Turkey appears to be making a greater effort to stay neutral and avoid antagonizing its neighbors than it has in the recent past.
On August 10, Turkey will hold its first direct presidential election. On the last possible day for candidate registration, July 1, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made the much-anticipated announcement that he will run for president—a post that he has long coveted.
On June 16, Turkey’s two main opposition parties, the social democratic Republican People’s Party and the rightist Nationalist Action Party, decided to nominate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the former Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as a joint candidate in the presidential elections scheduled for August 10.
General Wojciech Jaruzelski, the Polish leader who passed away on May 25, 2014, was a paradox, a man torn between two worlds. He was the brutal enforcer of a totalitarian system and yet, eventually, tacitly consented to that system’s demise. But as a pivotal player in and witness to one of the most successful democratic transitions of the last quarter century, he also had a unique and still relevant perspective.
Turkey’s March 30 local election, with the ruling Justice and Development Party earning 45.5 percent of the vote, revealed a country deeply divided. How Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan interprets these results will determine how he approaches the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections and whether he pursues a policy of conflict or compromise: continuing the repressive practices that characterized the lead-up to the local elections or abandoning them now that he’s secured his party’s rule.
American policymakers should squarely face the challenges confronting Turkey, as well as their implications for greater U.S.-Turkish cooperation.