‘Red lines’ vs ‘sharp lines’ in foreign policy

‘Red lines’ vs ‘sharp lines’ in foreign policy

After attending the “Victory Day” reception at the presidency on Aug. 30, I drew the following conclusions:

- Turkey is ready to conduct all kinds of maneuvers to prevent unwanted situations and fait accomplis to its south. Whatever is necessary will be done. The decision has been taken. I saw the sense of relief that this decision has been taken at the highest level. 

- From September, Turkey will start a full-fledged economic campaign, including in investments abroad.

- There is a difference between “red lines” and “sharp, invisible lines.” There are no more “red lines,” there are now only “invisible and very sharp lines.”

What is the difference?

In the past, whenever politicians said “we have red lines,” they we giving messages to the domestic public. The “red line” was always visible. But now, “the invisible but sharp line” creates a direct effect between states. Voters may not see it, but the relevant interlocutor states understand it directly.

Turkey’s Euphrates Shield Operation into Syria was one example demonstrating the “invisible, sharp line.”

Winning defense tenders against global giants

At the reception I spoke with Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli and the issue of “national and local” initiatives came up. He told me about a recent development in which one of the big countries in the Balkans held a high-technology and advanced fire power military tender.

ASELSAN from Turkey applied to take part in the tender. The competing companies were from the United States and Israel. At one stage they started getting bad news, that they were about to lose the tender.

 However, Canikli had a standing invitation to that country so he decided to go there, taking the ASELSAN technical team with him. They made such a presentation that the whole decision on the tender was changed.

In other words, this notion of “being national and local” is not limited to pears and nuts.

Comparing past and present ceremonies

While President Erdoğan was delivering his speech at the ceremony, it started to become dark.

At that very moment an image started to be projected to the platform from a drone in the air. We became able to see clearly the Seljuk architecture of the presidential complex, as projected by the image of the drone.

I was standing next to EU Minister Ömer Çelik. “Look at the bright, shining architecture. It is spectacular. Just remember the ceremonies that used to be conducted in narrow streets,” he said.

Indeed, I recalled the ceremonies conducted at the old Prime Ministry building in Ankara and the ceremonies performed next to the bus stops. I remember the welcoming ceremonies performed for foreign dignitaries in the courtyard of that old building.

The new presidential complex is certainly filling a gap.

Turkey’s economy

Finally, let me refer to a conversation I had at the ceremony with Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek.

“There are many diverse comments about the economy. Is our economy good or bad?” I asked him a little jokingly. 

Şimşek answered with a laugh.

“Our president was telling the truth. Despite everything, the Turkish economy is rising. Just look at the growth figures. Look at other countries in the same situation; look at how they ended up,” he said.