, Volume 89, Number 2

Philip Robins

In November 2012 it was ten years since the Justice and Development Party became the party of government in Turkey. During that time, it has raised its profile abroad and sought to project its influence. In particular, it has tried to increase its impact on the European Union and the Middle East - the primary regions to which Turkey lies adjacent. This approach has been parcelled up in the name of turning Turkey from a state of marginal importance into a 'centre' country.

The relationship to the EU got off to a good start; Turkey adopted liberal EU norms wholesale, before relations soured over Cyprus and membership in general. By 2006, ties were moribund.

Links with the Middle East also started well. Turkey avoided the worst effects of the 2003 Iraq war; and its stature was at its zenith in the early months of the 'Arab Spring', when it raised the slogan 'let the people decide'.  But this was hubris. By the summer of 2011, it had become clear that Turkey had miscalculated both with regard to the timing of regime change in Syria and its own leverage, whether on the ground or with NATO.

Rather than a new, transregional power house, Turkey looked tentative, frequently inert and increasingly dependent on NATO. Turkey remains a country subject to the highly contrasting twin gravities of the EU and the Middle East in spite of its leadership aspirations and its will to accomplish more.

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