Presidential Elections and Turkey

Ali Gunertem
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2003 was a quite busy year. As we entered 2004, most readers who are interested in the US-Turkey relations as much as I am had great expectations. In 2003, Iraq will continue to be the most important subject in foreign policies of Turkey and the US.
Both countries have a lot of expectations and requests from each other. The issues in the order of their respective importance are:

- Northern Iraq and the unity of Iraq
- Cyprus
- European Union
- Cooperation against terror
- Participation of Turkish companies in reconstruction projects in Iraq

As we entered 2004, America’s attention is on the upcoming presidential elections. No major shifts in the US foreign policy are expected. Before the elections, the priorities for the administration are preserving Iraq as one country and transferring the administration to Iraqis. Any potential problems or an increase in American casualties will make a Bush victory very difficult, and will present a critical problem to the country: National Security.
During the interim elections in 2002, President Bush had a single message to the voters. The message was “vote for me and I will make sure you are secure” and it helped Republicans win a landslide victory. Post September 11 operations and the capture of Saddam Hussein will be used with a similar intention.

The stagnated American foreign policy for the most part of 2004 is a great opportunity for the Turkish foreign diplomacy. Turkey will have the chance shape the restructuring period in Iraq. Many things can change in one year. Be assured that whatever the domestic conjuncture requires, the US will act accordingly. If President Bush wins this election, he will not have reelection concerns and therefore adopt a more active strategy in the Middle East. If you are wondering what will happen in the Middle East in 2005, simply read “An End to Evil” by Pentagon Advisor Richard Perle, who is very well known by the Turkish diplomacy. Perle strongly argues that the mullah regime in Iran, the Saudi Kingdom and the dictatorship in Syria must to be replaced. He further recommends that the US should re-evaluate its relations with France, stating that the US has no problems with the French people but disagreements with the administration.

Since other items do not have domestic implications, it can be expected that the US will focus on these efforts and use its power for the benefit of Turkey. Although the best example is Cyprus at this time, I believe that others will follow. What Washington will do is totally related to the determination of the Erdogan government about the issues on the agenda. The January 2004 White House visit was very successful for Mr. Erdogan and his government. Promises to allocate a higher share for Turkish companies in the reconstruction efforts in Iraq, to accentuate political will to support Turkey in Cyprus negotiations and to preserve Iraq’s unity can translate into votes for the Erdogan government in the upcoming local elections in Turkey.

(April 2004, 12th Issue)

Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07