Author Archives: Peter Grimsditch

Deciphering Turkey’s foreign policy

Deciphering Turkey’s foreign policy

In theory, not to mention in several hundred acres of newsprint, 2011 was the year Turkey’s foreign policy fell apart. The tabloid version of the ‘zero problems with the neighbors’ policy postulates that Turkey happily ignores the political shortcomings of a broad expanse of thugs, from Syria to Libya, Iran to Israel. By being diplomatically

Follow the money

It is a headline writer’s dream: “Ambassador expelled”; “Trade with Israel suspended”; “Prime Minister to visit Gaza”; “Turkish navy to patrol eastern Mediterranean”. The reality is much less Hollywood. The Israeli ambassador to Turkey was not in the country anyway, conveniently and with “foresight” avoiding the embarrassment of television cameras capturing him skulking away. The

In search of deus ex machina

If events in Syria are a tragedy, its monumental regional and international cast combines to weave an intriguing plot rivaling incomplexity the tales of Greek playwright Euripides. Their public utterances areas striking as some lines in, say, Medea, and never was the need for a Euripidean deus ex machina — an unlikely intervention by a

Hollow hat trick for Erdogan

With three consecutive victories at the ballot box — a first in Turkish political history — Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ought to be laughing all the way to his mega-mentions in future history books. In reality, he is beset with problems on all sides, both political and economic.  On the domestic front, he had

Dialogue of the deaf

    The clash between journalists and the establishment in Turkey has descended into a dialogue of the deaf. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is noted for its dedicated acquiescence to George W. Bush’s philosophy that the press is either “for us, or against us.” On the other side of this Mexican standoff

Trial of the secular sentinels

  “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.” These famous lines, first penned by Sir Walter Scott for his soap opera poem “Marmion” in 1808, have been given new meaning by the twists and turns of Turkey’s Ergenek on trial, which grows messier by the day. In Scott’s otherwise-largely-forgettable

Untying Istanbul’s Gordian gridlock

  About the only phrase guaranteed to cross Istanbul’s linguistic barriers is “trafik problem,” the despondent opening line of many taxi drivers. For some, it provides the excuse to take a circuitous and more expensive route. Yet the city’s congestion problems place it in a premier league that includes such places as Manhattan, Mumbai, Moscow…

Erdogan lumps the leaks

  Turkey’s fiery, if thin-skinned, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a love-hate relationship with the press. He loves the organizations that show appreciation of his policies and seems to hate those that don’t. Heis prone to threaten the offending publications with lawsuits, while urging their boycott by advertisers and readers alike. Little surprise then

Turkey’s EU report card

  The 104 pages on Turkey’s European Union progress (or lack thereof) from EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle represent the kind of school report which children would rather not show their parents. Its examination of the 35 “chapters” Ankara needs to reach agreement on to join the EU was a damning indictment of its failure

Greeks bearing gifts

  The fallout from Ankara’s continuing and widening estrangement from Israel has seen some unaccustomed diplomatic bedfellows cozying up together in recent weeks. Close military ties between the two states were ruptured when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered a ban on joint military exercises. He also insisted on searching for sources other than