Turkish scholar discusses political tension
For its fourth event of the winter season and first of the new year, the Vail Symposium welcomed Kemal Kirisci to discuss American and Turkish foreign relations.
The event, titled “Turbulent Times: Turkey’s Tenuous Relationship with the West,” was based on a single question posed by Kirisci: Why did Turkey never get anchored in the West despite its efforts to do so?
Kirisci walked backward through the last few years, beginning with Turkey’s involvement in the Kashoggi murder — mostly being tied up do to political alliances.
Similarly, Kirisci discussed the manipulative 2017 takeover of the Saudi crown after the death of the king in 2015, and Turkey’s ties to the Egyptian government, which was deeply involved.
Largely, Kirisci found that the rising political tension in Turkey is due to the government’s ignorance of a foreign policy standard set forth in previous administrations: “minding the gap.”
While the phrase is commonly used to warn travelers to avoid the gap between a train and the platform, in this case, it means to maintain space between your own countries and others; to avoid getting involved in other countries’ affairs or risk being sucked into the gap of regional rivalries.
Taking the political unrest even further back, Kirisci cited tribalism —the behaviors and attitude stemming from a loyalty to one’s own group — as a cause. Despite ambitiously participating in international relations such as the United Nations, Turkey was ignored by the West. Turkey, Kirisci pointed out, is not taught in schools to be a part of the Western world.
“We came to where we are because the European Union betrayed us,” Kirisci said, discussing their involvement in the Cyprus Reunification, in which Turkey’s contributions were vastly overlooked.
The discussion was followed by a Q&A session, in which Kirisci discussed topics such as the Syrian Kurds, Andrew Brunson’s prison sentencing (and it being overlooked by the media), Samuel P. Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations,” the Turkish economy and more.
The next Vail Symposium event, “Increased Productivity and Decreased Stress: Better Life Balance is Achievable Through Time Management,” will take place on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. Tickets and more information can be found at http://www.vail symposium.org.