First of all, the empathy with the feelings, the value system and the culture of people in foreign countries, is certainly something positive. Empathy is associated with an understanding of the others, and the understanding of others can and should lead to a respect for the other.
Davutoglu said in the interview: “It is possible to have zero problems if the other actors respect our values.” Of course, there is a further requirement for zero problems in the point that Turkey also respects the values of other actors.
Given the values and principles-based empathic foreign policy by Davutoglu, one may safely assume rightly, that the reason why he has not mentioned this is that Davutoglu assumes this as a matter of course. The empathetic foreign policy, which is approached and favoured by Davutoglu, is therefore based on the principle of mutual respect. This is also a classic formula in the world history of foreign policy.
Nevertheless, the empathic acceptance of different identities in different places is not a traditional foreign policy. Is it thinkable that an American Secretary of State travels to Delhi, and then he declares himself as Indian guy there? Is it thinkable, that a German foreign minister travels to Riyadh, and then, on location, he declares himself as Saudi? Is it thinkable that a British foreign minister travels to Tokyo, and then he declares himself as Japanese? These ideas sound already really weird.
When a foreign minister travels to another country, he usually emphasizes the excellent characteristics of the own national identity – often drawn in the beautiful colours of the positive stereotypes – for example, US-American strength, German reliability or British behaviour.
There are some notable exceptions to this rule. About 50 years ago, the U.S. President Kennedy has adopted a Berlin identity in Berlin, by saying that he is Berlin, in order to express the US-American solidarity for West Berlin in the conflict against the Soviet Union. And the Republican warmonger John McCain has mutatis mutandis declared in the spring last year: “We are all Benghazians now,” in order to advertise for the international solidarity in the conflict against the government of Libya.
This technic of external foreign policy, to take on the identity of the population of another State or of a part of the population of another State, is then used in traditional diplomacy, if at all, rather used to represent himself with openly flaunted and greatest consequence at one side of the conflicting parties.
This empathic technology of a demonstrative acquisition of foreign identity is thus normally used for literally the opposite of a zero-problems foreign policy which is aimed on good relations with different sides in the conflicts, namely in order to make the own State of the politician to a party of a conflict in foreign states.
Against this background, it is again worth looking at the situation which examples for the adoption of foreign identities were cited by Davutoglu self as a Turk: “a European in Brussels, or an Iraqi in Baghdad, a Bosnian in Sarajevo, or a Samarkandi in Central Asia.” The selection of the examples is remarkable. Davutoglu has not said that he is a Congolese in Brazzaville, a Chinese in Beijing and a Venezuelan in Caracas, but he obviously uses different identities in different places, which are close to him and that are also close to Turkey, in terms of politics, culture or history.
Thereby, to accept the enclosing identity of a European in Brussels, this is no political problem. To feel European, to think and act European; this is explicitly desired and almost demanded from a candidate for the European Union (EU). But in Iraq he has, however, as it is evident from his interview with the anecdote, which belongs to his remark about identity, successfully betaken into the identity of a Sunni opposition members in Baghdad – that corresponds with the identity of a descendant of the Sunni-dominated Ottoman Turkish Empire from past centuries.
And with the fact that he says, to take the identity of a Samarkandi in Central Asia, so the identity of a fictional resident of a city in Uzbekistan with a long background of a Turkish embossed history, he puts his complete foreign policy in entire Central Asia, which is not only rich in Turkish history but has, beside the Russian, Persian and Chinese embossed history, also a own identity – perhaps unwittingly – below a nationalist-Turkish embossed perspective.
As long as Davutoglu takes different Ottoman or Turkish ethnic identities and the analogue perspectives in other countries and is using this in order to convince the population group of a better cooperation with the respective government – as he has represented his work in Baghdad – therefore, there is no political problems.
But if he takes the identity of a minority or part of the population of a foreign state and is using this identity in the manner of an internationally active Sunni-Turkish-Ottoman patron, in order to put pressure at the government of a foreign state by much – or too much – self-confidence, heavy foreign policy conflicts are inevitable for Turkey.
In such a case, the empathic zero-problem foreign policy of Turkey is changing to its opposite, namely, to an aggressive nationalist strategy which is directed against governments of foreign states, that de facto is aimed at the establishment of an national-cultural Turkish-Ottoman Empires. And just as the foreign policy situation for Turkey has developed in the past two years, it seems that exactly this has happened.
The Turkish government has become convinced in the last two years, pushed by the economic successes that are among other things based on the zero-problems foreign policy, that it became a totally Ottoman-Turkish regional power with a great influence, even a global power, which has a huge influence and power much further than just over their own territory.
And based on the perceived own huge strength of Turkey, Turkey tries to organize the relations between other States of the region for some time now, and Turkey is increasingly trying to determine the relations in other States of the region. This portends towards a Turkish megalomania. This huge Turkish delusion mainly comes to light in Syria.
In June 2011, the Turkish prime minister has, after an armed mob in the region of the Syrian town Jisr al-Shughur, which is near the Turkish border, massacred about 120 Syrian soldiers and police in a surprising attack after the mob was incited by a scattering of deliberately lying and false rumours of Western and Arab TV stations, accused the Syrian government of “barbarism,” “atrocities” and of an unacceptable course of action due to the following military operation to restore order, rather than to condole with the victims. In July 2011, the establishment of the fighting group FSA (Free Syrian Army), which fights against the government of the neighbouring country Syria, was announced.
The FSA has its headquarter in Turkey, and like Haitham Manna, spokesman for the organisation “National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change”, which is working from Paris against the Syrian government, has later explained, the establishment of the FSA was carried out under direction of the Turkish military intelligence.
On 7 August 2011, the Turkish Prime Minister has informed the world public, that what is happening in Syria, is for Turkey not a matter of foreign policy, but an “internal affair”, and so far, Turkey has been very patient with Syria, but now, the patience of Turkey has come to an end and the next steps would depend on the situation of what Davutoglu receives as an answer when he travels to Syria and delivers a statement to Syria. Erdogan has with the claims, that the events in Syria are internal affairs for Turkey, publicly denied the sovereignty of the Turkish neighbouring country Syria, and he has also declared that Syria is a Turkish colony.
On 11 August 2011, Davutoglu flew to Damascus, and he handed over the “gross statement” of his Prime Minister Erdogan to the Syrian President, that the Syrian government has to “immediately and unconditionally” stop all the anti-terrorist operations against armed groups in Syria, furthermore that it has to transform the political system of Syria to the ideas of Turkey within the next two weeks, and that Syria holds democratic government elections which are agreeable for Turkey, and if the Syrian government does not implement all this, in this situation, the Turkish government will take measures and “perform precision strikes”, there is nothing more to discuss, and this is the last word by Turkey.
Turkey had therefore organized armed groups to overthrow the government in its neighbour Syria and also threatened Syria with a war of aggression against Syria if Syria does not immediately and unconditionally capitulates, in the face of the Turkey-supported armed groups.
Syria has then recommended to Turkey, that it better should not interfere in the internal affairs of Syria and responded to the threats of war with the statement that, if Turkey wants war, it will receive war, and that the war will then roll through the entire region.
The good relations between Turkey and its neighbour Syria were ruined with the gross interference in internal Syrian affairs, the Turkish setting up of the armed groups of the FSA and the little subtle Turkish threat of a war of aggression, of course.
To form armed groups in order to perform a “regime change” in a neighbouring country and to threaten with a war of aggression in the case of resistance is, of course, far beyond Davutoglu`s declaration with “don’t want to stay silent” of his zero-problem foreign policy.
Unlike the war against Libya, where one had the impression that Turkey only participates in the war with reluctance, and only as far as needed to avoid any accusation of its NATO allies, Turkey was among the most aggressive pioneers and actors in the hostile campaign against its neighbour Syria, at least since July 2011.
U.S. President Barack Obama has first publicly called for the resignation of the Syrian president on 18 August 2011, thereby one week after Davutoglu`s threat of a war of aggression. Regarding Syria, in mid-August 2011, nobody could anymore speak about a Turkish “zero-problem foreign policy” or the efforts to maintain good relations with different conflicting parties.
This gross deviation from the course of the zero-problem foreign policy does not only concern Syria. Beril Dedeoglu, a columnist for the Turkish pro-government newspaper “Today’s Zaman”, wrote in an article on the state of the Turkish no-problems-with-neighbours foreign policy, that the list of problems increases each day, and it would concern, for example, Azerbaijan, Iran, Syria, Cyprus, and last but not least Israel. She wrote on 7 October 2011, that current image is definitely not promising.
Given the situation that the list of problems of the Turkish foreign policy is increasing every day, one could expect in terms of the foreign policy objectives of “no problems with neighbours” that an error analysis would follow after the finding of fact. But who has thought that, was drastically wrong.
To be continued…