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The 2001 AKP party programme: a new foreign policy vision

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When it comes to foreign policy, the AKP government's line is anything but ambiguous, as even a cursory reading of the 2001 AKP party programme reveals. The document, inspired by Ahmet Davutoğlu's "strategic depth" doctrine, sets out some of the guiding principles of Turkey's foreign policy under the AKP. The following are some of its more relevant points.

Focused on stability and problem-solving

"Turkey is an element of stability in the region where it is situated, with its democracy, economy and its attitude of respect for human rights. With these qualities, it shall take more initiative in the spots of crisis in regions neighboring Turkey and try to make a more concrete contribution to the solution of the crises."

A multifaceted foreign policy

"Turkey's robust democracy, pluralism, economy, secularism, culture, military, demography, and its central geographical position on the confluence of cultures, markets, and resources, as well as several conflicts mandate us a foreign policy that is forward-looking, proactive, innovative, and, ultimately, multifaceted. This requires dealing with contagious conflicts in our neighbourhood which happen to be some of the most resilient, complicated, and equally important for global affairs."

With several alternatives

"The dynamic circumstances brought about by the post cold war period have created a suitable environment for developing a foreign policy with several alternatives. … In this new environment Turkey must also rearrange and create its relations with centers of power with alternatives, flexibly and with many axes."

And intent on forging good relations with neighbors

"Our Party is of the opinion that the regional security environment makes an important contribution to economic development. For this reason, Turkey shall make more efforts for providing security and stability in its near surroundings, shall increase its attempts to maintain good relations with its neighbors based on dialogue, thus it shall contribute more to the development of regional cooperation."

The AKP government was to remain faithful to the vision outlined in its party programme. Since 2002, relations with countries like Russia, Syria, Iran and Greece have improved vastly. Even in the case of Armenia where diplomatic relations are hostage to historical disagreements a rapprochement appears to be in the offing.

A tangible shift in trade patterns, a further sign of a diversified foreign policy portfolio, has also taken place over the last few years. Since 2002, exports to neighbouring and Black Sea countries (Bulgaria, Greece, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Romania and Ukraine) have risen year after year from 11 percent of total exports in 2002 to 20 percent in 2008. Imports from these countries, over the same period, have jumped from 15.5 percent to 27.6 percent. Turkey, under the AKP, has also signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Syria, Egypt, Albania and Montenegro.

A number of ambitious and highly praised mediation efforts are evidence that Turkey has adopted a more proactive foreign policy and begun to assert itself as a regional broker. Ankara has moderated in talks between Lebanese factions; between Iraq and its neighbours; between India and Pakistan; between Pakistan and Afghanistan; between Syria and Israel; and between the PA and Hamas. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has recently offered to mediate between Iran and the US.

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