Turkey’s Africa policy and the curiosity of the British and Germans - ZEKERIYA KURŞUN

Turkey’s Africa policy and the curiosity of the British and Germans

Ever since 2015, with its discourse and action, Turkey has crossed many bridges and made extensive progress in Africa.

However, there have also been ups and downs due to shifts in regional balances and the diverting problems centering around Turkey.

The lack of fodder in internal politics and because it remains out of the domain of politicians’ interest Africa is far off the world’s agenda.

The latest developments in Libya has led Turkey to revise its policies in Africa. However the source of this revision is foreign.

The inadequacies of our specialists regarding Africa and the lack of studies conducted brought about the disinterest in the continent.

Due to the lack of sharing information on Turkey’s foreign policies with the public, the impression of Africa has largely been limited to humanitarian aid.

However, those with an outside perspective have completely different opinions of the matter.

It is highly likely that foreigners can perceive Turkey’s power in Africa better than we can.

The French have determined Turkey is the competition in Africa and as a result have established their strategy based on this fact; the Germans and the British are fighting tooth and nail to comprehend Turkey’s Africa policy.

Within the past few months, apart from those you have asked questions via email, many foreign students, researchers and mission representatives have made appointments coming to visit me.

Some were German and some English, however they all asked similar questions.

They all tried to comprehend Turkey’s policies through independent sources and measure the effects of these policies on the community.

It is clear as day that they are trying to assimilate Turkey’s policies in Africa, and not just by meeting with me but with many experts and institutions.

The Germans are trying to ascertain whether they can partner up with Turkey in Africa, on which subjects they can do so and in which African nation they can establish a presence through Turkey.

The British, as always, following more clandestine politics, are trying to determine with whom they can potentially cooperate with or stand against in Africa.

Furthermore, the French and the Chinese, which are in a historic competition in Africa, are pegging who they are against- such as new actors like India— and with whom they can cooperate with in the region.

For example it can better be seen today that it’s no coincidence that some foreign researchers are striving to understand and academically deconstruct Turkey’s goals in Tunisia and Libya.

Their questioning of Turkey’s Libya policies months ago is not independent from the developments taking place in the country during the last few weeks.

Rather than research its policies from obvious resources, it turns out that the true purpose of this probing is to analyze Turkey’s possible steps in the face of likely developments.

The objective behind the probing and investigating is the effort to comprehend the transformation, the experience and if any— the change in Turkey’s policies since 2011.

Another dimension of foreigners consulting specialists and their academic research is to understand whether Turkey’s regional politics are based on historical advantages and emotional norms or whether it is based on realpolitik tendencies.

For instance one of the questions, the answer to which I was told would be used for academic purposes, is: what is the purpose behind Turkish politicians’ ethical and universal value discourses toward the Arab spring?

Those interested in foreign policy will have inferred the implication lurking behind this question: they were asking how the Justice and Development (AK) Party reconciled its stance toward the Arab Spring with the effects of its own ideologies/identities.

In contrast to the implicit interrogations of the British, the Germans coming to visit me and directly asking about the basis on which Turkey has built its Africa policies post-2005 indicates the discrepancy between how the two countries engage in politics.

Meanwhile, it can be observed that the Germans are striving to decipher Turkey’s politics in Africa’s sub-Sahara.

Of course they too know that the answers provided by myself and others have no authority.

However, it is blatant that that they are testing whether Turkey’s state policies are reflected on society and to measure their sustainability.

Thus it is also clear that they will determine their own positions in Africa, possible consultations or rules of competition accordingly.

Doubtless, their questions are not just limited to these. The answers I gave in these interviews necessitate another article. But it is also my duty to answer the question on all our minds.

While the westerners were pressing and probing, were the makers of Turkey’s foreign policy similarly meeting with their counterparts? Unfortunately it is not possible to answer in the affirmative. Whereas it is impossible to build sustainable policies without the support of universities, research centers, academics—and more precisely of vast communities.

The lack of practical suggestions, analyses and theories regarding our foreign policy on the part of these institutions is the result of them being ignorant of one another.


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