As part of the project ‘Bringing Palestine to the World and Bringing the World to Palestine’, Pal-Think and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation invited Dr. Isa Eraslan to speak in Gaza about the Foreign Policies of Turkey after the recent election. The discussion and questions at the conference revolved particularly around the Turkish position on the Palestine/Israel conflict and whether the results of the election, which took place the 7th of June, will result in remarkable changes in the Turkish policies on the issue.
Dr. Isa Eraslan, who holds a PhD in political science and international relations from Fatih University in Istanbul, was attending the Conference through Skype and gave the participants an introduction to the foreign policy of Turkey, with a particular emphasis on its relation to the Palestinian issue. Dr. Isa Eraslan started out by speaking shortly about the outcomes of the recent election in Turkey, where the leftist Kurdish HDP party obtained a significant increase of support and will be represented in the parliament with 80 seats, putting an end to the single party rule of the AKP party. According to Dr. Isa Eraslan, the election results will make it difficult to form a united government but no matter the end results, the Palestinian cause will not be forgotten, “The Turkish people care for this cause, and it is unlikely that a new government will neglect the conflicts between Palestine and Israel”, he said. Dr. Isa Eraslan continued by defining the main principles of Turkeys foreign Policies, which included the dilemma of the incompatibility of Turkeys previous ‘zero problem policy’ and their current political position; wishing to uphold a strong relationship with Europe and the West, but at the same time also wanting to defend their right to define their own cultural values, and a society heavily influenced by Muslim culture. The European approach to the Middle East is not compatible with the Turkish, so Turkey is now facing a big problem in trying to mediate between their collaborate efforts in the West and the Middle East. This process will also have an influence on the Turkish approach to the Palestinian issue. Dr. Isa Eraslan argued that the election most likely is going to have an influence on the Turkish involvement in the conflict, since the results show an increased ‘westernisation’ of Turkish policy, but that it depends on how the government will be formed. He argues that Turkey will most likely try to strengthen their relationship with Israel in order to uphold a mediating role in the conflict. While this might come as a surprise to many, it was clear from the speech that Turkey do in fact already have a good relationship with Israel due to their rooted connection to Europe and the US, and that it will be difficult for them to abandon their commitments due to a instable Turkish economy and for domestic security reasons. When asked directly about the future of Palestine and a potential solution to the conflict with Israel, Dr. Isa Eraslan suggested a liberalisation of the economic and political agenda in Palestine.
As for now, the Turkish policies are still to be determined in the aftermath of the election, and it will be interesting to follow the political agenda after this historical election results.
Pal-Think wish to thank Dr. Isa Eraslan for his participation in the conference and his important inputs, and we hope to continue our collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, on bringing the world to Gaza through these kinds of political sessions and dialogue meetings.