Turkish-American Relations in Transition: Taking Stock of Obama’s Legacy

Prof. Dr., Rektör Vekili, Uluslararası Antalya Üniversitesi.


As the Obama adminstration is coming closer to its end in the United States, it would be worthwhile to take stock of Turkish-American relations as it has evolved in recent years. When Obama came to presidency in 2009, he paid one of his early visits to Turkey. At that time the expectation on the part of traditional American allies, Turkey being no exception, was that with Obama the unilateral and neoconservative stance in Amer¬ican foreign policy would come to an end and the United States would reenergize its relations with traditional allies in a multilateral fashion and within existing institutional platforms. In the speech he delivered in the Turkish Assem¬bly in the spring of 2009, he praised Turkey’s decades-long Westernization/Europeanization/ modernization efforts and pointed out to Tur¬key as a successful role model for the develop¬ing and modernizing states of the wider Middle East. In the fight against extremist Islamism, he underlined Turkey’s potential role to act as an inspirational force for moderate Islamic polities in their efforts to successfully merge traditional Islamic values with liberal democratic values of developed countries.

Turkey’s soft-power oriented European practic¬es in its foreign policy across the Greater Middle East on the hand and Turkey’s ongoing internal transformation alongside the EU accession pro¬cess on the other attracted US admiration. The so-called ‘zero problems with neighbors’ poli¬cy that Turkey pursued since 2002 till the early stages of the Arab Spring seems to have also in¬creased Turkey’s strategic and ideational value in the eyes of American.