Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutogu, in the face of media claims to the contrary, has said Turkey is not resetting its foreign policy, adding that the Middle East is undergoing a transformation while Turkey's policies remain the same, Today's Zaman reported.
"There is a perception that Turkish foreign policy is being reset. Some are implying that our foreign policy was going wrong and now it's being fixed. Such a thing is out of the question. Of course, when there is a need, foreign policy can be revised, relations with certain countries can be revised and Turkey can conform with new conditions [in the international arena]. But we don't feel the need to reset at the moment. Turkey has not changed its policies, but the region has changed," Davutogu told a group of reporters travelling with him from Doha to Manama, the two stops on his Middle Eastern tour.
Some pundits have said that a recent warming of relations between Turkey and Iraq shows that Turkey is reformulating its foreign policy Turkey had been at odds with Iraq on a number of issues, including ties with Iraqi Kurdistan, the handling of the Syrian crisis and the political situation in Baghdad. High-level visits from Turkey to Iraq and vice versa demonstrate that the two countries have decided to turn a new page in their relations.
Commenting on ties with Iraq, Davutogu said the reason behind the frosty atmosphere was the central government's discriminatory policies toward Sunnis and Iraqi Kurds, adding that there has now been a change of attitude towards these groups.
Commenting on the opposition parties' criticism that the government is not following its zero-problems-with-neighbors policy, a concept introduced by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Davutogu accused the opposition of conducting a smear campaign against the government.
"The source of the smear campaign against us is that, until the AK Party's rule, what was expected from elected governments was the building of roads, dams and so on. Some would say, 'The government should engage in everything, but should not go into security, intelligence and foreign policy.' The mentality was, 'Those fields are too important to be left to governments,'" said Davutogu, adding that their government had been challenging that mentality for the last 10 years.
Responding to criticism of Turkey's deteriorating ties with Egypt, Davutogu said some Turkish intellectuals were blaming Turkey for taking sides with freedom in the Middle East.
"They are so full of anger towards us that they [the intellectuals] forget their own values. Those who should have taken a value-based attitude are now advocating realpolitik. Normally, politicians [support] realpolitik, but in [Turkey] the situation is the other way round," added the foreign minister.
Escalating tension with Egypt
During a televised interview with the Al Jazeera news channel in Doha, Davutogu commented on the recent escalation in tension between Egypt and Turkey, saying that Turkey's position on the July 3 coup in Egypt was clear from the first day.
"Our statements against the coup were not due to our support for one group against another group in the country; it was because of our respect for the choice of the Egyptian people. The election in 2012 was the first free and fair election with multiple candidates in the history of Egypt," Davutogu said, reiterating Turkey's position.
On Saturday, Egypt expelled the Turkish ambassador and scaled back its diplomatic relations with Turkey, each being represented only by a chargé d'affaires, in a sharp escalation of the tension that has been simmering between the two countries since the ousting of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi by the military. Ankara responded in the same way, declaring Egypt's ambassador to Turkey, who already left Turkey months ago, persona non grata.
Egypt's decision to expel the Turkish envoy came after Erdogan said last Thursday that he applauded Morsi's stance before a court that is trying him on charges of inciting the murder of protesters during a protest outside the presidential palace. He said he has no respect for those who put him on trial.
"This type of crisis [sending envoys back] is temporary, but the friendship between the Egyptian and Turkish people is permanent. ... The stability and prosperity of Egypt are very important for us and strategically important for the region. Therefore, despite all the difficulties we are facing in the country, we have encouraged Turkish investors [to do business in Egypt] for the last two or three years," Davutogu added.