Foreign policy will not be drastically altered by a coalition gov't, experts predict

MERVE AYDOĞAN @mgulaydogan
Published 26.06.2015 19:07

With the June 7 general election results, one of the most debated topics on the formation of a new coalition government includes the state of Turkey's foreign policy, especially due to recent developments in the Syria crisis. As recently conducted public surveys and statements made by party officials signal a AK Party [Justice and Development Party]-MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] coalition, the Republican People's Party (CHP), which has not achieved a single-party government for 65 years, also seeks options to form a coalition government, including with the AK Party as well. In this regard, prominent academic and foreign policy expert Associate Professor Şaban Kardaş, the director of the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM), spoke to Daily Sabah and underlined that Turkey's foreign policy will experience a huge change.

Though CHP chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu recently said a coalition with the AK party is a "low possibility," his hopes of forming a coalition government with the MHP were dashed after MHP chairman Devlet Bahçeli harshly refuted Kılıçdaroğlu's prime ministry position offer. Thus, Kılıçdaroğlu is left with only one option: forming a coalition government with the AK Party. Commenting on a possible scenario of a CHP-AK Party coalition, Kardaş said that the greatest change in Turkish foreign policy would be the Syria issue. With the CHP's firm stance against Turkey's engagement in the Syria crisis, Kardaş stated that we might see a regression policy on the topic. "With a CHP-AK Party coalition, the CHP would urge a regression policy with regard to the Syrian crisis that would lead to conflict and disputes among the two parties." Soner Cağaptay, who is the director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute, also affirmed in his recent analysis that although "the country's two largest parties could make a convergence throughout the nation, it would still not be free of challenges."

On the contrary, Kardaş stated that with a MHP-AK Party coalition, there would be no change in Turkey's Syria or Middle East policies; rather, it would be sustained further. "Especially after the recent developments with the PYD, the MHP would strongly support the AK Party's current policies towards Syria. Likewise, policies towards Iraq will be sustained, mainly due to the Turkmens living there," added ORSAM director Kardaş.

Cağaptay also indicates in his recent analysis, "The MHP's strong conservative-nationalist tendencies would likely keep it from posing a major challenge to the AKP's foreign policy." Especially with MHP Deputy and Parliament Speaker nominee Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Kardaş says that Turkey would experience a softening stance towards Egypt due to İhsanoğlu's position as the former head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Likewise, with a CHP-AK Party coalition, Kardaş states that relations with Egypt might change in both coalition governments.

As many expect Turkey to modify its stance towards the Crimean Tatars with a MHP-AK Party coalition, Kardaş says that due to Russia's firm stance, the MHP would not attempt to change policies towards Crimean Tatars or Ukraine. In regards to policies towards Europe and the EU accession process, Kardaş added that while many believe the CHP would accelerate the process, the issue is not on Turkey's side, but rather on the EU's. Thus, he concluded in his statements that with either the CHP or the MHP, Turkey's EU policies or membership process would not be changed. However, Kardaş also underlined that with a MHP coalition, Turkey's relations with Turkic nations will further be nourished.

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