Friday, June 26, 2009

Staying on Iran's Good Side

I have an analysis piece up on the Eurasianet website looking at Turkey's muted response to the contested elections in Iran. From the article:
Mustafa Kibaroglu, a professor of international relations at Ankara’s Bilkent University and an expert on Turkey-Iran relations, disputed the notion that Ankara’s actions in the wake of the Iranian elections reflected a lack of awareness.

"I found it [the response] consistent with Turkey’s foreign policy behavior, in general, and AKP’s 'zero conflict’ foreign policy for the last six or seven years," Kibarolglu said. "Turkey has always, at least on paper, promoted the principle that no country should interfere with another country’s affairs."

At the same time, Kibaroglu says, Ankara does not want to alienate Tehran. "Turkey needs to sustain and build the trust that is has developed in Iran," he says. "Turkey, especially with respect to Iran’s nuclear program, only has one option, and that is the diplomatic option. Turkey thinks it may have a significant role, at some point, not at mediation, but maybe facilitating [discussions] between Iran and others."

He added that "Turkey still needs to be [seen as] an honest broker. If Turkey criticized the elections, it would raise serious questions in the minds of the Iranians if Turkey is still a friend."

Still, some critics of the government’s actions say its current Iranian policy, as realistic as it may be, may come at a cost. "There is no point to needlessly offending the Iranian powers-that-be since the safest bet is that they will manage to nip the green revolution at its roots," Andrew Finkel, a columnist for the English-language newspaper Today’s Zaman, recently wrote. "At the same time, for the Turkish government to engage in such naked power politics is not a good investment for the future."
You can read the full piece here.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The question remains, what will happens when the current Iranian government will be toppled and a more moderate version will be installed. Will this have consequences for Ankara’s policies? And, although the EU doesn’t have one foreign strategy, most member states act together. And this time Turkey did exactly the opposite what the EU members did. Did was noticed in Europe very well. How will Turkish stance comply with its EU membership? Is this the way the EU expecting Turkey to be ‘a bridge’ between them and the West? Or is Turkey a tunnel…Anyway, in my opinion Turkey lacks real-politics in the matter.