In 2011, we had dinner together with a number of European businesspeople. The Scandinavian and German businesspeople seemed to be content with their investments in southern countries. They were also eager to make new investments in Istanbul, Turkey.
Turkey's fluctuating relations with the European Union have always been on the top of Turkey's political agenda. Oscillating between rapprochement and tension, Turkish-European relations have nonetheless been vivid and significant.
In our conversation, those businesspeople posed a simple yet vital question: "Why do you desire to be a member of the EU?" I responded that the Turkish government would like to raise Turkey's standards in terms of democracy and economy. Moreover, I argued that Turkish-European relations derive from deep-rooted history. The Ottoman Empire had always been an essential component of European politics, economy and culture.
As Turkey's economy was booming at that time, those businesspeople asked: "Are you sure about entering the EU? When you will become a member of the EU, you need to support the irresponsible and reckless Greece and Spain."
In 2011, not only was Turkey's economy steadily growing, but Turkey was also a shining, rising star in the Middle East. Turkey was arbitrating between Israel and Syria, establishing a common Council of Ministers with a number of Middle Eastern countries, and planning to compose a common market with Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
Unfortunately, the Syrian civil war hindered Turkey's rising democracy and economy.
Nonetheless, Turkey's economic accumulation and its strong image as a Muslim democratic country enabled the government to cope with the political and economic calamities in the following years.
When the fire of the Arab Spring spread to Syria, the United States recommended Turkey to militarily intervene in the Syrian civil war. Later on, it would be understood that the political agenda of the U.S. in Syria was by no means conducive to Turkey's national interests. Despite their animosity, the U.S. and Iran had almost worked together in sabotaging Turkey's theses in the Syrian crisis.
Against all odds, Turkey succeeded to cope with all political crises with its strong economy. Today, when Turkey's economy is currently passing through troubled times, Turkish foreign policy emerges as one of the remedies. Indeed, economy and foreign policy are mutually supporting columns on which Turkey's administration relies on.
About the ongoing crisis in Idlib, where 3 million people face bloodshed, Turkey emerges as the sole agent that looks for a peaceful resolution. Assuming the full responsibility of the general secretary of the United Nations, the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has succeeded in resolving the Idlib crisis through diplomatic initiatives with the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In similar vein, President Erdoğan succeeded to condemn "the Jerusalem decision" of the U.S. administration in the U.N. through his term presidency of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
With its multidimensional and multilateral foreign policy, Turkey certainly develops its relations with Russia, the U.S., and the EU. Such a vivid foreign policy will conclude with invaluable opportunities and strong international image, which will in turn support Turkey's economy in overcoming difficulties and problems.