Once an unquestioning U.S. ally, and at odds with most of its neighbors, Turkey is now forging a new foreign policy, with itself at the very center, starts a Newsweek article by the magazine's Turkey and Russia representative Owen Matthews in this week's edition.
Carrying Turkey's new foreign policy that marked many political debates around the West that have even led concerns whether the country disappointed with the European Union, or EU, was seeking new allies, on its cover; Newsweek wrote Ankara is not allying itself with the Islamic world but remarking itself as the center of the politics and economics of its own region.
The article by Matthews entitled "Ankara in the middle" tries to eliminate the Western concerns over Turkey's recent alliances with the Muslim countries and Russia and explains the underlying reasons to the countries' recent policies.
"In other words, it's a mistake to see Turkey as being 'with' the EU and U.S., or 'with' the Muslim world or Russia. All are parts of a new, strongly Turkey-centered policy that rests on its geography and economic position. In practice that means that while Europe remains Turkey's top foreign-policy priority, it's not the only one," says Newsweek.
"Over the last two years Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has proclaimed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a 'good friend' and blasted Israel for attacking a Turkish aid convoy to Gaza. He signed accords with Syria and Iraq and defended Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir as 'a good Muslim.' Only last week Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu caused outrage in Israel by meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal," Matthews also reminds the events that caused concerns in the west.
U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat from Maryland, has criticized Turkey for its "increasing petulance on the world stage." Earlier this month, President Obama suggested that EU backtracking on accepting Turkey as a full member has pushed Erdoğan to "look for other alliances" with other Muslim nations in the Middle East as well as with Moscow, with which Erdoğan signed a series of accords on new gas pipelines earlier this year, the article also refers as the occurrences to lead worries.
Ankara's continued interest in Europe is fueled by a powerful sense that Turkey is still best off allied to the region's strongest economic bloc and by remaking its institutions in Europe's image, according to Matthews. "Its membership in the tariff-free EU customs union is crucial to its economy. So despite the fact that Germany and France continue to pour cold water on Turkish EU hopes, Ankara has pressed on with deep, lasting, EU-inspired reforms."
Terror is another reason
Another reason for Ankara's turn east is its concern about terrorism, argues the article. Much of Turkey's outreach to neighbors like Syria, Iraq, and Iran has been driven by the need to isolate the insurgent Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has traditionally operated out of bases in the borderlands of those three countries.