Why did Turkey recently adopt the emerging international norm of inter-civilizational dialogue as one of its foreign policy priorities? Scholars with a normative orientation argue that the emerging international norms on dialogue among civilizations, which gained ground after the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks, led Turkey to embrace the idea of inter-civilizational dialogue. According to this view, Turkey’s payoff for setting this priority comes in the shape of an increase in Turkey’s international legitimacy and credibility. Contrary to the normative argument, realist scholars of international relations hypothesize that having an active foreign policy agenda on civilizational dialogue provides the Turkish state with new opportunities that contribute to its national interests in several issue areas, ranging from Turkey-EU relations, to an increase in the Turkish sphere of influence in the Muslim world.
Turkey and the Alliance of Civilizations: Norm Adoption as a Survival Strategy
This article asks why Turkey recently adopted the emerging international norm of inter-civilizational dialogue as one of its foreign policy priorities. In addressing this question, we turn first to an assessment of the limitations of normative and realist arguments, then suggest that the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) considerations of domestic political survival were necessary factors in the adoption of inter-civilizational dialogue, even though in and of themselves, they were not sufficient. The AK Party government, circumscribed by the secularist establishment, strategically adopted the norm of inter-civilizational dialogue to create a legitimate space for its survival in Turkey’s domestic political sphere. This conclusion stems from the theoretical finding that in those states in which political power is not concentrated in the government, the domestic political considerations of the government gain priority in foreign policymaking.
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