Erdoğan, Emre. (2023). “A foreign policy litmus test: How the war in Ukraine has fuelled populist rhetoric in Erdoğan’s Turkey.” In: The Impacts of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine on Right-wing Populism in Europe. (eds). Gilles Ivaldi and Emilia Zankina. European Center for Populism Studies (ECPS). March 8, 2023. Brussels. https://doi.org/10.55271/rp0033
The war in Ukraine is a defining historical moment that demonstrates the limitations of contemporary politics. Even the most pessimistic scholars did not conceive of a direct military conflict in the heart of the Eurasian landmass. Moreover, this conflict has exposed the limitations of populism in foreign policy. Despite rare instances of rhetorical cooperation with Russia, the populist politicians of Europe remained committed to Atlanticist foreign policies. Turkey, a textbook example of populist governance, offers a superb illustration of how the international zeitgeist constrains populist politicians’ goals. The “balanced” approach of Turkey’s foreign policy, which is dictated by its asymmetrical interdependence with Russia, aims to strengthen Turkey’s role as a regional force through mediation. In the meantime, the pressure of upcoming presidential elections and the country’s economic position are additional obstacles. An examination of Erdoğan’s speeches over the past year reveals that he has replicated this balanced approach in his discourse as the leader of Turkey.
Keywords: Turkey; Ukraine–Russia war; foreign policy; populism.