With the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad supported by Iran and Russia to keep him in power, the devastating war is likely to continue
As Turkey leaves behind the many significant events in 2015, including signed agreements, crises and escalated tensions, four important issues will take the biggest share of the country's foreign policy agenda in 2016.
Ankara will focus on the ongoing war in Syria, which will enter its fifth year in March, and try to break the deadlock caused by world and regional powers' involvement in the conflict.
The long-stalled relations with the EU were revitalized toward the end of 2015 with the rising refugee and migrant crises, the opening of new chapters, the visa liberalization process and the readmission agreement occupying the agenda. The latest agreement to begin rapprochement with Israel as a concrete step after the Mavi Marmara raid in 2010 soured ties. The two countries are seeking ways to recover relations.
This year might be a historic one for a tangible solution to the 40-year division of Cyprus. Both Turkish and Greek Cypriots are working toward reunification with never-before-seen willingness.
Syria: War continues, resolution still elusiveNo quick solution to the violence in Turkey's southern neighbor is expected. The Syrian civil war has left over 250,000 people dead and forced more than 4 million people to leave their country. With the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad supported by Iran and Russia to keep him in power, the devastating war is likely to continue. It is no longer a secret that the PKK Syrian affiliate Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed People's Protection Units (YPG) want to expand its territory in northern Syria west to unite its cantons and gain independence. After seizing the Tishreen Dam from DAESH last week, Jarabulus to the west of the Euphrates is thought to be as the next target for the PYD. It has been claimed that the PYD wants to connect its cantons in northern Syria to create an independent Kurdish state that stretches from Iraqi Kurdistan to the Mediterranean. To achieve this, the YPG will have to capture DAESH-held areas with the help of Russian and U.S. airstrikes and clear the region from Syrian opposition groups it is not allied with through offensives on Azaz, northern Aleppo and other areas on the Turkish border. If this is realized, Syrian opposition groups that fight DAESH and the Syrian regime and its allies, including Russia, Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah, could get stuck in a circle of fire and will lose its only way to the outer world through Turkey.
Tensions escalated with the crisis that erupted in the aftermath of Turkey shooting down a Russian jet for violating its airspace on Nov. 24. Despite Moscow's harsh reactions at present, depleted relations between the two countries might de-escalate if the economic situation worsens in Russia.
Visa-free agreement as a milestone for Turkey-EU relationsFollowing the ongoing migrant flow to EU countries, Turkey, as the country with the most refugees in the world, became a partner to cooperate on the issue and the EU and Ankara aligned policies. Bilateral relations have gained new momentum since Turkey signed the EU refugee action plan at a joint summit in Brussels on Nov. 29. The plan is going to be discussed in the EU bloc's next regular summit in mid-February and the momentum is expected to manifest when the readmission agreement is realized in June. Yet there is criticism that the 3 billion euros the EU will grant to Ankara as aid for maintaining refugees in the country is not enough.
Together with opening new chapters in Turkey's EU accession process, visa liberalization for Turkish citizens traveling to the EU starting from October 2016 is thought to be a step toward a better period for Turkish-EU bilateral relations.
Speaking to Daily Sabah regarding the course of bilateral relations in 2016, Mensur Akgün, a professor from Istanbul Kültür University mentioned the responsibilities of both sides and said: "If both sides can fulfill the obligations on paper in accordance with the laws and do not escape from the conditions, Turkish citizens will have visa-free travel to the EU."
Fresh start in Ankara-Tel Aviv relations not impossible in 2016In the aftermath of ongoing talks with Israel, whether Ankara's remaining two conditions for resettling relations – compensating families of those killed in the Mavi Marmara raid and the removal of the eight-year blockade of the Gaza Strip – are going to be met is still a matter of debate. Ankara insists that the blockade must be lifted to take any further step in the reconciliation talks
In the event relations normalize, it would be no surprise if Ankara enters into a natural gas agreement with Tel Aviv, especially after the crisis with Russia, in order to find an alternative source of natural gas, which could also include Qatar, Azerbaijan and Algeria. Reportedly, the Israeli government is considering using Turkey to carry energy resources from the Leviathan gas field to Europe. The Leviathan filed a holds 540 billion cubic meters of natural gas and is the world's largest natural gas reserve discovered in the past decade.
An ultimate solution for Cyprus before May
Progress on the reunification of Cyprus between Turkish and Greek Cypriots were the most productive in 2015, and both sides have declared their being close to a resolution of the 40-year division of the island. This year is expected to be quite promising for the island's reunification. Before the elections in Greek Cyprus in May, the two sides intend to reach a concrete solution to prevent an unexpected result that could axe the progress that has been made so far.
Stressing that both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot presidents are eager for a solution for reunification, Akgün said: "It seems that 2016 will be the year a solution is the most probable. If we miss this opportunity for this or that reason, there is no sense of insisting on a solution."
to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the
used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan
ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen