Policy Memos

Turkish Foreign Policy in the AKP's Third Term

Policy Memo:


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On July 12, 2011, the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi or AKP) claimed victory for a third time in Turkish parliamentary elections since 2002. The AKP received about 49.9 percent of the vote and 326 seats out of the 550 in parliament.1 Tayyip Erdoğan now has the rare distinction of being a Turkish prime minister in his third consecutive term at the helm of a majority government.Elated by such an historical victory, Erdoğan’s first speech after the election was understandably enthusiastic, but it was also remarkable for what it seemed to signal about the AKP’s foreign policy plans for its third term. Erdoğan greeted in his speech, in addition to the citizens of Turkey, the “sister people” of “Baghdad, Cairo, Sarajevo, Baku, Nicosia, and others,” who he knew were “eagerly watching Turkey.” Furthermore, Erdoğan declared his party’s victory to be a victory of hope for all oppressed peoples, adding that “Sarajevo has won as much as Istanbul; Beirut as much as Izmir; West Bank and Gaza as much as Diyarbakır” and that “the Middle East, the Caucasus, and the Balkans had gained as much as Turkey.” This surprising number of mentions of previous Ottoman territories in a national election victory speech is certainly noteworthy. What is also interesting is the number of times Europe and the West were mentioned: exactly zero. [...]

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About the author

University Lecturer (Assistant Professor)
University of Cambridge