Traumatologia dell'arto inferiore nella danza: il ruolo della diagnostica per immagini, Tesi di laurea di Scienze Motorie. L'Università degli Studi di Napoli Parthenope
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Traumatologia dell'arto inferiore nella danza: il ruolo della diagnostica per immagini, Tesi di laurea di Scienze Motorie. L'Università degli Studi di Napoli Parthenope

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ge .,--b. Scr-r,rla dr Screnze sociali{ ," \ oipartimento di \;r Scienze politiche (DISPO)

Università degli Studi di Genova

DIPARTIMENTO DI SCIENZE POLITICHE

Corso di Studi in: Scienze lnternazionali e Diplomatiche

CONTEMPORARY TURKEY: AN OVERLOOKAT FOREIGN POLICY CHANGES

BEFORE AND AFTER THE ARAB UPHEAVALS

Tesi di laurea in Re lazi on i Intemazio na I i

Relatore

iero Cama

Candidata/o

Annalisa Cafuoti

ANNO ACCADEMICO 20I5.2Arc

Ringraziamenti

Desidero innanzitutto ringraziare il mio relatore Giampiero Cama, il quale ha saputo stimolare il mio interesse verso la politica internazionale ed in particolare verso la politica estera turca; il suo supporto e la sua conoscenza sono stati preziosi ai fini della stesura di questo lavoro.

Un ringraziamento speciale va poi al Dott. Federico Donelli, che ha saputo fornirmi materiale di prima mano, e senza la cui disponibilità ed accurata preparazione sul tema questa tesi non sarebbe stata possibile.

Ringrazio anche la mia famiglia e i miei amici, in particolare mia madre Adriana, per avermi sempre garantito il suo supporto e per la sua sconfinata pazienza durante questo splendido percorso triennale.

Dedico questa tesi a mio nonno Luciano Valgoglio, il quale avrebbe sicuramente avuto piacere di leggerla e commentarla con me.

Index

General Introduction 1

Chapter I: Foreign Policy Techniques Before and During the Arab Uprisings

1. Introduction 7 1.1. The Kemalist Heritage 8 1.2. From the Cold War to the AKP 11 1.3. The Strategic Depth Theory 13 1.4. Neo-Ottomanism 16 1.5. Entering Turkish Soft Power 19 1.6. The Outbreak of the Arab Upheavals 21 1.7. The Sectarian Turnout 24 1.8. Cases in Detail

1.8(a). Libya 26 1.8(b). Bahrain 28

1.9. Turkey's Model of Democracy: Is It Really Exportable? 29

Chapter II: Turkey's Role in the Syrian Crisis 2. Introduction 33 2.1. Relations the Alawite Regime and Outbreak of the Conflict 35 2.2. First Uprisings and Decay of Diplomatic Relations 38 2.3. Roles and Players in the Context of the 'Civil War' 42 2.4. Erdoğan's Ambiguities 45 2.5. The Kurdish Issue: Claims and Implications 52 2.6. Humanitarian Crisis: the Question of Refugees 57

Chapter III: Recent Challenges and Assessments of Turkey's Foreign Policy

3. Introduction 61 3.1. Turkey's Instruments of Pressure on the West 63 3.2. The Securitization of the Kurdish Minority 65 3.3. The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal 70 3.4. Davutoğlu's Resignation: Causes and Consequences 75

Final Conclusions Hints and Remarks Upon the July 2016 Failed Coup 87

Early Relations With Russia 90 Possible Constitutional Changes and Future Perspectives 92

Bibliography 95 Sitology 97

General Introduction

The very first aim of this work is that of briefly analyzing and trying to

better understand the most recent foreign policy changes of one of the most

influent and strategically positioned countries within the dynamic of two

crucial regions such as Europe and the Middle East.

The Republic of Turkey, whose establishment dates back to 1923, has in

fact always represented a vital crossroads and an extremely fruitful bridge

not only to connect two continents – and therefore different cultural

backgrounds and traditions – but also to expand and integrate the respective

markets and the related economic and political areas of influence.

Moreover, the Dardanelles have been the point of reference of the whole

Arab world for centuries, from the Ottoman Era to Mustafa Kemal

Atatürk's reforms during the twentieth century, and that is why the

country's role in shaping the neighbouring areas' cultural legacy remains

nowadays undiscussed.

As a start, we will see how the slow passage from the old Kemalist

conceptions of nation and Turkish identity to the much more innovative and

inclusive vision promoted by the Justice and Development Party at the

beginning of the 2000shas managed to re-shape the country's character.

When Atatürk started his reformation process, in fact, the Republic's

foreign relations were suddenly drastically reduced, still deeply influenced

by the so called Sèvres Phobia, a typical - and stillexisting – trait of the

Turkish identity that we will have the chance to define in the following

pages. However, this state of isolation in which the country was finding

1

itself was not going to last too long; with the political ascendancy of Recep

Tayyip Erdoğan's conservative party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi – AKP) in

2002, in fact, Turkey began to assume a completely different role within the

regional and global scenario. Thanks to Erdogan's loyal ex Prime Minister

and expert in International Relations, the country took the opportunity of

becoming a major player and central actor in determining the Middle

Eastern region's dynamics; original theories such as that of the Strategic

Depth or those regarding the use of Turkish soft power to establish a greater

influence in the nearby areas have played a particularly important role in

this context. Davutoğlu's multilateral, multidimensional, and proactive

approach enabled Ankara to become the perfect democracy model for Arab

countries during the first decade of the AKP's administration; the

combination of important cultural and religious aspects of the Turkish

background (first of all the splendid Muslim and Ottoman legacy) with the

main traits of the typical liberal Western democracy had actually a huge

appeal and power of attractiveness on these populations, who will

ultimately try and follow Turkey's example with the outbreak of the so

called 'Arab Spring'. It was precisely during the first months of the revolts

that President Erdoğan desperately tried to take further advantage of these

attempts of achieving political transitions and of starting a process of

reformation in all those Arab countries that were being suffocated by semi-

tyrannical regimes (more precisely Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Kuwait,

Yemen and Syria). But the exportation of the well-known Turkish

experience does not seem to have been particularly effective; all those

declarations and claims about the importance of defending democracy 2

against any dictatorial means suddenly vanished when Ankara's self-

interest took the place of moral values. The government's sectarian turnout

in support of the Sunni side of the upheavals proved that the Republic's will

of 'guiding Arab countries towards their political liberation from the

oppressors' was nothing but a pretext to exercise an even bigger influence

within the Middle Eastern region. As an evidence, the cases of Bahrain and

Libya are the perfect example of the ambiguous approach adopted by

Erdoğan in the context of the uprisings, whose deceptive behaviour reflects

the ultimate passing of the ethical dilemma between a policy based on

moral values and the country's self-interest that this extremely new and

unexpected event had generated. However, it was only with the beginning

of the biggest and most recent conflict in Middle East that Turkey's real

internal purposes came to light. The Syrian 'civil war', with its extremely

complicated and many-sided dynamic, has managed to unfold the hidden

pattern of Erdoğan's foreign policy aims, so different from the initial

concept of Zero Problems With the Neighbors theorized by Ahmet

Davutoğlu in his book about Turkey's geopolitical perspectives and

priorities Stratejik Derinlik (literally 'Strategic Depth'). The President's

two-facedness in dealing with some of the biggest and most determining

questions in the scenario of the crisis ended up sullying the AKP's

reputation abroad and resulted in the political isolation of the country, once

seen as a beacon in the darkness. The alleged financial and miltary support

to terror groups such as Ahrar al-Sham (and most of all ISIL), along with

the securitization of the Kurdish issue and the exploitation of the

humanitarian refugee emergency as an instrument of pressure on the EU 3

and the West, are just a few examples of the much complicated fabric of

Ankara's strategy. Davutoğlu's good intentions were this way rapidly

replaced by the mere pursuit of economic and political needs, thereby

disappointing the many international expectations on Turkey's mediating

role and balancing character of 'bridge-country' in the Middle East and

Arab world in general.

The destabilizing eventuality of the formation of a Kurdish independent

territory on Turkey's Southern border with Syria even brought Erdoğan to

demand the establishment of a no-fly zone over the whole territory where

the conflict is currently taking place; something that will obviously be

impractical until the Russian aircraft continues its raids. In addition, after

the crash of one of Putin's military jets on the part of the Turkish armed

forces, the situation between the two countries did not seem to be optimal.

As regards the question of refugees and the subsequent crisis, Ankara has

been pushing for a much more collaborative role of the European Union

and the US, demanding a large number of humanitarian aids; the

perspective of a weakened Turkey in such a delicate context would only

have the consequence of worsening the already tragic and dramatic

situation that the Syrian crisis has generated in a few years, and this is why

Western powers and European leaders have decided to give in to Erdoğan's

financial requests and claims. The most recent political changes in the

country, in fact, are shaping again a new kind of identity, which will grant

the President to have a free hand on political decisions both on a domestic

and on an international level; after Ahmet Davutoğlu's resignation in May

2016, in fact, the hypothesis that have opened up are numerous. Given the 4

contrasting opinions of the once close associates, the frightening turnout

that the new AKP's administration has undertook lately - with the freshly

nominated Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım - is the first sign that a

constitutional change is getting closer each day. The passage from a liberal

democratic system to a presidential one would actually enable President

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to concentrate all powers in his own hands, thereby

constitutionally justifying his every decision. The main democratic

freedoms have already been stepped on by the government, first of all with

the securitization process in acted to silence one of the main actors of the

June 2015 general election, Selahattin Demirtaş's HDP pro-Kurdish

(Halkların Demokratik Partisi, literally 'People's Democratic Party'),

accused of having direct links with the terrorist group of the PKK, the

Kurdish Workers' Party. The party's condemnation was therefore used by

Erdogan against the party's leader, mainly to regain the vote of the Kurdish

minority.

The President's huge consent (the last November election is the most

evident proof) has managed to remain intact, even after the attempted coup

of July 15 2016. This time, the figure that the President has not hesitated in

addressing as guilty is the renowned cleric and self-exile Fetullah Gülen,

whose popularity is known not only in Turkey, but also abroad. However,

the coup (presumably organized by the preacher's followers inside of the

Turkish military) has been successfully averted by the official government,

whose popular consent and influence were paradoxically enlarged and

strengthened. The alleged collaboration of the Russian intelligence in

preventing the coup (subsequent to Erdogan's formal apologies for the 5

crash of Putin's aircraft) let us think of a possible re-building of diplomatic

relations between the two once rival countries. If so, the hypothesis of a

further change within the alliances of the Syrian conflict could actually turn

out to be pretty realistic.

6

CHAPTER I

FOREIGN POLICY TECHNIQUES BEFORE AND DURING THE

ARAB UPRISINGS

Abstract

L'obiettivo di questo primo capitolo è quello di fornire una breve descizione delle

principali caratteristiche della politica estera turca dall'ascesa al potere del Partito per

la Giustizia e lo Sviluppo di Recep Tayyip Erdoğan nel 2002, fino allo scoppio delle

cosiddette 'Primavere Arabe'. Vedremo come, sotto la guida dell'ex Primo Ministro

Ahmet Davutoğlu e delle sue innovative teorie geopolitiche, il Paese abbia in un primo

momento assunto maggiore prestigio all'interno del contesto internazionale (fino ad

essere considerato come un modello democratico per tutti quegli stati arabi

caratterizzati da regimi autoritari), per poi successivamente rivelare quali veramente

fossero le mire del presidente Erdoğan. Vedremo inoltre come le numerose ambiguità

del capo di stato e la svolta settaria in favore del 'fronte sunnita' nel contesto delle

rivolte hanno senz'altro contribuito al lento declino dell'immagine del Paese.

1. Introduction

The very first chapter of this work focuses on some of the main aspects that

have characterized Turkey's foreign policy techniques from the ascendancy

of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi – AKP)

in 2002 to the outbreak of the so called Arab Spring in February 2011. We

will see how the purposes of the Republic have changed in the international

scenario throughout these pretty intense years, making it shift from the

famous 'bridge country' role, whose aim was that of mediating between the

East and the West, to that of the 'pivotal/central country'. When discussing

7

Turkish foreign policy techniques, the ex Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet

Davutoğlu's Strategic Depth theory appears to be crucial; his will of

transforming Turkey into a strong and active power by expanding its

economic and political relations towards Arab countries in the region was

perhaps the most innovative vision that the Republic had seen in recent

years, especially from the end of the so called 'Kemalist Era'. The Zero

Problems With The Neighbours doctrine aimed at deepening the country's

geographical imagination by making it even more competitive and by

launching into in the international dimension. But with the outbreak of the

first upheavals in Tunisia, keeping the pace imposed by Davutoğlu's

thought turned out to be a huge challenge; the government started adopting

a far more intrusive behaviour in dealing with the nearby Arab countries,

'showing off' Turkey's conservative democracy with a Muslim background

as a model for the revolts to follow, once the old authoritarian regimes were

overthrown. The consequence of this rush and dangerous decision of trying

to take advantage from the protests was that President Erdogan ended up

dealing with a series of political ambiguities and contrasting solutions.

Turkey was, from that moment on, identified with the Sunni wing of the

conflicts, whose hidden first aim was in fact that of protecting its interests

in the region rather than defending democracy at all costs.

1.1. The Kemalist Heritage

Turkey is known to have inherited its contemporary democratic asset from

the most influent personality it has seen in the past century, Mustafa Kemal

Atatürk. 8

The name of once young general itself (Atatürk means actually 'father of

the Turks') suggests that the first President of the Republic has undoubtedly

played a crucial role in the process of defending, shaping and, most of all,

modernizing the Turkish nation. His most meaningful success, in fact, has

been that of 'saving' the already wounded Ottoman Empire from the so

called 'dismemberment' that had been imposed by the famous Treaty of

Sèvres in 1920. Thereby, the old central powers were able to mark the

complete annihilation of the Empire, with terms including the

renouncement to all of the non-Turkish territories and their subsequent

cession to the administration of the Allied. The treaty was never signed by

Mustafa Kemal's Grand National Assembly, with the immediate

consequence of the outbreak of the famous War of Independence, whom

Turkish nationalists won. The successive 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, whose

terms were this time accepted by Atatürk, made Turkey the Republic we

know today.

But if Kemal's legacy has represented a model for the political and cultural

modernization of the country, it also includes some negative aspects as

well. Among them, the most relevant element appears to be the closed

political view of the Kemalist guard, thus referring to the so called Sèvres

Syndrome or Sèvres Phobia. The term expresses the widespread fear of

territorial violation, threat to national integrity and of military initiatives by

external forces. That is why the ghost of dismemberment keeps bringing to

mistrust and hostile behaviour towards other countries.

The Sèvres Syndrome constitutes a quite important aspect in the process of

9

building the Turkish identity, which is in fact based on the concept of 'loss'.

Some of Atatürk's reforms, adopted in order to follow the path of the

'westernalization' for the country, were received negatively by his people,

almost as a threat to the ancient Ottoman past of the nation; as a

consequence, these government-imposed changes have never been fully

shared by the whole of the population.

What happened to the Turkish élites, instead, was a progressive denial of

their Muslim heritage, bringing them to the conclusion that Middle Eastern

countries could be considered more as a threat to the internal stability of the

country rather than an opportunity of growth and cooperation.

The very first problems with such a cautious and hostile approach to

international relations and dialogue with the Arab world arose right after

the end of the Cold War, when it seemed more than necessary to abandon

this distrustful line. The cornerstones of Turkish foreign policy since then,

such as the maintenance of domestic order and the progressive political

alignment to western positions only, appeared to be inevitably outdated and

unprofitable. It was clear that the country needed a complete opening and a

different perspective to adapt to the brand new political order in the

international scenario. The dynamic of the two world blocks was over; the

direct consequence was the rapid rise of the United States as the only big

global power and the slow geographical and geopolitical withdrawal of

Russia from the 'scenes'.

The potential role to which the nineties Turkey could strive for was that of

a balancing actor in the region, with the ambition of bringing the area to 10

political stability. This, however, was made impossible to achieve by the

continuous changes on a global scale, accompanied by the anachronistic

critical pressure and claims of the old Kemalist guard.

1.2. From the Cold War to the AKP

The end of the bipolar system freed Turkey from the rooted and dependent

relationship on the West and enabled the then President Turgut Özal to

carefully determine and gauge all the possible alliances and opportunities

that arose in this brand new scenario. During the eighties, Özal's aspiration

of reaching a global influence was also propelled by the liberalization

process of the Turkish market to the EU and, generally, to the world.

Because of this reason, his open view on foreign policy will later be

associated with the Ottoman period of the so called 'Tanzimat (literally

meaning 'reorganization'), which lasted from 1839 to the First

Constitutional Era in 1876. Numerous sultans (such as Mahmud II and

Abdulaziz), as well as some Pashas, inaugurated a series of reforms to

secure the Empire's territorial integrity against the threats of nationalist

groups from the inside and possible attacks coming from the outside; the

principal aim of this reformation process was, however, that of achieving

the full integration and emancipation of all the non-Muslim and non-Turk

minorities by granting them civil liberties and juridical equality.

When the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002,

the agenda of Turkish foreign policy welcomed a whole new dimension of

11

multipolarism. The parliamentary rejection of any direct involvement in the

Iraq war by not opening Turkish territories to US forces made the so called

Turkish experience much more attractive to the eyes of Middle Eastern

leaders. The idea of a democratic 'economically globally integrated country

with a Muslim population that was member of the North Atlantic Treaty

Organization and sought membership in the EU'1, made Turkey the perfect

partner for a broad series of international players.

During the first years of former President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's

government, the concept of 'bridge between the continents' (Asia and

Europe) started becoming a real point of reference for Turkey, catching the

attention of the AKP. An emerging regional mediating role between not

only cultures, but also civilizations (Christianity and Islam) and economic

systems, could in fact allow the country to achieve an enviable position in

the international scenario. The perspective of a balancing power in the

region was perceived as essential for the US as well, whose failure in the

Iraq conflict might have compromised its impact and influence in the

Middle East.

This brand new emerging Turkish democracy was therefore based on the

huge challenge and compromise of combining a long-time forgotten

Muslim heritage with a liberal political structure, whose principal aim was

that of becoming a potential role model for many Arab countries, as well as

an interesting ally for the Western world. But how exactly was this made

possible?

1 S. Özel, B. Özkan, Illusions Versus Reality: Turkey's Approach to the Middle East and North Africa, 2015, pp. 2

12

To fully understand Turkey's international influence during the first decade

of the 2000s, though, it appears crucial to analyze both Turkish soft and

hard power strategies in detail. In the following paragraph, we will be able

to observe how crucial the role of the ex Foreign Affairs minister Ahmet

Davutoğlu was in the process of theorizing and applying a completely

different approach to Turkish foreign policy.

1.3.The Strategic Depth Theory

One of the most controversial personalities of Erdoğan's Justice and

Development Party is undoubtedly the ex Minister of Foreign Affairs (and

later Prime Minister) Ahmet Davutoğlu. The once Professor of

International Relations can in fact easily considered as the 'father of the

new Turkish foreign policy'2, having accurately illustrated his innovative

vision on the matter in his now renowned book Strategic Depth: the

International Position of Turkey. The aim of this doctrine, taken into

consideration by many foreign policy experts and academics, focuses on

'rewriting', both in theory and practice, the controversial Turkish identity by

overcoming the already mentioned Sèvres Phobia.

Davutoğlu's thought, in fact, is an attempt to broaden the concept of

geographical imagination by taking advantages to the nearby areas and by

liberating the country from old preconceptions and prejudices. During the

first years of Erdogan's government, the international agenda included

2 F. Donelli, Geopolitical Implications of the Arab Upheavals in the Mediterranean: Turkey's case, 2013, pp. 3

13

bringing Turkey back to its multidimensional influence, restoring some of

the most relevant traits of the Ottoman Empire, such as its Islamic cultural

background, but also its multidirectional political approach. Needless to

say, the international perspective changed radically from this point on,

compared to the distrustful behaviour towards the Middle East that the old

Kemalist guard insisted on manifestating.

According to the Professor, the progressive disengagement from the

Islamic heritage and from the Muslim world in general, both culturally and

geographically, represented for Turkey a harmful choice that could

negatively affect its influence and role in the region. Neglecting relations

with Turkey's 'hinterland' (as Davutoğlu calls the old Ottoman provinces of

the Caucasus, the Balkans, Middle East and North Africa), would only

represent a drawback for a project of economic and political integration of

the area.

Turgut Özal's way of modernizing Turkey by improving relations with

Middle Eastern countries just did not appear to be enough anymore in such

a globalistic vision. Regaining trust from the US after the Cyprus crisis and

restoring the domestic economy were not anymore the only aims of Turkish

foreign policy. The Kemalist conception of the Muslim world as a

backward and tribal reality had been completely overthrown by

Davutoğlu's theory, who finally managed to exclude the ancient rivalry

between Arabs and Turks that followed the former's alleged 'betrayal' of the

Empire during the First World War.

The most relevant aspect of the 'Davutoğlu Doctrine' or 'Strategic Depth' is 14

perhaps the proposal of the adoption of a new policy towards regional

countries, the so called Zero Problems With the Neighbors. This theory is

primarily based on 'getting rid' of all those hostile and distrustful relations

set with neighbouring countries. Among a series of techniques, increasing

economic and bilateral trade relations appeared to be the most efficient

instrument to assess Turkey's new 'central role'.

By emphasizing the use of soft power, which will be illustrated in the next

paragraph, the Republic was able to trasform its problematic international

relations into successful opportunities. At the beginning, the AKP

government managed for instance to build friendly ties with countries such

as Syria, turning it into 'its strategic partner in the Arab world'3. Even the

conflictual relation with the Kurdistan Regional Government had become

cooperative by the end of 2008. Other main regional actors as well, such as

Iraq and, surprisingly, Iran (which had always been Turkey's traditional

economic competitor) started entering the Turkish orbit by becoming new

important partners, thereby preventing the outbreak of a nuclear crisis.

Efforts were also made to establish a free trade area in the Middle East,

enabling Ankara to lift visas with Lebanon, Syria, Lybia, and Yemen.

The success of these new innovative policies was partly achieved after the

2003 Iraq War. The balance of the region resulted to be altered after the

weakening of the role of the US, thereby allowing Iran to get an even

stronger influence and facilitating fragmentation in the region. Needless to

say, after the harsh criticism expressed at the beginning of the Israeli-

Palestinian conflict by the government of the Republic, and the episode of 3 M. B. Altunışık, Turkey After the Arab Uprisings: Difficulties of Hanging on in There, 2013, pp. 2

15

the death of ten Turkish soldiers during the attack on the ship Mavi

Marmara carried out by Israeli soldiers in May 2010, Recep Tayyip

Erdoğan became 'the most popular leader on the “Arab Streets”'4. After

2002, this suprising trade boom was also propelled by the close ties that

had been built to the EU, whose attractiveness was, at the time, huge to the

Turkish President.

What made the Zero Problems approach innovative and enviable to the

eyes of Middle Eastern countries was undoubtedly its particularly

transnational character, based on cooperation instead of isolation and

hostility towards Arab countries, as during the Kemalist Era.

1.4. Neo-Ottomanism

When analyzing Ahment Davutoğlu's vision on foreign policy, the

reference to Turkey's Ottoman past appears to be inevitable. Despite having

denied any possible link to what has now been defined as a sort of Neo-

Ottoman current, the ex Prime Minister has clearly done everything that

was in his power to bring back some of the most typical elements of the

Sultanate.

In the process of buildind the modern Turkish identity, the character that

has interveined the most has in fact been the huge cultural and ethnic

4A. Sengupta, Myth and Rhetoric of the Turkish Model: Exploring Developmental Alternatives, Springer, 2014, pp. 130

16

diversity, kept peacefully together through the so called pax Ottomana. An

integration process took place during the state-building period, immediately

after the definitive collapse of the Empire, giving Turkey an even bigger

regional importance. This heterogenic composition of the society is

therefore one of the main traits of the Turkish population; something that,

as Davutoglu has already pointed out in various occasions, must not be

underestimated. In recent years, Turkey's historical centrality and strategic

geographical position have made it absolutely necessity to expand the

country's area of interest. With a more friendly and proactive towards

international and regional actors (such as NATO and the African Union),

the perspective of an increasing multidimensional approach on different

fronts was actually made possible.

However, the term Neo-Ottomanism and its omnipresence in almost every

Turkish foreign policy analysis remain controversial; there are indeed

certain aspects that underline the reference to the Empire Era, and to a

much 'pragmatic' approach to foreign affairs, but the expression has 'thus

far remained […] underspecified'5. Some experts have described this new

current as the natural and positive development of a regional process of

cooperation, whereas others choose to interpret the theory under a more

negative light. According to the latter, the 'revival' of the Ottoman

splendour is nothing but a tool for bringing back Turkey's cultural

imperialism and political hegemony in the region. President Erdoğan

himself has been defining the Empire as the 'apex' or 'cradle' of civilisation,

5 A. Czajka, E. Wastnidge, The Centre of World Politics? Neo Ottomanism in Turkish Foreign and Domestic Policy, pp.2

17

highlighting Turkey's role of protector and guardian of this direct legacy,

thereby allowing his party's opposers to point out the clear link between its

foreign and domestic policy and a rooted and hidden Islamism. This

process seemed to be characterized by a progressive withdrawal from the

European orbit by turning away from what it has always represented and

still represents with its values and culture. The AKP's biggest will was

clearly that of transforming Turkey into 'one big power on a large scale'6,

giving neighbouring countries the idea of being a solid reality whose role

was that of establishing stability and order in the Middle Eastern area.

Even if the expression Neo-Ottomanism was in the beginning used in

reference to the policies and reforms that Turgut Özal carried out during the

80s, it is now fully applied to Davutoğlu's doctrine. The interesting fact,

though, is that the Professor never really refers to such a concept in his

writings, harshly refusing to be associated to it.

According to him, the definition of Neo-Ottomanism doesn't match with his

far more complex and open political vision, making it appear too static for

the scenario that has come out of the Cold War; the post-bipolar context

needs in fact a much more flexible and dynamic approach to foreign policy,

and this is something the ex Prime Minister has always been firmly

convinced of. Still, what remains a crucial element is, however, the

conception of Turkey a nation with an 'imperial vision of its own identity'7.

6 F. Donelli, op. cit. pp. 8 7 Ibidem, pp.10

18

1.5. Entering Turkish Soft Power

It is undoubtedly pretty easy to exercise some kind of influence in the

international scenario by basing it merely on the so called hard power. But

what exactly does this term design? These particular skills refer actually to

all those features a country owns, that are related to its 'material' and

pragmatic way of using power, such as economic and energetic resources

or military furnitures. What appears to be definitely more challenging is

instead assessing a country's role by showing off excellent soft power

techniques. This is, once again, the case of Davutoğlu's Turkey during the

2000s. Let us therefore see what the soft power and its massive use have

implied for the Republic in the complex and delicate context of the Zero

Problems With the Neighbors policy.

The image a country suggests abroad, when properly constructed, is

nothing less than its better 'letter of introduction', and this is something that

the ex Foreign Affairs Minister has always kept in mind. The soft power is

exercised through various combinations of persuasion, rhetoric and, to

some extent, manipulation of other international actors. What consolidates

a government's power (and influences the public opinion) are primarily the

charm and 'power of attractiveness'8 that its leaders manage to channel into

it. The combination of cultural, religious, economic and diplomatic aspects

has enabled Erdoğan's Turkey to gain the huge consent it still has today.

Analyzing the Turkish soft power means taking into consideration different

aspects and characteristics of the country's culture and morphology, that

8 Idem 19

allow it to exercise its influence by exalting them in the best possible way.

The three main focuses through which the influence is built can be

identified with:

• the use of mediating skills by boasting the 'bridge country' role

between conflicting states in the area to establish peaceful and stable

relations

• the role of Islam and religious principles as a way of concretely

achieving the standards promoted by the Neo-Ottoman vision

• taking advantage of the so called win-win relations and economic

partnerships in the region, where the main aim remains that of

concentrating merely on the aspects that involve common interests,

avoiding win-lose'situations

Getting in touch with their people represents a crucial goal for any well-

prepared politician, but it inevitably implies huge rhetorical skills and a

good dose of charisma. Surprisingly, one of the most effective techniques

for gaining trust from the public opinion adopted by the AKP's

administration was that of using soap operas. It may seem strange (even a

little awkward perhaps), but the influence that these fiction products have

managed to exercise is actually huge. Serials like Muhteşem Yüzyıl

('Magnificent Century') and Aşk-ı Memnu ('Forbidden Love') have been in

fact broadcasted in many Arab countries, as well as in Greece (historically

hostile to Turkey). The role of Turkish soap operas is that of promoting the

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