CHP promises a halt to ‘Middle Easternization’ of Turkey

CHP promises a halt to ‘Middle Easternization’ of Turkey

This column on April 18 analyzed the foreign policy section of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) election manifesto and found that the government is not promising a change in its diplomatic line. Today’s column will study the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) plan for foreign policy under the title “the vision for citizens and value-based foreign policy.”

The outset of the document gives a detailed analysis of the state of Turkey’s current foreign policy and explains how Turkey’s ties with its neighbors and close allies, especially in the West, have deteriorated at the hands of the AKP. 

“Today, Turkey’s relations with all of its neighbors have broken down, with the relations between the EU and the U.S. reaching a breaking point. The AKP has dragged Turkey into a state of dangerous isolation in its own region and the world,” reads the vision document. It suggests that the main reasons of the tarnished image of Turkey are the AKP’s “sectarian and reckless foreign policies,” its arrogant approach towards its neighbors and authoritarian policy-making style. “The AKP’s ambition to assert itself as a regional power in the Middle East, carried out by turning its back on the Transatlantic, Caucasian and Central Asian regions, has turned out to be a complete failure.”

It’s this that pushed the CHP to promise a complete overhaul of Turkish foreign policy. It highlights the security, well-being and peace of Turkish citizens, given the fact Turkey’s geography is alive with as many dangers as opportunities. It also underlines that they will make Turkey reconcile with all its neighbors, particularly Syria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Greece. 

“States are losing their hold on power, tribal and sectarian conflicts are on the rise and transnational criminal and terrorist organizations are turning countries into blood baths.  It is of the utmost necessity to follow these security threats closely in order to protect the security of our citizens and the future of our country.”

The social democrat party promises to adopt a peaceful foreign policy in line with the vision of Turkish founding leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, “Peace at home, peace in the world.” As part of its value-based diplomacy, it also envisages to respect and protect human rights and freedoms, while elevating them in the region and the world. 

Here are some important aspects of the CHP’s foreign policy vision, according to its election manifesto: 

-Turkey’s orientation towards Europe, which has become a historical cornerstone of Turkish foreign policy, will be restored under the CHP. The CHP will bring a halt to AKP policies that have dragged Turkey and Turkish foreign policy towards “Middle Easternization” through ideological, short-sighted and sectarian preoccupations. The CHP defines Europe as a set of values that enshrines democracy, human rights and a social state model. Being a part of a Europe defined by these terms will add strength to Turkey and Europe.

-Only the CHP has the vision to restore Turkey’s EU membership process, which has come to a standstill under the AKP. The CHP will both contribute to Europe’s reform with its leftist, social democrat allies and will open doors which have been closed to Turkey. Turkey’s candidacy for EU membership was initiated by the CHP and it is again the CHP that will successfully complete this process.

-The CHP will elevate Turkey to the position of a model country that is once again seen as a reliable leader, partner and mediator for peace in the Middle East. The harsh rhetoric and policies that have fueled sectarian divisions among Turkey’s neighbors will be abandoned and replaced with constructive pro-peace dialogue and a commitment to reciprocal and justifiable relations based on trust and mutual goodwill.

-One of the CHP’s main aims is to contribute to the welfare and democratic rights of Turkish citizens’ kinship groups living in other states and to make it possible for them to live in freedom under favorable conditions. This approach will be implemented for Turkmen, Kurdish, Caucasian and citizens of Balkan or Central Asia origin without any discrimination. The steps regarding this target will be in line with the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states.

- On Syria, the CHP will support all international initiatives and efforts of the U.N. Syria Special Representative in providing permanent peace. Remembering that the Syrian people are Turkey’s friends, the CHP will candidly continue to spend effort to bring peace and trust in Syria as a political party which can negotiate with the parties of the civil war. The CHP will not take sides in the ongoing civil war in Syria and help to create the conditions where the Syrian people can make decisions without external interventions to Syria’s future. The CHP will host our brothers and sisters who have taken refuge in Turkey in humane conditions.

-On the fight against terrorism, beginning with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the CHP will prevent all kinds of help given to the terrorists in Iraq and Syria and assume an assertive attitude against terrorism. The CHP will remove the security threats created against Turkey by the terrorist organizations which are active in Iraq and Syria. The CHP will also clean the aspects of terrorism which have nested in Turkey.

-On Egypt, the CHP will rebuild Turkey’s impaired economic, cultural and political relations with Egypt on the foundation of trust, friendship and solidarity. Upon cooperation with Egypt, the CHP will make efforts to remove regional problems. The CHP will put an end to the understanding that uses Egypt’s internal politics to mislead Turkish public opinion.

-On the United States, the CHP will raise Turkey’s relations with the U.S. to their uppermost levels within the framework of mutual respect, trust and sustainability. While doing this, the CHP will act with a new understanding of equality and the thought that both countries have a unique position in the Western world. The CHP will institute a new partnership with the U.S., which will primarily be open to economical, scientific and cultural interaction and not limited to strategic and military relations.