Monday, 12 July 2010
'Turkey is at the centre of everything'
The above video – which I noticed on the infognomonpolitics blog – is of a lecture given last week by Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davoutoglu at Chatham House, a leading foreign policy think-tank here in London.
His theme is Transatlantic Relations, but his objective is to persuade his audience to accept that Turkey’s strategic imperatives are exactly the same as the West’s.
‘Turkey is at the centre of everything,’ Davoutoglu brazenly declares, as he takes us on a tour of all those areas he believes Turkey has influence and interests – Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Bosnia, Kosovo – and makes it clear that he expects the West, particularly Britain and America, to back Turkey’s global vision for itself as if it was their own, and the realisation of which he presents as organic and inevitable – based on Turkey’s geography, economic power and cultural connections.
His audience seems to lap it up, and whereas 10-15 years ago you may have expected questions to a Turkish foreign minister to be about Turkey’s relations with Greece and Cyprus, Armenian genocide recognition or the Kurdish rebellion, none of these issues is ever mentioned. It’s all to do with Turkey and Iran, Turkey and the Middle East, Turkey and Central Asia, Turkey and Russia – i.e the strategic agenda that Turkey has set.
Davoutoglu makes neo-Ottomanism sound so benign – continually referring to peace, democracy, the free market, soft power, and so on – and only once does he let his mask slip – when he adamantly refutes the existence of anti-semitism in Turkish society and portrays Turkey as a paradigm of tolerance and multiculturalism; which proves that for all his eloquence and erudition, he still suffers from the same delusions about Turkey as the dumbest and most blinkered Turk nationalist.