The AKP’s diplomacy
Turkey is a country fond of setting negative records like having the largest number of journalists in prison, being one of the champions in violence against women, or being the country that has tried to close down You Tube or Twitter the most.
It is racing now in a new category and vying to be the country with the largest number of ambassadors recalled from various countries in a diplomatic huff, ostensibly to punish them for their misdeeds against Turkey, or simply for angering the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for one reason or other.
The latest addition to the posts that have been vacated by a Turkish envoy is Vienna, after Ankara recalled its ambassador there for consultations following the adoption of a nonbinding resolution on the Armenian genocide by that country’s parliament. It recently withdrew its ambassador in the Vatican following Pope Francis’s Armenian statement.
This makes seven countries now that Turkey does not have ambassadors in. These are Israel, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, the Vatican and now Austria. The case of Syria and Yemen may appear the exception since other countries have withdrawn their ambassadors from those countries.
They still merit being placed on this list, though, since it was less than a decade ago that Turkey prided itself for being a neutral regional player that maintains diplomatic ties will all the sides in the Middle East, regardless of regional disputes.
This changed, though, when Ankara became one of the first countries to recall its ambassador in Damascus before the violence in that country had escalated to what it is today.
The potential for this list to grow last week was there, of course, given that German President Joachim Gauck and Russian President Vladimir Putin also angered Ankara over the Armenian issue. Our ambassadors in Berlin and Moscow were not recalled, though.
This shows that the “game” involving ambassadors is not a consistent one for Ankara, which, of course, diminishes the force of the diplomatic “punishment” supposedly meted in this way.
In other words, when it comes to countries that really count for Turkey, the reaction seems to be different, with Ankara restricting itself to angry statements alone, as it did in the case of Germany and Russia.
There are also cases where the whole thing rebounds. Ankara withdrew its ambassador in Cairo after the Egyptian coup that toppled President Mohamed Morsi. Cairo followed suit. Ankara sent its ambassador back after a while, but Cairo refused to do the same, signaling to Ankara in this way not to bother and to recall its ambassador. It was not clear who punished who in the end in this case.
Meanwhile, the lack of diplomatic ties with Israel remains a big hole in Turkey’s diplomatic landscape which is currently characterized by the AKP’s ideologically based understanding of foreign policy administration.
That understanding has left Turkey isolated in its region and mostly friendless in the world at large. AKP ideologues try to inject this situation with a positive and moralistic aspect by referring to it as “precious loneliness.”
Developments are showing, however, that there is little that is “precious” about a situation that has left Ankara without any international influence at a time when there are momentous regional events that affect Turkey’s security and political interests.
The recalling of ambassadors and then sending them back silently after a while, at least those that can be sent back, in fact changes little in the end that is to Turkey’s advantage. All this does in real terms is to highlight the shortcomings of the AKP’s understanding of what diplomacy is ultimately about.