Turkey’s Foreign Policy Challenges

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As the dynamics of international and regional politics have been changing dramatically over the last couple of years, Turkish foreign policy will face important challenges in the years to come. These challenges concern not only Turkey’s relations with key western actors, such as the EU and the United States, but also the geopolitical heavyweights of the non-western world, such as Russia and China. The coming years will demonstrate Turkey’s growing difficulty in striking a right balance between its efforts to remain as a western country on the one hand and the need to develop functional cooperation with the  non-western world on the other. This is whilst global competition between the established powers of the West and the rising powers of the East intensifies.

The apparent shift of power from the traditional West to the emerging/rising powers of the East makes it difficult, if not impossible, for Turkey to strike a balance between its western partners within NATO and the European Union on the one hand and countries such as China and Russia on the other. One could argue that forging long-term strategic and cooperative relations with the rising powers of the non-western world is much easier than sustaining such relations with the West as relations with the western countries is based on both moral/ideational factors as well as interest related considerations. Trying to become a part of the West, acting with the West, challenging the West are all particular courses of action that involve material/interests calculations along with identity-related issues. On the other hand, having similar relations with the eastern countries appears to be much easier given that identity related considerations are not apparent. Because the so-called non-western rising powers emphasize the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, identity related differences or diverging morality claims are unlikely to act as potential obstacles before forging cooperative relations in different policy realms as well as acting under the same institutional platforms.


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