Academic journal article Insight Turkey

Turkish Foreign Policy in a Time of Perpetual Turmoil

Academic journal article Insight Turkey

Turkish Foreign Policy in a Time of Perpetual Turmoil

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT 2016 was a difficult year for the world; however, Turkey demonstrated her strength and resilience politically, economically, and security-wise. This commentary focuses on the future policies and challenges that Turkey may face in 2017. These policies include the open door policy towards the Syrian refugees and consolidation of the basic foreign policy tenets of Turkey. It is argued that in the face of these challenges, Turkey must always remember that upholding our common values and the spirit of cooperation is central to bringing peace, hope and prosperity to humankind.

As a stormy 2016 drew to a close, Turkey braced for a new year full of potential. Although 2016 was a difficult year for the world there is a new energy in Turkey to address numerous regional and global challenges. Turkey has demonstrated her strength and resilience politically, economically, and security-wise. We suffered several shocks but came out stronger. These included several terrorist attacks by ISIS and PKK and a coup attempt by the Fetullah Gulen Terrorist Organization (FETO). On the night of July 15, FETO terrorists killed nearly two hundred and fifty people and wounded more than two thousand. Warplanes bombed the Turkish Parliament and the Presidential Palace. These outrageous acts of violence that targeted our democracy were traumatic for the Turkish people but demonstrated the strength of our resolve to uphold Turkish democracy. Turkey is now taking steps within the constitutional order to ensure that the culprits face justice and the vestiges of the terrorist infiltration into all segments of the Turkish bureaucracy, economy, educational sector, security forces and media, are removed. All this is being done in accordance with the rule of law.

2016 was not kind to humanity; from Nice to Syria through Brussels to Afghanistan, the world witnessed unacceptable human suffering. This was on top of the ongoing misery of hundreds of millions who live in societies that are chronically stunted by poverty, inequality and racism or whose lives have been shattered by man-made humanitarian crises. Since Turkey cannot isolate herself from such misery, addressing human suffering is a fundamental pivot of our foreign policy. While proud to be a leading donor country providing a humanitarian aid of $3.2 billion in 2015, it is our sincere wish that joint global efforts can one day create a world where this kind of aid is no longer needed. For this to happen, we have to work towards just global institutions that represent our peoples fairly and can act decisively. We must also join hands to eliminate the racism, radicalism and terrorism that breed misery and violence.

A Humanitarian Stance

A prime example of our humanitarian stance is our open door policy regarding the Syrians escaping tyranny at home. Turkey currently hosts around 2.7 million Syrian refugees, more than thirteen percent of the country's pre-war population. While we continue to provide them with shelter, the international community needs to do more to assist them and to put an end to this tragedy. We must give hope to the Syrian people, without hope desperation becomes destiny. Our diplomacy will not give up hope and continues to promote a political solution based on a democratic, inclusive and non-sectarian system while preserving Syria's political unity and territorial integrity. In line with her humanitarian and moral precepts, Turkey has also received more than 300,000 Iraqis fleeing from the fighting in Iraq and provided them with food, non-food items, health and education services as well as social activities.

The March 18, 2016 migration agreement with the European Union has already helped decrease irregular crossings of migrants trying to reach Europe. To date, more than 2000 refugees have been resettled in Europe and over 700 irregular migrants were returned to Turkey. Most significantly, we have been able to halt the almost daily loss of lives on the Aegean. …

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