Turkish foreign affairs had its hands full in 2015

Turkish foreign affairs has been quite active in 2015 with military operations, international tensions and new steps to better relations with its neighbours

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jan 1, 2016

Turkey’s foreign policy witnessed several important events throughout the year. The country got more involved in the US-led coalition in order to fight against DAESH threat on its border. While on the other hand, it took greater steps to restart its European Union accession talks and to normalise relations with Israeli government.

On July 24, Turkey launched its first air strike targeting DAESH positions in Syria. This move was just the beginning of a long fight against the terrorist group. Ankara later decided to open up the Incirlik Air Base in the eastern province of Adana for the United States military use.

Turkey’s concern over its border security continued throughout the year. As air strikes from several other countries hit DAESH positions in Syria, Turkey’s border with Syria faced with airspace violations carried out by Russia more than once.

The last violation caused an international crisis when Turkey downed a Russian jet after warning it several times on Nov 24. Moscow said there was no airspace violation and accused Ankara of supporting terrorism. Ankara published radar footages proving the violation.

Russia demanded an apology from Turkey. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “Turkey does not need be sorry for downing a plane that was violating its airspace despite all warnings.” The tensions between two parties has been high since then.

Amid these tensions, Turkey faced another crisis following a deployment of Turkish troops in Iraqi province of Mosul.

Although, Turkish troops have been present in Mosul since last March to train local forces to fight against the terrorist organisation DAESH, the deployment appeared to be a problem with recent Russian and Iranian influence over the region.

Iraqi President Fuad Masum said the presence of Turkish soldiers in Mosul violates international rules.

In response, the Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu said that Ankara had ‘no intention of harming’ Iraq’s territorial integrity.

Davutoglu also said “This training has been launched upon the request of the governor of Mosul and it has been co-ordinated by the Iraqi Defence Ministry."

The crisis ended with an agreement on relocation of Turkish troops from Mosul.

Meanwhile, Turkey and the European Union opened a new chapter towards Turkey’s accession into the bloc after two years of silence.

The parties opened the 17th Chapter which aims at bringing Turkey in line with the EU’s economic and monetary policy, as part of the country’s plan to join the 28-nation bloc.

The chapter includes compliance with the Copenhagen criteria for a full and freely functioning market economy.

The EU also agreed to give Turkey a sum of three billion euros for aiding almost 2.3 million Syrian refugees hosted by Turkish state.

Turkey also took a step to normalise its relations with Israel. There has been a tension between two countries since Mavi Marmara incident.

The Mavi Marmara was a passenger ship owned by a Turkish NGO - the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) - and was one of the six civilian ships of an international coalition called the Free Gaza Movement targeted by an Israeli military operation on May 31, 2010.

The Gaza flotilla was attacked by the Israeli Navy in international waters.

Nine Turkish citizens were killed on board and 30 other people were injured. One of the injured activists died nearly four years after being critically injured.

The attack raised tensions between Turkey and Israel leading Turkey to recall its ambassador in Tel Aviv.

The tense relations were relatively eased after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologised to Turkey in 2013 over the attack, but the issue regarding the compensation to be paid to the families of the victims has not been resolved between the two countries.

TRTWorld and agencies