Flags Turkey EU by European Parliament / Creative Commons

While Turkey has been more proactive than ever in its foreign relations in the last 10 years — that is, since the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power, growing tensions with Iran and Israel and Turkey’s intensified role in the Syrian crisis are raising serious concerns about the success of the country’s foreign policy.

However, most columnists link Turkey’s deteriorating relations with the aforementioned countries to the dynamics within those countries rather than to a failure of Turkish foreign policy.

Deniz Ülke Arıboğan from Akşam says the recent fruitless debates over Turkey’s foreign policy show that the massive change going on in the world is not being well realized or analyzed. As a matter of fact, the world is undergoing an overhaul, and this change is seen not only in Turkey and the Middle East; there is a huge axis shift going on right now. The US, which saw its golden age in the 20th century, is now regressing while Russia, in the meantime, is back on the field, trying to control its surrounding countries. It is not possible for any country or political power to have full control over its foreign relations. Thus, instead of linking the failures in our foreign policy to the lack of ability of the Foreign Ministry or to the weakness of the military or government, it would be more sensible to try and figure out what is really going on in the world and what role we should choose for ourselves, she suggests.

On the other hand, Sabah’s Hasan Celal Güzel praises the AK Party government’s efforts in developing Turkey into a global power and an influential actor in its region. He says by modernizing and democratizing at home, Turkish politicians have gained self-confidence in their ability to conduct a successful regional policy. Thus, Turkey’s leaders are now willing to pursue a more active diplomacy in the Middle East, which is worthy of praise.

This is a fact which a great number of people used to agree on without any doubts. But today most of those people have started to argue that Turkey’s deteriorating ties with Israel and Syria are proof of its failure. Yet the only reason for its deteriorating ties with these two countries is because they violently and wrongly assaulted Turkey in the first place. Of course there have been mistakes made in foreign policy, such as rejecting the March 1, 2003 motion to allow American troops to invade Iraq from Turkish territory and not being proactive enough in the Syrian crisis, but while expressing our criticism, we should remain fair and not ignore the accomplishments thus far, Güzel notes.