Axis Shift: Is Turkey Turning Its Back on the West?

September 23, 2022 Topic: Turkey Region: Eurasia Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: TurkeyChinaRussiaSCOGreat Power CompetitionRecep Tayyip Erdogan

Axis Shift: Is Turkey Turning Its Back on the West?

Turkey no longer sees its foreign policy within the framework of the Cold War or East vs. West alliances.


Turkey’s dilemma is that it faces two directions. On the one hand, it is tied to the West through its membership in NATO and the Council of Europe as well as its EU aspirations. On the other, particularly since the AKP parted company with the Gülen movement, it faces East, which is marked by the rise of Eurasianism and anti-Westernism.    

The founder of the Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, dragged Turkey kicking and screaming into the Western world, as witnessed by the draconian administration of the Hat Law and the Sheikh Said rebellion. However, Davutoglu dismissed a century of republican rule as “a parenthesis” and heralded the birth of the “new Turkey.”


In March at Qatar’s Doha Forum, Kalin reiterated his call for a new security architecture in the world, which again raises the question of Turkey’s role. Turkey has also attempted to act as an honest broker between Russia and Ukraine, but this risks being invalidated by Turkey’s dependence on Russia for trade, energy, tourism, and the construction of a nuclear power plant. The United States has also warned Turkey that it faces sanctions if it continues to help Russia evade the embargo.

NATO’s preamble reaffirms its faith in the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law. Accordingly, membership is value-based and principled, which is why the direction Erdogan’s “new Turkey” is taking signals an axis shift.

Robert Ellis is an international advisor at RIEAS (Research Institute for European and Amerian Studies) in Athens.

Image: Reuters.