Former Ambassador Namik Tan says it will take time to fix Turkish foreign policy
In an article he wrote for YetkinReport, former Ambassador Namik Tan explains the previous major mistakes of Turkish foreign policy with examples and comments on the new paths Turkey is taking in its’ foreign policy. Tan was the Ambassador of Turkey to Washington between 2010 and 2014, and the former Ambassador of Turkey to Tel Aviv between 2007 and 2009.
Former Ambassador Namik Tan said that we are hearing a statement from the government repeatedly about how Turkish foreign policy has a vision of 360 degrees and is based on friendship. But Tan believes that this is a manipulation attempt by the government. 360 degrees could imply looking at the environment from every aspect, but it could also mean going back to the starting point.
Tan says that the first question to ask should be on figuring out how we got to this point in foreign policy, and he adds that the answer is simple. Turkey was brought to this point because of calculation errors, disproportionate, adventurous policies, arrogant audacity, power poisoning, and nationalist populism that aims to cover all these weaknesses.
Tan mentions that ancient mythology warns of humanity’s greatest enemies; arrogance, pride, envy, and acting like the savior Messiah or Mahdi. This behavior, associated with Hubris is criticized, and it will eventually be defeated by Nemesis. These concepts also have a place in psychology. The Hubris syndrome leads to societies’ eventual collapse because of the lack of empathy, vulnerability to criticism, ill-calculated risk assessments, wrong decisions and steps, and harm to others; thus, Nemesis is the collapse of the society.
According to Tan, just like the general situation of Turkey, Turkish foreign policy shows signs of this syndrome. The cheap loans created an artificial welfare bubble for the last ten years, and with exaggerated confidence, Turkey tried to act like the world’s “justice scale” but this foreign policy collapsed. Ideological ambitions hurt the prestige of the country. The path which started with the 2009 Davos incident where Turkey “scolded” Israel led to Turkey’s loneliness.
Tan adds that just like Israel, Turkey became hostile to the Arab states. Turkey’s attempts to become the “playmaker” in the region led to Turkey being part of the problem, not the solution. Former allies were pushed toward becoming Turkey’s enemies. In summary, we had the “success” of grounding the ship whose rudder was broken and then breaking its keel.
Turkey’s relations with the US, NATO, and EU member states display this destruction very well. Turkey could not progress in the solution of the Cyprus issue. An inconsistent relationship with Greece developed, with the two countries sometimes being friendly and sometimes on the brink of conflict. Despite the apparent calm, relations with Iran never evolved far beyond tensions. Due to the serious economic difficulties, Turkey was compelled to pursue a friendship policy with Russia, despite the interests of the alliance (NATO).
The discomfort the phrase “the World is greater than five” created in the world was ignored because of the pro-government excitement it created in internal politics. Tan says that after ten years in the “dead-end”, Turkey still did not learn any lessons.
Tan says that Turkey completed the 360 degrees turn and now it is time to start again. But because of the mistakes in the last ten years, Turkey lost trustworthiness and prestige, and worst of all, this state of weakness has turned Turkey into a country where one can easily get concessions. Even though it was presented differently in the “echo chambers” of domestic politics, Turkey came out of the ten-years turbulent period of populist, contradictory and harsh policy turns with scars.
Turkey was forced to accept developing relations not in a commanding way, but with mutual respect. And this explains the current relations with Syria. Turkey is trying to convince Israel of sincere friendship by distancing Hamas, and trying to convince Egypt and the Gulf States by distancing itself from the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt is not acting quickly and Syria’s reactions remain unclear.
Tan adds that the S-400 missile systems remain as “decoration” and we are kicked out of the F-35 program. Turkey initially blocked the membership of Finland and Sweden into NATO but ignored the fact that PKK/PYD/YPG/SDF has representative offices in Moscow. He reminds us that Salih Muslim, who was invited to Ankara officially was turned into a terrorist once he rejected Turkey’s offer of fighting against Assad together. Now Turkey is waiting for a partnership from the Assad Regime to combat the SDF.
At the same time, while Turkey is bragging about hosting the most refugees, UNESCO announced that Angela Merkel was nominated for the Peace Prize because Germany accepted 1.2 Million refugees. Tan says that Turkey should take lessons from this.
Turkish passports becoming worthless and Turkish citizens not being able to get visas from the USA and EU demonstrate the state of Turkey’s relations, but officials claiming that this fact is a conspiracy does not solve the problem.
Tan ends the article by pointing out that Turkey was forced to end the foreign policy of emotional and ideological approaches while pursuing regional domination, and instead had to pursue new compromises. Tan believes that this is a clock accidentally pointing to the right time. But Tan warns that even though is is not too late, it will take time to build trust for Turkey’s new foreign policy.