Turkey's Foreign Relations Balancing Act
Turkey's Foreign Relations Balancing Act
Podcast / Europe & Central Asia

Turkey's Foreign Relations Balancing Act

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group’s Turkey expert, Nigar Göksel, about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent trip to Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Turkey’s involvement in conflicts in Syria, Libya and the Caucasus, and its wider foreign relations.

This week, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was in Kyiv. The Turkish leader has previously offered to use his ties to Ukraine and reasonably cordial relations with Russia to mediate between the two. They’re unlikely to take him up on the offer, but Erdoğan’s trip was another sign of Turkish involvement in nearby conflicts over the past few years and its changing foreign relations. In late 2020, a Turkish military intervention in Libya propped up the UN-recognised government in Tripoli – an ally of Ankara – and created space for peace talks. At about the same time, in the Caucasus, Ankara backed Azerbaijan in the second Karabakh war of November 2020 that saw Baku recapture territory in and near the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region. In the war's aftermath, Turkey has started normalising relations with its old adversary Armenia. Over the past year, Turkey has also sought to build bridges to the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, with whom relations were particularly fraught only a few years ago. 

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood is joined from Istanbul by Nigar Göksel, Crisis Group’s Turkey director, to make sense of President Erdoğan’s foreign policy. They sketch out the motives for and implications of Turkish involvement in crises across the Middle East, North Africa, the Caucasus and the eastern Mediterranean, which include support for local forces in northern Syria and maritime disputes in the Mediterranean as well as the interventions in Libya and Azerbaijan. They discuss Turkey’s complicated relations with Russia, testy ties to Western capitals and signs of rapprochement with the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Israel. They ask how much of the evolution in Turkey’s foreign relations is by design, reflects the evolving geopolitics of Turkey’s neighbourhood, or a bit of both. They talk about whether it marks a return to Ankara’s aspirations in the 2000s to have a zero-problems foreign policy. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, explore Crisis Group’s analysis on our Turkey regional page. 

Contributors

Executive Vice President
atwoodr
Project Director, Türkiye
nigargoksel