The "zero problems" doctrine avoids "pledging any specific allegiance"

From Marietje Schaake, Hurriyet Daily News:  Despite all the complex dynamics between Turkey and its neighboring countries, Turkey is seen as a key regional player and ally by both the EU and the U.S. The need for EU and NATO allies to tilt the balance of power in Syria has them relying on Turkey. Similarly, Turkey relies on Western allies.

It is time for Turkey’s government to define an explicit point on the horizon in terms of its role in the region. The initial “zero problems” doctrine may have sounded like a promising vision, but it also avoided pledging any specific allegiance.

In the absence of a clear vision, and amidst confusing speeches, we can only guess what Turkey’s role will end up being. This uncertainty stands in stark contrast with the self-confidence of the Turkish government. Sooner or later, the Turkish population or the international community will demand a stronger alignment of words and deeds. Either the international community, the Middle Eastern partners, or the Turkish population will push the AK Party government to bridge the gap between rhetoric and reality.

Marietje Schaake is a Member of the European Parliament representing the Democrats 66 Party from the Netherlands, and is a Member of the European Council on Foreign Relations. This abridged article was originally published in the Spring 2013 issue of Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ).   (photo: Umit Bektas/Reuters)