Erdoğan's visit to the US and Turkey-US relations

Published 30.03.2016 01:51

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to the United States as a part of the nuclear summit in Washington is a major development that must be addressed in a number of aspects and that must be evaluated beyond the ongoing speculations on the matter. First of all, this visit, which is paid before the U.S. presidential elections, will occur under the shadow of the wave of terror that has rocked the whole world. In this regard, Turkey and the U.S. will address the Syrian crisis and many other developments taking place in the Middle East and around the Mediterranean region. Indeed, we see that topics that top the economic agenda are also the starting points of political and diplomatic issues. Today, the most important topics on the global economic and political agenda are the Syria crisis, the accompanying terror in the Middle East, the refugee crisis and the Palestinian-Israeli and Cyprus questions that are based on energy and trade fields in Iraq and the Mediterranean.

A very critical presidential election lies ahead for the U.S. Regardless of this election and presidential candidates, the contours of the U.S.'s strategy in the upcoming period are more or less certain. The U.S. will strive to ensure balance in the Asia-Pacific region, the Caucasus, the Middle East and Eastern Europe by controlling pivotal states in these regions. In the previous century, the U.S. kept Japan under control in the Pacific region, considered China to be a part of another pole and ignored other Asian countries. Now, however, Japan is developing ways to make its own decisions and create its own politics "independently" from the U.S., and China does not compete with Russia in "another world" but directly competes with the U.S. in the U.S.'s own "world." In this case, the Asia-Pacific region is at least as important as the Caucasus, the Middle East and Europe. The U.S. cannot exercise military and political control over these two regions to the same extent at the same time largely because of the absence of economic conditions. Therefore, the U.S. has to reinterpret its understanding of "strategic allies" for both regions and pay particular attention to the gains and interests of other countries in addition to its absolute gains and benefits.

The neoconservative bloc that fails to see this reality, thinking that it lives in the previous century, also thinks that hegemony will be ensured thanks to a chain of coups and the same tutelage as before. Much of the lingering conflict has been resolved, as there is a new China for the Asia-Pacific region and a new Turkey for Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Caucasus now. On the other hand, political structures that fail to see this new situation in Turkey might think that there is a way out for them by looking at the neoconservative bloc. Once again in the very near future, they will understand that they are so mistaken. The U.S. politics, which ignores Turkey's reality in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Caucasus and North Africa today is doomed to fail and lose complete control in these regions. As an ally, Turkey's democratic stability is essential for its influence in this whole region. Therefore, as a leader who provides significant support, Erdoğan is an indispensable politician not only for his country but also for Turkey's strategic allies. At this point, everyone needs new politics and the U.S. cannot determine its policy on Turkey by holding on to the previous century's political paradigm.

When we look at the following two key issues alone, we see how a political route is being drawn. The U.S.'s endeavors to create a new trade paradigm with transatlantic and transpacific trade agreements are the two major topics of the aforementioned new strategy. With regard to this, commercial routes in the China-based New Silk Road and Turkey-based Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) will certainly produce new regional politics and diplomacy. Let us note that these two issues are intertwined. This is because Turkey's involvement in the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) will unavoidably create Turkey-based trade integration in the regions I mentioned above. The "deep" part of the issue is that Turkey must certainly be included in the free trade agreements between the European Union and the U.S. so that these agreements can be effective. It would be making things difficult to attempt to commercialize European goods without taking Turkey into consideration and using Turkish ports for a number of issues, from logistics to product standards.

Free trade agreements do not only mean freedom regarding customs and quotas, but also the facilitation and control of the money-capital cycle and human capital circulation as well as the homogenization and standardization of production. So, this process integrates markets by taking them out of the legal, socio-cultural and economic constraints of national borders. Such integration also reflects on politics, which changes it after some time.

With its historical features and current position, Turkey contains major dynamics that will ensure integrity in these areas. The TAFTA is not possible without Turkey, considering that it goes beyond the EU and the U.S., and will create integrity in global trade. Therefore, Turkey-U.S. relations and Erdoğan's significance for the U.S.'s strategy in the upcoming period as an influential leader must be reevaluated, and the talks that will be held during this visit must be viewed from this perspective.

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