Turkish Academic: "Ankara will no longer do whatever its allies ask it to do"
Claims of an "axis shift" in Turkish foreign policy paint a false picture of the country, according a Turkish academic writing last week in Le Monde Diplomatique. "Turkey's confidence is rising as it gains in respect due to its recent initiatives," Mensur Akgun, a lecturer at Istanbul's Kultur University, wrote in the monthly diplomatic newspaper. "It is apparent that Turkey, from now on, will act more independently. If necessary, it will define its interests separately from its traditional allies. Turkey will be less open than it was in the past to unilateral requests from the European Union and US. In short, Turkey will not now do whatever it's asked to do." Explaining that this has to do with the changing dynamics of international politics rather than any animosity towards the West, Akgun continued, "It is time to recall a basic, perhaps banal, fact of global politics: the Cold War ended 20 years ago and the nature of Turkey's role as alliance partner has clearly changed." Saying that those making the "axis shift" claims confuse the transformation of global politics with that of values and ideological trends, Akgun asked, "Does proposing democratisation as a remedy for the Kurdish problem signify an axis change? Or taking steps to normalise relations with Armenia, or paying an official visit to northern Iraq to end the traditional enmity with Kurdistan? Or supporting a resolution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of UN parameters, or making proposals to solve problems in the Aegean?" He added, "You may answer that Turkey has shifted (tis) axis by deepening its relations with the Middle East and Arab world. But you could say the same of France: President Sarkozy has been trying to solve Syria's problems with Israel even though France is thousands of miles from these countries. Why shouldn't Turkey play a positive role in resolving the troubles in our own neighbourhood, the Middle East, and develop relations and earn money from trade, tourism and investment with these countries with which we have close cultural and historical ties?"