Turkish foreign policy needs a new start: CHP
CHP Leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu defines the EU accession as CHP's top foreign policy priority. "Relations with the EU need a new start. Without waiting for the opening of new negotiation chapters, we need to take further steps in order to get our democratic standards stronger" says Kılıçdaroğlu.
Interview, Murat Yetkin
Turkish foreign policy needs a new start at once, especially after the historical deal between Iran and the world powers, says Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the social democratic main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Considering the deal a “positive” step for “peace and stability in the Middle East,” Kılıçdaroğlu said it has the potential to realign the existing political balances in the region, highlighting Iran’s role if it is successfully completed and implemented.
“Turkey must update its foreign policy according to the needs of the new balances,” Kılıçdaroğlu told Hürriyet Daily News in a telephone interview on April 3. “For the last few years, Turkish foreign policy has been in decline in parallel with the level of democracy in domestic politics. Imagine that, up until a few years ago, Turkey used to mediate between Iran and the world powers. Now unfortunately we are almost totally out of the picture. President Tayyip Erdoğan has already been pushed out of the game by the international powers. U.S. President Barack Obama had asked both Erdoğan and Israeli President Binyamin Netanyahu to come to terms during his visit to Israel over the phone but let it go when neither of them did so,” he said.
Claiming the current foreign policy is damaging the interests of Turkey and the Turkish people, Kılıçdaroğlu said Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was, “not capable of conducting a comprehensive foreign policy,” and Erdoğan was, “too stubborn to change his path, which he thinks is unmistaken.”
“As we are getting away from the standards of the European Union, our democratic standards are getting lower,” Kılıçdaroğlu continued. “Terrorism is back, the government is bringing additional measures to run the country by undeclared martial law with the new Domestic Security Law and our democracy deteriorates as the gap between Turkey and Europe widens,” he said.
The CHP leader said Turkish foreign policy should go through a revision in three main fields, with new priorities which put national interests first and which attempt to resume friendly relations with Turkey’s neighbors:
1- Relations with the EU need a new start. Without waiting for the opening of new negotiation chapters, we need to take further steps in order to get our democratic standards stronger.
2- Relations with the U.S. need a new start. The U.S. is our important ally and we have to resume good relations while also protecting our national interests as two equal democracies.
3- Relations with our Middle Eastern neighbors, especially Egypt, Israel, Syria and Iraq, need a new start. Turkish foreign policy must be taken out of the Sunni-Shiite fault lines in the region. Iran’s role is likely to increase following the nuclear deal. Turkey has to have better relations and cooperation with Iran.
The Turkish opposition leader said Iran’s historical deal with the world powers provides Turkey with an opportunity to renew its position, but he also says he doubted whether the Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government could take advantage of it.