Turkey will not be fully secure if it fails to help resolve conflicts in its region, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, vowing to continue pursuing a “more active and bold” foreign policy in 2018.
“Turkey will not be able to secure its future without resolving problems in its region. This leads us to pursue a more active, bold and if necessary more risky foreign policy,” Erdoğan said in his New Year message published on Dec. 31.
Citing developments in Syria, Iraq and Palestine, Erdoğan stressed the importance and sensitivity these problems for Turkey’s future.
“Our recent experiences have shown us that one cannot be involved in [negotiations] without being [active] in the field. To this end, we have taken significant steps over the last year by launching an operation into Idlib [in Syria] and by nixing the regional government’s independence bid in Iraq,” he said, referring to the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) independence referendum in September.
Turkey’s ongoing Idlib operation is part of a three-way deal between Russia and Iran to create a de-conflict zone in northern Syria to cement the ongoing truce between the regime and opposition groups.
“The Jerusalem issue has turned out to be a test for us and our region, as well as for all Muslims and oppressed nations. Apart from Israel, no state has supported the step taken by the United States. To the contrary, it led to a favorable development of the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine,” Erdoğan said, referring the emergency summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Istanbul on Dec. 13, a week after U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally recognized the holy city as the “undivided” capital of Israel.
The issue was later taken to the U.N. General Assembly through an initiative taken by Turkey on Dec. 21. In the subsequent vote 128 countries denounced Trump’s move and called for a resumption of global efforts for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.
‘Very important developments await us in 2018’
In his New Year message, Erdoğan cited the April 2017 referendum, which narrowly approved a shift to an executive presidential system, as one of the most important developments of the year.
Recalling that Turkey will face “very important developments” inside and outside the country throughout 2018, Erdoğan vowed to continue to “work day and night” to be prepared for potential challenges and troubles. Referring to local, parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled to take place in 2019, he said all three were “crucially important” for the future of the country.