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Erdogan’s 'Brave New Turkey' Looks to Past and Future

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s "brave new Turkey" bears a striking resemblance to the secular nationalist "old Turkey" of Kemal Ataturk, writes Karabekir Akkoyunlu.
Turkey's Prime Minister and leader of Justice and Development Party Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during a party meeting in Ankara March 22, 2013. Erdogan underlined the importance of strong cooperation and friendship between the Turkish and Jewish nations in a telephone conversation with his Israeli counterpart on Friday, his office said. REUTERS/Stringer (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3FC37

On March 21, as Turkey’s Kurds were celebrating the arrival of spring, a cease-fire came into effect between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Kurdish militant group. In the course of the debilitating 30-year conflict, this is not the first time that the two sides have agreed to take a break from killing, but it may well be the last. If ongoing negotiations between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and representatives of the Kurdish movement proceed as planned, they could produce a permanent settlement that would alter Turkey's core socio-political dynamics as well as those of the wider region. In a sense, such a change is already in the making. Here is a snapshot of how this "brave new Turkey" might look:

The new Turkey is pragmatic. Pragmatism lies at the heart of the country’s foreign policy under the AKP government. Shifting perceptions of geopolitical interests pushed Turkey’s decision makers to improve relations with Iran and Syria prior to the Arab uprisings, and then to abandon them and to side with a constellation of US-backed Sunni actors following the outbreak of the Syrian crisis. Calculations of regional influence, security concerns and energy cooperation help explain Turkey’s deteriorating ties with Israel in recent years, as well as the nascent rapprochement between the two governments at present.

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