Turkey’s actions have long been interpreted through the lens of Western perceptions as a result of Turkey’s NATO membership and EU integration process. The relevance of perception in relations between Turkey and the West has increased further with the rise to power in 2002 of a party allegedly with a religious background. Turkey’s historical identification with Europe and the country’s ongoing EU accession process have made Europe synonymous with the West-more so than the United States. Yet, debates over how the West views continuity and change in the AK Party’s foreign policy have mostly focused on American viewpoints. European perceptions of contemporary Turkish foreign policy have been largely ambiguous and confusing. In Turkey, too, discussions of how Turkish foreign policy is perceived in the West have generally focused on American reading, neglecting the European viewpoint and transatlantic differences in perceptions of Turkey. These differences between the European and American approaches to Turkish foreign policy under AK Party must be explored.
What do European elite think of the evolution of the Turkish Foreign Policy under AK Party rule over the last decade? What do they perceive to be the driving force behind Turkey’s foreign policy? What is the influence of religion in their perceptions? Do they believe Turkish foreign policy has experienced a shift of axis? How do they assess Turkey’s relations with Iran and Israel in the context of shift of axis debates? Can Turkey’s political and economic experience serve as a model fort he Arab world? What kind of link could be established between Turkey’s stalled EU accession process and Turkey’s new activism in the Middle East? What do they think of the issue of over-strech in Turkish foreign policy?
Presenter: Talip Kucukcan, Foreign Policy Program Coordinator, The SETA Foundation
Discussant: Emiliano Alessandri, Transatlantic Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the US
Moderator: Erol Cebeci, Executive Director, The SETA Foundation at Washington DC