On June 28, SETA Foundation at Washington DC hosted an event, “Turkey’s Domestic and Foreign Policy After the Elections.” The panelists discussed the results of the elections and its impact on US-Turkish relations and the Turkish political system. The panelists were Ambassador James Jeffrey, Philip Solondz Distinguished Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Burhanettin Duran, General Coordinator at the SETA Foundation; Mujeeb Kahn, University of California, Berkeley; Michael Reynolds, Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University; and Daniel Serwer, Academic Director of Conflict Management at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Kilic Bugra Kanat, Research Director at the SETA Foundation at Washington D.C. moderated the event.
Burhanettin Duran reflected on the how the elections were critical for Turkey. He noted that the elections were elections of transition, concerning the future of Erdogan, and were the first true elections of electoral alliances. He commented on the parliament moving forward, saying that HDP will be influential in parliament. He also said the alliances formed prior to the elections may create new coalitions and difficulties for political party actors.
Mujeeb Kahn provided a US perspective on the elections. He argued there is legitimation in the questions circulating about whether the elections are free and fair. He believed that they were free, but not fair due to an unlevel campaign period. He also said the elections showed there was great voter interest in Turkey’s democracy. He stated that Turkey has a democracy, but it is flawed and the US should be critical of Turkey by recognizing this. He also called for the democracy to be institutionalized and for an independent judiciary.
Michael Reynolds reflected on the concerns that the US and Turkey’s relations will further sour now that Erdogan is re-elected. He contended that anti-American sentiment is not due to Erdogan. It exists in Turkey, however the US should not blame Erdogan for being the source. He argued that Erdogan can be flexible when it is in Turkey’s best interest. He mentioned that he is unsure whether HDP will work with either coalition in the parliament.
Daniel Serwer presented an argument that the elections were neither free nor fair. He commented that the opposition is fragmented, but believes that they may play a constructive role even though it will be difficult. Moving forward on relations between the two countries, he argued that there needs to be compromise and that the countries will have to work on each situation one at a time.
Ambassador James Jeffrey asserted that this is not a one man rule that Turkey is transitioning too. He discussed that Erdogan will be there when he is needed, such as supporting the coalition to defeat ISIS in Syria. He stressed the concern of Turkey having both S-400s and F35s due to US technology being at risk of Russian’s stealing the information.