Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the Turkish presidential run-off on Sunday, defeating his political rival, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu. How could Erdogan’s win influence Turkiye’s foreign policy and its relations with NATO?
On May 28, Recep Tayyip Erdogan secured a historic third term, which suggests that the country’s foreign strategy and geopolitical vision will not undergo any changes. This is what Erdogan’s victory means for World’s Geopolitical Balance.
At the moment, one of the key areas of Turkish foreign policy is the elimination of the terrorist corridor in Syria.
Ankara considers the US-backed Syrian Kurdish militias, deployed in the region affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated as terrorists by Turkiye. The policy of normalizing relations with Syria is of great importance from this point of view.
Apparently, normalizing ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could help Ankara kill two birds with one stone: curb the Kurds in Syria’s north and facilitate the return of around four millions refugees recently hosted by Turkiye to the Arab Republic, as per Western observers.
Turkish-Syrian normalization has taken on a new significance after Damascus resumed its membership in the Arab League.
It is also necessary to continue to make efforts to resolve the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, to establish the Azerbaijani-Armenian peace.
Cooperation with Greece on the islands in the Aegean Sea and the Cyprus issue also remains an important objective.
Ankara’s independence and pragmatism makes it flexible in terms of geopolitical maneuvering, according to political scientist and international relations expert from Marmara University Baris Doster.
The US political establishment closely monitored Turkiye’s presidential election. Back in January 2020, Joe Biden told the US press that the White House should encourage Erdogan’s opponents to defeat him electorally.
Following Erdogan’s win, the American mainstream media expressed hope that Ankara would soften its stance toward Sweden’s NATO membership. Last year, Sweden and Finland applied to join the transatlantic alliance.
Sweden complained that the request was impossible and it has no idea who those extremists are? As per the US press, Sweden’s entry into NATO may pave the way for the sale of American F-16’s and kits to upgrade Turkiye’s older jets.
The USA-Turkish F-16 deal has remained on hold for quite a while, prompting irritation from Ankara, given that previously Turkiye was expelled by Washington from the F-35 program in 2019.
Turkiye invested $1.4 billion (TL 24.2 billion) in the development of the F-35 stealth multi-role combat aircraft. Washington cited Ankara’s decision to purchase Russia’s state-of-the-art S-400 air defense systems as cause for the removal.
No matter how strong NATO’s discontent with Ankara independent foreign strategy is, the alliance would not dare expel or alienate Turkiye as it plays an essential role in the West-East equilibrium.
Turkiye’s expulsion from NATO could result in the strengthening of non-Western centers of power. Having the second largest NATO army and controlling the entry into the Black Sea, Turkiye remains indispensable for the Atlantic alliance in geopolitical terms!
Therefore, the US establishment has no leverage and is forced to reconcile themselves with reality and reckon with Erdogan for another five years, academics concluded.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2023.