Turkish foreign minister Ali Babacan is in Tehran to help find a
solution to the ongoing tensions over Iran's nuclear aspirations.
Turkey is increasingly playing an active role in working to resolve
tensions across the Middle East. Earlier this year it was revealed
Ankara had mediated the Syrian-Israeli peace talks. Dorian Jones
reports for VOA on Turkey's increasingly active diplomatic role in the
On the eve of crucial talks between Iran and the
international community in Geneva earlier this month, Iranian foreign
minister Manouchehr Mottaki visited Ankara, for talks with his Turkish
counterpart Ali Babacan. The meeting centered on Iran's nuclear
program, and international fears Tehran is seeking to build a nuclear
bomb, a charge Iran denies.
As the crisis continues, Turkey
has stepped up its role in helping to resolve the tensions. Speaking
after meeting with his counterpart, Mottaki thanked Turkey.
said we are in continuous discussions and Turkey has always followed
Iran's nuclear activities. He thanked Turkey for its constructive
attitude to Iran's nuclear activities.
Babacan in the past
month has been talking with officials in Iran and the United States as
well as representatives from the six countries negotiating with Iran
over its nuclear program. For Babacan, trust and clarity are key to
resolving the crisis.
What is important is that parties should
understand each other clearly, he said, adding he had the opportunity
to learn the views and approach of both Iran and the group of the six
countries. He said, this issue must be solved through dialogue.
While Turkey has been active in mediating crises around the Middle East, Babacan described his country's role as un-named.
Cetinsaya of Istanbul Technical University, an expert on
Turkish-Iranian relations and unofficial adviser to the foreign
ministry, says it's key that Ankara is seen as a credible negotiator.
"I think in that sense Turkey is in a very unique position. Iran knows
Turkey is also going to lose if there is going to be a war between Iran
and United States. So Turkey is sincere in that sense. It's a unique
role at this particular moment in the regional politics -- both Iran
and Israel. Can you imagine? Maybe five years ago it was different," he
Five years ago was when the present Islamic-rooted Justice
and development party, or AK party, came to power. The AK leadership,
which has strong ties with many Middle Eastern rulers has, unlike its
recent predecessors, chosen to be actively engaged in the region,
according to Soli Ozel an international relations expert at Bilgi
"There is no question this government in particular
pays serious attention to the Middle East wishes to make Turkey an
important player in developments whether it be the Israeli-Syrian
front, whether it be Iraq or Israeli-Palestine front," he said.
Iraq Turkey played a pivotal role in persuading Sunni Iraqi leaders to
participate in the 2005 general election, after a secret meeting in
Istanbul. Turkish diplomatic sources also say Ankara recently helped
to end an impasse in Lebanon between rival political parties over the
But it's Ankara's role in brokering the
start of indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel, which further
defined their role in the region.
For the last few months,
secret talks between Damascus and Tel Aviv have been held in Istanbul.
The most recent was this week, and further talks are reported to be
scheduled for mid-August. Soli Ozel explains Ankara's role.
than a messenger , and less than a mediator, I think the appropriate
term to use is a facilitator. Obviously this shows all concerned
parties, trust Turkey." he said.
Near and Middle Eastern countries have
been deeply suspicious of the Turks, who once ruled them as part of the
Ottoman Empire. But history appears to be giving way to growing
concerns over Iran's nuclear program.
Experts say Turkey, for
now at least, appears to be in the unique position as the region's only
honest broker. Ankara's success has been built on the foundation of
five years of political and economic stability at home. But Istanbul
Technical University's Cetinsaya warns that those diplomatic gains can
be easily lost.
"It is vulnerable, let's say, to economic
crisis, political crisis, or change of actors," he said. "The actors are important
in pursuing such a foreign policy . In that sense it's reversible in
The ruling AK party this week narrowly
escaped closure by the country's constitutional court after being
convicted of undermining the secular state. With Ankara playing an
increasingly active diplomatic role in the region, at a time of high
political tension, experts say the repercussions of Turkey's internal
strife could affect areas far beyond its borders.