Price for major escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean may deter Turkey from making aggressive moves
Dr. Gallia Lindenstrauss is a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Israel. Her specialization is Turkish foreign policy and her additional research interests are ethnic conflicts, the foreign policy of Azerbaijan, the Cyprus issue, and the Kurds. She gave an interview to +GercekNews on the recent Israeli-Turkish rapprochement, Erdogan’s possible policies in the Eastern Mediterranean, and Turkey’s difficulties in purchasing fighter aircraft. Dr. Lindenstrauss notes that “since it would be hard for Erdogan and his government to deliver in the economic realm, there is a motivation to seek achievements in foreign policy.”
Eastern Mediterranean and Turkey's role in the energy game; is the Israeli-Turkish rapprochement likely to change the existing alliance structures?
Normalization with Israel can overall be seen as a sign of more moderation and realpolitik considerations on behalf of Ankara, and in this respect it is also encouraging news for other countries in the region. The normalization between Israel and Turkey however is fragile and the concerns surrounding the question of whether Turkey has really changed its course are still there. Hence, Israel has a strong motivation of maintaining the existing partnerships that helped it greatly in the past decade, as relations with Turkey deteriorated.
Could Turkey and Israel ever go back to the pre-2010 level of relations?
In many areas, Turkey and Israel have more developed relations than was the case in the 1990s because of globalization trends. The most apparent area where Turkey and Israel did cooperate closely in the past and are cooperating in a minimal way today is the defense realm. Changing this will be difficult due to a lack of trust between the sides but also to the fact that Turkey has developed its defense industry and does not need Israel in the way it needed it in the past. For the possibility to emerge of future cooperation between Israel and Turkey in the defense realm there should be a major change in the way Turkey perceives Iran or Russia. Presently, despite the differences it has with these countries, it cooperates with them. In the unlikely scenario that one of these two relationships goes publicly sour, then Israel will know for sure that Turkey has a serious motivation to cooperate with it.
Is the Erdogan administration likely to make aggressive moves in the Aegean and Cyprus as the 2023 Elections draw near?
As Turkey is moving toward the June 2023 elections, the main concern of the Turkish voter is the difficult economic situation. Since it would be hard for Erdogan and his government to deliver in the economic realm, there is a motivation to seek achievements in foreign policy and hence there is concern that this might manifest itself specifically in aggressive Turkish conduct in the Eastern Mediterranean. There is however a strong interest of NATO members in preventing rupture in the alliance and hence there is also a price for a major escalation, that may deter Turkey.
Are Turkey's difficulties in procuring fighter aircraft likely to be resolved soon, and if not, what are the consequences for the geostrategic balance in the region?
Turkey cannot continue without new jets and F-16 modernization kits and hence will do whatever it can to convince the US to sell the F-16 to Turkey or will look for alternatives. If the US does sell the F-16 to Turkey then likely the geostrategic balance will not change significantly since the new jets are only replacing those that will soon be phased out. If Greece gets the F-35, it will have an advantage over Turkey. However, if Turkey purchases similar jets from Russia and China, there is a big concern that it will cause an even bigger rupture in NATO and hence is dangerous to the stability of the alliance.
*Born in 1997, Volkan Isbasaran studied Political Science and International Relations at Yeditepe University and holds an MA in Political Science from Central European University. His research areas include terrorism, conflicts, and ethnic/religious minorities.