TPQ’s Summer 2018 issue marks the 11th annual edition that we are publishing with the support of NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division. This long-standing partnership has helped TPQ in its efforts to feature nuanced and diverse opinions on the security policy challenges facing Turkey, the region, and the transatlantic community. Over the years, we have had the privilege of bringing the perspectives of the previous three NATO Secretary Generals, as well as the current Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, to our readers. As a collection, these contributions reflect the Alliance’s evolution and its capacity to reinvent itself in the face of new challenges.
Today’s security landscape is highly fractured: The US has ceded its role as the guarantor of Europe’s security under the Trump administration, and the rise of authoritarian tendencies across Europe is undermining the core values upon which NATO and other multilateral institutions were founded upon. As such, the tension between the Alliance’s normative and geostrategic responsibilities has never been more acute. Chief among the fallouts of this dilemma is that cooperative security remains elusive when it is needed most. Headlining the Summer 2018 issue are contributions by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco and the Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gottemoeller, who address this theme from different perspectives.
In her article, the Deputy Secretary-General acknowledges that there are significant challenges facing NATO—from dealing with an aggressive Russia, to the fight against terrorism, to the proliferation of cyber threats, and to differences among allies. However, NATO’s ongoing adaptation and the allies’ unwavering commitment to collective defense mean that they are not insurmountable, argues Gottemoeller. She highlights Turkey’s critical role in NATO operations and missions, as well as points to NATO’s increased attention to the country’s security threats. Finally, Gottemoeller touches on the key outcomes of the Brussels Summit in July, which include additional measures to address the challenges of the Alliance’s partners in the Middle East, enhancing cooperation with the EU, and a commitment to fair burden sharing. Underpinning all of NATO’s missions is the responsibility of cooperative security, which is enshrined in the preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty, concludes Gottemoeller.
In His Serene Highness’s second contribution to TPQ, Prince Albert II of Monaco addresses cooperative security through the lens of ocean preservation, an often overlooked but crucial component of curbing climate change. The Prince’s personal dedication to environmental conservation through the Prince Albert II Foundation has helped propel the Principality of Monaco towards being a global leader in marine ecosystem conservation efforts. In his article, the Prince expresses his deep conviction that humankind’s security, economy, and livelihood require healthy oceans, as the ocean is the largest ecosystem on earth and the planet’s life source. The Prince emphasizes that one of the most effective means of protecting marine ecosystems is through marine protected areas, which currently only comprise four percent of the world’s oceans. One of the Prince’s leading priorities to that end is the development of marine protected areas in the Mediterranean Basin, which encompass a wide range of marine issues. Prince Albert stresses that the protection of the world’s oceans is a collective responsibility and that sustainable solutions require efforts on a global, national, and even individual level.
Ambassador Ünal Çeviköz, Vice President of the Republican People's Party (CHP) and a member of Parliament in the Turkish Grand National Assembly, takes a closer look at the NATO/US-Turkey strategic relationship, as well as the role Russia is playing in current frictions. Chief among NATO/US concerns is Turkey’s procurement of the S-400 long-range air defense system from Russia, which Çeviköz argues has the potential to weaken NATO both politically and operationally. Furthermore, the purchase suggests that a broader Eurasianist orientation in Turkish foreign and security policy, points out Çeviköz. Compounded by growing dissonance over values between Turkey and its allies, this has led to heightened concerns over Turkey sliding out of NATO’s orbit in favor of a security relationship with Russia and Iran—at a time when tensions between NATO and Russia run particularly high. While acknowledging the anxieties of the Alliance towards Turkey, Çeviköz opines that Ankara does not, in fact, want to leave NATO. He reminds the reader that Turkey very much relies on NATO security guarantees as it continues to face sustained security challenges. Under these conditions, Çeviköz argues that Turkey has both political and economic interests in closer relations with Russia, but that they do not outweigh the country’s strategic commitments to NATO. Moreover, finding common ground on Syria may provide an opportunity for Turkey to complement its relationships with NATO and Russia, concludes the author.
Also exploring the fault lines in the alliance between Turkey and its Western NATO allies, Francesco Bongiovanni, a former investment banker and author of Europe and the End of the Age of Innocence and of The Decline and Fall of Europe, explains the strategic reasons underpinning Turkey’s original accession to the NATO alliance in 1952 and US support for Turkish membership. Within the context of the Cold War, the US saw Turkey as a potential balance to Soviet power in the region and as a base to project its power in the Middle East, while Turkey saw it as an opportunity to be anchored to the Western alliance of states. However, since then, Turkey’s relationship with its NATO allies—particularly the US—has weathered turbulent episodes in its history, points out Bongiovanni. Today, the collection of grievances is growing—from divergences over Syria to Turkey’s backsliding on democratic norms—which have lent credence to the argument of a Turkish exit from NATO. In contemplating this scenario, Bongiovanni weighs the strategic benefits and drawbacks both from the perspective of Turkey as a regional power and for the NATO allied cohesion. The author asserts that a “Turkey outside of NATO” would be far worse than a “wild card” Turkey that is inside NATO. He expresses the conviction that despite a mutual crisis of confidence, the strategic bonds between Turkey and NATO will prevail over current tensions.
While Turkey’s relations with its Western allies remain frayed, there is renewed optimism that the modernization of the EU-Turkey Customs Union may lead to a reset between Brussels and Ankara while accession negotiations remain dormant. Discussing the complex dynamics of this initiative in her article is Nilgün Arısan Eralp, the Director of the Center of European Union Studies at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV). Eralp argues that among its many economic benefits, the Customs Union embodies a rules-based framework and that its revamping could have a “transformative impact” for Turkey and more Turkey-EU relations. However, Eralp highlights that this endeavor faces opposition by a group of EU states led by Germany, which views forestalling a Customs Union modernization as a way to punish the political leadership in Ankara for backsliding on democratic norms and rule of law. In contrast, there is an argument that failing to upgrade this agreement would only worsen relations between Turkey and the EU and discourage rules-based domestic reforms in the country. Eralp situates herself in the latter camp, stressing that upgrading the Customs Union remains one of the only instruments for EU policymaking to encourage economic engagement with Ankara and to maintain political momentum.
Elaborating on another dimension that can lead to improved Turkey-EU ties, Suzanne Carlson, Senior Editor of the Oil and Gas Year, takes stock of energy relations between Turkey and the bloc, potential areas of cooperation, as well as challenging dynamics in the regional energy scene. With regard to the latter, Carlson identifies recent gas discoveries in disputed areas off of Cyprus as having stoked existing tensions between key littoral states of the Mediterranean—Turkey, Greece, the Republic of Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, and Lebanon. Gas exploration wrangles have overshadowed the progress made on big pipeline projects such as the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) and TurkStream, argues Carlson. Furthermore, the increased attractiveness of liquified natural gas (LNG) has rendered pipelines less important for the EU’s energy needs in the grand scheme. Amidst waning enthusiasm for gas, Carlson highlights four areas around which Turkey and the EU can cooperate on: coal reduction, renewables, energy efficiency, and electricity grid cooperation. According to Carlson, EU efforts in reducing its use of coal could be implemented in Turkey as the EU has a strong interest in mitigating carbon emissions globally. With renewable energy sources becoming much cheaper, the EU could offer technical and financial assistance to Turkey which is working toward increasing the share of renewable energy to 30 percent of its energy mix. Likewise, increased integration of electrical grids between Turkey and the EU could garner profits for both sides and reduce blackouts. Carlson stresses that Turkey and the EU’s shared interests in the energy sector can be used as a “catalyst” to encourage engagement on other fronts as well.
Zooming out to provide the broader implications of oil price volatility on the world economy in his article is Dr. Carmine Difiglio, the Director of the International Center for Energy and Climate at Sabancı University in Istanbul. Dr. Difiglio argues that oil price spikes precipitate a decline in world GDP growth. The motor vehicle industry plays a large role in how oil prices can impact an economy: After an oil price hike, automotive sales decrease, which in turn trickles down to affect the rest of the economy. Turkey is vulnerable to oil price volatility for two reasons explains Dr. Difiglio: The Turkish motor vehicle industry is an important source of foreign exchange reserves and it has little domestic oil production relative to demand. Emergency oil stocks of the International Energy Agency (IEA) can be a powerful tool for mitigating oil price volatility, however, Dr. Difiglio asserts that the stockholding system fails to release reserves promptly and effectively enough. In the event of a crisis, Dr. Difiglio urges the leaders of IEA member countries to quickly evaluate the impact of any serious petroleum supply outage on petroleum prices and reach a consensus to release enough stocks to fully replace lost oil supplies.
Another source of turbulence for the world economic order with the potential to escalate broader hostilities is the specter of trade wars. In his contribution, Dr. Jiong Gong, research fellow at Charhar Institute and a professor of economics, discusses the unfolding trade war between the US and China, which he argues is an example of an economic Thucydides Trap. According to this theory, the US views China’s ascending economic power as a direct threat to US interests with the inevitable outcome of conflict. Dr. Gong asserts that viewing bilateral economic competition through this lens is not only distorted but harmful to the global economy as well as peace and security in the Far East. According to the author, the Trump administration’s confrontational stance is influenced by the notion of bringing factory production back to American shores and rebalancing the US’s trade deficit with China. However, it is also part and parcel of a broader shift in US trade policy towards China which can be defined as “constructive confrontation” rather than engagement. This approach overlooks the intertwined and complementary nature of the Chinese and American economies, insists Dr. Gong, who touts the China-US relationship as the most important international relationship of the 21st century.
In his contribution for TPQ, CEO of Borusan Holding Agah Uğur relays his insights on how sound decision making can render the uncertainty that permeates today’s economic and political landscape less daunting. Through anecdotes from his youth, Uğur explains how he ultimately made the decision to return to his home country of Turkey after matriculating abroad, which garnered both personal and professional satisfaction. The author connects this line of thought to two important aspects of decision making: identifying the big picture for oneself and linking decisions to a reference point. According to Uğur, people are choosing the easy rather than the right path which is evident in the forces that are gaining ground globally such as xenophobia, racism, and right-wing populism. It is the people who are courageous in their decisions that can affect meaningful change and find internal peace, concludes Uğur.
In line with TPQ’s increasing focus on cybersecurity dynamics, an article about a digital surveillance by Dr. Akın Ünver, Assistant Professor of International Relations at Kadir Has University, titled “The Logic of Secrecy: Digital Surveillance in Turkey and Russia” is included in this issue. In juxtaposing the digital surveillance policies of Russia and Turkey respectively, Dr. Ünver argues that both are locked in a vicious cycle of the need for “broadened surveillance powers.” Dr. Ünver also explores some of the dilemmas that arise when digital surveillance stretches too far in both democracies and authoritarian states, and how that factors in the surveillance-privacy debate. While all states— democratic, hybrid, and authoritarian—rely on similar modes of mass surveillance, the author contends that democracies face legal and public opinion limitations which require striking a delicate balance between surveillance and privacy. On the other hand, in authoritarian states, public opinion—which Dr. Ünver refers to “audience costs”—can be suppressed by force. Dr. Ünver’s novel solution for the surveillance-privacy deadlock, at least for democratic countries, is implementing “retrospective accountability.” According to the author, this concept envisages national intelligence agencies making surveillance data available to legislative bodies after a pre-determined period of time.
It has also become tradition to include a book review in our Summer issues, and this year Günay Kayarlar critiques Alyssa Ayres’ book Our Time Has Come: How India is Making its Place in the World. Ayres, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, chronicles India’s rise on the global stage and puts forth compelling recommendations as to how the US can adjust its policies toward India. Part of that requires a re-conceptualization of how the US perceives India; she recommends that the US should start to view the country as “joint venture partner” rather than an “ally-in-waiting.” Kayarlar commends Ayres for her insights into India’s economic expansion and argues that her recommendations could prove useful for the US-Turkey relationship as well.
On 28 June 2018, TPQ convened a constructive discussion on identity and nationalism in Turkey titled, “Wrestling with Identity, Religion, and Values in a Changing Turkey.” The event was supported by the Kingdom of the Netherlands’ Matra Programme, and hosted by Kadir Has University’s Center for Turkish Studies. Taking place a week after the June 2018 elections in Turkey, our panel featured a timely discussion on trends in Turkish nationalism, the declining clout of political parties in the domestic political scene, the rise in skepticism towards the West, and polarization in Turkish society. The panel was moderated by TPQ’s editorial advisor and Head of the International Relations Department at Okan University, Dr. Zeynep Alemdar. Our speakers were Dr. Mitat Çelikpala, Ahu Özyurt, and Hakan Bayrakçı.
With this Summer issue, we are honored to welcome a new advisory board member, Peter Van Praagh. As the founding President of the Halifax International Security Forum—the leading conference of high-profile democratic leaders committed to global security and prosperity—Peter brings his wealth of knowledge and experience to TPQ. Peter has been a supporter of the journal since its inception in 2002, and we are delighted to have him on our board.
We would like to extend a special thanks to Yapı Kredi, the premium corporate sponsor of this issue. In addition, we would like to thank our online sponsor, Garanti Bank. We also appreciate the continuing support from our other sponsors: Halifax International Security Forum, QNB Finansbank, SOCAR, TEB, and Turcas Petrol.
A very special acknowledgment goes to our long-standing media partner, Hürriyet Daily News (HDN), for the outreach they continue to provide. On a personal note, we are very grateful to Murat Yetkin, who is stepping down as the Editor in Chief of HDN, and for his support over the years. As a seasoned and respected journalist, Yetkin has been staunchly committed to freedom of expression and expanding the parameters of debate—values which TPQ shares.
As always, we are indebted to the authors of this issue for sharing their expertise and opinions. As our readers, please share your feedback.