Manual Turkey and Georgia: Zero-Problems? (On Wider Europe)

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What Remains from Turkish Soft Power in the Caucasus?

While they are now trying to realize it, they have not yet moved from identification to resistance. Russia is, in many respects, an exception whose security forces have long been fighting educational sects. Unfortunately, the campaign has not been equally successful across the country.

Pan-Turkist groups and their ideology still exert significant influence, and some Turkic-speaking regions even see this influence grow. Moreover, nationalists are gradually merging with the powers that be. It is noteworthy that Erdo? However, fewer people approve of the constitutional reforms. It points to a relative success of parliamentarism, which took root in Turkish soil about a hundred years ago. Paradoxically, now that these minor shifts can be observed, Turkish society is encouraged to modify the system to introduce a stronger model, the presidential republic.

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The population is ready to back Erdo? In many respects, the April referendum is on the future of the system which will outlive the current president, rather than on the constitution or Erdo? Even the medium-educated supporters of the President are aware of it, and many of them are going to vote against. The results vary insigni? However, when a margin is narrow and votes are almost equally distributed, each vote matters.

The survey showed that:. In general, Turks are well disposed to the ongoing transformation. The red part of the chart shows the number of those who consider it advantageous to the country while the grey part shows those skeptical of the reforms. In the run-up to the referendum the authorities and the parties have focused on rallying support of the undecided voters who are still going to cast their ballot.

To secure a victory, Erdo? In this context, a war of words between Turkey and the Netherlands may not be the worst manifestation of the campaign. Both society and the elite are apparently divided on the practical and theoretical foreign policy framework. The advance of the presidential republic, which will replace the parliamentary system, will give the head of the state a free hand to decide on the priorities and will vest him with greater responsibility for the future of the state.


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The European dream which has been central to the Turkish foreign policy has run out of steam. The EU accession bid has stimulated reforms, which strengthened the country. Moreover, the authorities have shored up the economy and adopted a more assertive foreign policy stance. The Arab world has become a top priority for Turkey. Meanwhile, the Arab Spring caught the Turkish authorities off guard, with Ankara blamed for inaction. Moreover, while watching the revolutionary wave sweeping across the region, Ankara decided to take a proactive approach since it hoped that the regime in Syria would fall as swiftly as in Libya and Egypt.

It was important economically as well as geostrategically. It tried to find a new place in world and regional politics. Among other things, the overthrow of the Syrian regime was expected to facilitate the construction of a gas pipeline from the Arab states through Turkey to Europe. To this end, it was vital to win over Damascus, which preferred to align with Tehran and Moscow. Prior to the start of the con? However, Turkey bit off more than it could chew as it was guided by ambitions rather that the assessment of the available resources.

Moscow was eradicating terrorism in Syria at the formal request of the ruling regime, which made its position legitimate and put Arab and Turkish partners in a predicament.


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The bene? To systemically strengthen bilateral ties it was important — and it is still necessary — to cultivate economic relations and, importantly, coordinate efforts in many other sectors. Any lack of balance is fraught with crises, which are dif? However, these efforts can, at the very least, help to draw red lines. Moreover, this work should be carried out through of?

Adopting an open-eyed approach instead of seeing partners through rose-colored spectacles proves the most reliable approach amid global and regional confrontation. Apart from possible economic bene? Moreover, the Turkish authorities are constantly walking a tightrope between expansionism and nationalism, on the one hand, and focus on national prosperity, on the other.

Meanwhile, the dialogue is vital if only from the point of view that Turkey restrains its ambitions, takes a seat at the negotiating table and forces loyal groups, in particular Syrian opposition groups, to follow suit. And this problem is one that is only going to intensify with the expected economic contraction after the local elections in March Ankara and Damascus broke off diplomatic relations in after the outbreak of the armed conflict in Syria.

But there has been little evidence of such pressure from Moscow. Turkey has since advocated a safe zone along its borders in northeast of Syria, but has received no support from either Russia or the US for this zone until recently. However, in January Russia brought up the Adana protocol [72] as the basis for a deal allowing the Turkish armed forces to set up a buffer zone in northeast Syria. The Adana protocol, here showing the original text- agreement concerning the rights of Turkey in this context. The US and Turkey are discussing the establishment of a safe zone and we suspect that by reviving the Adana protocol, Russia is trying to counter the possibility of a deal between Turkey and the US.

Assad has protested the very idea of Adana, saying that Turkey for years has violated the agreement with their military operations into Syria [73].

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We further assess that in return for Russian cooperation on Turkey's goal on pushing back YPG forces, Moscow wants to see movement towards normalization between Turkey and the Assad regime. Translated, this means: 1 Push YPG forces east of the Euphrates River in Syria's northeast, 2 establish a safe zone that runs along Turkey's border with Syria on the Syrian side , and 3 prevent Syrian territories from being split up, either through Kurdish self-rule or the establishment of some other autonomous area. This statement came in the context of a possible military operation east of the Euphrates River.

During February, Turkey took all necessary steps to intervene militarily in this area. It would then be up to the US and Russia to decide whether or not those local clashes turn into a conventional confrontation. With the Turkish ground forces currently serving in the northwest of Syria, Ankara has no capacity to change the operational picture in this area. The game-changer would be Ankara's capability to dominate the air space in the northwest of Syria, even if happens temporarily.

Recently the Turkish Defense Minister said in an interview with Anadolu Agency that the no-fly zone for Turkish planes in Idlib and Afrin had been lifted. If confirmed we expect that Ankara would try to bend this permission towards Manbij. Turkey has vowed to carry out what they call a counter-terrorist operation in Manbij and east of Euphrates following two similar successful operations since Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch.

Turkey has advocated since the establishment of a safe zone on the Syrian side along its border. The map below provided by Anadolu Agency [75] , illuminates Turkey's proposal for a safe zone:. Turkey is currently discussing the makeup of this safe zone with Washington.


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If there will be a security zone on my border, it has to be under our control. The idea is then to use the territory to resettle Syrian refugees now living inside Turkey. Washington, on the other side, is concerned about their YPG allies and the predominantly Kurdish population within these areas, and thus does not want to give Turkish forces full control.

But at the same time, President Trump does not want to go back on his earlier decision to pull out of Syria. The US has not publicly put forward a deal. There have been talks about an international force made up by the US and other NATO members such as the French and the British, but the proposed participant countries have not enthusiastically embraced the idea.

The third option seems to be to give Turkey the responsibility and try to persuade Turkey to moderate its strategy towards the YPG. In any case Turkey would most likely not be able to set up a safe zone without the consent and cooperation of either Russia or the US and would have to find a way to get one of the two actors to agree. Presently, Turkey is trying to play the US and Russia against each other to safeguard their interests, but Ankara will most likely have to realize that it has to make concessions to get what it wants.

In the case of cooperation with Russia this could mean an effort on the part of Ankara to normalize ties with the Assad-regime. After various operations by the Syrian regime and Russian forces, during the first 6 months of , to take back territory held by ISIL and other rebel groups, fighters who did not surrender were captured and transported to the province of Idlib.

In August the regime forces set up troops outside Idlib and started bombarding rebel-concentrated areas. As the Russian airpower and the Syrian air force bombarded Idlib, the international fear over a grand offensive increased. The UN warned of a massacre if the offensive were to be carried out, and Turkey warned of a possible new wave of refugees and relocated troops to the frontlines. Turkey has had great difficulties upholding its side of the deal, and the last weeks have seen a range of meetings on Idlib.

The last development is an agreement on joint patrols by Turkey and Russia, where Russia patrols outside and Turkey inside Idlib. Turkey fears that Russia and Syrian regime forces are going to undertake a military operation to clear out the remaining rebels, whereas Russia wants the war to end with the elimination of the extremists. Ankara is concerned about existential security threats arising from the Syrian conflict, and their strategy towards the Syrian war is focused on eliminating these threats.

However, their actions are constrained by other power actors with blurred intentions. The US seems unable within the administration to put forward a coherent strategy, and President Trump keeps changing his mind on the matter.

Meanwhile, Moscow is much more concerned about its geopolitical influence in security and energy architecture in the Middle East. The Syrian refugees have, since the war in Syria began, sparked much international debate, including in Norway. In the context of Turkey, which has taken care of most of the refugees coming out of Syria, the EU-Turkey Statement marked a relatively new way of managing refugees.

The Office of the Auditor General of Norway has noted that it is challenging to trace the money from donor Norway to the refugees in Turkey. According to this agreement, Turkey agreed to block onward flight in return for certain benefits from the EU, including financial support for hosting refugees. European politicians have argued that regionally focused aid to refugees is in the best interest of beneficiaries, Europe, and the host nation.

This, of course, influences the quality and durability of the protection Turkey is willing to provide. We also discuss here how they assess the status of the Syrian refugees; whether they take a rights-based or security-based approach as the foundation for their policies; how they view integration, assimilation, or return as options for the Syrian refugees in the future; and how they assess the relationship between local communities and refugees. We further highlight two issues that we have not seen much reported elsewhere : the altering of the relationship between Turkish men and women, as well as the lost generation of Syrian youth that lives in Turkey.

The attitudes of the politicians and the media coverage have reinforced each other, which has strengthened the overall negative perception of the migrants.