  

Some more “visionary” lines: “Turkey’s Lebanon policy, its attempts to mediate between Syria and Israel and achieve Palestinian reconciliation, its efforts to facilitate the participation of Iraqi Sunni groups … and its constructive involvement in the Iranian nuclear issue are integral parts of Turkey’s foreign-policy vision for the Middle East.” Only a couple of years later, Mr. Davutoğlu’s ministry had to issue a travel advisory for Turks visiting Lebanon –after they became good value on the kidnapping market. Turkey then almost plunged into wars with Israel and Syria, thousands more died in the Arab-Israeli conflict, tens of thousands more died in the Shia-Sunni conflict and the Iranian nuclear issue concluded in a deal without any Turkish element in it. 

Mr. Davutoğlu further explained in the same article, “The third methodological principle is the adoption of a new discourse and diplomatic style, which has resulted in the spread of Turkish soft power in the region … In the process, we’ve found that Turkish soft power has only increased as our democracy has matured.” 

Five years later, on July 14, a 30-country index of soft power ranked Turkey at 28th. (The index was compiled by a London-based PR firm, together with Facebook, which provided data on governments’ online impact, and ComRes, which ran opinion polls on international attitudes to different countries.) 

“Although Turkey maintains a powerful military due to its insecure neighborhood, we do not make threats,” was a more-than-amusing line from Mr. Davutoglu’s 2010 magnum opus. Some more great lines included:

“Turkey’s regional policy is based on security for all, high-level political dialogue, economic integration and interdependence, and multicultural coexistence. Consider Turkey’s mediation between Israel and Syria, a role that was not assigned to Turkey by any outside actor.” 

So, are happy days ahead? Certainly. Mr. Davutoglu heralded that: “Today, Turkey has a great deal of say in the international arena. More importantly, there is a critical group of countries that lend a careful ear to Turkey’s stance on a myriad of regional and international issues. At this point, the world expects great things from Turkey and we are fully aware of our responsibility to carry out a careful foreign policy.”

Great! Now you can go back and revisit Mr. Davutoglu’s vision for a new regional and world order –which he repeats several times a week- learn about what miracles the Turkish foreign policy will achieve in the years ahead, sip your wine, sigh with relief and relax: now you know what is NOT going to happen.