By Ahmed Necip YILDIRIM
Has the “Policy of Zero Problems with Neighbours” collapsed? Is Turkey isolated in its foreign relations? Is there any direct relationship between Turkish Foreign Policy and the instability in Middle East? Has this policy derailed Turkish Foreign Policy from its traditional approach?
China is never engaged in direct antagonistic and conflictual relationship with any of its adversaries. This is primarily so because of the fact that China is rising and it desperately needs stability in its regional and global relations. The engine of Chinese stride is economic growth. Any problem endangering the economic growth will be hazardous in economic growth of China.
Turkey is rising too. The driving element in Turkey’s advancement is economic growth. Turkey must be in good relationship with its neighbours. No country can advance economically if it is engulfed by instability and turmoil. There is no doubt that “Zero Problem” policy adopted especially by Ahmet Davutoglu is an imperative option for Turkish decision makers.
Actually, this policy is not entirely new. A similar approach has traditionally been one of the strongest aspects in Turkish Foreign Policy laid down by founder of Turkey, Ataturk, who stressed “Peace at Home, Peace in the World”. So it is not possible to say that “Zero Problem” approach is a completely brand new idea put forward by Ahmet Davutoglu. We can say that this policy is an update of the old notion into the present day requirements.
Has the policy collapsed? The answer to this question is obviously “Not”. Developments in Egypt and Syria have overshadowed Turkey’s relations with the rest of the world.
This question, I believe, must be asked in another way: Who wishes the failure of “Zero Problem” policy? If this political preference contributes to Turkey’s rise as a strong regional (and global) actor, then failure of this policy will satisfy those who never wish to see a strong Turkey.
Unrest erupted in Syria in a time when Turkey was developing close relations with this country. And today, one of the main reasons why conflict in Syria does not end is the possibility of Turkey’s relative gain in Syria. If Esad is replaced with a regime that will be in close relationship with Turkey, all the balance in Middle East might change in favour of Turkey. The situation in Egypt is no more different.
It will be highly speculative to claim that some countries pushed the button in Syria and especially in Egypt to stop Turkish influence in Middle East. Yet one thing can be said confidently: the current unrest and instability in Middle East is perfectly serving those who do not wish to see Turkey as a strong power.
By Ahmed Necip YILDIRIM
(Originally published in Turkey Tribune)