Mediating Turkish Mediation

One of the elements undermining Turkish credibility in its claims to a regional role of mediator, of course, is the fact that Turkey itself is mired in longstanding disputes, one with Armenia and the other with Greece over Cyprus. Some headway was recently made on the Armenia front, even if thorny obstacles remain (Yigal Schleifer’s got more on that here).

But the Cyprus standoff has far more practical and strategic consequences in terms of NATO-EU relations. So I’m not surprised to see newly named Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu show up in Cyprus yesterday, probably to both show support and reinforce Turkish Cypriot commitment to talks with Greek Cypriots in the aftermath of a recent controversial EU court ruling. By the tone of new Turkish Cypriot prime minister’s remarks, the mission was a success.

This Le Monde article (via Friday Lunch Club) paints a picture of a Turkey set loose by a green light from the Obama administration, after years of patchy relations with the Bush team. That seems intuitively right, and an example of Middle Power Mojo™ in action. I’d go a step further and say that Turkey’s “Zero Problems” foreign policy over the past few years — minus Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s temper tantrems of late — almost serves as a prototype for the Obama administration’s approach, which expands a regional power’s local strategy to a superpower’s global reach.