Armenian initiative and Davutoğlu effect

There has been for some time a “Davutoğlu effect” in Turkish foreign politics, and there has never been a time in Turkey in which a single adviser or minister has been so influential in the decision-making process.

About one year after he was appointed an adviser Davutoğlu held a press conference and announced the basic principles of a new foreign policy that would satisfy Turkey’s needs in the new international environment: zero problems with neighbors, a multi-lane, multidimensional foreign policy, a balance between freedom and security, a rhythmic diplomacy, a new diplomatic style ... He explained them one by one. At that time, all critical centers had questioned whether Turkey could really introduce such a comprehensive change of vision and whether these principles were realistic. The foreign policy performance of the last seven years saw the implementation of this vision. These principles, also mentioned in his 2001 book “Stratejik Derinlik” (Strategic Depth), were put into practice one by one. During these years, Davutoğlu, first as an adviser and then as a minister, stripped the Turkish foreign policy off its established Cold War structures and prepared it for the post-Cold War and post-9/11 world.

The new foreign policy principles Davutoğlu listed were all complementary. But one of them seemed a concise summary of all the others: “Multi-lane, multidimensional relations. Neither our relations with Europe are an alternative to the US nor our relations with our neighbors to Europe. If we regard all of them as complementary factors within the big picture, we can then develop a truly strategic vision.”

During this seven-year period, a Turkey that rejects a guardianship relation with the US, whose EU policies are more dynamic but never dependent, that is more flexible but also more aggressive in negotiation with respect to the Cyprus issue, that is more active in the Middle East and that is determined to reach out to Africa and Latin America and other countries has emerged.

It was Davutoğlu who provided a torch to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the international relations environment that has become ever complicated after 9/11 and the occupation of Iraq by the US. With many initiatives guided by him, particularly in Cyprus, Iraq and the Middle East, Turkey has earned increased respect and prestige in the international arena.

The protocols that will be signed in Zurich today are the last examples of his guidance. These protocols are the biggest success of Turkish foreign policy during recent years. It would be considerably misleading to regard the signature of these protocols with Yerevan as the mere outcome of a policy conducted with Armenia. This is also a result of the fact that many countries, especially Russia, have started to see Turkey as an independent player in its region.

Moreover, the Obama administration had the foresight to realize that Turkey’s ability to develop and conduct independent policies is producing results that are beneficial to the US. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton intended attendance at the signature ceremony in Zurich is clearly proof of this.

Today, Turkey has become a country that can talk to all the players in the Middle East and that have direct access to information about what happens in its region. Ten years ago, we could not even dream about such relations.

Neither Davutoğlu nor other experts could do this in the Cold War era. The above-mentioned foreign policy principles could be followed only during the dynamic post-Cold War era. It is the luck of Davutoğlu and also of Turkey to become influential on the foreign policy processes in such a period.

Gürkan Zengin