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Turkey is scheduled to hold parliamentary and presidential elections next May 14, which many described as the most important elections in 2023, and it seems that most matters in Turkey are pending and everyone is waiting for the outcome of those elections.
European diplomats in particular, and observers of the situation in Turkey in general, want to know whether Turkey, after the elections, will return to its allies in NATO and the West, or will drift more towards Russia and anti-Westernism.
And the “War or Rocks” platform spoke in an analysis that most of the Turkish population is concerned about inflation and the depreciation of the lira, and foreign policy plays a weak role in internal talks, but economic facts indicate that whoever wins the upcoming elections must.
Maintaining relationships with all of the western buyers
The analytical platform added that the economic realities mean that whoever wins on May 14 will have to maintain relations with both Western buyers of Turkish exports and providers of Russian and Chinese imports. The recent problems of the lira first appeared in August 2018, when the United States imposed sanctions on Turkish exports.
The American Forbes magazine described the competition between Erdogan and Kılıçdaroğlu as having an impact on the future of the Turkish nation, including its foreign policy. While opinion polls favor Kilicdaroglu, the extent of the change in Turkish foreign policy under a potential new leadership in Ankara remains uncertain.
Understanding Türkiye’s priorities abroad
The American magazine added that Turkey’s priorities must be understood externally. For Ankara, Washington and Moscow are the most important capitals, while London comes in third place, and this hierarchy is unlikely to change, regardless of who rules Turkey.
In its analysis of Turkish foreign policy during the coming period, Forbes relied on three basic criteria: geopolitical necessity, strategic necessity, and the necessity of regime survival.
And the beginning was with geopolitical necessity. After the changing geopolitical landscape in the Middle East in the early 2000s, the American intervention caught the attention of Turkey, which raised fears that the United States might set Ankara as its next target. As a result, on March 1, 2003, The Turkish Parliament voted to refuse to allow the United States to use Turkish soil to attack Iraq.
Subsequently, this fear disappeared with the gradual withdrawal of the United States from the region, leaving a political vacuum that was filled by competing players such as Russia and Iran, and this prompted Turkey to re-evaluate its dependence on the West for foreign policy support.
Ankara adapts to the new world order
The trend of US withdrawal began under former President Barack Obama and has continued under subsequent administrations, with Russia, Iran and China ready to fill the void. Ankara believes it is adjusting to the new world order, and while Turkey previously tried to pressure against Russia, the direct confrontation with Moscow in 2015 When Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet, it showed that such an approach would be risky.
As for the strategic imperative, Turkey sees a strategic shift towards a multipolar world and strives for autonomy from the Western bloc, pursuing an independent foreign policy.
The Turkish establishment views playing great powers against one another as a means to achieve this goal. In this endeavour, Turkey is joined by a growing group of middle power states unwilling to commit themselves entirely to either side in the great power struggle.
Ankara knows that its enemies are mainly Russia, China and Iran, which can destabilize Turkey by exploiting its ethnic, religious and other political tensions. Therefore, Turkey finds itself at a disadvantage in such relations and must maintain close relations with these. opponents because of its many political weaknesses.
Regarding the necessity for regime survival, this is the third critical factor. Relations between Turkey and Russia have matured in recent years, particularly in the aftermath of the failed coup in 2016. After the coup, Erdogan received more public support from Moscow than from the West, with the exception of the United Kingdom.
The ruling elites see Turkey’s importance in the global geopolitical scene as an asset that can be leveraged against both the West and Russia, as they carve a path for their own survival. It is also likely to cooperate with the West on issues of mutual interest, such as strengthening NATO.