Worldview: A new Turkey is redefining itself

ISTANBUL, Turkey – All during the Cold War, Turkey was the NATO
country the United States took for granted, a secular Muslim state that
straddled Europe and Asia and defended a long border with the Soviet

Then communism collapsed, and Washington thought it had a new role for
Turkey: With the election of an Islamic-oriented government in 2002, it
could become the model of moderate Muslim democracy. But after several
days in Ankara and Istanbul, I saw that this country is no longer ready
to play a role designed by others.

Welcome to the new Turkey, which is changing so rapidly that smart
people here tell me they don’t know where their country is headed –
abroad or at home.

When it comes to Turkey’s foreign policy, the debate over whether Turkey
has shifted its axis from West to East misses the point, says veteran
journalist Sami Kohen. He says the message from Ankara is: “Forget the
staunch supporter of NATO, the loyal ally, we’re no longer in the Cold
War. Turkey is getting strong and can build its own axis. Don’t take
Turkey for granted anymore.”

Indeed, Ibrahim Kalin, foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan, told me that “Turkey no longer feels it necessary to
define itself in oppositional way, linked to one country at the expense
of another. People see no contradiction between membership in the >>>

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