Turkish Centrality

To follow up a bit on last week’s mega-post on Turkey, three articles demonstrate how pro-active and dynamic, but also pragmatic, the Turkish foreign policy approach is. Whether reaching out to Russia for more integrated trade, Iran for gas pipeline deals, or the African Union for increased access and influence, Turkey is taking advantage of its regional centrality, a feature underlined by Ahmet Davutoglu in his assessment of Turkey’s strategic identity. The article on the AU summit also mentions that Turkey is angling for votes to make it onto the UN Security Council for 2009-2010. Given their flexible and pragmatic posture (Davutoglu called it a “zero problem policy” with its neighbors), that could pose problems for a rigid American diplomacy, towards Iran in particular. But Turkey could also be the kind of trusted mediator that could help unblock the Iran dossier. Meanwhile, the Russia-Turkey partnership makes perfect sense given the”at arm’s length” treatment both countries enjoy from the EU. The two country’s trade was only $22.5 billion last year, but has already increased by 63 percent for the first four months of 2008.

Update: This Yigal Schleifer EurasiaNet article on the chances for reunification of Cyprus (could be the best, but also the last, opportunity to seal the deal), its impact on Turkey’s EU candidacy, and the broader implications for the EU and NATO is also worth a glance.