Osman Faruk Loğoğlu told Payman Yazdani of Mehr News International service that relations with the EU had not been as suffering from developments in Turkey as often believed. He sees rapprochement with Russia in line with a general trend in AKP’s reorientation and turning from the US and EU toward other powerful neighbors, especially Russia, once seen by Ankara as an arch-enemy and fiendish state. In a final reappraisal, Mr. Loğoğlu believes, accession attempt would be resumed once the smoke clears and both Turkey and the EU finds proper pieces to play with:
President Erdoğan has announced that he is going to make some changes in Turkish foreign policy. What would these changes be?
The proposed changes in foreign policy are intended to normalize Turkey’s relations in its near neighborhood, specifically with Russia, Israel and Egypt. Turkish interests were being hurt when its relations because of the negative state of affairs of its ties with its neighbors. The Government thus announced that Turkey “will increase its friends and reduce its enemies.” After July 15 coup attempt and related developments however, this pragmatic restoration effort is now given an ideological hue, being interpreted as a reorientation of Turkey’s foreign policy away from the USA and Europe and toward Russia. The restoration effort will continue for Turkey’s strategic and economic benefits. But after the domestic situation quiets down, Turkey’s relations with the West will also slowly return to normal.
Erdoğan has visited Russian president Putin. What is the importance of this visit? Will it affect the solving of the crisis in Syria?
The rapprochement with Russia could have a broader impact on the region. The key is whether and how much the two regional powers can cooperate on Syria. If Turkey and Russia join their efforts on Syria and at the same time engage Iran in the process, then the chances of ending the armed conflict in Syria will improve substantially. For its possible impact on Syria, the Erdoğan-Putin will be an important one.
Ankara recently has turned to Middle East. Does it mean that Ankara sees hopes of joining the EU gone?
Turkey is a member of the Euro-Atlantic community. Our relations with the West have never been easy. It is true that the Turkey-EU relationship is highly strained at the moment for a number of reasons and the mutual recriminatory rhetoric is strong and harsh. Nonetheless the accession process to the EU is intact. Once the dust settles, Turkey and the EU will pick up the pieces and continue their relationship.
What are the reasons behind recent improvements in Tehran-Ankara relations after the coup?
Tehran has condemned the coup attempt in Turkey and came strongly on the side of the elected government. The suggested changes in Turkey’s policy toward Syria has also helped to improve the atmosphere of Turkish-Iranian ties. I strongly believe that as two leading powers in the region, Turkey and Iran can through cooperation and partnership can significantly improve stability and prosperity in their surrounding regions.
Interview by: Payman Yazdanai