4 Mart 2013 Pazartesi


Turkey's Security Policy in Africa   

Turkey has begun to take on global responsibilites in sustaining international peace, security and stability at international organisations since 2002. With regard to security perceptions, the concept of security had limited meaning before 2000. In parallel to the increasing international role in world politics, the scope of the concept of security has started to change significantly. During the Cold War era, the security concept had been mainly shaped by the West so that Turkey could not create a dynamic or independent concept of security or contribute to global peace and security. It can be said that it failed to develop a strategy to develop its social, economic, and political relations with Africa or play any active role in international peace and security in Africa due to the lack of the concept of security until 2000. Concepts need to be created according to societies' social, economic, and political needs. After 2000, the scope of the concept of security has been extended and designed according to economic and political developments in Turkey. It included new threats, challenges, opportunities, such as international terrorism, climate change, migration, disasters, strategic partnerships, peacekeeping, peacemaking, proactive diplomacy, and therefore it became complicated.

Turkey has a unique geographical place in the world, which is forcing foreign policy makers to adopt a comprehensive stance regarding security. Due to the geo-strategic position, it has faced a wide range of different and difficult security threats and challenges. During the Cold War, the concept of security comprised military threats only. After 2000 it began to include both military and non-military threats, such as economic, social, political, phycological, and diplomatic dimensions of security. As a result of the changing concept of security, Turkey has not only taken an active part in peacekeeping, peacebuilding and peacemaking activities in Africa but has also made efforts to strengthen social, economic and political structures of African states.

The UN currently has seven peacekeeping operations throughout Africa and has conducted 22 peacekeeping operations in Africa in the past. Importantly, it has currently supported 5 of 7 UN peacekeeping operations on the continent, as shown below in Table 3.

Table 1: The UN Peacekeeping operations in Africa to which Turkey has contributed

                 Name of the operation
UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI)
from 2004 to present
UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS)
from 2011 to present
UN Misison in Liberia (UNMIL)
from 2003 to present
African Union/United Nations  Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID)
from 2007 to present
UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)
from 2010 to present

Turkey only supported three of the 22 UN peacekeeping operations in Africa before 2000, shown below in Table 4 below.

Table 2: The UN peacekeeping operations in Africa that Turkey supported before 2000

           The Name of the Operation
UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL)
UN Mission in Somalia (UNOSOM II)
UN Organization Mission in the    Democratic   Republic of the Congo (MONUC)

The number of Turkey's contributions to the UN peacekeeping operations in Africa before 2000 demonstrates that it was a passive actor in international politics and did not play an active role in maintaining peace and security in the conflict areas of Africa. The active involvement of Turkey in the UN peacekeeping operations in Africa started after 2002, but the current number shows that it has more global responsibilites and plays a more active role in resolving global issues through international organisations. Importantly, Turkey has contributed to global peace and security with a different approach that is focusing on different dimensions of the concept of security. For instance, TIKA's activities in Africa, Turkish NGOs' increasing humanitarian relief works in Africa, and Turkey's official institutions' involvement in Africa have all contributed to extending the scope of the concept of security positively. It should be underlined that there is a strong relationship between the concept of security and the countries’ international role. In line with the changing concept of security, Turkey has begun to take on more global responsibilites in African politics.

International actors such as the U.S.A, China, France, and the UK have strongly maintained their relations with Africa since the end of colonialism in Africa. Turkish people started to become interested in Africa's history, politics, economics and its global affairs after 2005, with the Turkish Government's active involvement in Africa. It can be said that they did not have any consciousness about the continent even though Turkey’s relations with Africa go back to 16th century. When people heard about it they used to think of it as wars, conflicts, famine and poverty. Conversely, Africa had a negative picture in mind of Turkish people. Turkish intellectuals, Turkish universites and Turkish think tanks did not deal with Africa. Despite the fact that media plays a significant role in introducing Africa, Turkish channels and newspapers did not become interested. Today, Turkey's relations with Africa have dramatically changed and strengthened. Ten years ago it was difficult to see any black persons in the different cities of Turkey, but today it is so commonplace. At the same time, Turkish universites, think tanks, and the media have also actively begun to deal with Africa.

Turkey has increased its political, economic and social relations with Africa since 2005. Importantly, the new principles of the TFP have played a strategic role in changing the relations between Africa and Turkey. The article underlined that domestic politics in Turkey has been one of the most important driving forces shaping its new foreign and security policy towards Africa. With the ruling party’s active involvement in Africa since 2005, the nature of the relations between Turkey and Africa has changed. Africa has provided both opportunites  and challenges. Turkey can create new international markets, strengthen its soft power with its active social, economic and economic involvement in Africa, and gain diplomatic support from African nations in the international realm. Importantly, economic and diplomatic relations between Africa and Turkey have expanded significantly. Whereas Turkey had only 12 embassies in Africa before 2002, it currently has 34 embassies on the continent.

Likewise, when its trade volume with Africa in 2002 was $2 billion, it reached around $17 billion in 2012. The target for 2015 is to reach $50 billion. It is important to note that Turkey does not have a colonial relationship with Africa, therefore it became a strategic actor in a short period among the other international actors in Africa. High-level visits, diplomatic, economic and social relations, Turkish NGOs' active involvement with Africa in humanitarian assistance programmes has changed the old parameters of relations between Turkey and Africa. It is also important to underline that Turkey has faced some difficulties with its African policy. The first challenge is whether or not Turkish foreign policy is ready to deal with African politics. Africa has been the most neglected foreign policy area since Turkey was created in 1923. In other words, even though Turkey has opened new embassies through Africa, it is a questionable whether or not it has qualified people understanding and knowing Africa to increase diplomatic, economic, social and cultural relations. It should not be forgotten that there are many international actors in Africa, including the U.S.A, the EU, the UK., France, China, India, Israel, Iran, Brazil, Japan and Russia. Turkey should not forget the strategic roles of these actors and make efforts to create new strategic partnership areas with these actors in Africa. 

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