Eleonora Bacchi, UNIVERSITÀ DEGLI STUDI DI PERUGIA Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche
Since 2002 Turkey’s foreign policy has experienced a substantial change compared to the past. The underlying cause is the coming into power of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP), led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan’s choice of his personal foreign policy advisor on the international front was Ahmet Davutoğlu, scholar and theorist of International Relations. The party’s political programme was already largely based on his ideas. In 2001 the main theories on Turkey’s foreign policy developed by Davutoğlu during the 1990s were collected in his most popular book: Strategic depth. The international position of Turkey (original title: Stratejik Derinlik. Türkiye’nin Uluslararası Konumu). In his work Davutoğlu clearly affirms that Ankara – due to its geographical position and its past greatness as an empire – may have the possibility to reclaim its place in the international relations. In order to reach this goal, Ankara should promote its identity of a great power and develop an independent foreign policy, decoupled from the bond with the West that characterized the choices made in the previous decades. After winning the elections in 2002 and following this theory, Davutoğlu developed 5 fundamental principles on Turkey’s foreign policy. The first principle was about the necessity to establish a balance between security and democratic freedom within the internal policy. The second principle focused on the foreign policy and aimed at having « zero problems with Turkey’s neighbours ». The third principle was about the adoption of a pro-active diplomacy to allow Turkey to become a mediating actor in the international conflicts and disputes. The fourth principle underlined the importance of a multi-dimensional foreign policy. Finally, the fifth principle aimed at involving Turkey in all global issues, allowing it to become part of what he called « rhythmic diplomacy » (ritmik diplomasi). Thanks to the roles he played within the AKP (after having been the Prime Minister’s personal foreign policy advisor he became Foreign Minister in 2009 and Prime Minister in 2014), Davutoğlu had the possibility to put the enunciated theoretical principles into practice. Moreover, in line with the pro-active attitude taken by Ankara to follow the new aspirations, a process of openness to Africa was started. Indeed, in 1998 the process began with some initiatives launched by the previous governments and made Turkey become one of the main commercial and diplomatic partners of the African continent.