ICG urges intl community to abandon "simolistic clichés" about Turkey and its foreign policy


A leading Brussels-based think-tank is calling on the international community to abandon jargon and "simplistic clichés" to better understand Turkey's foreign policy. The US and European Union states should put aside clichés about Turkey "turning East," "joining an Islamist bloc," or "turning its back on the West," it said. "Turkey's new foreign engagement has been first and foremost economic, with Christian and Muslim countries in Eurasia, the Balkans, Africa and the Middle East alike," the International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a draft report expected to be released in Brussels today. "The bulk of Turkey's trade and investment, its social, popular and educational connections, and the source of its intellectual and economic innovation all remain inextricably linked to EU states and the US." The ICG, which has published many reports about Turkey, underlined that Turkey shares most of its Western partners' goals in the Middle East, such as halting nuclear weapons proliferation in the region, including Iran; a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that respects the full rights of both parties; and the elimination of al-Qaeda. But the report also urges Ankara to better formulate and present its foreign policy. "It should find more ways to speak out for these common objectives. At the same time, its Western partners should recognize that due to geography and history, Turkey will reasonably pursue them at times with its own tactics and methodology," says the draft report. The ICG also gave Ankara suggestions for better explaining its foreign policy moves and goals to the international community. "Ankara can achieve more through a good working relationship with the EU and the US than if it tries to forge ahead alone," it said. "The government and public opinion should avoid presuming, as they sometimes seem tempted, that the US needs Turkey more than it needs Israel, or that having a personal relationship with President Barack Obama can substitute policy. Even though Turkey is clearly becoming a stronger international player, cooperation with Washington and EU convergence are keys to its regional prominence and have contributed to its economic growth, boom in trade with neighbors and improved respect for human rights, as well as Istanbul's growing reputation as a glamorous regional hub." Calling for Turkey to tone down "heated rhetoric" over Israel so as to regain its ability to speak with confidence to all parties in its region, the IGC also urged the US and EU member states to back UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's four-person probe of the May 31 Israeli raid that led to the current tensions with Turkey. According to the ICG, "Israel should work to normalize its important relationship with Turkey, including, if its soldiers are found to have used excessive force or committed crimes, by prosecuting suspects, and finding ways to give Turkey satisfaction in the matter." Rejecting claims that its foreign policy has seen an axis shift, Ankara has constantly stated that the Cold War is over and foreign policy is not a zero-sum game.