Türkiye's growing engagement with China

The recent visit of Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan to China marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Turkish foreign policy within the shifting strategic landscape of Eurasia. As Türkiye aims to balance its strategic partnerships and expand its influence, this visit underscores crucial discussions and potential impacts on foreign policy.

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Türkiye's growing engagement with China
Erdoğan s landmark visit to Iraq

Erdoğan’s landmark visit to Iraq

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent visit to Iraq could mark the beginning of a new chapter in the longstanding relationship between Türkiye and Iraq. During his visit to Baghdad, Türkiye and Iraq signed a strategic framework agreement that addresses a variety of issues, ranging from security to economic cooperation. This agreement represents the culmination of nearly a year of productive high-level discussions between the two countries. Furthermore, President Erdoğan’s first visit to Iraq since 2011 has established new connections between Türkiye, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, enhancing the region’s geo-economic landscape.

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Under the strategic framework agreement for joint cooperation, which the two countries inked in Baghdad, their bilateral relations have been elevated to the level of strategic partnership with a “qualitative leap.” The Turkish and Iraqi governments created a road map for future cooperation. Their commitment to solving problems and elevating their cooperation to the highest level rests on the “win-win” principle. Accordingly, the Turkish delegation, which included eight Cabinet ministers, focused on a broad range of issues, including counterterrorism, cross-border waters, security, the defense industry, trade, health care, communication, education, energy and transportation.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan paid an official one-day visit to Iraq on Monday. He was accompanied by a large delegation, including Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya, Defense Minister Yaşar Güler, Trade Minister Ömer Bolat, Energy Minister Alpaslan Bayraktar, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Abdülkadir Uraloğlu, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Ibrahim Yumaklı and Minister of Industry and Technology Fatih Kacır. Many high-ranking Turkish officials also accompanied President Erdoğan.

Recent months have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity between Türkiye and Iraq, culminating in a significant agreement in Baghdad last week. This accord signals a mutual eagerness to close a chapter of discord and paves the way for a comprehensive consensus on a range of issues, including a unified stance against the PKK. With President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s impending visit to Baghdad, and potentially Irbil, in April, this strategic alignment not only promises a sustainable framework for bilateral ties but also portends regional ramifications.

Türkiye and Iraq issued a joint statement following last week’s security summit in Baghdad, marking the beginning of a new chapter in bilateral relations.

Antalya Diplomacy Forum and Türkiye's choice

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Antalya Diplomacy Forum organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The forum addressed numerous issues concerning Türkiye's foreign policy priorities, with a particular focus on the reconstruction of the international system in an era of regional instability and global challenges. The theme of rebuilding the international system in the post-World War II era, based on 'rule-based' principles established by the United States, stood out as a central topic. However, it's evident that this system has failed to effectively address problems or maintain stability in today's world. Amidst discussions highlighting this fundamental issue, it was clear that Türkiye is seeking grounded leadership through realistic assessments of diplomacy's possibilities and limitations.

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Antalya Diplomacy Forum and Türkiye's choice
Antalya Diplomacy Forum Turkish brand in diplomacy

Antalya Diplomacy Forum: Turkish brand in diplomacy

The Antalya Diplomacy Forum (ADF) is one of the biggest brands of Turkish diplomacy. The forum, which fills a gap by focusing on diplomacy, is on its way to taking its place among the long-established international forums of its kind. It shows the high-level organizational capacity of Turkish institutions. The ADF, held since 2021, is a beneficial tool to advance foreign relations and set international political agendas.

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I attended the Antalya Diplomacy Forum on Friday. Bringing together politicians, diplomats, academics, journalists and think tankers from 147 countries, the event has already claimed a respectable place among the world’s leading platforms.

To understand how Türkiye sees the world’s dangerous trends, it is crucial to go over the statements made at the National Intelligence Organization’s (MIT) 97th anniversary event.

The Middle East rang in the new year with assassinations and terror attacks. Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy leader of Hamas' political bureau, was assassinated in Beirut last Tuesday. The following day, two bombings in Kirman, Iran (for which Daesh has claimed responsibility) killed 103 people. As those attacks shifted everyone’s attention to Israel, Iran and Hezbollah pledged to exact “revenge and a heavy price.”

The Turkish media reported two major developments with the potential to cause a stir in domestic politics. First, Sabah reported that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) was going to host a pro-Palestinian event, the “Great Gathering for Palestine,” outside its provincial headquarters in Istanbul and that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and fellow leaders of the People’s Alliance would attend it. Secondly, the Directorate of Communications announced that President Erdoğan had signed Sweden’s NATO accession protocol and sent it to the Turkish Parliament.

As the 14th day of the Israeli offensive in Gaza unfolds, the humanitarian crisis associated with this conflict continues to intensify. The unwavering support from the United States and a significant contingent of Western nations for Israel’s aggressive military campaign has created an exceptional situation, allowing Israel’s actions to go unchecked. The adoption of collective punishment as a war strategy by both Israel and the U.S., with their resolute backing, threatens to destabilize the region and jeopardize global security on an unprecedented scale.

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has been underway for 12 days. Preparing for a ground operation, the Israeli army kills hundreds of Palestinians every single day. The strict blockade of Gaza, which prevents the delivery of humanitarian aid, has already rendered hospitals in the besieged Palestinian enclave unable to operate. As relief supplies pile up in Egypt, the tragedy in Gaza worsens. The following remark by Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), best summarizes what is happening: “Gaza is being strangled, and it seems that the world right now has lost its humanity.”

Merely skimming over the world news, one quickly notices Türkiye’s growing geopolitical significance. Let me elaborate by highlighting four issues, excluding countless others – including migration, armed drones, the Altay tank and Türkiye’s rapprochement with Egypt. Türkiye will host the third international meeting toward the Ukraine peace summit. Ankara pledged to target all PKK terror groups and its Syrian presence YPG assets in Iraq and Syria. Azerbaijan refused to participate in EU-brokered talks with Armenia in Spain, citing Türkiye’s exclusion. Last but not least, the Abu Dhabi-based investment company ADQ is in talks with Türkiye regarding constructing a railroad over the Bosphorus as part of a trade corridor linking Europe with the Middle East and Asia. Obviously, Türkiye’s direct involvement in peace diplomacy, counterterrorism, the South Caucasus region’s stability and energy/logistics corridors does not just relate to its geographical location.

The latest issue of Insight Turkey seeks to offer a thorough examination of Türkiye’s historical journey and its evolving foreign policy, with a focus on the implications these changes hold for Türkiye’s future. This issue holds particular significance as Türkiye approaches its centennial anniversary as a republic, marking a significant milestone in its foreign policy trajectory. Within this context, President Erdoğan has launched the ‘Century of Türkiye’ vision, a strategic initiative aimed at enhancing Türkiye’s position on the global stage.

The dissolution of the Ottoman Empire set the stage for Türkiye’s evolving foreign policy in the Middle East, a region deeply intertwined with its historical legacy. From the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 to the rise of the AK Party in the early 2000s, Türkiye’s approach has been marked by pragmatism, adaptability, and a keen understanding of regional dynamics. The nation's foreign policy has oscillated between neutrality, revisionism, proactivity, reactivity, assertiveness, autonomy, and diplomacy, reflecting both its historical ties and strategic imperatives. As Türkiye continues to navigate the complexities of the Middle East, its foreign policy remains a testament to its enduring resilience and strategic acumen. By tracing its roots and evolution, the article sheds light on the myriad factors that have shaped its course, offering insights into the evolving nature of Türkiye’s multifaceted and adaptive foreign policy and role in the Middle East over the last 100 years (1923-2023).

Hakan Fidan’s commentary underscores the dynamic shifts in geopolitical landscapes, the escalating global challenges, and the position of Türkiye in this changing international system. He emphasizes Türkiye’s aspiration to emerge as a pivotal player, characterized by inclusivity and efficacy, capable of addressing the pressing global and regional issues. Fidan asserts that in this 21st century, Türkiye is resolutely committed to shaping the foundations for enduring peace and prosperity within its region and beyond, all while adeptly safeguarding its national interests amidst a turbulent global milieu.

Recent developments in Syria show that the dynamics caused by the civil war are still in effect as demonstrations against the Bashar Assad regime continue due to economic dissatisfaction and clashes between local Arab tribes and the PKK terrorist group’s Syrian presence YPG accelerate.

Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan paid an important visit to Iraq between Aug. 22-24. Iraq is one of the most strategic countries in the neighboring geography for Türkiye in terms of the fight against terrorism, energy geopolitics, economic relations, internal stability and rivalry between the countries in the region. Therefore, Fidan’s visit is quite critical before President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's expected visit to Iraq.