The upcoming 2023 election in Türkiye is expected to be significant, as it may determine the future direction of the country’s foreign policy. Under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Türkiye has pursued an active and independent foreign policy, with a focus on expanding its influence in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Balkans. However, this approach has led to controversies and tensions with traditional allies, such as the United States and the European Union. This article will explore possible scenarios and outcomes after the 2023 elections, applied to Türkiye’s foreign policy.
Current State of Türkiye’s Foreign Policy
To understand better the future direction of Türkiye’s foreign policy, we must first examine its current state. Under President Erdogan’s leadership, Turkey has pursued an active and independent foreign policy, focusing on expanding its regional influence and seeking more independence from Western allies. This approach has led to controversies and tensions with traditional allies, such as the United States and European Union.
Turkey’s relations with the United States have been particularly strained in recent years due to several issues, including Türkiye’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system, its military operation in Syria, and its detention of American citizens. The European Union has also been critical of Türkiye’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly its oil and gas exploration in waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus. In response, the EU has imposed sanctions on Türkiye, further straining the relations between the two sides.
Despite these tensions, Türkiye has also sought to improve its relationships with non-Western countries, particularly Russia and China. Türkiye has recently deepened its economic and diplomatic ties with both countries, focusing on energy cooperation and defense procurement. Türkiye has also sought to play a more active role in regional conflicts, particularly in Syria and Libya, where it has supported various groups and governments.
Türkiye’s 2023 election is highly anticipated in the country and the international community. With potential shifts in the country’s political landscape, there is a possibility of a change in Türkiye’s foreign policy.
Possible Scenarios and Outcomes after the 2023 Election
Scenario 1: The Ruling Party Retains Power
The most likely scenario is that the ruling party, AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi/the Justice and Development Party), will retain power after the 2023 elections. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s foreign policy agenda will continue along the common lines, in this scenario. Erdogan’s foreign policy has focused on strengthening ties with neighboring countries, such as Russia and Iran, while simultaneously challenging Western countries. This has resulted in tensions with traditional allies, such as the United States and the European Union.
Continuing this policy would further polarize Türkiye’s relations with the West. Türkiye may align more with authoritarian countries like Russia and China. This may negatively affect Türkiye’s relationships with NATO and the EU, as they may see Türkiye as a less reliable ally. On the other hand, strengthening ties with Russia and China could bring economic benefits through increased trade and investment.
Scenario 2: Another potential scenario is that the opposition party may take control of the government after the 2023 elections.
This could lead to a shift in Türkiye’s foreign policy towards a more pro-Western stance. The opposition party has criticized Erdogan’s foreign policy and has vowed to strengthen ties with traditional allies like the United States and the EU.
This scenario could improve relations with the West, particularly with the US, resulting in a surge of foreign investment and economic growth. However, it could also strain relations with Russia and China, potentially leading to other type of financial repercussions.
Scenario 3: In this scenario, a coalition government may be formed after the 2023 elections.
Türkiye’s foreign policy could become more moderate due to coalition negotiations. A coalition government may also prioritize resolving tensions with Western countries while maintaining ties with neighboring countries.
This scenario could lead to a more balanced foreign policy strengthening Türkiye’s position as a regional power. However, the coalition’s foreign policy could be fragile, as different parties may have differing views on foreign policy. It could also lead to slow decision-making and potential policy paralysis.
The direction of Türkiye’s international relations after the 2023 elections is still being determined, with multiple potential scenarios and outcomes. The likely scenario is that the AKP will retain power, continuing President Erdogan’s foreign policy agenda. However, opposition parties taking control or forming a coalition government could shift Türkiye’s foreign policy towards a more pro-Western stance. Regardless of the scenario, Türkiye’s relationships with neighboring countries, such as Russia and China, will likely continue to be important in shaping its foreign policy.
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About the author:
Amin Bagheri is a Research Fellow at the International Studies Association in Tehran. His primary research interest lies in international relations, transnational governance, international peace, and conflicts in the Middle East. Twitter account: @bghr_amin