Ankara’s foreign policy agenda for the new year

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When we take into consideration the determination of the Turkish government and the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it seems that Turkey will pursue its foreign policy based on principles such as diversification, pro-activism and self-reliance. Turkey will continue its quest for political autonomy, regional leadership and global status. Today I will try to briefly analyze the possible developments of Turkish foreign policy in 2022 in three different contexts, namely national, regional and global.

Country context

Turkey will continue its quest for self-sufficiency by increasing its military power and effectiveness, including through the production of new high-tech weapons, such as unmanned aerial combat vehicles. The more its defense industry will be developed, the more Turkey will become autonomous; and the more autonomous Turkey becomes, the more independent its foreign policy will be. Therefore, it is obvious that Turkey will continue to invest in the defense industry, the most significant element of the use of hard power in foreign policy.

In addition, key security institutions such as the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and National Intelligence will consolidate their new mindset, which attaches greater importance to their function in the fight against external threats, both regional and global. , and measures taken against external security developments. When Turkish security institutions abandoned their introverted outlook and began to act as real foreign policy actors, the execution of Turkey’s hard power in foreign policy increased. The more experience Turkish security institutions gain in overseas operations, the more active they will become in foreign policy.

In addition, Turkey will continue to benefit from its new sub-governmental and non-governmental actors in foreign policy to increase its soft power capacity in international politics. Despite several domestic economic issues, Turkey has significantly increased its exports in 2021, surpassing a record $225 billion (TL 2.98 trillion) to more than 170 countries.

Regional context

It is obvious that Turkey will continue to follow regional developments closely in order to defuse tensions in regional crises and improve the normalization process with countries in the region such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Armenia and Israel. All of these normalization processes and regional developments, in one way or another, are linked to US President Joe Biden’s policy towards the Middle East, especially vis-à-vis Iran.

Turkey will adapt its regional policy according to the new regional dynamics. The first concrete step has been taken towards the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. While Turkey has decided to launch charter flights between the two countries, Armenia is preparing to end its boycott of Turkish goods. As expected, this process will have positive implications for the political stability of the South Caucasus.

The second concrete step has been taken regarding the normalization process with Saudi Arabia. Erdoğan has just declared that he will visit the Saudi kingdom next month. This visit marks the end of othering between the two states after the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the continuation of the normalization process with the Gulf States. Saudi Arabia could also end the unofficial boycott against Turkish products.

Turkey will continue to be one of the most active diplomatic actors in certain regional issues such as the Ukrainian-Russian crisis, the rising tensions in the Black Sea basin and the persistent problems in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey will continue to pursue a multidimensional foreign policy towards world powers. In other words, given the political instability at the global level and the growing tension between global players, it will not favor one over the other.

Most likely, one of the conflicts that Turkey will not be able to resolve is its difficult relationship with Greece, which is unconditionally supported by most Western countries such as the United States and France. Unfortunately, mainly due to the maximalist demands of the Greek side, the Turkish-Greek conflict will continue to poison Turkish-European relations.

Global context

Considering the current political and economic conditions of the global system, Turkey will pursue its multidimensional and diversified foreign policy in 2022. On the one hand, Turkey will continue to call for comprehensive reform and restoration of the global system and structure of the United Nations to make the global system more inclusive and interdependent. On the other hand, he will call on his counterparts to respect the fundamental principles of international law and standards in their relations with foreign countries.

Turkey will continue to consolidate its achievements at the global level and extend its influence to the four corners of the world. Ankara plans to increase its relations with its traditional partner countries such as European states and should intensify its efforts to improve its cooperative relations with the non-Western world such as Turkish states and Africa.

Turkey’s success in developing and manufacturing new types of weapons, such as armed unmanned aerial vehicles, will enable Turkey to play a more effective role not only in regional crises but also in global affairs. The export of Turkish drones to many European and African countries like Ethiopia will increase Turkey’s effectiveness in international politics.

What are we really expecting?

Overall, under the strong leadership of Erdoğan, Turkey will increase its political influence and its capacity and capabilities in executing an effective foreign policy. It will try to materialize its political and economic objectives in international politics. For this reason, Turkey will continue to take steps to increase its soft power and hard power and to provide both humanitarian and development aid, as well as military support and strategic weapons to friendly countries. In addition, the country will continue to work for an autonomous foreign policy centered on Ankara as an active player in all regional issues and in international organizations.

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