Insight Turkey
Insight Turkey
Challenging ideas
On Turkish politics and International affairs


Ziya Öniş

Professor of International Relations at Koç University, Istanbul.
Ziya Öniş
Sharing Power: Turkey’s Democratization Challenge in the Age of the AKP Hegemony
April 1, 2013
After a major wave of democratization over the last decade, the stalemate in Turkey’s reform process and the rising concerns about ‘creeping authoritarianism’ under the ruling AKP government attracted the attention of many scholars. How could Turkey manage to achieve substantial progress in democratization over the last ten years and why has the current government lost its reformist spirit? This article seeks to answer these questions by developing a multi-dimensional, holistic approach that tries to integrate structures and actors, domestic and external forces, rather than single-mindedly focusing on certain aspects whilst downplaying other crucial elements.
Turkey and the Arab Spring: Between Ethics and Self-Interest
July 1, 2012
Turkey redefined its geographical security environment over the last decade by deepening its engagement with neighboring regions, especially with the Middle East. The Arab spring, however, challenged not only the authoritarian regimes in the region but also Turkish foreign policy strategy. This strategy was based on cooperation with the existing regimes and did not prioritize the democracy promotion dimension of the issue. The upheavals in the Arab world, therefore, created a dilemma between ethics and self-interest in Turkish foreign policy. Amid the flux of geopolitical shifts in one of the world’s most unstable regions, Turkish foreign policy-making elites are attempting to reformulate their strategies to overcome this inherent dilemma. The central argument of the present paper is that Turkey could make a bigger and more constructive impact in the region by trying to take a more detached stand and through controlled activism. Thus, Turkey could take action through the formation of coalitions and in close alignments with the United States and Europe rather than basing its policies on a self-attributed unilateral pro-activism.
Multiple Faces of the “New” Turkish Foreign Policy: Underlying Dynamics and a Critique
January 1, 2011
The “axis-shift” discussions on Turkish foreign policy activism over the last couple of years have attracted remarkable international attention. Some pundits have attempted to place Turkey’s increasing relations with its neighbors within the context of an ideological and identical reshuffling of Turkish foreign policy principles. While finding the “shift of axis” argument a rather crude characterization, the paper nevertheless argues that there are subtle shifts in Turkish foreign policy orientation. In this context, the paper aims to identify both the elements of continuity and rupture in the style and behavior of Turkish foreign policy. In fact, there are solid political economy fundamentals and legitimate reasons for Turkey to pursue a multi-dimensional and more assertive foreign policy in the emerging multi-polar world system. However, the present paper underlines that Turkey’s multi-dimensional foreign policy activism with no firm axis may have potentially counterproductive consequences regarding Turkey’s long-term national interests as well as its ability to play a stabilizing role as a pro-active and benign regional power.

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