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From Zero Problems to Leading the Change: Making Sense of Transformation in Turkey’s Regional Policy 31 août 2012

Posted by Acturca in Middle East / Moyen Orient, Turkey / Turquie.
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Turkey Policy Brief Series (IPLITEPAV) 5th edition, 2012, 8 p.                  Français

by Şaban Kardaş *

This policy brief engages the ongoing debate among political analysts who question the course of Turkish foreign policy and raise the provocative question whether Ankara’s ambitious ‘zero problems with neighbors policy’ has failed. The brief maintains that Turkey’s regional policy is still infl uenced by the same doctrine of the central country, which suggests continuity in Turkish leaders’ approach to Middle Eastern affairs. As in the pre-Arab Spring years, they are still driven by a desire to create a regional order in Turkey’s neighborhoods, but the brief acknowledges that Turkish foreign policy also experienced a transformation in the sense of a shift of emphasis away from the principle of zero problems with neighbors towards the principle of striking right balance between freedom and security, both components of central country doctrine. As the disrupted domestic order in transition countries poses threats to the region at large, Turkey’s proactive policy aims at reestablishing domestic order on the basis of democratic principles. The brief concludes with a discussion of the major limitations on Turkey’s ability to manage the new regional transformation in the Middle East and North Africa in the wake of the uprisings.

* Dr. Saban Kardas works as an associate professor of international relations in the Department of International Relations at TOBB University of Economics and Technology in Ankara.

Download full brief (PDF)

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