Foreign policy in AK Party’s 2015 election manifesto

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) reserves 21 pages for the discussion of foreign policy in its election manifesto. The section is named and”visionary and leader Turkey.and” This heading fits into Turkeyand’s policy in the first two terms of the AK Party. But and”precious lonelinessand” would be more proper for the third term.
In this section, the AK Party, instead of providing details on what is to be done in the new era, focuses on what has been done in the past. What the AK Party offers is mainly about the establishment of new state institutions. In other words, instead of restricting the state and expanding the sphere of accountability, they seek to make the state stronger.
The manifesto displays signs of state reflexes rather than party reflexes. Like the Communist Party of the Soviet Union or the Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP) of the single-party era, the AK Party also developed some state reflexes. For this reason, the foreign policy section of the manifesto was drafted by the combination of what different party institutions have done so far without even being subjected to editorial scrutiny. The section repeats similar parts and reflects different linguistic and grammatical styles.
Before the AK Party, Turkish foreign policy was controlled by state institutions, including the Foreign Ministry, the General Staff and the intelligence agency. But now almost all ministries, the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TiKA), Turkish Airlines (THY), the Yunus Emre Foundation, the Prime Ministryand’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD), the Turkish Red Crescent, the Public Diplomacy Agency, NGOs and think tanks are active in different parts of the world to contribute to this policy. The AK Party is proud of this success and achievement. However, they view accountability and criticism as a threat.
The opposition parties and the Turkish people view state institutions as untouchable and sacred. NGOs do not have the capacity to criticize and check public institutions. This is why state institutions in Turkey cannot be properly held accountable. It is not possible to check thousands of projects even if they become inconclusive. And everybody finds it normal if huge sums of money are transferred to NGOs and think tanks supporting the AK Party. The activities of civil society organizations abroad are actually programs for supporting pro-AK Party groups and organizations.
In respect to the middle region where the AK Party pays the utmost attention, the manifesto says, and”As in the previous terms in office, we will continue to play a constructive role in the North Africa and Middle East region.and” It is not necessary to discuss how Turkey will play a constructive role in the Middle East given that it does not have ambassadorial representation in Egypt, Israel and Syria and has serious disagreements with most Middle Eastern countries, and its southern neighbors turned into an Afghanistan. Despite its apology over the Mavi Marmara, the AK Party tied normalization in Turkish-Israeli relations to the Palestinian issue and Gaza. This means an inconclusive process of waiting.
Like the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the AK Party also pays attention to Crimean Tatars in the manifesto. They say, and”We will keep supporting efforts for dialogue between Ukraine and Russia to ensure that the rights and interests of the Crimean Tatar Turks are protected. We will do whatever is necessary to do this.and” This statement indicates that Turkey does not want any trouble with the Russian Federation.
In addition, the manifesto states that the AK Party wants normalization with Armenia. However, no specific details are provided on how this would be done. The AK Party offers details on the Middle East and Africa but fails to do the same for the Balkans, Caucasia and Central Asia. And there is no reference to the Turkic world.
The election manifesto of the AK Party does not contain any anti-Western statements. Negotiations for full membership with the EU and NATO are described as the center of Turkeyand’s security and defense policy.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman