Drones and Diplomacy: Will Türkiye’s Elections Change its Middle Power Activism?
Drones and Diplomacy: Will Türkiye’s Elections Change its Middle Power Activism?
Podcast / Europe & Central Asia 1 minutes

Drones and Diplomacy: Will Türkiye’s Elections Change its Middle Power Activism?

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard speaks with Nigar Göksel, Crisis Group’s Türkiye director, to discuss Ankara’s foreign relations under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and, with elections scheduled for May, whether a change in Ankara would bring a change in policy.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in power for two decades, faces a stiff challenge in Türkiye’s forthcoming election, which will take place only a few months after devastating earthquakes killed some 50,000 people. The vote comes at a time of evolving Turkish foreign affairs. Some years ago, Ankara was boxed in, its relations with its neighbours, the Gulf and some of its Western NATO allies fraught. Today, things look different. Ankara has gone some way to repair ties in the region. Its support has been pivotal to partners in the South Caucasus and Libya. It has developed an indigenous drone industry, with weapons sales heightening Türkiye’s influence abroad. While the Ukraine war has tested Ankara's balancing act between NATO membership and ties to Moscow,  Erdoğan has notched up diplomatic successes, notably helping the UN broker a Ukraine-Russia deal that gets Ukrainian grain onto global markets via the Black Sea. 

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood is joined by Nigar Göksel, Crisis Group’s project director for Türkiye to discuss Ankara’s foreign policy and whether a change in government would bring a change in policy. They look at Türkiye’s delicate balancing act in Ukraine, supporting Kyiv while keeping lines of communication open to the Kremlin. They discuss several hotspots where Türkiye is involved: the country’s struggles against Kurdish militants in Syria and Iraq, its troops deployed to enforce a ceasefire in northwest Syria and its role in the standoff between Azerbaijan and Armenia. They talk about the dramatic expansion in Turkiye’s drone production and what influence weapons sales to many countries give Ankara. They also talk about  Erdoğan’s pivot away from “precious loneliness” toward mending relations with neighbours and Gulf capitals. They talk about what Turkiye’s more assertive foreign policy says about how non-Western middle powers can defend their interests in a changing global order. 

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For more in-depth analysis of the topics discussed in this episode, make sure to check out our Türkiye country page.


Executive Vice President
Project Director, Türkiye

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