With elections looming, Türkiye-Greece normalization prospects ever more dim - NEDRET ERSANEL

With elections looming, Türkiye-Greece normalization prospects ever more dim

Normalizing relations with two capitals, Athens and Washington, is difficult. The first is the subcontractor anyway. 

Looking at it from our position, Ankara has been taking steps for a while now to put in order its relations with countries it has had strained ties. Ankara is not taking this initiative alone – it is reciprocated by the other countries. 

Both the regional conjuncture and effects of the global dynamic provide the opportunity for this. These countries include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Israel, Armenia, and even if it needs a little pushing and shoving, Egypt, and finally Syria. 

“Normalization” with some of these countries is difficult. For example, Israel and the UAE, because of their role in Libya, Syria, and even in the July 15, 2016 coup and invasion attempt in Türkiye. It’s not a bed of roses now either. 


Two groups in Türkiye are focusing on normalization, while the other chooses to entirely turn a blind eye to the situation and make peace. They say, “We told you so,” at every step. This is assuming that when one wheel of the foreign policy mechanism works, it will operate the whole machine. This is an insignificant international relations perspective. It disregards the multiple, layered relations that impact time, place, events, and their outcomes. For example, when discussing normalization between Türkiye and Arab countries, they claim Türkiye is doing this “because it needs money,” and fail to see – or have no idea about – the change in Riyadh-Washington relations. Regardless of their position or title in internal politics, there is always covert opposition. 

The second group is a lot more innocent. This group thinks – considering some of the countries included in the normalization process – that normalizing relations with these countries will harm the “values” sequence, which is the essence of Turkish foreign policy, which is Ankara’s real message to the world regarding its desire to become a global power in every field. 

Surely this concern must be heeded. 



 The execution of Turkish foreign policy has a certain tempo. You can usually hear the rhythm that repeats isochronous vibrations. Any change here may sound to you like arrhythmia. Yet, this is a speed that can be adjusted like the metronome in music.  

If you are like those in the first group, you will interpret this change as Ankara’s unplanned/uncalculated responses to changing conditions. If you are in the second group, you may be concerned that your foreign policy, which has done the right things until now, is deviating. 

It can be said that while both have different intentions, neither of them is right – or they are at least missing something. This is not to say Türkiye made no mistakes in the last 15 years. It made plenty. Some of these mistakes continue to be discussed. There is truth to some of the criticisms made. 

There’s a world of difference between the conditions of normalization with Armenia, and the conditions of normalization with Syria or the UAE. But there is no change in the contexture of foreign policy. In other words, it’s the same music, but the rhythm is different! 

But why? 


 This is because it has an “internal” rhythm as well. 


The elections are naturally considered the primary condition of foreign policy implementations, like in all practices. They see that when this ground disappears, it will be the end of the current “Turkish foreign policy,” and that the perspective of a global national security without any internal support and agreement will weaken. This is correct. 

 If one of the steps required for normalization is regional and global conjuncture – and normalizations under this heading will continue – the other is overcoming the elections, which will refresh internal power. 

 The real concern should be “normalization with the U.S.,” which will be in question if the elections cannot be overcome. This means that all the strategic and geopolitical gains made to date may be lost completely. 


Putin’s thoughts as he stands beside Gorbachev's coffin 

 It was like a scene from “The Godfather.” Images of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s farewell to the Soviet Union’s last state leader Mikhail Gorbachev contained great dramatization. Of course, it was orchestrated, and it illustrated a lengthy but direct path from the country’s collapse in 1989 to the current Ukraine war. 

 Though Gorbachev faced harsh criticisms and even betrayal accusations in his country, this is the reason why he is highly revered in the West. 

There seems to be hesitation about how Putin views the man who closed one century and started the other – not chronologically but according to political interpretations – but in reality, opened the “Pandora’s Box” of the chaotic geopolitics of today. 

The present Russan leadership is “critical” against the leaders of the Soviet collapse period – remaining within state discipline – and they identify them, by name, as those responsible for the crises between Russia and the West/U.S. 

Putin’s exact words, accusing Gorbachev were:  

 “We were promised that after Germany’s unification, NATO wouldn’t spread eastward. The then-NATO secretary-general told us that the alliance wouldn’t expand beyond its eastern borders. However, it started expanding by incorporating former Warsaw Treaty member-countries and later on, the Baltic states, former Soviet republics. 

  I used to say [to Gorbachev] at one time: ‘Why are you doing this? Do you want to ensure the security of these countries? Do you think someone may attack them? Well, it’s enough to sign a bilateral treaty on friendship and mutual assistance, including military aid, and their security will be ensured.' I heard in response: 'This doesn’t concern you. Nations and countries have the right to choose a way of ensuring their security themselves.'” 

This statement by Putin, who considers the fall of the Soviet Union as the disaster of the century, is one of the clearest proofs showing who he holds responsible for the tremors in the region, which includes us as well. 


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