Erman Akıllı, Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University
Klaus Jurgens, Political Analyst and Freelance Journalist
Dolapo Fakuade, University of Derby
Valeria Giannotta, Italian Center Study for International Politics
In her study, Fakuade describes Türkiye-Africa relations as having progressed in humanitarian works and policies, but also as posing challenges in the military and security sector. She evaluates that Türkiye has made a significant progress concerning the provision of humanitarian aid to many areas of the African continent. What she defined as humanitarian aid is providing necessary short-term material and logistical needs as well as providing long-term assistance, such as helping with institutional building. Furthermore, Fakuade emphasized that Türkiye possesses an advantage which is the lack of colonialism history in Africa that makes it a more favorable and trusted partner.
On the other hand, Fakuade claimed that Türkiye still faces a crucial challenge in Africa regarding regional stability issues in the continent. Accordingly, it is hard, if not impossible, to build trade and partnership with an unstable country, either in terms of political instability or natural disaster. Hence, in some instances, it is necessary for Türkiye to deploy military forces to intervene in parts of the region. So, while Türkiye intended to present itself with ‘soft-power’ diplomacy, it has proven to be almost impossible for Türkiye not to meditate through security and defense mechanisms. In other words, Türkiye has not been able to provide humanitarian assistance or establish a trade partnership in a volatile region without those initiatives being supported by security and defense assets.
In her concluding remarks, Fakuade argued that Türkiye is trying to seize its influence according to the current trends we are living in, which is an era of crisis and disaster. The humanitarian works and policies by Türkiye have opened the way for its popularity over the West, while Fakuade claims that the West is known for the opposite.
Giannotta started her speech by arguing that Türkiye is now a country that is more aware of its potential and capabilities. She defines Türkiye as a ‘smart power’ which means that Türkiye is able to balance and combine its soft and hard power. Türkiye uses this capacity to present itself as the advocator of peace, both regionally and globally. Because Türkiye is a country located in a very unique region where it is surrounded by many conflicts, it has always been the case that international conflict will affect Türkiye’s domestic stability. So, it is in the national interest of Türkiye to have stability in the region. In doing so, Türkiye is capable of playing a role as a stabilizing and mediating actor as in the case of the Russia-Ukraine conflict where Türkiye was able to listen to both parties. The Black Sea Grain Initiative was one of the great achievements in this regard, Giannotta claimed. Although it was not an easy task, by succeeding Türkiye could also take the role of a global power and is able to channel a very unique message to the international community. For instance, President Erdoğan frequently addresses the dysfunctionality of the current UN structure by presenting the idea of “the world is bigger than five”. In addition, there is the role of Türkiye’s first lady, Emine Erdoğan, with the Zero Waste Initiatives to raise awareness about the need for a sustainable approach in international affairs. Finally, by being more aware of its potential and capability, Giannotta argues that on the eve of a new century, Türkiye will become more independent and could emerge as the global leader in international affairs.
In his speech, Jurgens addresses the paradigm shift that has appeared in the modern Türkiye Republic. First, on how Türkiye conducts its foreign policy. Second, on how the other actors, Europe in particular and the wider world in general, are trying to balance and deal with it. In this context, Jurgens made a strong statement that “Türkiye is the kid no more.” By this, he means that Türkiye has grown sensationally at home and abroad over the past one hundred years and is now more involved in global affairs.
Jurgens focuses his study on how the public in Türkiye interprets the current foreign policy of the Republic. He claims that in foreign policy it is not enough for the state to be the sole foreign policy actor, he emphasized the importance of public opinion in foreign policy making. In the case of Türkiye, Jurgens argued that the Turkish government under the leadership of President Erdoğan is able to convince the majority of the populace to have pride in the Republic and believe in the Türkiye’s capabilities in the international arena.
Furthermore, Jurgens examines that there are three catalysts of foreign policy change in the modern Republic of Türkiye. First, the fact that Ankara always met a deadlock in the EU accession process, yet Türkiye is not stopping to progress and develop according to the EU criteria alone. Jurgens claims that nowadays the only obstacle for Türkiye’s EU accession is the veto power from some EU member states. Second, the bilateral relation of Türkiye with both big and small countries proved the pro-active nature of foreign policy-making of the Republic of Türkiye. Finally, by addressing the UN reform Türkiye proved to be aware of its capacity and willingness to suggest a critical point to other member states. Jurgens stated that this is the milestone of the modern Republic of Türkiye.
Insight Turkey hopes that the panel was beneficial and provides a better understanding of this critical issue. You can find the full video of our panel on our YouTube channel.