Do Erdogan's personal friendships and his opposition to the global system represent a whole?

SELÇUK TÜRKYILMAZ,  Tuesday 10:24, 27 September 2022

The personal relations President Recep Tayyip Erdogan developed with the leaders of many countries are critical in terms of understanding the latest era in Turkish political life. As is known, President Erdogan prefers specifically to refer to many country leaders as “my friend,” and continues to do so. This was considered plainly an expression and criticized. In fact, in order to trivialize this approach, there have even been those who accused Erdogan of acting personal and heroic. Whereas this was a new form of politics and did not emerge coincidentally. 

 While President Erdogan almost challenged the established world system with statements such as “one minute,” and “the world is bigger than five,” in contrast to these statements, he represents a political style built on personal friendships, including those with Western leaders. As is known, “one minute” symbolizes a new stance against Israel’s crimes in Palestine, and “the world is bigger than five” against the global imperialist system’s injustices. In this context, President Erdogan referring to the many country leaders as "my friend” was quite interesting. There is both a harsh discourse developing regarding the current global system and close relations being built with country leaders. This cannot be defined as a political style that emerged as a result of coincidences. Opposition groups attempted to trivialize this new approach through intimacy and heroism concepts, but they themselves became detached from the region’s realities. Because Erdogan built this new political stance based on the developments in our nearby region. 


As is known, Türkiye and the Islamic world suffered the gravest consequences of the collapse of the bipolar world system. Western imperialism followed a new expansionism policy, seeking to solve its systemic crises through the Turkic Islamic region. Thus, in the new period that started with Iraq’s invasion, the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus was driven into a major crisis through Bosnia-Herzegovina and Azerbaijan. Previously, the Turkish population living in Bulgaria was displaced. The same problems were repeated in the same regions for more than three decades. Palestine is a part of the same region and the same problem. Turkic and Muslim elements were not wanted in the said geographical areas. This requires colonialist objectives to be seen alongside imperialist policies. 


Türkiye has been constantly seeking a solution since the early 1990s in the face of the great destructions in its nearby region, but it was impossible to achieve against Western imperialism’s expansionist approach. The most important reason for this was the fact that Türkiye was surrounded both internally and from outside at the same time. Despite this, we were able to take a more active approach in the Balkans and the Caucasus. Problems could not be solved in these two regions, but they were at least halted for a certain period. Today, both regions have a greater expectation towards the solution of the crisis compared to the past. 


Imperial centers wanted to solve the crises of the system to be re-established through our region, and they hence followed an expansionist policy. President Erdogan’s “one minute” and “the world is bigger than five” outbursts are thus addressed to the people, institutes, and states representing this system. Personal friendships contrasting this have been emphasized. But what do the personal friendships we mention signify? Is Erdogan or Türkiye challenging the world system through personal relations? 


The two great wars in history were ignited in the Balkan region. Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Macedonia have been dragged into new chaos since the start of the 1990s. All societies living in the Balkan region were open to all sorts of directions. The new policy built upon President Erdogan’s personal friendship found a response in the Balkans. Reflections of the relations developing between Türkiye and Serbia on Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo are not independent of the “My friend Vučić” approach. This approach has a positive impact on almost all of the Balkans, with the exception of Greece. Considering the genocide In the Balkans in the early 1990s, it is clear how great progress this is. In fact, President Erdogan personally stood by the Bosnian Muslims. 


We need to emphasize more that Türkiye has become a trusted country. 

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