This approach requires updating critical assumptions about Turkish decision-making. Ankara is almost certain to remain a member of NATO and its location and agreements with Europe economically bind Turkey to the EU. Turkish elite may make tactical decisions to lessen tensions with the EU or the United States, as well as other states in the Middle East, but such actions do not necessarily entail any major concession on key, self-identified national security issues. Instead, Ankara remains committed to using its own leverage to try and wrest concessions from its allies, embracing the transactional model that many in the West have been hesitant to fully accept. A clear, more transactional policy that strips out aspiration as a driver of Western policy may actually help to stabilize relations. While the two sides may never have warm relations, a clear and functional relationship, built around a mutually shared understanding of the other sides’ red lines could make cooperation on issues easier to pursue. Turkish foreign policy has changed. Ankara’s foreign policy elites have made clear that they view Turkey’s place in the world as more independent than during the Cold War. It is time for the West to follow suit, promote its own ideals, and carve out a more effective Turkey policy that is no longer hindered by self-restraint.
Table of contents
The rise and fall of the relationship 4
Finding the right balance in managing the “Turkey Issue” 7
High vs low: human rights and Western transactionalism 11
The new reality: options for the future 13