Who “Lost” Turkey?

When, after Turkey voted at the UN against new sanctions on Iran, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates harshly criticized Europeans for having contributed to this estrangement, his undiplomatic frankness caused quite a stir in Paris and Berlin. But Gates hit the nail on the head.

BERLIN -- Turkey’s “no” last month (a vote cast together with Brazil) to the new sanctions against Iran approved in the United Nations Security Council dramatically reveals the full extent of the country’s estrangement from the West. Are we, as many commentators have argued, witnessing the consequences of the so-called “neo-Ottoman” foreign policy of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which is supposedly aimed at switching camps and returning to the country’s oriental Islamic roots?

I believe that these fears are exaggerated, even misplaced. And should things work out that way, this would be due more to a self-fulfilling prophecy on the West’s part than to Turkey’s policies.

In fact, Turkey’s foreign policy, which seeks to resolve existing conflicts with and within neighboring states, and active Turkish involvement there, is anything but in conflict with Western interests. Quite the contrary. But the West (and Europe in particular) will finally have to take Turkey seriously as a partner – and stop viewing it as a Western client state.

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