From Conflict to Cooperation: Desecuritization of Turkey's Relations with Syria and Iran
Karakaya Polat, Rabia
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In recent years, there has been a notable softening in Turkey's foreign policy toward Syria and Iran. How might we explain the change in Turkey's attitude toward these two countries considering the hostile relations of the 1990s and the worsening security situation in the Middle East? Drawing upon securitization theory, this article argues that domestic problems have influenced Turkey's foreign policy toward Iran and Syria in the past, as foreign policymakers have successfully externalized the sources of political Islam and Kurdish separatism. The remarkable softening of Turkey's foreign policy toward Syria and Iran since the beginning of the present decade can best be explained by looking at changes at the domestic level, particularly in terms of the process of desecuritization currently taking place within Turkey. Among other things, this process of desecuritization is the result of the European Union accession process and concomitant steps toward democratization, a transformation of the political landscape, and the appropriation of EU norms and principles in regional politics. Within this process of desecuritization and democratization, formerly securitized and dramatized issues have begun to be perceived as normal political issues. As a result, the policymaking process is now emancipated from ideational barriers, while there has been a substantial increase in the flexibility of foreign policy attitudes and the ability of foreign policymakers to maneuver in regional policy.