Let’s Talk Turkey

August 21, 2015

Professor Meliha Altunisik, an international relations and social sciences specialist at The Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey’s most prestigious university, spoke to around 50 people about Turkey’s Foreign Policy in the Middle East since the Arab uprisings.

She spoke of Turkey’s journey from a policy of “zero problems with its many neighbours to zero neighbours without problems!” She explained the rise of the Justice Development Party, the AKP, their improvement of relations with all neighbours, the growth of trade and a strong economy, their investment in much infrastructure, and then the dissolution of all this following the Arab Uprisings.

AKP chose to support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, they failed to persuade Al Assad to step down and then moved to support the opposition in Syria. Now they have around two million Syrian refugees scattered throughout the country and it costs more than $5 billion just to maintain the refugee camps. This has huge implications for Turkey’s economy, for her relationship with all her neighbours, with the Kurds and with her dealings with ISIS. AKP is being urged to take more action against ISIS, but Turkey’s border is very porous and ISIS members move in and out of the country.

When her address came to an end, Meliha answered question after question and displayed her deep understanding of a multitude of Middle Eastern affairs.