Changing foreign policy agenda
Thanks to the rise in the democratic standards and the improvement in relations with the European Union between 2004 and 2009, Turkey was increasing its influence in a wider geography, starting with the Arab world.
The export rates in the new markets and the number of tourists in Anatolia were rapidly increasing. In spite of the global economic crisis which reached its peak in 2008, Turkey remained as an attractive place for foreign direct investors.
In such an atmosphere, the Foreign Ministry organized an ambassadors’ conference in July 2008.
That conference was not the first and last one.
The 10th Conference was held in Ankara last week. Mehmet Uçum and Yavuz Atar, advisors to the president, as well as Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu were among the speakers. A
ll the businesspeople and the diplomats I met at lunch break had one main agenda: The crisis with the U.S. and its consequences. Everybody was complaining about the irrational politics that U.S. President Donald Trump is currently following.
We have discussed over several examples on how Trump drove not only Turkey, but the whole world, especially, the European countries crazy. We all agreed that the antidote of the U.S. was the European Union, but it was unquestionably clear that the political distance between us and EU had widened further in recent years.
Even comparing our conversations with the conversations we had 10 years ago is enough to understand the big change in the Turkish foreign policy. Without doubt, many negative developments happened, such as the collapse of the Arab Spring and the Syrian civil war.
In consequence, Turkish foreign policy which mostly focused on the positive agenda of “solutions and dialogues” left its place to a more negative agenda of “showdown.”
Some of the issues about the fundamental rights and freedoms that we thought we had left in the past in the course of Turkey’s accession process into the EU once again showed themselves in our current discussions of diplomacy.
In front of the hotel in which the Ambassadors’ Conference was held, there were many black jeeps. All of them belonged to the security crew of the speakers at the conference.
Realizing that these huge cars are made in the U.S., I instantly remembered the social media videos in which people were shooting at or hammering their phones.
I wish that someone with common sense could explain to them that because those phones were paid in Turkish Liras, they now belonged to the national wealth, and instead of hammering them, they should have been used for a long time without buying new ones.
I realized that nobody supported those acts. Much more rational steps could have been taken. Only in a single week, two Greek soldiers, one human rights advocate and students from the Middle East Technical University have been released. Following all these, messages from Europe were smoothed, even turning to statement of support.
If similar resolutions are followed in terms of main opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu and Osman Kavala’s cases, which are being closely monitored by European politicians and human rights advocates, the support of the EU countries for Turkey against America might even increase in an unexpected rate.