Turkey as a Security Guard in the Middle East and Black Sea Region
On May 3, GMF Berlin and the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmens' Association (TÜSIAD) hosted a luncheon discussion on, "Stability and Peace - Turkey as a Security Guard in the Middle East and Black Sea Region," with GMF Transatlantic Fellow Ian Lesser and Dr. Heinz Kramer from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).
The domestic crisis in Turkey became the focal point of the discussion and how political developments there could affect its role in the region. Heinz Kramer, one of Germany's best-known experts on Turkey, noted that Turkey's options and leverage in its neighborhood had been limited even before the onset of the crisis. Other actors, he said, ignored Turkey at their peril. Yet at the same time, Turkey had not been able to exploit its full potential, despite its considerable options in the context of energy security. It had also not been successful in, "acquiring the cooperation and support," of the EU and the U.S., but developing such a support scheme would be crucial to take it through the present crisis.
In response to Kramer, GMF Senior Transatlantic Fellow Ian Lesser drew attention to the risk of political isolation that Turkey will face if the current crisis is prolonged. The resulting political instability, he said, could well affect the Turkish economy, foreign investment and the securities markets. It might also reinforce an already existing tendency in Turkey to concentrate on internal security risks. At this point the U.S. would do well to recalibrate its troubled relationship with Turkey, which had been, "far too security-heavy," in the past. He added that Washington needed to take Turkey's interests in Iraq far more seriously, suggesting the troubled U.S.-Turkish relationship should be recalibrated and expand to a triangular relationship including the EU.
The event was attended by representatives of TÜSIAD in Berlin and Brussels, as well as government representatives, journalists, diplomats and a variety of think tank representatives and business people, several being from the German-Turkish community.