AKP promises no new page on foreign policy

AKP promises no new page on foreign policy

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu outlined his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) election manifesto on April 15 with an ambitious goal of increasing his party’s votes to 55-60 percent, in order to achieve a good majority at parliament and thus be able to renew the constitution and adopt a presidential system.

Public and media attention was naturally focused on how Davutoğlu would formulate the presidential system upon the instructions of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is eagerly anticipating and indeed indirectly campaigning for a good result in the June 7 elections.

This is why other crucial parts of the AKP’s election manifesto, particularly on foreign policy, went almost unnoticed, partly because it brings about no new understanding of existing problems. It should also be noted that this is just an election manifesto, and real signs can only be seen in the government program to be announced in the event that the AKP secures enough seats to form a government after the elections.

Some 10 out of 100 articles of the “New Turkey Contract-2023” address foreign policy, while they are also detailed in the AKP’s 352-page election manifesto. The first article of the 2023 contract refers to building up a security infrastructure to protect Turkey’s regional identity as an “island of stability” surrounded by a circle of fire and regional crises.

Gaining an “honorable place” in the international arena, in line with Turkey’s political and economic objectives based on historical and strategic depth, and pursuing a value-driven foreign policy, are listed among the goals of foreign policy if the AKP continues to govern the country.

However, the contract states that this approach will be implemented through realistic foreign policy practices, and vows to introduce a unique vision that would “contribute to regional and global peace.”

Consistent with a “multidimensional and dynamic foreign policy,” Turkey will on the one hand preserve its full membership perspective of the European Union, while on the other hand it will reinforce its visionary role for delivering permanent stability and peace to neighboring regions such as the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East. In particular, it will exert all efforts for establishing unity and peace in the turbulent Islamic world.

Another concept that the AKP will use as part of its foreign policy is “conscientious diplomacy,” coupled with value-based foreign policy, in line with its overall “human-centered political understanding.” These concepts are not unknown to some, as they were introduced to the diplomatic glossary by Davutoğlu during his term as foreign minister between 2009 and 2014.          

“All of these pillars of foreign policy will be implemented in a holistic strategic framework to turn our country into a global power,” reads the final article of the “Contract-2023.”

The manifesto details how all of these objectives will be met under its “What Will We Do?” section. But this begins with a mistaken assumption: “Turkey’s human, justice and democracy-centered foreign policy is regionally and globally appreciated and has gained acceptance in the eyes of peoples. We will continue to improve our foreign policy that we have built on the basis of solid values with a long-term perspective, taking the conditions of the world and of the country into account. We are standing in the right place of history. We will continue this in the upcoming term by [exerting] broad, efficient efforts.”

The manifesto underlines that Turkey will continue to play a constructive and unifying role in the North Africa and the Middle East, “as it has been doing since 2011,” without hinting any sort of review of its policies. It cites Syria with just two sentences, which say the unrest in the neighboring country will continue to be one of priorities of the foreign policy agenda and Turkey will continue to assist Syrian people fleeing their country.

The manifesto deals with Turkey’s EU objective in a larger paragraph and reserves a much larger space in underlining that Turkey’s opening towards the Africa and Asia-Pacific regions. Turkey’s relations with international organizations and its ties with Turkish citizens abroad are also given importance in the manifesto.

In light of these aspects, one may come to the conclusion that the AKP does not suggest a necessary review of Turkish diplomacy, despite the fact that the alarm bells have been ringing for a long time. The AKP believes that the entire world admires Turkish foreign policy, and this is the path that the government should pursue to make Turkey a global power.

At a moment when Turkey’s credibility abroad is under question and its image severely ruined in the eyes of the international community, Prime Minister Davutoğlu and his team should have written a better foreign policy vision - for the good sake of Turkey and its people.