February 16, 2010
Consider for a moment the following scenario. The leaders of Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt and Sudan decide to create an African economic comunity. By putting aside their historical differences, they adopt the necessary institutional framework, prompting a boom in investment, exports and jobs. These developments attract resource-poor, cash-rich Britain. On the basis of its colonial past and its possession of Gibraltar, the UK applies to join the new African economic union.
In very broad terms, this is the position in which Turkey finds itself vis-a-vis the European Union. Its current political leadership (AKP) has realised this and is in the process of changing Turkey’s geopolitical agenda.
The architect of Turkey’s new foreign policy is Mr. Ahmet Davutoglu, an academic turned foreign minister. He has ushered his country into the era of “soft power”, using diplomacy to deal with its neighbours and to expand Turkey’s reach east- and southward.(Source: Le Monde diplomatique)
In a relatively short period of time, Turkey has succeeded in sending its army back to the barracks, in democratising its political system and in becoming the beacon of hope for Middle East countries like Syria and Lebanon, to name but a few. The country’s NATO and G-20 membership allows it to play the intermediary between Israel and Palestinian officials, as well as to steal the thunder from Iran in the quest for winning over the hearts and minds of Islamic intellectuals everywhere.
The current Turkish government’s new foreign policy agenda is driven by economics as well as by its Islamic roots. The country’s industrial products, while not competitive in European Union markets, sell well in Irak, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. Turkish building contractors or investors are also present in the Balkans, Russia, Cyprus or the Central Asian republics, areas which proved instrumental in supporting the Turkish economic boom between 2002 – 2007.
With Islamophobia sweeping our continent, from Denmark to the Vatican, from Paris to Berlin, it is not surprising Mr. Erdogan and his team have put the EU accession plans on the backburner. As the new geostrategic agenda has demonstrated, however, Turkey is the first functional Islamic democracy, one that proves an inspiration to other Muslim nations.Florian Pantazi