Neo-ottoman policy of Turkish AK Party

Kurdish Aspect: Professor of Political Science Michael Gunter and expert on Turkey and Kurds explained the evolving role of Turkey in international relations during the EUTCC’s Fifth international conference on EU, Turkey and the Kurds.

According to Gunter the AKP government has played an important role to establish peace and security on regional and international levels. Turkey is one of the founding members of the United Nations and recently became a non-permanent member of the UN security council. Turkey contributed to international missions in Latin America, Balkans, Caucasus, Middle East, and Asia.

Gunter’s examples of Turkey’s constructive role are the Palestinian-Israeli forum to develop the West-Bank, the Israeli-Syria negotiations, the hosting of a conference for neighbouring countries. The organization for Islamic Conference (OIC). The Caucasus platform with Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. And additional black sea cooperation and the recent football diplomacy with Armenia.

The Kurdish problem

The AKP’s Middle Eastern policies are focused on two factors says Gunter: The Kurdish problem and Neo-ottomanism. “In the Kemalist vision the Kurds are an existential threat to the Turkish existence. This is in contrast with Neo-ottomanism, that doesn’t have a problem with Kurdish identity and is focused on economic growth and comfortable with islamic/multiple identities without seeking imperialism. Since military means by Kemalism to repress Kurds, will not solve the problem by itself.”

Neo-Ottomanism

Turkey uses soft power. “This is increasingly important. Turkey also contributes significantly to humanitarian and technical aids and participates in numerous bilateral aid programs. Turkey is rapidly emerging as a major state and assists in development. Turkey also contributed to human rights and the status of woman.”

Gunter thinks Turkey plays an important role both regionally and internationally and is an important transit rout for energy resources from both the Middle East and Central Asia to Europe. “Turkey is seen by other UN members of working hard to establish peace in a difficult region.”

But Gunter also remarked that the problems with the PKK, the Kurdish government in Iraq and the EU and the USA will challenge the Turkish capacity in the UN security council. Especially if they continue with the military operations.

Role Obama

But Obama as a new president could result in new opportunities and problems. “Obama promised to re-establish relations with Turkey and the Regional Kurdistan Government (KRG) and negotiate a comprehensive agreement that will deal with the Turkish PKK threat, guarantee the Turkish territorial integrity and investment in the KRG regions.”

Many Turks are also wary of Obama’s possible recognition of the ‘Armenian genocide’ and Joe Biden’s decentralization plan for Iraq. “Also the EU membership remains problematic. If Turkey manages a constructive role in the UN council, this might soften resistance for Turkish accession to the EU. But Turkey must solve the Kurdish problem.” Otherwise Turkey forgot nothing and learned nothing.

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