EurasiaNet.org: Турция продвигает брэнд «исламской демократии»
Political passions in Turkey are rising as Ankara becomes more assertive in trying to project its brand of democracy across the Muslim world.
"Mubarak the dictator go!" shouted hundreds of Turkish protestors outside one of Istanbul's main mosques, after Friday prayers. Many of the demonstrators chanted for the anti-government unrest in Cairo to spread across the Middle East, while some carried placards that said "Tunisia yesterday, Egypt today and Syria tomorrow."
The protest close to the main gates of Istanbul University drew a throng of students, including 22-year-old Havva: "We want to show the Egyptian people that we support them on their journey to freedom. We just want to show people that Muslim presidents and prime ministers don't have to be there by force, people can choose them as well. "
The demonstrators were mainly supporters of Turkey's governing Justice and Development Party (AKP). Their protest followed comments by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that firmly placed him with the Egyptian protestors seeking to push Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak from power.
On February 6, Erdogan continued to stoke the passions of his supporters with fresh comments: "All we want is that the democratic will of the Egyptian people regarding their rights and freedoms be addressed."
The strong show of support in Turkey for the anti-Mubarak protests is a relatively recent phenomenon, appearing after weeks of silence over the Tunisia uprising and the first days of Egyptian protest.
Critics say Erdogan spoke out only after the Egyptian Islamist movement Muslim Brotherhood joined anti-Mubarak protests, and Iran added its voice in support. The Islamic-rooted AKP has developed strong ties with both Tehran and Muslim Brotherhood groups across the Middle East. At the same time, some experts see Turkey as in competition with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood for a leading role in charting the Muslim world's development path.
While his political base has reacted enthusiastically, Erdogan's ardent support for Egyptian protesters has faced criticism from Turkish political analysts.
"Too little too late" said Cengiz Aktar, a political scientist at Istanbul's Bahcesehir University. "They (government leaders) are very suspicious of any mass protests of people, whether at home or abroad, they only spoke because so many opinion makers were criticizing Turkey's silence."
Aktar pointed out that Erdogan's position on Egypt was "totally inconsistent" with the prime minister's stance on Iran's controversial presidential election in 2009. In that instance, Erdogan backed Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, despite the allegations of massive fraud that enabled the Iranian hardliner to claim reelection.
Diplomatic considerations explain the discrepancy, Aktar added. "The prime minister [Erdogan] feels freer to criticize Mubarak because relations are so bad between Turkey and Egypt," Aktar said. The expert also noted that Erdogan and Mubarak are also rivals for "leadership over the Palestinian conflict."
Beyond possible personal motivations, the prime minister is also interested in seeing Turkey emerge as the leading role model for political and economic development in the Muslim world.
Polling data indicates that Turks are comfortable with projecting their style of government to other, mainly Muslim states. A survey conducted by the Turkish think tank Tesev found that 66 percent of respondents saw Turkey as an ideal role model for the region, and 68 percent wanted to see the Turkish government play a more active diplomatic role in the Muslim world.
Turkey's democratic system has demonstrated that it is resilient - enduring despite three military coups. "There are certain historical choices that Turkey had made, that others haven't or could not make" said Soli Ozel, and international relations expert at Kadir Has University, "The most important thing is that we have managed by and large to have free-and-fair elections since 1950. Turkey has a real economy that functions, and a middle class that is actually a productive one ."
In striving to serve as a role model, Turkey has to surmount its past. As the former colonial ruler of much of the Middle East, Turkey has been traditionally viewed by many Arabs with caution. Erdogan has sought to counteract the effects of history by courting the Arab street. His tough anti-Israel rhetoric, for example, bolstered his image, and Turkey's image, in Arab eyes, the Tesev survey found.
Erdogan's AKP has devoted lots of time in recent years to developing relations with what are widely perceived outside the Muslim world as radical organizations. The apparent Turkish aim has been to exert a moderating influence over these groups. According to Tesev's project director, Jonathan Levack, the strategy appears to be working.
"A lot of Islamists, be they from the Muslim Brotherhood or whatever, actually look to the Justice and Development Party, as a model of how to become a part of the democratic system, how to become a political player," Levack said
TodaysZaman: Растущая роль Турции на Ближнем Востоке и евроинтеграция
For the past few years, the dominant question asked by Western observers of Turkish foreign policy has been: Is Turkey shifting East?
While on the surface, the assertive and independent regional foreign policy directed by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, coupled with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s colorful rhetoric on Turkey’s relationships with Israel and Iran, have led to the raising of some eyebrows amongst Turkey’s traditional Western allies, the question has by and large remained theoretical. While Turkey has indeed continued its unprecedented outreach to the Middle East, it has continued to act in good faith as a long-serving NATO member and has -- despite some setbacks -- continued with its EU accession process and internal reforms.
But events of the past month have put Turkey on a path of no return where regional status quos are challenged and hitherto obscured fault lines in Turkey’s relations with the West have cracked wide open. First came public statements in early January by two EU leaders directly linking the resolution of the Cyprus issue to any further progress in Turkey’s EU accession -- something that the EU has until now cautiously avoided presenting as an ultimatum. Then came the revolts in the Middle East, first in Tunisia and then Egypt, following closely on the heels of Turkey’s mediation efforts in the collapsing government of Lebanon and Iran’s nuclear negotiations with the six countries, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany). Perhaps Foreign Minister Davutoğlu’s more academic intention of seeing Turkey’s foreign policy with an outlook of 360 degrees has become a reality in the past few weeks. But the question is: Can Turkey handle this panoptic view in the run up to crucial elections in June?
Status quos are being turned upside down from Turkey’s perspective, both East and West. Turkey’s implementation of the Ankara Protocol by opening its ports and airports to EU member Greek Cyprus was not a precondition for the opening of accession negotiations with the EU at the end of 2005. That was over five years ago. Since then, the negotiations have been troubled by fault lines, mainly the Cyprus question and unresolved Aegean disputes with Greece. All that changed immediately after the new year kicked in.
2011 kicked off with two EU leaders publicly poking the unresolved fault line of Cyprus and the Aegean disputes: Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s comments during a visit to Turkey and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comments during a visit to Cyprus, both in early January. Since the positive take off of “Earthquake diplomacy” in 1999, Greek-Turkish relations have never been better, and Greece has been one of the staunchest supporters of Turkey’s EU accession. Even the unresolved Aegean disputes have been negotiated away from the limelight and public attention since the normalization of Greek-Turkish relations more than a decade ago. On the other hand, the German government, largely playing to its own public opinion on enlargement, has been one of the strongest public critics of Turkey’s EU accession, but has also until now avoided publicly drawing the red line over the Cyprus issue as the final stumbling block for Turkey’s EU accession.
It is also telling that within the same week, during Prime Minister Erdoğan’s visit to Kuwait, there was talk of opening a representative office of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) there. Are some EU countries playing a dangerous game of coming out publicly with policy intentions of willing to “let Turkey go” from the EU and as a result accept the de facto division of the island? Will such an acknowledgement eventually lead to Turkey’s shift towards the East, reflecting some of the scaremongering in Western circles in the past two years, as Turkey follows a more assertive regional policy? And where do the staunchest EU supporters of the Turkish accession stand in all of this and what are they going to do about it? After all it was only in December that the foreign ministers of Turkey’s strongest supporters in the EU -- Britain, Italy, Sweden and Finland -- wrote an open letter to The New York Times strongly advocating Turkey’s EU accession. In a post-Lisbon EU where the mechanisms of decision making are more integrated than before, it is puzzling to see mixed signals coming out of the same institution where Turkey is concerned.
Status quo shifts
But the change in the declared policies of some EU states towards Turkey was not the only status quo shift in January. After Turkey’s role as a regional mediator was questioned following its involvement in talking to all the parties in the unresolved Lebanese political crisis, and its subsequent hosting of the “no results” Iran nuclear talks in İstanbul, the Middle East began to unravel, reminiscent of the 1989 revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe. The public protests in Tunisia and Egypt for more democratic representation have set in motion an irreversible change in the region. These movements represent new parameters of regional self-determination and democratization where traditional post-Cold War patterns of external intervention and imposition of democratic models have taken a back seat, letting the region play out its own transformation in its own time. In this state of play, Turkey’s role as a regional player becomes more crucial.
That role becomes two dimensional. To make the definitions easier to follow, I call Turkey’s regional inter-state relations based on power politics and diplomacy the macro level and its intra-state impact on social forces such as Turkish popularity on the “Arab Street” or its role in democracy promotion, the micro level. Therefore, Turkey’s active diplomatic engagement with the Gulf states, its neighbors, including Iran, and the boosting of its trade volume with the region and introduction of visa-free regimes with some of those countries, all come under the macro category. In addition, its mediation efforts between Syria and Israel, and its role in engaging Iran as an independent player in the region and its recent foray into talking to all the political parties, including Hezbollah, after the collapse of the Lebanese government also demonstrate its potential as a regional negotiator. The hosting of the Iranian talks in İstanbul last month and Turkey’s mediation efforts in Lebanon may not have yielded direct results, but the important thing is Turkey is engaged and in a position to talk to all sides concerned.
At a time when international or Western norms are challenged by regional norms still in the making, Turkey’s diplomatic ventures at the macro level could be crucial in harboring stability in the region. After all, it was Hezbollah’s challenging of the legitimacy of the international enquiry into President Rafik Hariri’s death that led to the collapse of the Lebanese government. Iran, continuing its challenge to international norms, issued an invitation to a number of states, including Turkey, to carry out inspections on its nuclear sites, leaving out four of the P5+1 countries: Germany, Britain, France and the United States. With these challenges to international norms persisting, the tactic of isolating states or political actors on the basis of “non acquiescence” to international norms is not going to work. If isolation is no longer an option, then regional interlocutors like Turkey who can talk to all sides as well as the West, become all the more crucial.
Turkey at the micro level
But that was just what Turkey can do at the macro level. On the micro level, as a result of people power transforming politics in Tunisia and Egypt, Turkey has been pushed, maybe somewhat reluctantly to center stage as a role model of democratization. Seeing himself as the erstwhile populist, having come to power against all odds, battling a deeply ingrained secular establishment, Prime Minister Erdoğan has come out publicly with his support for the Egyptian opposition movement; but only after tacit agreement with his Western counterparts. While some have argued that Erdoğan’s response came a little late, it is nevertheless the only functioning democracy in the region. However, it is also interesting that the Turkish government is still essentially steered by macro-realpolitik considerations rather than micro-social forces driven ones. In this sense, the AK Party is quite traditional as far as Turkish politics go. One only has to think about the non-hesitant congratulations extended to Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after the controversial elections of 2009 and Turkey’s silence during Iran’s subsequent brutal crackdown against the protesters. Yet on the micro level the popularity of Turkey on the Arab street cannot be underestimated. However, if macro-realpolitik considerations were the only determinant of Turkish foreign policy, relations with Israel would not have been allowed to deteriorate this far. And there lies the Turkish puzzle: between its macro and micro roles in the region.
As the region unravels, further from the normative and material control of the West, Turkey’s roles at both levels, macro and micro, will be crucial. But Turkey can play those roles essentially well if it is still anchored in the West and continues with its own internal reform process unhampered. Therefore consistency in the EU’s approach to Turkey becomes more crucial in the light of these recent developments.
.....Ну, и, наконец, об европерспективах Турции.
Как мы уже ранее отмечали, вопрос о статусе Северного Кипра является основным проблемным вопросом в турецкой евроинтеграции. Но, похоже, и эта преграда будет преодолена: vz.ru/news/2011/2/12/468285.html
Да, формально Турция всё-таки не вступит в ЕС (если говорить о полноправном членстве).
Ибо в отношении Анкары будет задействован другой формат евроинтеграции.
Факт заключается в том, что Турция, в конечном итоге, окажется ближе к Европе, чем Россия и Украина вместе взятые. При этом, Турция также сохранит (и преумножит) евразийский вектор своей внешней политики и ещё более укрепит позиции на Ближнем Востоке (в свете рухнувшего Египта).
В Турции не будет ни "революций" (подобно магрибским), ни даже просто "бунтов" или каких-либо иных социальных потрясений. Ну, а те протесты, которые сейчас иногда имеют место быть в Стамбуле - строго локализованы и имеют принципиально иную сущность (нежели в Египте, например).