The code for Turkey becoming diplomatically isolated: “Null and Void”

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Translated by Melissa Clissold

Ankara, for a while, has been defining decisions made against itself as “null and void” in order to undervalue them. The same reactions were given to the latest decisions made by US House of Representatives. When these decisions are claimed to be declared “null”, do they disappear?

Hello, good day. Yesterday, the United States of America (US) House of Representatives made two separate decisions against Turkey. One of them was a sanction decision due to Operation Peace Spring and the other was with regards to the historical incidents being defined as the “Armenian genocide” – these votes were taken with a huge landslide victory. What will be the impact of this? Firstly, the sanction decision must pass through the Senate, then it must go to Trump; but when we look at it, a difference of 402 to 16 is huge.

It looks as if Turkey has no impact in the House of Representatives anymore; this is a grave diplomatic loss for Turkey. The genocide issue has been on the agenda for years and finally the House of representatives made the decision. One of the largest scopes of activity for Turkish diplomacy in the US was to prevent this decision from being made. It is clear that it has no power, no resistance anymore. All the lobbying activities taking place up until now have been blocked. When we look at things as they are, there is a serious stance against Turkey in the American Congress – especially in the Council of Representatives.

This is important, right? It must be; if it weren’t important, one of Turkey’s most important foreign policy goals would not be to be “effective”, “influential” in the American Congress. There wouldn’t be huge markets – taxes collected from us – and sent to the lobbying companies. We can see that this resistance, the resistance of Turkish diplomacy that has gone on for years no longer has any leverage in the American House of Representatives, and generally in Congress. 

What sort of reaction was given? Classic, “This decision has been declared null and void for us.” We aren’t hearing this “null and void” reaction for the first time; there have been other decisions made in Europe – regarding the genocide or other issues – decisions made against Turkey, and those were also declared “null and void.” But since you are already declaring something “null and void”, it means that thing exists. All of these were added to Turkey’s negative image worldwide and foreign policy, its relations have worsened. These show us how much Turkey has become isolated in the international arena.

This is the reason why I made the title of this broadcast: The code for Turkey becoming diplomatically isolated: “Null and Void.” If at any given time there is a “null and void”  declaration from Ankara, the foreign minister or the government spokesperson – there is no longer a government but – a spokesperson from a Justice and Development Party, we understand here that a new decision has been made against Turkey somewhere around the world. This does not necessarily mean that this has to be a Western country; as you know, the Arab League recently made a decision against Turkey with regards to Operation Peace Spring.

And many spokespeople for the administration, including President Erdoğan, defined the Arab League as somewhat “null and void.” It will be remembered, there was another version of this during the time that Ahmet Davutoğlu was foreign minister and prime minister: “No one should try and test Turkey’s power”; it was a cliché that Davutoğlu used a lot. “Null and void” has taken the place of that cliché now. During that time, when one said “No one should test Turkey’s power”, there was always someone trying test Turkey’s power and many new problems started for Turkey. And now the “null and void” incidents are accumulating and pushing Turkey towards isolation.

However, it wasn’t always like this; there is no need to go to the period before the AKP administration, Turkey has never been so isolated in terms of foreign policy, during this period of the AKP regime as well. During a certain period, it had at least determined a zero-problem policy for neighbours in the region and had to a large extent, brought this to life. Following on from this, Turkey tried to be a mediator between countries that were experiencing problems such as even Israel and Syria, it took on an effective role by Iran when it was being isolated in the international arena. At the same time, it has joined in a few international peace operations actively and Turkey became a country whose power was growing regionally and even internationally.  

Of course, it always had problems; but these problems were never too complicated to lead to “null and void” declarations. There were problems with the US from time to time during different periods. But Ankara and Washington somehow managed to find a middle-way to these problems. Because there were institutions here, there wasn’t only contact between states and ministers; there was contact between foreign ministers, the American and Turkish military and other institutions.

There were intense relations between US think tanks and representatives from the Turkish government or party representatives  and very serious diplomatic – public diplomacy – activities. But for some while now it is possible to say these are “null and void.” Due to the decisions that have been made, Turkish diplomacy, especially with the US, but also with the European Union (EU) are terrible.  At one point there were discussions regarding visa liberalisation, now it is clear at what point we are at; there is no meaning to any explanations that come from the EU, they are null and void. Because there is no sanction power left because there is hardly any relationship at all. As long as their economic relations are not counted, politically, diplomatically there are very serious problems.

We saw this recently in the Peace Spring incident: There was no one supporting Turkey, but in the United Nations Security Council, both Russia and the US prevented a decision being made against Turkey through their vetoing powers. First the US, followed by Russia, tried to make different agreements with Turkey regarding Syria and held Turkey in a certain place and Operation Peace Spring ended and how sad it is that The Russian Foreign Minister made the announcement that the operation had ended. Just as the Russian chief of defence announced that as a result of the agreement, military forces retrieved below a certain border.

Right now, we are a country stuck between the US and Russia, between Putin and Trump, trying to run under the rule of one-man management system.

It is a lot more dominant to talk about the relationship between Erdoğan-Trump and Erdoğan-Putin rather than Turkish-American relations, Turkish-Russian relations. And this is the product of recent times; because, Erdoğan in the past used to value one-to-one relationships with state leaders, however, there were also other mechanisms too. One of the most striking examples of this was the March 1 Memorandum.

Erdoğan, at that date, was not even a member of parliament, it was prohibited, but he was party head. He made an agreement in Washington for American forces to be deployed in Turkey, for the memorandum. However, that agreement was rejected by Parliament and it was rejected by AKP members of parliament.  Later, it was understood that – in fact it was clear on that date too – that the prime minister of that period and many ministers had actively worked for that memorandum to not pass. There are different versions of these types of examples. At least we know this: Up until recently, Turkey’s ambassadors in Western countries or important centres had a meaning, their names were known, their steps were important.

Soon, here, one of those ambassadors Faruk Loğoğlu will have an interview with one of our colleagues Edgar Şar regarding this topic. During the time I was a journalist, I witnessed how much of an effort Mr. Loğoğlu  made in order to have an influence over the American Congress and he was to a large extent, successful – they were very hard times, but these things could happen with diplomacy. Turkey’s diplomacy isn’t something unique to the Republic; it has a diplomatic past from before the Republic. There is a diplomatic experience from the time of the War of Independence.  During the first years of the Republic, during its construction period, in addition to being very difficult, Turkey is a country that has had many important diplomatic successes; but when we look at where we have come today, Turkey is experiencing unsuccessful.

Of course, in this environment it’s easy to create nationalistic slogans such as “Everyone’s an enemy to us, Turks do not have friends other than Turks.” However, the Turks were still the same Turks, the Americans were still the same Americans, or the Europeans were still the same Europeans and each side could go their way thinking about their own interests. Therefore, here, there is not much point in forming sentences that begin with “besides.” There were  a lot of worst incidents in the past, but formulas could be found for this; because like I said, there were institutions. There was an institution such as “Foreign Service”, maybe it was belittled, those who worked in the Foreign Service were called “mon cher” etc., but when we look at things now, we can see how difficult of a situation Turkey has fallen due to the ineffectiveness of the foreign service. And yes, this is actually quite a sad story.

In reality, there is actually no reason to talk about the details of what the decisions are. Because we know this: These decisions were taken despite Ankara. We also know that Ankara did not have enough power to prevent this and none of Ankara’s reactions could deter these decisions from being made.

I can see that again all those classic phrases are being said such as “Americans did this too Native Americans or black people”; and people, with these arguments are trying to neutralise this decision especially with regards to the Armenian issue and of course this brings to mind Çetin Altan’s famous phrase: “Turk’s propaganda towards Turks.”

Yes, do Turks have friends other than Turks? I think they do, what’s important is to win over a friend and manage to preserve that friendship. In this respect, when we say “the Turk’s only friend is the Turk” and people believe it, then it appears that there is no problem in not even trying to make friends or keep the existing ones; but this is in no way legitimate.

In conclusion, all these decisions were made despite Ankara. We can see once more how Ankara, how the political powers have lost their powers. Yes, when we say “null and void”, we know that is not the case; it is the opposite, when an explanation is made that something is “null and void”, we actually know how important, real and influential these decisions are; you’re actually confessing that they are. It is not a good thing at all that Turkey has fallen into this position; but when you say these things, immediately they question your attachment to your country, your motherland. And here of course, Nazım Hikmet’s famous “Vatan Haini” (“Traitor”) comes to mind. Yes, that’s all I have to say. Good day.

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