Turkey’s long legacy of mediation takes center stage in Russia-Ukraine crisis

Settling conflicts, not only in the South Caucasus and the Middle East but also in Africa, has always been one of Turkey’s foreign policy priorities, argues the chief executive of foreign projects of the Trend News agency.

Although it is one of the important players in NATO, this has never stopped Turkey from forging close ties with Russia or China, explains Rufiz Hafizoglu.

After the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party entered the political arena in Turkey in 2001, it was officially announced that one of the country’s foreign policy objectives would be to undertake mediation missions, being given that Ankara has great potential to take on this role and is in a unique position to revive the development of the Islamic world.

There has always been a view among Turkey’s political elite that it is through conflict resolution and a policy of mediation that Ankara can extend its influence in the region. On the other hand, the mediation for the settlement of conflicts, one might say, was not the only one in Turkey to improve its position, because during the Cold War the country was seen as a participant in several conflicts.

However, the active phase of the mediation mission started in Turkey just after the AKP party came to power.

There are many examples of Ankara’s mediation mission in the region. In 2003, after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, Turkey attempted to resolve the conflict that had erupted in that Middle Eastern country. That same year, Turkey made numerous attempts to resolve the conflict between Syria and Israel.

In 2005, Turkey undertook a mediation mission to resolve the situation between Pakistan and Israel; in 2006 – between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq, as well as between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran.

In addition, Ankara has acted as a mediator between the EU and Iran, Israel and Hamas, Israel and Lebanon, the United Kingdom and Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Serbia and Bosnia -Herzegovina, and Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. All of the above assignments took place between the period 2003-2009.

Since 2010, Turkey has further broadened its mediation spheres. Ankara has attempted to play an active role in mediation efforts in African countries such as Sudan (2011), Eritrea (2011), Somalia (2013), Mali (2013) and Libya (2014).

Even if Ankara has not made specific statements related to mediation in resolving potential conflicts in recent years, that does not mean that Turkey has abandoned one of the cornerstones of its foreign policy.

In early December 2021, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that Ankara was ready to help reduce tensions in relations between Russia and Ukraine with their consent.

“Ankara opposes a further escalation of the situation in Ukraine and defends the protection of stability in the region. We are ready to make a possible contribution to the creation of channels of dialogue to reduce the tension that has arisen in recent weeks between Kiev and Moscow Turkey is certainly ready to take action without delay to maintain peace in the region, ”Erdogan said.

Despite Moscow’s statement that Russia is not part of the conflict, Ukrainian President’s press secretary Sergii Nykyforov said Ukraine will support any format that proves successful in terms of resolving the conflict in the east. from the country.

“We are in favor of direct negotiations with Russia. Negotiations with the participation of Turkey are okay. The main thing is that this brings practical results,” said Nykyforov.

It may be too early to discuss how and in which direction the situation will develop between Turkey’s two partners, Russia and Ukraine. But Ankara’s latest statements indicate that Turkey is resuming its mediation mission.

Rufiz Hafizoglu

Head of Foreign Projects Directorate of the Trend News Agency

Christi C. Elwood