SAM Papers. no.7. A Dictionary of Turkish Foreign Policy in the AK Party Era: A Conceptual Map. May Murat Yeşiltaş Sakarya University - PDF

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A Dictionary of Turkish Foreign Policy in the AK Party Era: A Conceptual Map Murat Yeşiltaş Sakarya University Ali Balcı Sakarya University SAM Papers May 2013 no.7 About the Authors Dr. Murat Yes iltas

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A Dictionary of Turkish Foreign Policy in the AK Party Era: A Conceptual Map Murat Yeşiltaş Sakarya University Ali Balcı Sakarya University SAM Papers May 2013 no.7 About the Authors Dr. Murat Yes iltas received his BA in International Relations from Sakarya University in 2003, and his MA on the subject of humanitarian intervention and critical theory from the same university. He completed his PhD, entitled Locating Turkey: Geopolitical Mentality and The Military in Turkey, in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Marmara University in He was as a visiting researcher at Lancaster University, UK, between , and a visiting scholar at the Virginia Tech State University, Graduate School of Government and International Affairs, US, between He currently works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of International Relations at Sakarya University, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on critical geopolitics, political geography, and comparative foreign policy analysis. Dr. Yes iltas also works as an advisor at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Center for Strategic Research. Dr. Yes iltas s areas of research are critical geopolitics, political geography, Turkish foreign policy and the Middle East. His articles on Turkish foreign policy have been published in various academic journals, including Middle East Critique, Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Perception: Journal of International Affairs, International Relations, Bilgi and Akademik Orta Dog u. Dr. Yesiltas is currently working on the following book and research projects: Locating Turkey: Geopolitical Mentalities in Turkey (2013), Turkey, Geography and Geopolitics (Edit) (2013) and Intra-Societal Security Dilemma in Turkey (Sakarya University). 1 Dr. Ali Balcı is an Associate Professor at Sakarya University. He graduated from the Department of International Relations at Uludag University and obtained his MA and PhD degrees from the Department of International Relations at Sakarya University. He also visited the University of Manchester as a visiting scholar for a year between He has written several articles published in such journals as the Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Mediterranean Quarterly, Turkish Studies, Insight Turkey, Middle East Critique and Uluslararası İlişkiler [International Relations]. He is also the author of Türkiye de Militarist Devlet Söylemi (Militarist State Discourse in Turkey) [Ankara: Kadim Yayinları, 2011]. Balcı serves on the editorial boards of Bilgi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi (http://bilgidergi.com) and Ortadog u Yıllıg ı (http://ortadoguyilligi.com). His research interests include Turkish foreign policy, post-structuralism and foreign policy analysis. He is currently studying the role of foreign policy in the construction of the Kurdish ethnic identity in Turkey. SAM Papers present scholarly analysis by Turkish and international academics on topics of interest to the policy community. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and should not be attributed to the Center for Strategic Research. SAM Papers is published by Center for Strategic Research (SAM). This policy brief first appeared as, Murat Yes iltas and Ali Balcı, AK Parti Dönemi Türk Dıs Politikası Sözlüğü: Kavramsal Bir Harita, Bilgi, Vol. 23,Winter 2011, pp. 9 34; and translated into English by İbrahim Efe. 2 Abstract This study aims to describe the foreign policy discourses and practices which have seen wide use in the era of the Justice and Development Party (the AK Party). Given the fact that concepts do not emerge independently of their historical context, this study argues that the AK Party government s foreign policy can be analysed through the dominant concepts that have been used. The study also argues that what is new in the AK Party s foreign policy can be understood by looking at the new concepts and conceptual changes that have occurred in that era. One of the foundational objectives of the study is to outline Turkish foreign policy in the AK Party era by bringing together pertinent concepts and assembling a dictionary of these concepts. Most of the concepts in this study have been defined in the way that they have been used by foreign policy makers, independent of their academic meanings. Lastly, this study has not ordered the concepts in any way to give special meaning or to show importance. 3 A Dictionary of Turkish Foreign Policy in the AK Party Era: A Conceptual Map Murat Yeşiltaş and Ali Balcı Introduction Concepts are not free of the historical context in which they emerge. In this sense, producing a conceptual map is to picture the dominant and formative language of the era. One of the rare academic issues on which almost all Turkish foreign policy scholars agree is that the traditional language of Turkish foreign policy has changed conspicuously during the AK Party era. The new concepts that have been introduced or have found an area of usage are the most significant markers of this change. Therefore, these new concepts give this period of history a meaningful pattern in the context of Turkish foreign policy language and differentiate it from others. Having said this, we are by no means arguing that these concepts were necessarily discovered by AK Party cadres. We are cognisant of the fact that concepts like historical dimension (tarihsel boyut), vision deficiency (vizyon yetersizlig i), good relations with neighbours (komşularla iyi ilişkiler), cooperation among civilisations (medeniyetler arası işbirlig i) and opening (açılım) were used by one of the most influential names of the pre-ak Party period, namely İsmail Cem. By the same token, when we look at the historical continuity of Turkish foreign policy, it is possible to see attempts that had been made by various actors in different periods of the history to re-conceptualise foreign policy. Therefore, we do not assume that these concepts were mere AK Party s discoveries; instead we argue that they yield both continuity within themselves and also significant discontinuity at the conceptual level. However, we can also argue that new language and concepts have been used in foreign policy in the AK Party era. While many of these new concepts have been introduced into common usage 5 A Dictionary of Turkish Foreign Policy in the AK Party Era: A Conceptual Map during this period, some earlier concepts have been considerably transformed. It is important to note that the concepts introduced in this era were formulated by Ahmet Davutoğlu, an academic and the current minister of foreign affairs and who also served as a consultant to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Ministry in previous AK Party governments. In this sense, Davutoğlu can be said to have constructed the theoretical and intellectual background of Turkish foreign policy in the AK Party era. We do not assume that the conceptual language emanating from this period is completely Davutoğlu s own production; the language established by him has been moulded by the AK Party government. To put it another way, the concepts in question have been adopted by AK Party policy makers and used frequently. Therefore, many of the concepts referred to in this article have been defined primarily by reassembling Davutoğlu s own works and his numerous speeches, talks and interviews. In addition, we have also taken into consideration the Prime Minister s statements and those of other actors within the government (such as foreign policy consultants and so forth). When we look at the historical continuity of Turkish foreign policy, it is possible to see attempts that had been made by various actors in different periods of the history to re-conceptualise foreign policy. This study aims to explain the dominant foreign policy discourse and practices in the AK Party era by defining the most popular concepts that have been used by the AK Party and Davutoğlu since Given that concepts do not emerge independently from their historical period, this study argues that these new concepts have been decisive in the formation of foreign policy discourses and practices and describe the dominant foreign policy in the AK Party era. The study also argues that what is the new in Turkish foreign policy can be understood by looking at these conceptual transformations and discontinuities. One of the primary objectives of the study is to summarise the outlines of Turkish foreign policy and to contribute to assembling a dictionary of concepts pertinent to this period via bringing together the concepts in question. We have tried to define many of the concepts in the way they have been used by policy makers, independent of their dictionary meaning. 6 Murat Yeşiltaş and Ali Balcı A Conceptual Map of the new Turkish Foreign Policy Self- Perception Self-perception is one of the most specific and sophisticated concepts that represent the transformation in Turkish foreign policy during the AK Party government but has not been frequently used in the AK Party s foreign policy discourse. However, selfperception sits as the deepest concept in foreign policy; in other words it is its main underlying philosophy. It was first used by Ahmet Davutoğlu in his book Alternative Paradigms and then comprehensively discussed in his following articles. Again in his book Strategic Depth it was one of the central concepts in his criticism of the shallow territorial and geographical perception of Turkey in the Cold War era, and he also uses the concept when he attempts to lay out Turkey s new perspective towards its close neighbours. Building a pivotal platform for the analysis of civilisational continuities and transformations, self-perception does not explain changes in time through constructive or material factors, instead it relates them to perceptions of place and time developed in harmony with one s ontological consciousness. According to Davutoğlu the final factor enabling self-perception to emerge is not an institutional and formal environment but one s own worldview that places the problem of existence in a meaningful framework. 1 Therefore, rather than pointing to a simple problem of existence, selfperception represents an individual consciousness that does not need social recognition or the other. 2 Although it has not shaped the everyday language of foreign policy, this concept has been immensely influential in transforming Turkey s traditional perception of space and geography, particularly in the Middle East, but also in Central Asia as well as Africa. 7 A Dictionary of Turkish Foreign Policy in the AK Party Era: A Conceptual Map Strategic Depth Strategic Depth was the title of the book written by Ahmet Davutoğlu in In practical terms, this concept has been used on its own in order to examine the transformation Turkish foreign policy underwent in the early 2000s and to illustrate the theoretical aspect of this new foreign policy. Based on Turkey s historical and geographical depth, the strategic depth concept assumes that Turkey s geopolitical, geocultural and geoeconomic place in the world has significance in terms of the transformation of world politics and international system. Departing from previous foreign policy discourses, which could not make use of the advantages offered by Turkey s rich historical and geographical roots, the strategic depth concept is a theoretical framework that mainly examines the cultural (civilisational), geographical and spatial aspects of Turkish foreign policy. 3 In practical foreign policy making, however, the concept of strategic depth refers to the cultural, historical and geographical centrality The Strategic Depth concept has been used on its own in order to examine the transformation Turkish foreign policy underwent in the early 2000s and to illustrate the theoretical aspect of this new foreign policy. of Turkey in the regional and international system. In Davutoğlu s own words, the close land, sea and continental basins surrounding Turkey constitutes the geographical centre of the world, and historically covers the areas where the main artery of the history of humankind was formed. 4 Center State This term has been used by Davutoğlu to describe Turkey s power of action within the international system. In this respect, the concept of a center state has two main elements. The first criticises the bridge metaphor, which has traditionally been used in Turkish foreign policy discourse, that points to Turkey s connection with the West and the East both in cultural and material terms. According to this criticism, the bridge metaphor 8 Murat Yeşiltaş and Ali Balcı does not cover Turkey s position in the international system as an actor with independent existence, and taking this description for granted led us to be represented as a Western country trying to impose the values of the West in our relationship with the East, and as an Eastern country representing the negative aspects of the East in our relationship with the West. 5 Given this criticism, the second level of the center state discourse takes as its starting point a global and structural rearrangement in the post-cold War international system- in other words an absence of system. In geopolitical, geocultural and geoeconomic terms, it sees Turkey not as an object of transmission between the East and the West but as a country that can establish, construct and build a system thanks to its ability to manoeuvre multilaterally. In this sense, the concept of a centre state is not only a geographical definition, it is also a geopolitical perspective covering the role of history, culture and religion in the transformation of the international system and the formation of a new regional-global system through Turkey s foreign policy. Vision Oriented A vision-oriented foreign policy is the umbrella principle that was founded and has been exercised in the AK Party era, and went on to become one of the main pillars in the government s foreign policy. Instead of the traditional wait-and-see foreign policy for both global and regional crises, this principle provides a normative perspective for Turkey s active role in the emergence, and especially during the resolution, of these crises, and it has been described as the main principle on which the new Turkish foreign policy has been built. 6 It consists of two main elements. The first comprises policies that are directly and actively involved in crises from the very beginning, rather than only making policies regarding events after the crises and problems within the geographical region (the close continental area) Turkey is situated 9 A Dictionary of Turkish Foreign Policy in the AK Party Era: A Conceptual Map in have started. The second is composed of policies that require Turkey to be involved in regions where there are no problems or crises, unlike in the earlier tradition which generally did not develop policies for such regions. 7 The opening towards Africa in 2005 and the attempts to deepen relations with Latin America in 2006 and East Asia in 2010 are the main examples of this perspective. One of the most significant practical outcomes of this vision-oriented policy was particularly exemplified by the unanimous approval of all African countries on Turkey s temporary membership to the UN Security Council for Soft Power As it is commonly defined, soft power is when foreign policy is based on such elements as diplomacy, culture, dialogue, cooperation, mutual economic dependency and historical understandings. While Turkish foreign policy has not completely ignored hard power and still bases its policy on a balance between hard and soft power, the soft power approach has been used in shaping Turkey s policies to the Middle East and its close geography. 8 Built on three foundational principles of historical and cultural connection with the region- the democratic tradition, democratic institutions and a free market economy- soft power has been viewed as a necessary method of diplomacy, replacing the previous and frequently mentioned military power discourse. Defined as getting what you want by convincing others, the concept has been used within Turkey s foreign policy by convincing other countries to pursue fair, rational and persuasive policies. 9 10 Murat Yeşiltaş and Ali Balcı Security-Freedom Balance The security-freedom balance is a foreign policy principle that argues that Turkey s security can be realised by extending freedoms both in Turkey and abroad. 10 Principally, it says that by employing freedom-based policies, Turkey can differentiate itself from the security-based perspective in the global freedom-security dilemma that was caused by the anti-terror policies that have been promoted by the USA since 9/11 and which have restricted freedom and enhanced security. Particularly between 2002 and 2005, known as the first period of the AK Party government, the security-freedom balance in Turkey s legal reforms changed as a result of the EU accession process and the EU s promotion of democracy in Turkey at the expense of security policies. The second aspect of this policy can be seen in Turkey s policies towards the Kurdish issue Turkey can differentiate itself from the security-based perspective in the global freedom-security dilemma that was caused by the anti-terror policies that have been promoted by the USA since 9/11 and which have restricted freedom and enhanced security. and its near abroad, particularly the Middle East. The policy argues that Turkey can move towards further democratisation and also pursue a security understanding that does not compromise freedom for security. In Davutoğlu s own words, Turkey had been sentenced to a securitydominated life by some circles on the pretext of the terror waves especially between 1991 and When we came to power in 2002 we decided to make freedom-based democracy dominant and this decision automatically brought us to level of zero problems with our neighbours. 11 The third aspect of the freedom-security balance pertains to Turkey s regional policies. Formulated as the main principle of Turkish foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, this concept has been seen in Turkey s promotion of and support for democracy in the region, and it can also be seen in Turkey s discursive and practical support for the civil uprisings that have led to power shifts in several Middle Eastern countries throughout In addition, Turkey s highlighting the significance of democracy in maintaining stability and security in the Balkans can also be an example for this principle. 11 A Dictionary of Turkish Foreign Policy in the AK Party Era: A Conceptual Map Proactive Diplomacy A proactive diplomacy is a kind of diplomacy that aims for Turkey to lead in resolving all crises in its neighbourhood and for it to develop good relations with other countries. Being one of the main principles of foreign policy in the AK Party era, proactive diplomacy has been accompanied by the concept of pre-emptive diplomacy. According to this latter concept, Turkey needs to adopt a foreign policy perspective that aims to prevent problems from occurring, primarily in its close geographical region, or to take a leading role in their resolution. The most practical results of this concept in foreign policy can be seen in Turkey s desire to mediate in the Arab-Israeli, Syrian-Israeli, Iranian-Western and Bosnian-Serbian conflicts. According to this foreign policy principle, Turkey s foreign policy can be realised not only among nation-states but also among actors and groups within the state with regards to preventing crises or resolving existing ones. Turkey s foreign policy that has been pursued in the Balkans can be seen as an example of this. Being one of the operational foreign policy principles and envisaging a more active role for Turkey in international politics, rhythmic diplomacy sees Turkey as an actor in all inter
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