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by Dr. Zenonas Tziarras

Analyst on Security & Turkey,

Diplomatic Academy, University of Nicosia

Short Bio: Zenonas Tziarras holds a PhD in Politics & International Studies from the University of TZIARRAS Zenonas 5Warwick. His thesis analysed Turkish foreign policy towards the Middle East between 2002 and 2013 from a Neoclassical Realist perspective. He previously completed an MA in International Relations and Strategic Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK and a BA in Mediterranean Studies and International Relations at the Aegean University, Greece. He is the co-founder and co-editor of the e-magazine The Globalized World Post and is currently the Analyst on Security & Turkey of the Europe Levant Observatory at the Diplomatic Academy, University of Nicosia. Among other publications, he co-edited a volume [in Greek] titled Republic of Cyprus: Dimensions of Foreign Policy (2013) and co-authored a forthcoming book [in Greek] titled Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean: Ideology and Strategy (2015).

 

Domestic Transformations and Foreign Policy Change: The Rise of Revisionist Turkey

The presentation I delivered during the 6th Changing Turkey workshop at Warwick University sought to explore Turkish foreign policy change under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) towards the Middle East from a Neoclassical Realist (NcR) perspective and it was based on my PhD thesis.[i] It was argued that systemic changes in Turkey’s geopolitical environment have been primary in driving Turkey’s foreign policy behaviour with domestic politics being secondary. Within this NcR framework the system level comprises of three independent variables (international power changes, external threat perceptions, international economic interdependence) and two intervening variables (elite ideology and domestic interest groups). The dependent variable is essentially the foreign policy outcome – Turkey’s foreign policy behaviour – with the possibility of variation between status quo and revisionist foreign policy behaviour. To trace the change in Turkish foreign policy (TFP) since the AKP’s election to power (2002) I briefly evaluate the domestic and systemic context of the 2002-2011 and 2011-2013 periods. When it comes to the domestic level I remain focused on one of the two intervening variables (i.e. the AKP elite ideology) for brevity purposes.

2002-2011 – Systemic Context

With regard to the first period (2002-2011) it is argued that the systemic context was relatively benign despite changes in international power relations (i.e. the main independent variable) such as the war in Iraq (2003) and its geopolitical consequences for Turkey and the region. It was benign not because of the absence of security threats – there were plenty of those; but rather because it provided Turkey with the opportunity of re-engaging the region due to deteriorating relations with the United States (US), growing anti-American sentiments in the Middle East, improved relations with Iran and Syria, and so on. This rather favouring geopolitical environment, of the 2000s, in conjunction with the AKP’s struggle to overcome political obstacles posed by the traditional Kemalist establishment domestically, produced an outward foreign policy behaviour mainly characterised by cooperation, mediation and the employment of “soft power” tools more generally. Its economic relations with the Arab/Muslim world improved drastically – while its economic relations with the EU declined also due to the economic crisis and the Turkey-EU stalemate – even as it undertook significant mediation initiatives such as the one between Syria and Israel, albeit unsuccessfully. It was a period when Turkey, once again in its history, came to be referred to as a model of fusion between democracy, liberal economics and conservative values.

Though this outward foreign policy orientation of Turkey resembled past initiatives such as those of Turgut Ozal and Necmettin Erbakan in the 1980s and 1990s it proved to be something more during this time period. It was more focused, broader, deeper and arguably more serious and successful. It was all due to the ideological differentiation that gradually came about domestically with the election of the AKP to power. This is not to say that the AKP elite ideology was the primary factor. As mentioned, systemic changes are considered to be the primary driver of TFP. But the elite ideology of the state, the one that filters the geopolitical changes and the domestic constraints according to NcR, is very important in the shaping of the foreign policy outcome. The system-level changes could prompt different foreign policy outcomes depending on the dominant ideology and worldview of the (policy-making) elite; but without systemic changes foreign policy change is rarely, if ever, induced.

Elite Ideology & Domestic Transformations

Having said that, one has to identify the AKP elite ideology and thus its character and features. Based on research on texts, speeches and interviews of AKP elites (e.g. Ahmet Davutoglu, Abdullah Gul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Bulent Arinc, Ibrahim Kalin) and a comparative analysis between the AKP and its traditionalist predecessor Welfare Party (Refah Party – RP) of Necmettin Erbakan, I suggest that the AKP elite ideology (not of the AKP as a whole) is based on a version of Turkish political Islam which is actually more traditionalist than reformist, as the AKP argues. On the front of foreign policy and strategy in the Middle East, this worldview or set of beliefs, perceives the region as a primarily post-Ottoman and geoculturally integrated Islamic space; one that Turkey, from the AKP elite perspective, rightfully claims leadership over (as the successor of the Ottoman Empire).

In this sense, the AKP elite ideology is revisionist, provided that revisionism is defined (in Realism literature) as a state’s efforts to change the geopolitical status quo to its own benefit. As noted previously, the domestic power struggle between the Kemalist establishment and the AKP did not leave much room to the latter to freely express and implement its revisionist goals. For example, the AKP’s shift towards the Middle East was not significantly opposed by other domestic powers or groups insofar as it did not take place at the expense of relations with the West. Once the AKP managed to win the power struggle and predominate domestically through a process that roughly started in 2007 and had largely succeeded by 2010, its policies became more openly revisionist. However, by that time domestic groups (of mostly Kemalist ideology) were unable to successfully oppose or constrain the AKP’s policies as the Kemalist establishment, the traditional and most noteworthy political force, was to a great extent marginalised and crippled.

2011-2013 – Systemic Context & Revisionism

The impact of these historical domestic transformations became even more evident in the next period under examination (2011-2013). The systemic shifts that came about with the Arab uprisings caught Turkey by surprise, challenged the regional relationships that it developed as well as its geopolitical stature. As such, the systemic environment was no longer benign; it had become unstable and greatly insecure, brewing conflict and multiple security threats. This had a great impact on Turkey’s ability to implement its revisionist elite ideological vision in a benign way and through “soft power” tools. Perhaps the most significant examples of Turkey’s revisionist foreign policy behaviour since 2011 are the case of Syria and Egypt. In the case of the Syrian civil war Turkey, for the first time in its history, adopted the revisionist strategy of regime change, albeit with some delay. Not only that, but it also seemed reluctant to carry out its threats towards Syria while preferring to “bandwagon-for-profit”[ii] which essentially entailed that it chose to achieve its strategic goals through its reliance on Western powers for regime change in Syria.

Similarly, Ankara’s stance towards the ousting of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood (2013) points to mingling in Egypt’s internal affairs. It was revisionist foreign policy behaviour because Turkey actively, if politically, tried to reverse the changes under way in Egypt that would deprive it from an Egyptian government that was ideologically and politically close to the AKP. Since then Turkish-Egyptian relations have deteriorated dramatically. Other examples of revisionism in TFP can be remembered such as the coercive diplomacy employed against Israel and Cyprus in 2011.

Epilogue

Overall, Turkey, over the past 13 years or so has experienced great economic growth and development as well as democratic reforms. At the same time it has risen as an openly revisionist state. The domestic transformations and the substitution of the largely pro-status quo Kemalist politico-military establishment by the AKP’s revisionist elite ideology, resulted in a revisionist foreign policy behaviour. Foreign policy action that is prompted by system-level changes is increasingly being filtered through the ideological lens of the AKP – and specifically President Erdogan. Because Ankara’s revisionist goals cannot be achieved in the turbulent post-2011 Middle East, it often resorts to “hard power” or other revisionist tactics that exacerbate regional polarisation and highlight its revisionist foreign policy strategy even more.

[i] Zenonas Tziarras, Turkish Foreign Policy towards the Middle East under the AKP (2002-2013): A Neoclassical Realist Account, Department of Politics & International Studies, The University of Warwick, Coventry, 2014.

[ii] A term borrowed from Randal Schweller. See, Randall L. Schweller, “Bandwagoning for Profit: Bringing the Revisionist State Back In,” International Security 19, no. 1 (1994): 72-107.

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Date: 27 March 2015 Friday   Venue: University of Warwick

WORKSHOP PROGRAMME

Panel 1: Turkey: Politics, History, Economy & Society

Dr Bilge Eris Dereli (Warwick & Marmara)—  Why Do Women Prefer Part-Time Employment in Turkey?

Dr Ömer Tekdemir (Coventry)—  Agonising Democracy: Mobilising Passion to Construct a “Collective Will” by Turkey’s Radical Democrat HDP

Dr S. Baris Gulmez (Warwick)—  The Paradox of Turkish Foreign Policy in the 1930s: Revisionism and Irredentism through Multilateral Diplomacy

Dr Zenonas Tziarras (Nicosia) —  Domestic Transformations and Foreign Policy Change: The Rise of Revisionist Turkey” (via Skype)

Panel 2: Beyond Turkey: Middle East, Mediterranean, Thrace & Black Sea

Dr Özge Dilaver (Surrey & BIAA)—  Between Here and Almost There, Understanding Border Impermeability through Life Stories

Cem Boke (Birmingham)— US intervention in intra-state conflicts: Libya and Syria

Ferhun Kahraman (Oxford Brookes)— Consociational Democracy, Judiciary and the Cyprus Precedent

Dr Didem Buhari-Gulmez (LSE)— Crimean Tatar nationalist movement and top-down Islamization

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Workshop title: INTERDISCIPLINARY INVESTIGATIONS: TURKEY AND BEYOND Date: 27 March 2015  –from 12 to 6pm. Venue:  University of Warwick (Coventry, United Kingdom) This one-day workshop will provide an encouraging atmosphere to PhD students and post-doctoral scholars. We warmly invite researchers from different disciplines, including Economics, Sociology, Picture1Anthropology, Political science, and International Relations. This workshop is about communicating your own research to a broader audience that transcends your discipline. During the workshop, all researchers will have the opportunity to get familiar with the ongoing research projects as well as introduce their research questions, methodological and theoretical approaches to an interdisciplinary audience. This workshop is free and open to all researchers who would like to present their research. Interested in joining us? Please send your short abstract (around 100 words) and your CV to: ChangingTurkey@gmail.com We will accept proposals until 20 March 2015.   Organized by Dr S. Baris Gulmez (University of Warwick) and Dr Didem Buhari-Gulmez (LSE)

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As Changing Turkey team, we would like to thank all scholars who attended our workshop ‘Bridging Divides: Rethinking Ideology in the Age of Protests’. Please find below a summary of the workshop that took place on 15th April at Oxford Brookes University, Gipsy Lane campus in Oxford, UK.

chris rumford 1The workshop started with the keynote speeches of Prof. Chris Rumford (Royal Holloway) and Prof. Barrie Axford (Oxford Brookes), entitled respectively ‘Ideoscapes, multiperspectivalism and the need to rethink ideology’, and ‘Mere connection? The transformative impact of new media on insurrectionary and usual politics’. The keynote speeches discussed different theoretical perspectives on political mobilization in the post-ideological world and the changing dynamics underlying public protests in the global era.

The first panel included papers that offer comparative perspectives on public protests. Dr Gulcin Erdi Lelandais (CNRS & University of Tours, France) presented her paper ‘Reclaiming a New Democratic Ethos in the City via #Occupy Movements: Thinking on Gezi Park Protests in Turkey and Indignados in Spain’ panel 1that emphasizes the rise of a new democratic ethos that competes with the traditional understanding of politics relegating citizens to passive status, and thus seeks to expand citizens’ control over urban planning and development. In her presentation entitled ‘Reconceptualizing State-Society Relations in Turkey: a Culture of Contestation from Gezi and Beyond’, Harriet Fildes (Edinburgh, UK) suggested the necessity to consider the new social protests as part of a global social change that challenges the traditional relationship between state and society with a special focus on the notion of ‘cultural contestation’. James Dorsey (Singapore) presented his paper ‘Convergence and divergence: Turkish and Egyptian fans fight political battles’ via Skype and introduced the rise of soccer fan clubs in Egypt and Turkey as new political actors during the protests. Since the boundaries between social, cultural, individual and political have become blurred, the fan clubs become significant actors in the contestation of state authoritarianism and police violence.
panel 22The second panel provided with a thorough analysis of Gezi Park protests in Turkey, which spread to other parts of the country after the police intervention towards the environmentalist protesters at Gezi. In her presentation ‘What does it mean to be chapulling? A Snapshot of June Events in Turkey’, Dr Ozge Dilaver Kalkan (Surrey & BIAA) discussed the findings of the interviews she conducted in the Turkish capital city with Turkish protesters during the protests in the summer of 2013. The second presentation given by Dr. Sakir Dincsahin (Yeditepe & SOAS) investigated the (systemic and anti-systemic) discursive strategies employed by the Turkish government and the protesters, which sought to define who ‘the people’ is and what kind of claims the people can make. Finally, Dr. Kemal Ciftci’s (Ufuk University, Turkey) presentation ‘‘Understanding Turkey through “Gezi Park”: Revolt of a “Multitude” Against the Islamist Government’ suggested introducing the historical context underlying the rise of protests against the revival of Islamism in Turkish government’s rhetoric and policies, which includes both domestic factors such as the competition between Kemalist modernist ideology and political Islam as well as external factors such as the rise and fall of the thesis of ‘moderate Islam’ in the West.

The third and final panel involved non-Turkish cases to uncover similar paths and strategies adopted by the protesters and panel 3 mona das
national governments in different parts of the world, including the Tahrir Square protests in Egypt and anti-corruption protests in India, moving beyond a possible Eurocentrism. Dr. Shaimaa Magued (Cairo University, Egypt) presented her paper ‘The New Tahrir Square: From “Protesting” towards the “Occupation” of Public Sphere in Egypt’ via Skype and emphasized that on 25th January, the Tahrir square had become a “global street”, a place where new practices of the political and the social were developed by the protesters coming from diverse backgrounds and claiming legitimate ownership of the square as a ‘public space’. The second presentation ‘Common Man’s upsurge against a common nuisance: The curious case of anti-corruption movement in India’ given by Mona Das (University of Delhi, India) focused on the mass mobilization strategies during the 2011 anti-government demonstrations demanding passage of a piece of legislation named Janlok Pal Bill or Citizen’s Ombudsman Bill. The final presentation by Alia Bukhari (Royal Holloway, UK) dealt with the Federally Autonomous Tribal Areas situated between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which allowed the audience to think about the transition from protest to conflict.

Overall, the workshop was a great success and we are working towards editing a volume that includes these excellent papers suggesting innovative ways of thinking about today’s public protests through a comparative perspective.

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BRIDGING DIVIDES: RETHINKING IDEOLOGY IN THE AGE OF PROTESTS
Venue: Oxford Brookes University Gipsy Lane John Henry Brookes Building 406
Date: 15 April 2014

Workshop programme

10.45 -11.00: Welcome by Changing Turkey
11.00-12.00: Keynote speeches:

-Prof.Chris Rumford (Royal Holloway):’Ideoscapes, multiperspectivalism, and the need to rethink ideology’

-Prof. Barrie Axford (Oxford Brookes University):’Mere connection? The transformative impact of new media on insurrectionary and usual politics’

12.00-12.15: Coffee Break

12.15- 13.45 Panel I— ‘Comparative perspectives on public protests’
Chair: Prof. Barrie Axford

Dr. Gülçin Erdi Lelandais (CNRS and Université de Tours): ‘Reclaiming a New Democratic Ethos in the City via #Occupy Movements: Thinking on Gezi Park Protests in Turkey and Indignados in Spain’

Harriet Fildes (University of Edinburgh): ‘Reconceptualizing State-Society Relations in Turkey: a Culture of Contestation from Gezi and Beyond’

James M. Dorsey (S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies):‘Convergence and divergence: Turkish and Egyptian fans fight political battles’ -via Skype

13.45-14.00 Coffee Break

14.00- 15.30: Panel II— ‘Exploring the case of Gezi Park protests in Turkey’          Chair: Prof. Chris Rumford

Dr. Özge Dilaver Kalkan (University of Surrey & British Institute at Ankara):‘What does it mean to be chapulling? A Snapshot of June Events in Turkey’

Dr. Şakir Dinçşahin (SOAS & Yeditepe University):‘Gezi Park and Competing Populisms in Turkey: The People of the Government versus the People of the Protest’

Dr. Kemal Çiftçi (Ufuk University):‘Understanding Turkey through “Gezi Park”: Revolt of a “Multitude” Against the Islamist Government’

15.30-15.45: Coffee Break

15.45-17.45: Panel III—‘From Protest to Conflict’
Chair: Dr. Şakir Dinçşahin

Dr. Shaimaa Magued (Cairo University): ‘The New Tahrir Square: From “Protesting” towards the “Occupation” of Public Sphere in Egypt’ –via Skype

Mona Das (Satyawati College -Day): ‘Common Man’s upsurge against a common nuisance: The curious case of anti-corruption movement in India’

Alia Bukhari (Royal Holloway):‘The FATA paradox of political independence with economic dependence’

Sinem Arslan (University of Essex):‘Social construction of ethnic identities and emergence of Violence: Insights from Democratic Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast’

GetAttachment copy kücükCo-organized by Changing Turkey research team, Dr. Baris Gulmez (Royal Holloway) and Dr. Didem Buhari-Gulmez (Oxford Brookes University). We are grateful to Prof. Barrie Axford and the Department of Social Sciences at Oxford Brookes University for hosting and co-funding this event. We thank Prof. Chris Rumford (Royal Holloway) for his inspiring support to Changing Turkey events.

Open and free to all. Refreshments provided. To register, please send your name and affiliation to ChangingTurkey@gmail.com
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Date: 15 April 2014 Tuesday

Venue: Oxford Brookes University, UK

Deadline for applications: 1 March 2014.

Confirmed speakers:

Prof. Chris Rumford (Royal Holloway University of London) ,

Prof. Barrie Axford (Oxford Brookes University)

Dr. Şakir Dinçşahin (Yeditepe University)

Dr. Gülçin Erdi Lelandais (University of Tours)

Dr. Özge Dilaver Kalkan (University of Surrey)

Anti-government demonstrations worldwide have brought together individuals and groups that are conventionally unlikely to unite for a common cause mainly due to different ideological tendencies.  Turkey’s Gezi Park protests have particularly highlighted the role of youth, women, and sports in establishing unusual alliances between, for instance, Turkish and Kurdish nationalists or far left and far right groups in Turkey. They have also uncovered internal divisions within political Islam as Anti-Capitalist Muslims have played a leading role in the protests against the Turkish government.  This encourages us to ask (1) whether similar trends have been observed in other countries and (2) to what extent political ideologies have become obsolete in today’s politics and society. In brief, we are interested in learning how and to what extent ideological divides have been transcended during the recent anti-government demonstrations in different parts of the world such as Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Brazil, Europe, and the USA.

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Topics of interest include (this list is not exhaustive):

-youth participation in demonstrations (For instance, is the 21st century youth apolitical as is traditionally assumed?)

-the role of women and feminist movements in protest movements

-the role of sports as bridging and/or dividing protesters

-nationalist and political Islamist approaches to anti-government demonstrations

-Can we speak of the end or the revival of ideology in the context of protest movements?

-Is there a dialogue between the protest movements in different parts of the world? (for example, do Occupy movements spread through emulation?)

PhD candidates and scholars are welcome to present their theoretical and empirical findings on relevant themes.

This workshop will take place on 15 April 2014 Tuesday at Oxford Brookes University (Headington, UK).

Please send your short summary (1000-1500 words) to ChangingTurkey@gmail.com by 1st March 2014.

ChangingTurkey.com will publish the short summary of accepted papers under the category ‘Discussion’.

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Call for applications extended to 1st of March 2014

Anti-government demonstrations worldwide have brought together individuals and groups that are conventionally unlikely to unite for a common cause mainly due to different ideological tendencies.  Turkey’s Gezi Park protests have particularly highlighted the role of youth, women, and sports in establishing unusual alliances between, for instance, Turkish and Kurdish nationalists or far left and far right groups in Turkey. They have also uncovered internal divisions within political Islam as Anti-Capitalist Muslims have played a leading role in the protests against the Turkish government.  This encourages us to ask (1) whether similar trends have been observed in other countries and (2) to what extent political ideologies have become obsolete in today’s politics and society. In brief, we are interested in learning how and to what extent ideological divides have been transcended during the recent anti-government demonstrations in different parts of the world such as Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Brazil, Europe, and the USA.

225879_527587997295853_652445811_n

Topics of interest include (this list is not exhaustive):

-youth participation in demonstrations (For instance, is the 21st century youth apolitical as is traditionally assumed?)

-the role of women and feminist movements in protest movements

-the role of sports as bridging and/or dividing protesters

-nationalist and political Islamist approaches to anti-government demonstrations

-Can we speak of the end or the revival of ideology in the context of protest movements?

-Is there a dialogue between the protest movements in different parts of the world? (for example, do Occupy movements spread through emulation?)

PhD candidates and scholars are welcome to present their theoretical and empirical findings on relevant themes.

This workshop will take place on 15 April 2014 Tuesday at Oxford Brookes University (Headington, UK).

Please send your short summary (1000-1500 words) toChangingTurkey@gmail.com by 1st March 2014.

We will contact the selected speakers in mid-February.

ChangingTurkey.com will publish the short summary of accepted papers under the category ‘Discussion’.

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