Neo-Ottomanism and Kemalist foreign policy

Davutoğlu argues that Turkish foreign policy had been unbalanced, with an overemphasis on ties with Western Europe and the United States to the neglect of Turkey’s interests with other countries, particularly in the Middle East. His vision displays familiar characteristics of "neo-Ottomanism," which builds on the approach of former President Turgut Özal. According to this view Turkey needs to rediscover its imperial legacy and seek a new national consensus where the multiple identities of Turkey can coexist. ………

Three factors help define the neo-Ottoman tendencies of the AKP. The first is the willingness to come to terms with Turkey’s Muslim and Ottoman heritage at home and abroad……….
This more flexible mindset, in turn, leads to the second characteristic of neo-Ottomanism: a sense of grandeur and self-confidence in foreign policy. Neo-Ottomanism sees Turkey as a regional superpower……..

According to Kemalists, this ambitious vision is utterly unrealistic. It constitutes a dangerous departure from republican norms — such as the idea of allowing Kurds to have cultural rights or giving Islam more political space. The Kemalist paradigm considers neo-Ottomanism naïve, adventurous and potentially harmful to Turkey’s national interests. Traditional republican foreign policy refuses to contemplate pan-Turkic or Islamic openings in foreign policy on the grounds that they are against Atatürk’s cautious precepts. Kemalist foreign policy puts a high premium on stability and the status quo as opposed to activism and change.  

The third aspect of neo-Ottomanism is its goal of embracing the West as much as the Islamic world. Like the imperial city of İstanbul, which straddles Europe and Asia, neo-Ottomanism is Janus-faced. Even on its deathbed, the Ottoman Empire was known as the sick man of Europe and not of Asia or Arabia. ……….
In short, there are clear differences between Kemalism and neo-Ottomanism in these three main aspects of strategic culture. Where neo-Ottomanism favors an ambitious regional policy in the Middle East and beyond, Kemalism opts for modesty and caution. Where one favors multiculturalism and liberal secularism, the other prefers strict measures against headscarves and Kurdish ethnic identity. Where one is increasingly resentful of the EU and the United States, the other is actively pursuing EU membership and good relations with Washington.

What progress has Turkey made in its EU bid?

Turkey was one of the founders of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) when it was established in 1948, and it became a member of the European Council along with Greece in August 1949. At that time, the general feeling was that Turkey fulfilled the basic requirements for membership — being a European country and having a pluralistic democracy.

Despite the fact that Turkey has never exerted as much effort to become a member of the European family as it is today and that Turkey is undertaking these reforms thanks to the EU’s soft power, while the US is creating chaos in Iraq and the Middle East, the EU has never acted with as much of a double-faced attitude toward Turkey as it is today. It has become obvious that some European capitals have never even considered initiating membership negotiations with Turkey. They were under the illusion that that Turkey would never comply with the membership criteria. When Turkey started to fulfill all these requirements one by one, they counteracted this by manufacturing geographical, geo-strategic, religious, cultural and historical criteria.

The membership process of a country has never been so politicized, and religious and cultural prejudices have never been called into play so intensely as with Turkey. National and religious interests have dominated politics, and European visions have yielded to short-term domestic policy considerations and a static concept of history………..

For this reason, the EU would for the first time become a factor of instability not only for Turkey but also for the Balkans, the Middle East and Central Asia. To say "no" to Turkey on cultural and religious grounds would be a harsh message to some 20 million Muslims in Europe. They would conclude that whatever they do to integrate with the Western societies in which they live, they are destined to remain second-class citizens due to their origins, and this would trigger great social problems for domestic politics. Debates concerning Turkey’s EU membership reflect not only short-range political considerations but also a lack of knowledge about modern Turkey and are based on outdated historical reasons about what divides us…………..

Turk-EU ties on track, says MEP

The president of the Liberal Group of the European Parliament said yesterday that Turkey’s relations with the European Union were on track, despite periodical ups and downs. In an interview with the

How Christian is Europe?

Prime Minister Erdoğan invited his Spanish counterpart and co-chair of the Alliance of Civilizations, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, to a fast-breaking dinner (iftar) in Istanbul recently.

PM slams EU for dragging its feet on Turkey’s bid

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the European Union of dragging its feet on Turkey’s membership bid and "breaking" its motivation, Turkish newspapers reported

Who is to be top negotiator ?

Foreign Minister Ali Babacan was in Brussels for a Turkey-EU troika meeting the other day. In addition to Babacan’s brief on bilateral relations and the developments in the region, opinions were

Turkey’s EU intentions under question

Mehmet Ali Birand
….Foreign Minister Ali Babacan met with a group of European Union experts, journalists and faculty members last week to give the message ?There is no change in Turkey’s EU target and everything goes on as planned.?

  Babacan clarified that he was not left alone, as I claimed in my column, and that the news about the negative attitudes of other ministers in the last Cabinet meeting on EU relations do not reflect the truth.

  He sincerely defended the National Program and said that it will soon be formalized.


EU presses Turkey for constitution reform

The European Union on Monday urged Turkey to overhaul its military-inspired constitution to break out of a cycle of annual political crises and move forward its disputed EU membership bid.

Article | U.S.-Turkish Relationship: What’s Wrong with This Picture?

Turkey fails on promise to re-open seminary, US says

The Turkish government has repeatedly pledged to reopen the Halki (Heybeliada) Greek Orthodox seminary in Istanbul, but has so far failed to keep its promise, a senior U.S. official has said.

Understanding The Anti- Islam Rally In Cologne
Turkish Press – Plymouth,MI,USA
BY FERAI TINC HURRIYET- Actually I curiously waited to see what would happen last Saturday. The Neo-Nazis planned to organize an anti-Muslim rally in

The Third National Program and Turkish civil society

On Sept. 9 civil society learned of a very positive development: a new generation of EU-funded projects had found the

ir way to Turkey.
On this day Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ali Babacan launched the pilot phase of four different budget flows coming together under the umbrella of promoting cross-border civil society dialogue, during a meeting in Ankara to which all 119 project coordinators had been invited. It is well worth commenting upon in my weekly column.
A total of 119 projects with an overall volume of 19.3 million euros were awarded grants of up to 90 per cent of total costs. They comprise 41 towns and municipalities, 25 professional organizations, 28 universities and 25 youth nongovernmental organizations. When compared with the original EU Civil Society Dialogue Program for Turkey, which was launched in 2005 with 70 projects totalling 4 million euros, the 2008 version is definitely a quantitative and perhaps even a qualitative improvement. I am wondering how these monies will fit into complementing Turkey’s Third National Program on EU Accession, which was launched a few weeks ago………
Turkey’s EU membership bid is built upon a large number of baselines. Most of them will be discussed behind closed doors by democratically elected governments and their agencies………

On Sept. 9 something else became clear: It seems that the EU accession process is a government, not an opposition, topic. There was no measurable interest expressed on behalf of the opposition when it came to discussing the Third National Program with the government.

I met with one of the successful Turkish project managers on the fringes of the above-mentioned civil society program launch event. We agreed that the opposition apparently does not appreciate the huge logistical and financial advantages EU accession brings to Turkey, including to its political parties. Needless to say, EU accession cannot be achieved by a single government, as active as it may be; it needs all democratic parties and above all, civil society……….

Why the DTP should not be shut down

We are approaching the end of the legal case being heard in the Constitutional Court regarding whether or not the Democratic Society Party (DTP) is to be forced to close.

Two different DTPs

If we are to place the Democratic Society Party (DTP) within the universal political party classification, it would be appropriate to call this party an ethnic (minority) party.

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