Should the ‘Zero Problems With Neighbors Policy’ Come Back?

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It is now high time for Turkish decision makers to give full consideration to the idea of revitalizing the ‘zero problems with neighbors’ policy in the context of Turkey’s engagement in the Middle East.


The success story of Turkey’s rise over the last decade owed a great part to the revolutionary foreign policy initiatives undertaken at many levels and in many directions. Everything seems to have continued positively by the time the so-called Arab Spring took place. Turkey had been part of solutions, a unifying approach had been adopted vis-à-vis regional actors, the goal had been to help mitigate the negative consequences of regional polarizations and pave the way for EU-like regional integration. Besides, Turkey had been aware of its hard and soft power limitations and dealt with the incumbent regimes in the region realistically. The continuation of the EU accession process had been seen as one of the quintessential factors of Turkey’s positive image across the Middle East.


However, Turkey’s response to the revolutionary upheavals in the Middle East has undoubtedly made it clear that there has emerged a serious gap between Turkey’s expectations/aspirations on the one hand and Turkey’s capabilities and geopolitical realities on the other. The way how Turkey reacted to the Arab Spring, as it unfolded in many countries across the Middle East, has been extensively studied by analysts, pundits, and academics. The main conclusion such a diverse group of Turkey-observers reached is that Turkey has begun to put ideology and sectarian attachments at the center of its Middle Eastern policies, and Turkish rulers have adopted a highly buoyant rhetoric of over self-confidence beyond Turkey’s hard and soft power capabilities.


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