Diplomacy oddities

Diplomacy oddities

The Foreign Ministry proudly announced signing of not one, two or three but exactly 27 agreements with Egypt during the short trip there by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Of course excluding some banana republics, dominions or protectorates no country would sign overnight more than two dozen agreements with another country. But hold on, just a few years ago not 27, 30 or even 40, but 50 agreements were signed between Turkey and one of our key allies of the time in the neighborhood. Don’t be confused with the expression “of the time,” those agreements were signed in December 2009 on the sidelines of a high-level cooperation council – similar to the one Turkey and Egypt convened last week – and a joint Cabinet meeting in Damascus between “eternal brothers” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey and Bashar al-Assad’s Arab Republic of Syria.

Those were the times when Turkey was trying to mediate peace between its two key regional allies, Israel and Syria. Alas, three years later Turkey has come to the edge of declaring war with both of the two countries. With one, Israel, ambassadors were withdrawn, all dialogue was cut and visiting diplomats were scorned at the “gates” of the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Who is right, who is wrong is another matter; though no one can ignore the great skill of the Tel Aviv government in handling the Mavi Marmara tragedy. Yet, a short summary of Turkish-Israeli ties would reveal the sad swing of Turkish-Israeli relations thanks to proactive foreign policy guidelines that aimed at achieving zero problems with all neighbors.

Talking with this writer a while ago, the ambassador of a country that has lately become one of the cornerstone allies of Ankara’s neo-Ottomanist new foreign policy perspective was complaining of pressure from Ankara. “They want some 28 agreements be signed during a one-day trip. We have no such tradition; we negotiate for years for every accord we make. Thus, though we very much would like to have a visit by the prime minister to our country, we just cannot arrange it. We keep on having working trips!”

This is the time of grandiose accomplishments. Building bridges and being satisfied with small accomplishments were all replaced with grandiose plans of an Istanbul tunnel, tunnel crossings and undersea pipeline projects.

The contest is continuing. This last week the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus made an interesting remark, “We may take some radical decisions if our efforts for a settlement on Cyprus fail.” What radical steps? Annexation to Turkey? Independence?

Since the Turkish Cypriot state can consolidate itself only if it achieves international recognition and since that is not in the cards, what might be those radical moves? Can the current Turkish government change its “colonization of the TRNC” policies and start campaigning for the TRNC’s recognition at least among Muslim states? I just remembered the hungry chicken dreaming it was in a corn silo.