New geopolitical transformations are taking place in world politics as the inability of international organizations, starting with the United Nations, to promote peace and security encourages all countries to prepare for new solutions, cooperations and rivalries.
Deepened by the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine, great power competition reveals fresh moves and novel projects. Western solidarity against Russia, U.S. efforts to create bilateral and trilateral cooperation mechanisms in the Asia-Pacific region to contain China, the admission of six new members into BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the European Union’s renewed interest in enlargement and normalization processes in the Middle East immediately come to mind.
It is against that backdrop that rising and regional powers reassess their international positions and develop a sense of strategic autonomy. The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Brazil, India and Türkiye fall into that category. That is why new projects related to supply chains and energy receive more and more attention. Such plans include China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor unveiled at the G-20 summit in New Delhi, India.
Having become aware of the above-mentioned changes in world politics early on, Türkiye created its own “strategic autonomy” framework in light of various experiences – the essence of the “Türkiye Axis” that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan outlined in his 2023 election manifesto. The country started by adopting a proactive national security approach to crack down on terrorist organizations and resorting to hard power, if necessary, to defend its interests. Türkiye’s post-2016 military operations in Syria, Iraq, Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean attested to that change. More recently, the country pursued normalization to cement its gains and cut its costs – which led to its repositioning in the international arena.
East and West
Türkiye remains part of the Western alliance yet aims to develop its relations with the East to diversify its foreign affairs. Accordingly, it subscribes to a self-confident approach that refuses to limit its engagement with Russia, China and others to bloc politics. The country’s confrontation with U.S. and European disregard for its vital interests vis-a-vis the fight against PKK and FETÖ terrorists gave rise to that realistic approach.
At the same time, Türkiye struck a balance between competition and cooperation with Russia and the regional powers. Various projects and initiatives like the Zangezur corridor, the Middle Corridor, the Türkiye-Iraq Development Road project, regional energy cooperation with Israel and even the transition of Türkiye’s normalization with Greece into a common logistical future were byproducts of Turkish diplomatic dynamism.
An era of “transition and rebalancing” has begun in international politics. As a country that belongs to the West, the East, the North and the South simultaneously, Türkiye has what it takes to cope with the impact of global uncertainty and rivalries. It also can seize new opportunities with its high level of diplomatic dynamism.