Development Party: A Conceptual Reading

Article
THE STRATEGIC LOGIC OF TURKISH FOREIGN POLICY IN THE ERA OF JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT PARTY: A CONCEPTUAL READING
 
 
Abstract
 
The aim of this study is to analyze the dominant and basic foreign policy discourse and practices in the Justice and Development Party (AK) era by defining the most popular concepts that have been used by the AK policy makers since 2002. This short paper is divided into two sections. In the first section, I will study to explain Turkish foreign policy as theoretical. In the second section, I will study to explain Turkish foreign policy in the AK era by benefiting from some important concepts about foreign policy agenda of AK. In my opinion, understanding the Turkish foreign policy as theoretical and conceptual is necessary to analyze Turkish foreign policy behavior.
 
Key Words: Strategic middle power state, Strategic Depth, Zero-problems policy, Multi- dimensional foreign policy.
 
 
Theory of Turkish Foreign Policy
 
There are two basic columns of Turkish foreign policy. First column is that Status quo and second is that Westernization ideal.[1] Discourses of “The level of contemporary civilization” and “Peace at home peace in the world” which are said by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who is founder of  Republic of Turkey, demonstrate Westernization and status quo principles in Turkish foreign policy culture. We can find that origins of Westernization ideal of  Republic of Turkey in the Ottoman modernization -1839 Tanzimat Fermani and 1856 Islahat Fermani- and status quo comes from concerns about territorial integrity which is called that Sevres Syndrome in Turkish political culture.
 
Since the founding of Republic of Turkey, protecting, maintaining and disposing threats to its independence and territorial integrity in terms of security concerns are rooted in geographical and historical realities. Turkey's security concerns lies in its geography as well as in the geopolitical and geostrategic inheritance from the Ottoman Empire.[2] In this regard, we can say that there is a continuity between Ottoman Empire and Republic of Turkey.
 
Factors affecting the Turkish foreign policy are that; (1) security concerns (2) geographic location (3) management philosophy (4) personality of decision makers (5) economic problems or economic dependency (6) technological development and (7) psychological situation of Turkish nation.[3]
 
According to structural realist theory, states determine their foreign policy behavior accordance to “distribution of power” in the structure of international system. In this regard, we can define that Turkey is “the strategic middle power state” in the international system. Why the “strategic” middle power state? Because, Turkey's geopolitical location is very important for the strategy of big powers which are in the international system.
 
The strategic middle power state has relative power in her region but she can not affect that global politics.[4] There are two fundamental options for the strategic middle power state; first option is that she plays to balance of power strategy between big powers and second option is that she refuges a wing of alliance.[5] Strategic importance can put middle power state in trouble.
 
The strategic middle power state has two basic taboos in her region. First taboo is that she does not want that one power dominates the region. Totem of strategic middle power state is “balance”. Second taboo is that she tries to make up for the lack of economically powerful military strong. So, she loves tension.[6] But, I do not agree with this opinion. Because, recent events show that if there is stability in the Middle East, Turkey can be effective in the region. It can be said that tension can be valid for Iran.
 
Turkish Foreign Policy in the AK Era and Concepts
 
The traditional language of Turkish foreign policy has changed conspicuously during the AK era.[7] The “Why” question is important for the international relations. So, we can ask that why the Turkish foreign policy began to change with the AK governments after 2002? What are the reasons behind the transformation in the Turkish foreign policy?
 
There are three level of analysis to understand reasons of transformation. The first level is that ideological; the changing in the Turkish foreign policy can be explained by the AK 's Islamic roots. Second level is that the struggle for power in domestic politics; conservative Islamic block eliminated the Kemalist block last decade, so Turkish foreign policy was changed by the conservative Islamic block. Third level is about the transformation in the structure of international system. Turkish foreign policy has changed because of the changing balance of power in the regional and global level. We can benefit from these 3 levels of analysis to understand the transformation in the Turkish foreign policy.
 
Mr. Davutoglu is one of the most important figures for the AK's foreign policy. Because, Davutoglu can be said to have constructed the theoretical and intellectual background of Turkish foreign policy in the AK era.[8] In this regard, if we want to understand AK's foreign policy, we have to know Davutoglu's world of mind and his political ontology.
 
Strategic Depth which is written by Davutoglu in 2001, is important book to understand Davutoglu's political ontology. Strategic Depth is created on the historical and geographical depth. Strategic depth concept is a theoretical framework that mainly examines the cultural, geographical and spatial aspects of Turkish foreign policy.[9] The concept of strategic depth refers to civilizational, historical and geographical “centrality” of Turkey in the regional and international system.[10] He analyzes territorial, cultural and geographical dimensions of Turkish foreign policy in his book which is called “Strategic Depth”. It can be said that the book of Strategic Depth is a civilizational critique towards the national Turkish foreign policy.
 
Mr. Davutoglu determined five basic principles for Turkish foreign policy; first principle is that the zero-problems with the neighbors, second is that security-freedom balance, third is that pro- active diplomacy, fourth is that multi-dimensional foreign policy and fifth is that rhythmic diplomacy.[11]
 
Zero- problems with the neighbors: The main aim of this principle is to minimize existing problems with neighbors. Davutoglu said that we want our relationship with our neighbors to turn into maximum cooperation via the principle of zero problems. Zero-problems policy of Turkey can be compared to the good neighborly policy of United States of America towards Latin America in 1930s.
 
The concept of zero-problems with neighbors draws on six pillars; ( 1 ) equal security for all ( 2 ) economic integration ( 3 ) the coexistence of different cultures in a respectful manner ( 4 ) high- level political cooperation ( 5 ) high- level of regional consciousness ( 6 ) understanding the relationship between security and stability and development.[12]
 
According to Mr. Davutoglu, Turkey needs to improve its relations with all its neighbors by rescuing itself from the belief that it is constantly surrounded by enemies and the defensive reflex developing thereof.[13]
 
There are critiques of zero-problems policy of Turkey. One critique is that resolving problems with one country could lead to problems with another country, and therefore putting all countries under the same category is not a “realistic” policy.[14] For example, Turkey can develop relationships with Armenia but it leads to problem with the Azerbaijan.
 
The principle of zero-problems with neighbors can be read from different perspective. According to post-structuralist theory, the foreign policy is not independent from struggle for power between power centers in the domestic politics. In this sense, it can be claimed that the conservative Islamic block (AKP) studied to eliminate Kemalist block (Turkish Army Forces) by developing relations with the neighbors.
 
The transformation process in the Middle East which is called “Arab Spring” or “Arab Awakening” has challenged the zero- problems policy of Turkey. Arab Spring has affected the principle of zero- problems policy. After the civil war in Syria, Turkey has changed her policy from zero-problems with the countries to zero-problems with the public.[15]
 
Security- Freedom Balance: According to Davutoglu, if security is sacrificed for freedom, it will lead to chaos, while if freedom is sacrificed for security, it will result in dictatorial regimes. Our policy was simply to urge the leaders to provide maximum freedom without risking security and maximum security without limiting freedoms.[16]
 
Pro-active Diplomacy: A pro-active diplomacy that aims for Turkey to lead in resolving all crises in its neighborhood and for it to develop good relations with other countries. The most practical results of this concept in foreign policy can be seen in Turkey's desire to mediate in the Arab-Israeli, Syrian- Israeli, Iranian-Western and Bosnian-Serbian conflicts.[17]
 
The geography of Turkey has dynamic features so Turkey cannot follow static foreign policy. If the Turkey wants to become a regional power, Turkey have to follow pro-active foreign policy in her geography. Because, geography says to Turkey that you cannot follow static and inactive foreign policy in here.
 
Multi- dimensional Foreign Policy: The principle of multi- dimensional foreign policy is one of the main foreign principles in the AK era. A multi-dimensional foreign policy is thought of as the necessary outcome of the activism that made Turkey a “centre state”.[18]
 
Turkey is not only European country but also Middle Eastern, Balkan, Caucasian, Central Asian, Mediterranean, Gulf and Black Sea country. In this regard, we can say that Turkey has multiple regional identities. So, Turkey cannot follow single-dimensional foreign policy in her strategy.
 
According to structural realist theory, the nature of international system shapes foreign policy behavior of states. In nowadays, we can say that the structure of international system is multi- centric. There are global big powers like that United States of America, Russia Federation, People Republic of China, European Union in the international arena. In this situation, Turkey already have to follow multi-dimensional foreign policy in her grand strategy. If Turkey does not follow multi- dimensional foreign policy in the multi- centric structure of international system, she would have agreed to commit suicide. But, the relations with the EU are not alternative to relations with Russia and similarly the strategic relations with the USA are not alternative to relations with the China. So, it can be said that the decision of multi- dimensional foreign policy is not decision of Mr. Davutoglu.
 
Rhythmic Diplomacy: Rhythmic diplomacy sees Turkey as an actor in international institutions and on all global issues.[19] Turkey wants to join international organizations all over the world to implement rhythmic diplomacy. Non-permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council for 2009- 2012, the membership in the G-20, the observer status in the African Union and Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Arab League can be seen as examples of principle of rhythmic diplomacy.
 
Center State: According to Mr. Davutoglu, Turkey is the center state in the regional and international system. Turkey's geopolitical location makes the Turkey center state. According to him, Turkey is not transfer object between west-east and north-south as a geopolitical, geo-cultural and geo-economics. Turkey cannot be bridge country. The concept of center state is not only about geography but also about culture, history and religious.
 
Historical Responsibility and Historical Legacy: There are historical, cultural, religious, linguistic etc. connections between Turkey and the Middle East, Balkans, Africa which are governed by Ottoman Empire during nearly 400 years, and the Central Asia. So, Turkey have to develop politics about these geographies.
 
Peace Basin: Turkey achieved progress in establishing a stable and peaceful domestic order which it can build a pro- active foreign policy. [20] Mr. Davutoglu is trying to change the political situation of the Middle East from Hobbesian anarchy culture to Kantian anarchy culture[21]. But, Turkey has enough capacity of power to make it?
 
Conclusion

Turkish foreign policy is formulated with reference to a holistic understanding of historical trends and sense of active agency. Turkey's stance reflects its historical depth, geographical positioning and rich legacy in international affairs.[22]
 
According to Mr. Davutoglu, “at the regional level, our vision is a regional order that is built on representative political systems reflecting the legitimate demands of the people where regional states are fully integrated to each other around the core values of democracy and true economic interdependence.[23] At the global level, we will aspire to build in a participatory manner a new international order that is inclusive of the international community at large. This global order will have three dimensions: a political order based on dialogue and multilateralism, an economic order based on justice and equality, and a cultural order based on inclusiveness and accommodation.”[24]
 
We can say that the aim of new Turkish foreign policy is to reconstruct international (dis)order with its institutions and principles. It can be said that there is reaction of Turkey towards the international order. According to Turkey, international system does not reflect the present power balance in the world politics. For example, Germany and Japanese are big economic powers and India is big population power but these countries are not in the UN Security Council. So, international system is not fair and it is not legitimate because of these reasons. President of Republic of Turkey R. T. Erdoğan every time says that ' the world is bigger than five '. But, there are limits of this aim because of the problems of Turkey as an economic, political and military.
 
As a result, what is the best rational option for Turkey? Turkey is one of the most important strategic middle power states in the international system. So, balance of power strategy is the best rational option for Turkish foreign policy to survive in international politics. Turkey have to follow balance of power strategy between big powers like that USA, Russia, China and EU. Turkey should follow Smart Grand Strategy in her foreign policy...

  

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