Erdogan’s visit to Athens shapes his new policy agenda

Erdogan’s visit to Athens shapes his new policy agenda

The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been blamed for a lot (of situations in the past) and many could still accuse him for other things. After all, he has become nearly the permanent target of European countries such as Austria, the Netherlands and Germany, especially in pre-election periods. He has provoked many leaders and he has been provoked many times by many states and leaders. But, undoubtedly, he is the leader of Turkey and the man who has created his country’s current history.

Watching Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political course one may well understand that he is an exceptional political being. He began his political career as the mayor of Istanbul in 1994, becoming the second Turkish politician to win three consecutive elections with his AKP party, and the first President of Turkey elected directly by the people. His political course demonstrates his general aptitude in politics as he is deeply aware of the political reality in Turkey which he manages successfully for his country’s own good.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is well-known for his positions on the state-Islamic religion relation, causing a lot of reactions from the established Kemalic status quo and the Army. These reactions reached an open harsh confrontation, one of the results of which was the failed coup of July 15, 2016. A coup which gave the opportunity for the army, the public administration, the freedom of the press and the judicial system to go through a generated cleanup, causing further reactions both inside the country and from the international community as it was regarded a retrogression of Turkey.

In the first steps of his political career as a Prime Minister, his foreign policy was governed by New-Ottomanism positions. The doctrine of Neo-Ottomanism, which was shaped by his former Prime Minister and for many years Foreign Minister of the country, Ahmet Davutoglu and was then followed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself, caused several issues with many countries in the Western but also in the Islamic world.The continuous tensions with Israel, Russia, the EU, the U.S. and other countries led to Turkey’s isolation. Something that the Turkish President has probably realised and is trying to mend, sometimes successfully, like in the case of Russia and sometimes with problems, like with the U.S.

His developmental economic policy has succeeded in upgrading the Turkish economy, making Turkey a G20 member with high growth rates and creating a new business class that has penetrated the global market. The development path relied on major infrastructure projects that reformed the country’s image. Also, his social policy connected with vulnerable social groups strengthened his personality within the country, which helped him in the victorious results of the electoral confrontations.

Although the accusations against him, that he is moving away from the EU are constant, in reality, Turkey began its accession negotiations with the European Union thanks to him, 45 years after the country’s first bid.

Obviously, the Turkish President wants to enter into a new period of revision of his policy so far, which led him led him to being isolated on an international political level and left out from great opportunities for growth in the field of economy and energy.

As neighbouring countries, Greece and Turkey have common interests and aspirations. It is the node connecting the East with Europe and, for the benefit of both, co-operating with each other looks like a one-way street. It remains to become realised and, in fact, the visit of the Turkish President (to Athens) is a great opportunity, as well as the Supreme Council of Cooperation of the two countries, planned to take place in February 2018, in Thessaloniki…/IBNA

Photo: PAP/EPA