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International relations

A new era of Turkey's Neighborhood Policy

Guzaerov Razil Ilshatovich

Junior Researcher, Department of the Near and Post-Soviet East, INION RAS

117218, Russia, Moskva, g. Moscow, ul. Krzhizhanovskogo, 15k2








Abstract: The article is devoted to the analysis of the strategy of good neighborliness in Turkey's foreign policy. The strategy is aimed at increasing the role of Turkey in the international system. The purpose of the study is to examine the theoretical provisions of the neighborhood policy, to identify the reasons for its transformation from the point of view of Turkey's national interests within the framework of the transformation of the system of international relations and changes in the balance of power at the regional level, as well as to identify new trends within this policy. The methodological basis of the research is the method of system analysis and the historical method, with the help of which the article analyzes the main stages of the development of the "zero problems with neighbors" policy. The author examines in detail the strategy of good neighborliness from the moment of its adoption to the present time. This strategy justifies Turkey's regional leadership. Special attention is paid to the reasons for modernization and transformation of the neighborhood strategy. The author examined in detail the force factor, which became an integral part of the strategy after the failures of Turkish diplomacy and with which Turkey strengthened its influence in neighboring regions. The power policy allowed Turkey to become a participant in regional conflicts, clearly identify its interests and demonstrate determination in their defense. According to the results of the study, it is concluded that Turkey is returning to the original peaceful version of the neighborhood policy. This strategy continues to be a key one in Turkey's foreign policy.


Turkey, neighborhood policy, Turkish diplomacy, Turkey's regional policy, Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean, South Caucasus, foreign policy strategy, Ahmet Davutoglu, Recep Tayyip Erdogan

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

The coming to power of the Justice and Development Party marked the transition to a new foreign policy thinking. The new leadership sought to increase Turkey's role in the international system. Turkey is at the intersection of unstable regions, so without control over regional processes, Turkey will not reach its full potential. Conflicts and crises arising in these regions have negative consequences for Turkey itself. So, to solve this problem, a strategy of good neighborliness appeared, which has become an integral part of the foreign policy planning of modern Turkey. The events of the "Arab Spring" have crossed out all the efforts of Turkish diplomacy. But is this the end of the era of the neighborhood strategy?

Neighborhood policy: origins and first results

The theoretical origins of the neighborhood policy were presented in the work of A. Davutoglu, Professor of Beikent University (1999-2004), Chief Adviser on Foreign Policy Issues A. Gul (2002-2003) and R. T. Erdogan (2003-2014), Ambassador-at-Large, since 2003 Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Minister of Foreign Affairs (2009-2014), Prime Minister of Turkey (2014-2016). In his book "Strategic Depth. The international situation of Turkey" A. Davutoglu outlined his ideas about what course the Republic of Turkey should follow in the implementation of foreign policy. Throughout the book, the idea is carried out about the need to improve relations with neighboring states in order to establish lasting peace and stability around Turkey. This approach reflects the idea of K. Ataturk "Peace at home, world peace".

The transformation of the international system creates new risks that threaten the stability and security of the regions. Turkey is at the intersection of regions where changes are felt the most. Therefore, the Turkish leadership realized that Turkey should take responsibility for resolving deep-rooted problems in the regions.

Later, A. Davutoglu expressed this idea in the form of a specific operational principle "Zero problems with neighbors" [1]. The principle involved the search for interface points with neighboring states. By maintaining contacts with the West, Turkey wanted to strengthen its position in the East and follow a multi-vector foreign policy that would reflect its multidimensional identity, as well as help consolidate Turkey's role as a regional leader. The development of economic, cultural and other relations in the future should have created the potential for the settlement of mutually acute contradictions, which have long been a stumbling block in bilateral relations.

The neighborhood policy solved two main tasks. First, the creation of a stability belt around Turkey. This would free up resources to unleash the full potential of the country in the international arena. In particular, the transformation of Turkey into a global hub. Secondly, instability in the region also affected Turkey's national security. In this vein, the threat of terrorist attacks by the PKK in the east of the country should be noted. Therefore, the stability belt was supposed to serve as a tool for stabilizing the internal security of the country [2, p. 8-17].

As part of the implementation of the neighborhood policy, Turkey has moved to concrete actions. The first sign of commitment to the new political thinking was the actions of the AKP leadership in resolving the Cyprus issue. Turkey unconditionally supported the plan for a peaceful settlement of the Cyprus issue, prepared by the UN Secretary-General K. By Annan. The plan was not adopted as a result of a referendum on the island. The interested parties did not come to any conclusion and maintained the status quo.

Despite the failure of a peaceful settlement of the Cyprus issue, Ankara sought to establish mutually beneficial cooperation with Athens. Thus, R. Erdogan became the first Prime Minister in the last 16 years to pay an official visit to Greece, and K. Karamanlis became the first Greek Prime Minister to visit Turkey in the last 49 years. The visits took place in 2004 and 2008, respectively.

In 2007, a gas pipeline was opened from Turkey to Greece for the supply of natural gas. In 2010, the parties established the Supreme Cooperation Council of Greece and Turkey, which contributed to the intensification of relations in the economic sphere. The trade turnover between the countries rose from $906 million in 2002 to $5.5 billion by 2014 [3, p. 34] Within the framework of the Council meetings, the countries signed about 50 agreements [4, p. 675-689]. However, economic successes have not become an incentive for the development of political relations. There were many issues that became a serious obstacle to the development of relations between the two countries: statements about the absence of a state of the Republic of Cyprus and the recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the failure of negotiations on Cyprus in Switzerland, the issue of territorial claims by Turkey in the Aegean Sea, accompanied by a large number of violations of the airspace of the latter, Athens' refusal to extradite Turkish military refugees and a number of others [5]. All these disagreements were repeatedly superimposed on the Turkish-Greek relations and nullified all the political efforts of attempts to solve them.

Another diplomatic front was opened with Yerevan. Armenia and Turkey have been holding closed talks in Switzerland since 2007 on the normalization of bilateral relations. As part of the so-called "football diplomacy", Turkish President A. Gul became the first Turkish leader to visit a neighboring state. A number of negotiations at different levels led to the fact that Turkey and Armenia signed the "Protocol on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations" and the "Protocol on the Development of Bilateral Relations" in October 2009 [6]. The parties agreed on the opening of diplomatic missions, the opening of borders, and to resolve controversial issues, in particular the issue of the Armenian Genocide, it was decided to create joint historical commissions.

The protocols have not been ratified in any of the countries. At this point, the negotiation process stalled, and Turkey, in turn, aligned itself on security issues in Transcaucasia with the position of Azerbaijan, which saw in the process of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations a threat to its interests in the region [7, pp. 281-282].

In Turkish-Syrian relations, Ankara sought to strengthen the positive momentum that arose after the Syrian side extradited PKK leader A. Ocalan. In 2004, Bashar al-Assad visited Turkey, and a year later, Turkish President A. N. Sezer made a return visit to Syria [8]. During the meetings, the sides noted common positions on the stabilization of the situation in Iraq, the inviolability of its borders, the need to force Israel to comply with UN Security Council resolutions. The efforts of Turkish diplomacy led to the fact that the Turkish-Syrian Council for Strategic Cooperation was held already in 2009. Within the framework of the Council, a dozen ministries worked together, and a number of key issues were discussed, from healthcare to the fight against terrorism. During the meetings of the Council, the parties concluded 50 agreements, memoranda of understanding and protocols on cooperation, and various mechanisms were also provided for the implementation of these agreements. A business forum was organized for the business of the two countries with the participation of a number of ministers of Turkey and Syria [9]. Such a mechanism of cooperation was supposed to bring economic relations between Turkey and Syria to a new level.

In 2009, Turkey and Syria abolished the visa regime. All these agreements have made the Syrian market attractive for Turkish business. The trade turnover between the countries increased from $580 million to $2.2 billion by 2010. At the same time, Turkish exports increased 9 times, and the total investment in Syria reached $1 billion [10]. In 2010, the states conducted joint military exercises. The events of the "Arab Spring" have brought serious changes to Turkish-Syrian relations. Initially, R. Erdogan tried to use his close ties with B. Assad and convince him to start carrying out reforms in the country. However, after his appeals went unnoticed, Ankara sided with the protesters and began demanding the immediate departure of Bashar al-Assad from the political scene. So, all the diplomatic efforts of the countries have sunk into oblivion.

In Turkish-Iranian relations, the improvement of relations began with the visit of R. Erdogan to Tehran in 2004. Security cooperation intensified, the parties mutually recognized the PKK as a terrorist organization [11, pp. 85-108]. During the visits of the politicians, the sides stressed the desire to increase cooperation in the fight against the PKK and increase mutual trade. If in 2000 the commodity turnover between the countries was at the level of $ 1 billion, then in 2012 it exceeded the mark of $21 billion [12, p. 13]. Ankara for Tehran became a mediator in relations between Iran and Western countries. During the official visits of the parties, the issue of Iran's nuclear dossier has always been discussed. Turkey sought to become a mediator in solving the Iranian nuclear problem. So Turkey and Brazil signed an agreement with Iran, which involved the exchange of highly enriched uranium for low-enriched [13].

Such activity has not yielded any real results. The positive dynamics in bilateral relations failed to resolve a number of fundamental issues. Tehran was wary of Ankara's decision to allow the Patriot early warning radar to be installed on its territory. This decision demonstrated the still strong influence of the Western bloc on Turkey, despite the proclaimed course towards a multi-vector policy. M. Ahmadinejad even canceled his visit to Turkey after this event [14, pp. 182-206]. With the beginning of the events of the "Arab Spring", the parties took opposite positions in relation to the events in Syria, which became a new round of Turkish-Iranian regional rivalry.

In addition, the parties confronted each other in Iraq. In fact, the new Turkish-Iranian confrontation acquired the characteristics of a confessional struggle. The dividing line was also drawn in Egypt. After Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi came to power and the Muslim Brotherhood left, Turkey lost influence on this state, and Egyptian-Iranian relations, on the contrary, gained a new impetus.

Ankara and Tehran have many overlapping goals in the region. This is indicated by attempts to resume bilateral dialogue between the countries. Thus, R. Erdogan's visit in 2014 ended with the signing of an agreement on the establishment of a Joint Trade Committee, an agreement on preferential trade between the parties [15]. However, the geopolitical confrontations of countries in the region have left their mark on the nature of relations and have excluded exclusively peaceful interaction.

During the period of the neighborhood policy, Ankara tried to take on the role of mediator in the Balkans. Turkey initiated the TurkeySerbiaBosnia and Herzegovina trilateral summit. Turkey's shuttle diplomacy led to breakthrough successes in Serbian-Bosnian relations: Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina exchanged ambassadors, Serbia adopted a resolution apologizing for the events in Srebrenica in 1995 [16, p. 1-11]. In addition, the TurkeyBosnia and HerzegovinaCroatia dialogue was also initiated. Such actions have increased Turkey's authority in the region and had a positive impact on its relations with the countries of the region, Ankara has demonstrated its ability to mediate and its desire to stabilize the situation in neighboring regions. Involvement in the processes in the Balkans expanded Turkey's neighborhood policy and increased the field of action in the European direction.

Turkish-Israeli relations were maintained at the level of the leadership of the countries. For Turkey, Israel was necessary to access high-tech weapons and achieve "strategic depth" in the entire region. It was impossible to achieve stability in the region without dialogue with key countries. The Turkish-Israeli dialogue was actively supported by the United States. Yet the interaction between Tel Aviv and Ankara remained confrontational. The Turkish side used every opportunity to condemn Israel's actions and accused Western countries of double standards towards Israel. Erdogan called for paying attention to Israel's nuclear program instead of putting pressure on Iran [17]. In 2008, Turkey became a mediator between Israel and Syria [18, 53-66]. Using shuttle diplomacy. Ankara ensured that the parties expressed determination to start direct negotiations, but the start of Operation Cast Lead put an end to contacts between the parties, and Turkey's efforts were in vain, which negatively affected Turkish-Israeli relations.

The contradictions between the countries resulted in a public scandal between R. Erdogan and S. Peres on the sidelines of the economic summit in Davos, when the Turkish president accused his Israeli counterpart of killing civilians during the military invasion of Gaza. In 2010, an incident occurred when Israeli special forces shot the crew of the Turkish vessel "Mavi Marmara", which was heading towards the Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian aid. In general, Turkey used the conflict potential to strengthen its role in the Arab world as a defender of the oppressed and abandoned Palestinians, and all actions were primarily of an image nature. The harsh position towards Israel helped R. Erdogan to increase his popularity in the Arab world.

In 2007, a trilateral Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan summit was organized. Ankara has been working to reconcile the two neighboring states. The sides expressed determination to intensify efforts to solve the Afghan problem. Turkey has demonstrated its readiness to resolve regional conflicts in the Middle East, thereby expanding the geography of its diplomacy.

A. Davutoglu believed that it is necessary to use international institutions to increase the role of Turkey in international relations. The use of the institutional format was supposed to give impetus to the solution of issues that were of mutual interest [19]. So in 2008, Turkey proposed to create a Caucasian platform. The main goal of the platform was the development of cooperation between Russia, Turkey and the Transcaucasian countries and the strengthening of stability in the region. However, such proposals by Ankara can be seen as an attempt to consolidate its influence on the region. This format did not provide for the participation of Iran, which also had its own view on the development of the region. The initiative has not been further developed.

Turkey actively supported Spain's initiative to create an Alliance of Civilizations and became its co-sponsor. The Alliance set one of its goals as its goal to become a platform between the Muslim and Western worlds [20]. By supporting this initiative, Turkey has demonstrated itself as an example of a Muslim country integrated into Western society. Through this organization, Ankara wanted to take a leading position in the Muslim world.

In 2010, Turkey and Finland launched the Mediation for Peace initiative. The Institute was created to inform the world community about the potential of peacemaking, the formation of mediation and coordination between mediation participants to optimize their activities [21]. Similarly, Turkey has institutionalized its peacekeeping activities. Ankara secured the status of a world mediator, which increased its opportunities to participate as an independent party in various conflicts and thus increase its role in various regions of the world.

Thus, during the first decade of the AKP's rule, Turkey has activated diplomatic tools to develop its relations with neighboring countries. Ankara focused on the positive aspects in bilateral relations, postponing the problematic moments. Turkey wanted to develop, first of all, economic, socio-humanitarian relations with its neighbors and further use this potential to resolve political differences that have been accumulating between the countries for many years. However, all attempts of Turkish diplomacy have not achieved their objectives and often problems in relations with neighbors have only become more.

The power factor of the neighborhood policy

The events of the "Arab Spring" had a negative impact on the policy of good neighborliness. The media described the state of Turkey's relations with neighboring countries with the formula "zero neighbors without problems" [22], and R. Erdogan himself described Turkey as a state "surrounded by water on three sides, and rivals on four sides" [23]. However, in fact, the Turkish leadership was in no hurry to say goodbye to this policy. A. Davutoglu argued that all events, on the contrary, indicate the relevance of the path they have chosen. Moreover, according to the former Foreign Minister, after the regional transition, Turkey will have to continue its activities within the framework of the principle of "zero problems with neighbors" [24].

The situation has demonstrated to the Turkish elite that it is not worth relying solely on diplomacy. The objectives of the neighborhood policy were to acquire the status of a regional and then a world power and create a belt of stability around Turkey. These goals can also be achieved by force in order to strengthen their positions when transferring cooperation back to the diplomatic channel.

Such a transformation of the Turkish approach to regional stability is first of all manifested in the Kurdish issue. In 2008, Turkish armed forces invaded northern Iraq to fight the PKK. This event demonstrated that in critical situations Ankara is ready to solve the existing problems in the region by force.

By supporting the Syrian opposition, Ankara wanted to take control of the wave of protests in the country. Turkish politicians have expressed the idea that Turkey will become a country that will lead the processes of regional transformation and give it the necessary direction [25]. However, no one took such Turkish rhetoric seriously. The United States cooperated with the Kurdish formations, Russia conducted massive air operations, including destroying the illegal flow of oil to Turkey. This greatly affected the situation of Turkey, which considered itself a regional leader, but in fact remained outside of all regional processes. This is what led to the incident with the downed Russian SU-24 by the Turkish Air Force. With a similar gesture, Ankara loudly announced its presence in the region.

In relation to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, only a negative information flow came from Turkey. Against this background, new threats to regional stability began to emerge: the growing influence of ISIS, the flow of refugees to Turkey. All this was exacerbated by the failures of the negotiation processes. Ankara has decided to switch to forceful influence on the events in Syria. In August 2016, the Turkish armed forces launched a military operation on Syrian territory. Thus, Ankara has become a direct participant in the military conflict, increasing its role in it. Some success of such tactics is evidenced by the holding of Russia Turkey Iran talks in Astana in January 2017 . As part of the Astana format, the guarantor countries adopted a Memorandum on the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria. According to this agreement, Turkey has been allocated its area of responsibility. In fact, the memorandum became an act of legitimizing the presence of Turkish armed forces on Syrian territory. Since then, Turkey has conducted a number of military operations, has not fulfilled the tasks of demilitarization of the Idlib zone, but has become an important participant in the negotiation processes both with Western countries and with Russia. Ankara will maintain its presence in Syria as a trump card up its sleeves until the processes of post-war settlement of the country begin.

In the context of the events of the Arab Spring, Turkish-Qatari ties began to deepen. The Qatari-Turkish alliance began to form even before the events of 2011, but the "Arab Spring" increased the countries' determination to become regional leaders [26, pp. 388-389]. Tandem was necessary for both countries: Qatar, having significant resources, is too small; Turkey, having a strong military and economic potential, could not claim leadership in the Arab world, and this could be done through an ally. Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, countries have supported the Muslim Brotherhood and its branches in the countries affected by the protests. The tandem gained a foothold in the conflicts in Syria and Libya, influenced the political life of Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan [26, pp. 405-414].

In 2015, relations between Qatar and Turkey have acquired a strategic character. During this year, the Emir of Qatar visited Turkey 4 times, and the Qatar-Turkish Supreme Strategic Committee began its work [27, p. 197-215]. As part of the agreements, Turkey commissioned a military base in Qatar in 2015. About 3 thousand military personnel are stationed at the base. This fact testifies to the high confidence of the ruling class of Qatar in the Turkish leadership and the consideration of the presence of the Turkish military as guarantees of the security of the Emir of Qatar and the country as a whole.

Countries supported each other during acute crises: The attempted armed coup in Turkey in 2016 and the Qatari diplomatic crisis. The latest crisis has demonstrated Turkey's new role in the region. Among the demands made by the Arab countries to Qatar was the termination of military cooperation with Turkey. This indicates the concern of the countries of the region about the increasing activity of Turkey.

Sharp contradictions persisted along the GreeceCyprusTurkey line. In addition to the failures in the negotiation process on the Cyprus issue, disagreements intensified after the discovery of the large Aphrodite gas field. Ankara believes that Turkish Cypriots have the right to these riches and Cyprus cannot produce in these shelves alone. Cyprus, in turn, signed agreements with Greece, Egypt, Israel and Lebanon and divided the shelf between the parties, ignoring threats from Turkey [28]. None of the parties involved Turkey either for the joint development of the shelves, or as a hub for gas supplies to Europe.

In 2019, Turkey conducted naval exercises. Part of the maneuvers took place in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, which only Turkey recognizes as its own and which is disputed by Cyprus and Greece. Moreover, the name of operation "Blue Motherland" is consonant with the name of the doctrine under which Ankara personally determined its water area, violating the provisions of international maritime law [29, pp. 27-37]. Since then, Turkey has been conducting research on the sea shelf in the disputed territories. The research vessel is accompanied by the Turkish Navy. The concentration of warships in disputed territories led to incidents with ship collisions [29, pp. 27-37]. Such actions have increased tensions in the region and demonstrated Turkey's determination to protect its interests. From the transition to a full-scale conflict, Greece and Turkey were stopped by their membership in NATO and Ankara's unwillingness to permanently spoil relations with the EU.

To consolidate its position in the Mediterranean region, Turkey joined the Libyan conflict. Turkey supported the Government of National Accord in the Libyan crisis. Ankara came to the aid of Fayez al-Sarraj at a critical moment: Marshall Haftar's troops were already on the outskirts of Tripoli and were preparing for an offensive. Having violated the international embargo, Turkey began to send cargo ships and aircraft with various military equipment and small arms to Tripoli without interruption. In addition to material equipment, several thousand militants from the Syrian Idlib were relocated to the Libyan front [30, pp. 139-156]. Some of the weapons were sent after the participation of Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Berlin conference on Libya, where the participants confirmed their support for the arms embargo.

In addition to military cooperation, the parties signed a Memorandum on the delimitation of maritime zones in the Mediterranean Sea. The memorandum confirms Turkey's claims to a significant water area of the Eastern Mediterranean. The countries of the region protested because the agreements violated international maritime law. Turkey, in turn, has legally consolidated its claims. In addition, Ankara has become one of the key players in the Libyan conflict. Having armed groups under its control both in Syria and in Libya, the implementation of the peace process in these countries is impossible. Any agreements without taking into account the interests of Turkey are doomed to failure, because pro-Turkish groups will undermine them. Thus, she was able to increase her role in resolving this crisis.

Turkey's policy towards the Caucasus has also been activated. The main obstacle to the normalization of relations with Armenia was the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey has certainly supported Azerbaijan in this conflict. Ankara has moved to active cooperation with Baku in all areas. In 2010, the parties signed an Agreement on Strategic Partnership and Mutual Assistance [31, pp. 124-135]. The parties have implemented a number of energy and infrastructure projects. The Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline was built, thanks to which Azerbaijan overtook Russia in gas supplies to Turkey. The BakuTbilisiKars railway has become a big project. Through such projects, Turkey connects itself with the region, becoming a conductor of their interests in other regions. Cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan in the cultural sphere has intensified within the framework of TURKSOY, TIKA and OTG organizations [32, pp. 104-108].

Military-technical cooperation has taken a special place in this period. Since 2012, the military cooperation of the states began, which until then was insignificant due to the strong ties in this area between Russia and Azerbaijan. The situation is changing dramatically after the escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2016. The negative reaction from Russia led to a revision of Azerbaijan's foreign policy orientation. In 2017, Ankara and Baku signed an agreement on cooperation in the field of defense industry. Azerbaijani officers have started training in Turkey, and the coordination of the power structures of the states has begun. It was these employees who became the backbone of the army during the 44-day war, now these officers are being ousted from positions of military men with Russian education. The countries began to conduct joint military exercises. It should be noted that the maneuvers at the exercises were aimed at practicing combat operations in disputed territories [33, p. 49-61].

Azerbaijan became the main importer of Turkish weapons only in 2020, raising imports by 6 times, from $20 million to $123 million. [34]. Thanks to the purposeful policy towards Baku within the framework of the "One Nation Two States" strategy, Ankara has managed to increase its role in all spheres of state life in Azerbaijan and firmly gain a foothold in the Transcaucasia region. It can be argued that we are witnessing the process of "Turkization" of Azerbaijan.

Thus, after the failure in the neighborhood policy, Turkey did not reject these ideas, but modernized them. Ankara realized that in order to create a belt of stability around itself on the basis of ideas not imposed outside of it, it is necessary to have influence on this region. Diplomacy failed to solve these problems, so Turkey used the power factor to gain a foothold as an important player in regional conflicts; helping one side to resolve disputes that have destabilized the region for decades; demonstrating its capabilities to protect national interests. In part, this led to a situation where strained relations were with each neighbor. However, Turkey has avoided serious conflicts and is now moving to a new diplomatic stage of good neighborly policy as a leading regional power.

Turkey is a new diplomatic hub

The forceful format of the policy towards the near abroad has allowed Turkey to gain a firm foothold in regional conflicts and demonstrate its readiness to protect national interests. These actions have brought Turkey's position within the region to a new level. Now Ankara is returning to the original kind of neighborhood policy. By increasing its potential for bargaining, Turkey is able to restore its relations with its neighbors through certain uncritical concessions.

Ankara is trying to overcome isolation in the Arab world. To do this, Turkey has started a dialogue with the UAE, with which it has been in a confrontational position since the beginning of the Arab Spring. In the regional conflicts that arose after the Arab Spring, the countries supported the opposing sides. In November 2021, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, visited Turkey. During the negotiations, the parties discussed a number of steps to resume investment activities. It is important to mention that the dialogue between the countries took place against the backdrop of a strong fall in the lira exchange rate and the precarious situation of the Turkish economy, which needed additional cash injections.

In February 2022 P . Erdogan paid a return visit to the UAE. During the visit, the partners signed 13 agreements, including in the field of defense [35]. Before the visit, the Turkish leader stressed that cooperation between Turkey and the UAE is aimed at stabilizing the region, the parties, having agreed on interests, will expand the areas of cooperation to combat regional threats [36]. The intensified dialogue between the parties demonstrates that the countries are ready to form a common future.

There have also been developments in relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Against the background of news about the imminent visit of R. Erdogan, the Turkish prosecutor's office demanded to close the case of the murder of D. Khashoggi and transfer it to Saudi Arabia [37]. Turkey has long used the Khashoggi case to discredit the Saudi regime, so such concessions indicate Ankara's desire to move to a fruitful dialogue and start cooperation.

The Persian Gulf countries provide 7% of foreign direct investment in Turkey [38], normalization of relations between the countries will allow Turkey to attract even more investment money. Such contacts will not change the approaches of the parties in relation to regional conflicts, but the dialogue between Turkey and the Gulf countries will help avoid escalation between the parties in the future and cooperate within the framework of the new reality that the region has come to.

Many years of attempts to settle the Cyprus issue and normalize relations between Greece and Turkey have not led to positive results. Moreover, in 2020, the Turkish-Greek contradictions reached their peak. By opening the Turkish-Greek border to refugees, Turkey has provoked a new round of the refugee crisis. In addition, there was an increase in the presence of the military fleets of both countries in the region. Both the Turkish and Greek sides expressed their readiness for a military solution to the conflict [39].

In general, the regional balance in the Eastern Mediterranean region was not in favor of Ankara. The countries of the region cooperated with each other without including Turkey in these processes. Thus, the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum was created, agreements on the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Pipeline and the EuroAsia Intercinnector project appeared, which should link the energy systems of Greece, Israel and Cyprus.

As in the case of the UAE, Turkey decided to move on to a new attempt to normalize relations. At the beginning of 2021, probing negotiations took place between Turkey and Greece, within the framework of which the parties did not change their attitude to acute issues, but tried to find common ground to reduce tensions. Already in March 2022, negotiations of the heads of state took place. The sides discussed steps to increase trade turnover, minority issues in the two countries, as well as regarding the events in Ukraine, the parties noted that Turkey and Greece are responsible for the European security architecture. In general, at the moment, tensions in the eastern Mediterranean have decreased, Turkey has withdrawn its ships from the disputed territories, and the discontent of the parties towards each other is expressed exclusively in a diplomatic form.

Against this background, Ankara has moved on to negotiations with another influential player in the region Israel. Post-crisis normalization of relations between the countries began in 2015. For Turkey, this was a forced decision related to the crisis in Russian-Turkish relations and the need to find new sources of energy. Turkey also badly needed intelligence tools to control the actions of Kurdish paramilitary groups in the south-east of the country. These actions did not indicate a return to the status of a strategic partnership, as evidenced by the recall of the Turkish ambassador in 2018 [40, pp. 167-192]. In 2020, Turkey and Israel, as the main suppliers of weapons to Azerbaijan, ensured the latter's victory in the 44-day war. Since then, the parties have expressed the need to restore the dialogue.

In March 2015, Israeli President Igor Herzog arrived on an official visit to the Republic of Turkey. And again, the parties noted that contradictions remain between the countries on a number of issues, but they intend to find common ground. This cooperation has become especially relevant in the context of the "shattering of the international order."

Attempts have been made to get closer to Egypt. In 2021, Turkey lifted its veto on cooperation between NATO and Egypt, which it introduced a year ago. M. Cavusoglu called it a gesture of goodwill. Turkey intends to promote the development of contacts between the organization and Egypt [41]. The seriousness of the intentions of the parties was demonstrated by the creation of commissions for mutual consultations on various issues. A breakthrough event in this dialogue was the news of the appointment of a new ambassador in Cairo.

Thus, Turkey has once again intensified its dialogue with all key players in the Eastern Mediterranean. Ankara's main task is to break the blockade in this region and include it in economic projects. Everything will depend on the patience of the Turkish authorities and the desire to make concessions on a number of issues.

The 44-day war contributed to some stabilization of the Transcaucasian region. The Nagorno-Karabakh issue was a stumbling block in the normalization of relations between Ankara and Yerevan. Now this barrier has disappeared and a warming has begun in Turkish-Armenian relations. The delegations of the countries met in Moscow in January 2022 to discuss issues of normalization of relations. The first success of the negotiations was the opening of air communication between the states. Now the countries are facing the issue of the full restoration of diplomatic relations and the opening of borders. It should be expected that the normalization process has specific goals. Namely, to persuade the Armenian side to renounce territorial claims, the opening of the Zangezur corridor. Undoubtedly, the restoration of relations between Armenia and Turkey will be one of the factors of stabilization of the region, but this process will be difficult. Therefore, the parties agreed to Russia's mediation in this matter to speed up the negotiation process.

Turkey, as part of its hub strategy [42, pp. 113-129], seeks to turn the country into a diplomatic hub. In March 2022, a diplomatic forum was held in Antalya, which brought together representatives from 75 countries. The Forum was created as a platform for discussing a wide range of issues, direct dialogue of politicians from different countries. At the same time, all negotiations are conducted through the mediation of the Turkish side, realizing the image of a peacemaker country. Turkey is making itself a point of attraction for diplomacy, a center for discussion and decision-making about global problems. The Forum was attended by 17 heads of state, 80 ministers and 39 representatives of such organizations as the UN, NATO, OSCE, etc. Within the framework of the forum, the President of Turkey held 11 talks, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs 67 [43]. It is necessary to highlight the observed surge in the activity of the Turkish president during this period. R. Erdogan held personal meetings and telephone conversations with 34 leaders of states and representatives of international organizations from March 1 to March 16 [44]. Such activity by Turkish diplomacy was dubbed "diplomasi trafi?i", that is, as diplomatic traffic.

The focus of the Diplomatic Forum was on the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations. Turkey. Despite the telephone diplomacy of E. Macron, O. Scholz, and N. Bennett's trip to Moscow, Ankara managed to seize the initiative in an attempt to become a mediator between Russia and Ukraine. According to the adviser to the President of Turkey, I. Kalyn, the post-bipolar era created an imbalance of forces [45]. Ankara is aware that current events will result in the emergence of a new security architecture not only on a regional scale, but also on a global scale. The content of the new architecture will depend on the measures taken now. Therefore, Ankara has actively joined the process.

Turkey has close relations with both Russia and Ukraine. Strong economic ties with Ukraine and extensive experience of interaction with Russia allowed us to find an approach to these countries and lead their negotiation process, thereby increasing our international status. First, the Foreign Ministers of Russia and Turkey met in Antalya, then the groups of negotiators continued their activities in Istanbul. Now the Turkish side is working to bring V. Putin and V. Zelensky personally to the negotiating table. Of course, such an event is unlikely, but Turkish diplomacy will continue its work, because the organization of such negotiations will bring the international situation of Turkey, which could become a rogue country because of its policy, to a whole new level.


The neighborhood policy has become one of Turkey's key foreign policy strategies since the AKP came to power. Ankara wanted to use the potential of the region for its own development. To do this, she began large-scale diplomatic work with all countries of the region. Putting aside all the problematic points, Ankara was looking for points of convergence, mutually beneficial cooperation. Turkey has become actively involved in crisis management, offering itself as a mediator and peacemaker country. The neighborhood policy has not achieved its objectives. Conflicts in the region were gaining momentum, and there were more problems in relations with neighbors. However, the neighborhood strategy has not been abandoned, Turkey has demonstrated the ability to transform, adapt to the new reality of its strategy. Thus, a power factor appeared in the neighborhood policy, which changed the configuration of the countries' capabilities. Turkey has won a new place in the regional structure and has become one of the defining sides of the development of regional processes. Having consolidated its position in conflicts, clearly identified its national interests and demonstrated its capabilities, Turkey is once again returning to the peaceful format of the good neighbor policy. In the new realities, Turkey is able to dictate its conditions in a dialogue with partners, and the latter, in turn, have to reckon with Turkey's interests. By alternating power and diplomatic methods in relations with neighboring states, and not only, Turkey will continue to increase the limits of what is permissible for itself. Such an approach will allow Turkey to constantly expand its sphere of influence and increase its role within the international system, without bringing relations with other states to a critical point and reducing the intensity of contradictions in time by sitting down at the negotiating table.

The policy of good neighborliness continues to be a key foreign policy strategy of Turkey. Ankara aims to turn Turkey into a hub, including a diplomatic one. Modern Turkey is not limited only to criticizing the modern international system, it is taking concrete steps to transform it. Unlike the first decade of the strategy's application, Ankara will not be shy about using force methods for the tasks set. This fact should be taken into account in relations with Turkey.

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Peer Review

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The list of publisher reviewers can be found here.

The subject of the research of the article submitted for review was the processes of formation and gradual qualitative change in the policy of "good neighborliness" of Turkey in the first decades of the XXI century. The relevance of this topic is beyond doubt, given Turkey's sharply increased activity in the region in recent decades, its participation in resolving a number of conflicts, as well as its presence in all regional political processes, reflecting Ankara's claims to leadership in the region. The methodology of the study was not sufficiently reflected by the author. From the context of the presentation, it can be understood that a quite traditional conceptual and analytical method was used for this kind of research, which allows, based on the material of key documents and scientific publications devoted to the problem under consideration, to reveal the specifics of the approaches used. The text of the article is quite logically structured in accordance with the tasks solved in the process of research. In addition to the introductory and final parts, the following sections are highlighted in the article: "The Policy of Good Neighborliness: the origins and first results", "The Power factor of the policy of good Neighborliness" and "Turkey is a new diplomatic hub", which record the main stages of the development of the Turkish foreign policy of "good neighborliness" after the "Justice and Development Party" came to power. The first section shows how Turkey has tried to develop diplomatic tools to develop relations with neighboring countries, focusing on the positive aspects in bilateral relations and trying to distance itself from problematic issues. Thus, the first period was associated with the use of economic and socio-humanitarian tools to build relations with neighbors, which would strategically allow Turkey to use this potential in the future to resolve political differences. However, the events of the "Arab Spring", inter-state conflicts and other factors caused the failure of the initial plan of the "good neighborliness" policy, which forced Turkey to significantly modernize them. As shown in the second section of the article, the Turkish government has come to realize that in order to create a stability belt around Turkey, it is necessary to significantly increase its power influence on the region. From this moment on, diplomatic tools are effectively complemented by military ones. By themselves, these measures were likely to involve Turkey in a series of conflicts with its neighbors, but this did not happen. The third section of the peer-reviewed work is devoted to the analysis of how Ankara managed to avoid this and become a leading power in the region. Both the above-mentioned partial results and the general conclusion of the article are not devoid of signs of scientific novelty. Of particular interest are the stages highlighted by the author in the development of Turkey's "good neighborliness" policy, as well as the final result of the study concerning the transformation of Turkey into a regional diplomatic hub, as well as Ankara's commitment to modernize the entire system of international relations. As for the style of the reviewed work. There are spelling and grammatical errors in the text. For example, the missing letter at the end of the word "relationship" in the sentence "In Turkish-Syrian relations ...". Or the uncoordinated sentence "Conflicts ... have negative consequences...". Or another example: "The development of... the relationship should have been...". Or "Of course, the probability of such an event is low...". There are just not very good expressions. For example, you cannot "go to a new thought", you can "go to a new mindset", but you can "come to a thought" (in the first sentence of the text of the article). In general, the author has some kind of strange relationship with the "thought". In another sentence, "a thought runs through the whole book..." (apparently, it meant "conducted"?). The expression "the plan was not accepted ..." would be more correct: "the plan was not accepted ...". In the stable expression "sink into oblivion", the word "Summer" is written with an uppercase letter, not with a lowercase one. Two letters are missing in the sentence "The policy of good neighborliness continues to be a key foreign policy strategy of Turkey." But in general, the text of the work is written quite competently, in a good scientific language, with the correct use of terminology. According to the content, the work can be qualified as a study carried out through the correct application of scientific methodology and resulting in non-trivial conclusions. The article is replete with factual material, which also has a positive effect on the assessment of the reliability of the results obtained. The bibliography contains 45 sources (including works in foreign languages) and sufficiently reflects the state of research on the problem under consideration. Appeal to opponents, but in this kind of work is not mandatory. General conclusion: the article submitted for review has all the necessary signs of scientific work, corresponds to the topic of the journal "International Relations" and will arouse the interest of specialists in the field of world politics and international relations, state and regional security, as well as current politicians. The article is recommended for publication, provided that the comments made are eliminated.