A game of chess: everyone will win or lose after the NATO summit

Next month will feature further revolutionary diplomatic talks for Turkey. The first of the talks, which should play a decisive role in Turkish-American relations in the next legislature, has already taken place on Thursday between US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal. The issues discussed in Sherman and Önal’s talks were a prelude to the meeting of US President Joe Biden and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who are expected to meet on the sidelines of the NATO leaders’ summit in Brussels in the second week of June. In the light of these developments, Ankara’s intention to make a fresh start with Washington was again expressed the day before during President Erdoğan’s meeting with senior officials of American companies.

Erdoğan said on Wednesday evening that he believed the meeting with US President Biden at the upcoming NATO summit would mark the “start of a new era”.

Advances in economic relations are expected to play a leading role in the new period, while Ankara remains committed to resolving the frozen political differences between the two countries. In the beginning, there is US support in northern Syria with the Syrian wing of the PKK terrorist organization, the YPG. So it was on Ankara radar that the Commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), Frank McKenzie, who previously described terrorist groups as an important ally of the United States in the fight against Daesh, met the so- saying leaders of the terrorist group. At the top of the issues that Turkey will put on the negotiating table held at the level of deputy foreign ministers, this issue is a priority. Because a solution or a lack of resolution on this issue also seems to determine the course of the Biden-Erdoğan meeting. On the other hand, progress on this issue or the continuation of the current situation will also determine the seriousness of Turkey’s operations aimed at cutting the YPG link on the Syrian-Iraqi line. In fact, Ankara’s grand Operation Sinjar, aimed at destroying the terrorist organization in northern Iraq, is also waiting at the door. The course of other issues that should be resolved between Turkey and the United States will also evolve in parallel with the position the United States takes against the terrorist organization in Syria and Iraq. It would be a lose-lose political choice if the United States did not make concessions on the YPG while awaiting Turkish support in areas that have recently grown in geopolitical importance, such as Ukraine and Afghanistan, under the aegis of NATO. On the other hand, the image of Greece, a NATO member, provoking its neighbor, Turkey, another NATO member, is another dangerous game recently played by Washington. At this point, the visit of Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who will visit the country at the invitation of Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias earlier this week, will be very important.

Such an invitation from Dendias, especially after his very undiplomatic statements during his recent visit to Ankara, should open an important door for the two neighboring NATO member states to keep alive the intention of reconciliation again. In this sense, the policies which will be carried out in accordance with common interests rather than the policies of the fait accompli of Greece in the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean will be reflected not only in the relations between Turkey and Greece, but also in the relations between Turkey and the EU and Turkey and the United States. Otherwise, Washington’s attempts to inspire a position of tension will open the door to a lose-lose game in the Eastern Mediterranean, such as in Syria.

One of the key talks that will affect all of these developments will be held in Geneva between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin after the NATO leaders’ summit on June 16. Ankara will closely follow the results of this meeting, which will affect not only the relations between Moscow and Washington but also positively or negatively with many regional and global conflicts. The results of this meeting will affect Turkey’s policies and national security in the region, especially in Syria, Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Caucasus.

Currently, the coming period will now be a process for Turkey to make final decisions on areas it does not agree with as much as the policies it has agreed with the United States and Russia.

By making these decisions, important changes can be seen in the foreign policy of Turkey, a regional power that cannot be ignored for both Moscow and the United States. It seems far from a realistic approach to think that these two forces will win both regionally and globally in an equation that Turkey will lose.

In this sense, it is possible that another meeting will take place between Erdoğan and Putin immediately after the Erdoğan-Biden and Biden-Putin talks. In light of these developments at the NATO Leaders’ Summit and its aftermath, it will be clear that everyone will enter a period of losing or winning.

The leaders will act in the light of all these balances, geopolitics, bilateral interests and realities on the ground. At the moment, Erdoğan, Putin and Biden are playing a game of chess, the effects of which will be felt on a global and regional scale. All of the players are experienced enough to make the best shot, but they also understand that no one can win without give and take.

In this equation, where no one will make concessions, a new process will have entered in which the lack of resolution will worsen and new areas of conflict will emerge, rather than the winner.


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