About ten years ago, Turkish foreign policy had been located to different point in relative to the current paradigm. It was a static, introvert, conservator, and pro-Western position. Turkey was properly not interested in its near region that refers the Middle East and the Muslim world and also lacked of a strategic wisdom that provides friendly relations, which can basically be understood ‘interest‘, with neighbors. It’s politic, thus, were far away activism, shuttle diplomacy and enthusiasm.
If we look at the last decade, we are able to see a new perspective in the foreign affairs of Turkey. The dynamism of Turkish foreign policy has been amazing in the entire world. In other words, Turkey’s concern regarding regional and international issues was pointed out. This ‘concern‘ refers that especially political, economical and cultural mobility was substantially accepted by the political actors. But some powers and secret focuses that were wanted to set up and manage the entire game were disturbed. Since Turkey’s foreign policy has had ‘spillover effect‘ as a major game founder in its region. This effect can change the balance of power in the region because Turkey has a new vision of the Middle East.
Turkey’s foreign policy making-process based on two major elements: ‘Zero problems with neighbors‘ and ‘shuttle or rhythmic diplomacy‘. Until the Arab Spring, zero problem policy has provided to eliminate many conflicts of Turkey with other states. Besides, it has contributed to the economy. As to the other element ‘shuttle or rhythmic diplomacy‘ is based on more contacts and relations with the other nations in terms of providing hot association without any problem. This process is able to be entitled as a preparatory background for solving considerable conflicts.
Firstly, ‘zero problems towards neighbors‘ policy of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was discussed so much and criticized as ‘it is a shift of axes.’ Secondly and nowadays, it is being said that zero problem policy collapse. These two insights are wrong assessments of course but the aim is different. What happened to the Arab world? And how did the uprisings emerge with motivations? These and similar questions must be answered first of all. I can briefly make an evaluation over questions.
The uprisings in the Middle East has emerged spontaneously and affected step by step the whole region. Nobody remains out of this wave. This can also be called the reality of region because the Middle East never accepts any plan and project. For instance the Syria crisis, everybody thinks that the Assad regime would go in one or two months as Zine El Abidin Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya but Assad regime is still in the palace despite he continues the bloodbath. I want to say this shows that sometimes ‘home account does not fit the reality‘.
Critics of Turkey’s foreign policy from the internal and external should ask themselves this vital question did the Middle East mix up due to Turkey’s foreign policy.
In sum, we can say that Turkey’s way in the foreign policy is right but is being changed due to the realty of region or our environment. Yes, Turkey’s foreign policy should be checked but this does not mean that it is unsustainable. The two approaches in Turkey’s foreign policy mentioned above are the main locomotives yet. Turkey’s active foreign policy has its grounds. Cheap populism is not one of them.