It has become commonplace for certain analysts of Turkish politics to criticize Turkish foreign policy making during the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Parti) tenure for turning away from the West and leaning towards the Middle East.1 According to these analysts, the AK Party, in general, and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, in particular, have a hidden agenda of “Middle Easternization” of Turkish society and politics and aim to divert the direction of Turkish foreign policy away from its previous pro-Western foreign policy orientation. Moreover, this agenda, it is argued, constitutes an existential threat not only to Turkey’s secular and democratic regime but also to the decades old cooperation and dialogue between Turkey and the Western world.2
AK Party’s Foreign Policy: Is Turkey Turning Away from the West?
This article agrees that there is a transformation in Turkish foreign policy. It suggests that the changes in foreign policy are not aimed to de-Westernize Turkey; instead they are attempts to create an autonomous, self-regulating, and self-confident foreign policy agenda while normalizing the previous crisis-driven policymaking in Turkey’s foreign relations. These changes include: broadening of Turkey’s foreign policy agenda to include regions other than Europe and North America, using the expertise of new actors in shaping foreign policy (such as civil experts and NGOs) and transforming decision making mechanisms to incorporate new initiatives. In fact, this article, while not denying some recurring problems in Turkey’s foreign policy, suggests that Turkey is not turning away from the West; but striving to reconfigure and reformulate its foreign policy, reflecting the demands of an increasingly open and democratic society and adapting to the realities of a multi-polar world.
Ankara was simply trying to be a policy-producer in the Middle East instead of being a “policyimplementer”.
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