With reference to Raghida Dergham’s article How Erdogan’s re-election bid is viewed by the rest of the world (January 9): Ms Dergham correctly asserts that the upcoming elections in Türkiye “won’t have just local importance [but] geopolitical implications as well”. It is also accurate that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a major player in the “regional [and] global geopolitical landscape”. I respectfully disagree, however, with the author’s portrayal of Türkiye’s foreign and national security policies with domestic politics.
In truth, Mr Erdogan’s key policy choices reflect his commitment to defending Turkish citizens and interests in an increasingly uncertain world.
Our nation’s response to the Syrian crisis immediately comes to mind. In addition to hosting more Syrian asylum seekers than any other country, Türkiye has been actively involved in counter-terror operations against ISIS as well as the internationally recognised terrorist organisation PKK and its Syrian component, YPG. We remain committed to playing a stabilising role in that region. Any attempt to link Türkiye’s response to terrorist threats emanating from Syria to domestic politics would risk downplaying the countless attacks that armed groups in northern Syria have carried out against Turkish citizens as well as the safe zones, where millions of Syrians have sought refuge.
Likewise, Türkiye adopted a constructive and realistic approach to prevent and, later, stop the Russia-Ukraine war. In addition to stopping warships from entering the Black Sea, Mr Erdogan leveraged his personal relationships with Presidents Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin to promote peace and stability in the region. As a result of his efforts, Türkiye hosted multiple meetings between Russian and Ukrainian officials, including their foreign ministers, and brokered the grain deal to prevent a global food crisis. Moreover, Mr Erdogan’s administration played a key role in facilitating a prisoner exchange. Finally, our country hosted a meeting between the American and Russian intelligence chiefs to mitigate the nuclear threat in the Black Sea region.
Last but not least, I disagree with the characterisation of Mr Erdogan as a “thorn ... in the side of Nato”. Having joined the Alliance in 1952, Türkiye remains one of its most powerful members. In addition to commanding Nato’s second largest army, our country has actively contributed to operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo and elsewhere. Regarding the membership applications of Sweden and Finland, Türkiye reiterated its commitment to Nato’s open door policy yet requested those countries to revisit some of their policies that Türkiye believed to undermine the Alliance’s values.
The bottom line is that Türkiye’s foreign and national security policies are informed by our vested interests. Having emerged as a global player under Mr Erdogan’s leadership, our country will continue to take constructive and stabilising steps without accepting faits accomplis and violations of international law. Regardless of the perspectives of foreign governments, the Turkish people alone will decide the future of our country in the upcoming elections – a right that many nations still do not have.
Fahrettin Altun, Director of Communications of the Republic of Türkiye