Dimitrios Triantaphillou

triantafilu's picture
Dimitrios Triantafilou
Center for International and European Studies (CIES)

Online press conference with Dimitrios Triantaphillou, director of the Center for International and European Studies (CIES) at Kadir Has University.


Topics: Internal political changes in Turkey, a possible change in the direction of Armenian issues; The impact of the events in the Middle East on Turkey's security.

The press-conference was organized within the framework of  "International Press-Center "Dialogue": Diversification of the Sources of International News for Armenian Media" project. This project of  Region Research Center is supported by the OSCE office in Yerevan.

David Stepanyan, www.arminfo.am
- Up to the penultimate parliamentary elections in 2011, the number of supporters of the "Justice and Development" party steadily increased. What radical changes in Turkey in the last 4 years could cause the electorate toalterits preference so abruptly?
Answer - The change is not so sudden. It was evident in the Presidential election of August 2014 which Erdogan may have won with close to 52% of the vote but Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of the HDP garnered close to 10% of the vote. This was evidence of a change in the making…Demirtas momentum carried the day in the recent parliamentary elections as many liberals especially those whose vires were shaped by the Gezi Park protests voted for the HDP.
- Is it possible to note that Turkey's foreign policy in the recent years, particularly in relation to Syria, has also had a negative impact on the internal processes in Turkey, in general, and the rating of Kurdish Republic of Ararat in particular?
Answer - Yes. Turkish Foreign Policy is in search of an identity. As the Zero problems with the Neighbors failed to materialize as the world around Turkey fundamentally changed and Turkey from seeking the role of regional protagonist has struggled to cope, the correlation between its domestic and external policies has been exacerbated and the process of reconciliation with the Kurds has suffered as a result.
- Do you expect an increase in the weight and authority of Fethullah Gulen, who is considered an advocate of the US interests in Turkey? In this light is it possible to state that the States have gained new tools of influence, a kind of an original bridle on Erdogan's desire to get out of the custody of its NATOsenior partner?
Answer - It is still too early to say whether Gulen’s influence will increase but it is probable. Gulen does not necessarily represent US interests; rather his vision is that of a strong conservative Turkey. As political parties seek to augment their power, Turkish political dynamics have shown how easy it is for political parties to form alliances with each other, with the military, and even with the Gulen movement….so yes, I do not discount a comeback by Gulen. As for NATO, Turkey has no choice but ot stay within NATO given the fluidity of the conflicts along its borders.
- The results of the parliamentary elections, taking into account the observed enhancement of the Kurdish factor, may play a role of the catalyst for centrifugal processes in Turkey, leading up to its federalization. How likely is such a scenario, in your opinion?
Answer - I do not think this is a viable scenario at the moment or anytime in the midterm. Most political forces will be united against it.
- According to various estimates, millions of Muslim Armenians, crypto-Armenian, people with Armenian roots live in Turkey. History shows that these people have repeatedly attempted to use various power centers to their advantage. Do our fellowcountrymencontinue to be of geopolitical interest, in your opinion?
Answer - I don’t understand the question.
- The joint project with Russia – “Turkish Stream" – is still under negotiation. Are the changes in the political situation in Turkey able to add some new prospects to this project?
Answer - Irrespective of the political situation in Turkey, the Turkish Stream project will either go ahead or not depending on its viability and whether it is in the national interest of both Turkey and Russia. Most political forces support the notion that Turkey by a regional energy hub and it is within this context that the Turkish Stream project should be considered.
“Hetq” Newspaper, www.hetq.am
- How could the results of the previous parliamentary elections affect Turkey's relations with the European institutions? What is the significance of these relations for the official Turkey and the Turkish society, what is the attitude of Turkey to the issue of Turkey’s European integration at the moment?
Answer - The process of integration with the EU is not only dependent on Turkey’s willingness or lack thereof to advance its accession negotiations, it also depends on whether the EU is ready to move forward as well as to the dynamics within Turkey. Currently, as Turkey is negotiating its coalition government and considering its next steps, EU integration will be on the back burner for a while.
- How do the Turkish-American relations impact on the situation in the Middle East? To what extent does Turkey pursue an independent policy in this area, and is it perceived with understanding from the US?
Answer - The fluidity of developments in the Middle East does not allow Turkey to pursue a policy that is totally independent from that of the US. Neither wantTurkish policy makers for this to happen never mind their rhetoric. Turkey needs NATO and NATO needs Turkey and this is not going to change anytime soon.
- How much can a possible agreement on Iran and Iran's release from the state of the sanctions of the international embargo affect the position of Turkey in the region?
Answer - This is something that will need to be assessed. Obviously Turkey’s position will be affected as Iran could surface as a strong regional competitor for Turkey. On the other hand, any deal with Iran does not mean that sanctions will be lifted overnight as Iran will have to prove its good intentions. Turkey as NATO’s neighbor to Iran will play an important role in the region irrespective of the deal.
- What is the Turkish society today in terms of the rights and freedoms, demonstrating opposition to the authorities in the matters that are most important to the society? What role, from this point of view, does the Turkish diaspora in Europe and other Western countries play?
Answer -Turkey is a conservative society that is getting to be more conservative. The demand for greater rights and freedoms is one from a dynamic small minority. It could impact on the quality of Turkey’s conservative and religious bend but it cannot do much should the dominant political forces manage to mainstream their message further and should the economy continue on its path of growth.
Emil Babayan, EurAsiaDaily, www.eadaily.com
- In Armenia many say that the rapprochement between Ankara and Moscow in the energy sector could lead to a change in Russia's policy towards Armenia. Do you share this view or not? If so, what exactly can be expected to change?
Answer - There is no rapprochement between Russia and Turkey…there is simply a correlation of strategic interests. Remember that Turkey is a NATO member country therefore it is across the strategic divide from Russia, not a friend. I do not think Russian-Turkish rapprochement has any impact on Russian-Armenian relations.
- At what stage is the Kurdish question? This is especially interesting in the context of the recent success of the Kurds in the elections. Also, what happened to the Kurdish-Turkish reconciliation process, which symbolicallybegan with the appealsby Abdullah Ocalan?
Answer - It is too early to tell as Demirtas’ rise fundamentally challenges the authority of other Kurdish leaders that seek a role in the process of reconciliation between Turkey and the Kurds. We still have a lot to see as to whether the Kurds will have a common leadership and vision regarding their future.
- What is, in your opinion, the political future of RecepTayyip Erdogan in the medium term perspective? What role can Gülen play in his political destiny? It is obvious that over the last year Erdogan's party lost badly in the eyes of society, Gülen attributed a significant role in these developments. Should we expect a new round of confrontation?
Answer – Erdogan is still the smartest political operative in Turkey. He knows where to push and where to pull back. He knows with whom to work and with whom not to work and when. It would not surprise me if the AKP under Erdogan's control finds a modus vivendi with the Gulen movement. I am not sure that society seems the AKP as a loser…it still won the vote with over 40% of the vote…and could still come back in the next polls.
Artak Barseghyan, PublicRadioofArmenia, www.armradio.am
- How probable is the normalization of relations with Armenia after the parliamentary elections in Turkey?
Answer - It is too early to tell as the political climate is fluid. On the other hand, there is a growing consensus that Turkey needs to develop a new policy that would give it a greater regional role and that resolves some of the problems with its neighbors, hence the ground for the normalization of relations with Armenia…I think the ground for normalization is being created but the actual formal normalization will have to wait for a while.
- How do you assess the participation of nationalists in the new Turkish government?
Answer - If it were to happen, it is a natural partnership as both parties are on the conservative right of the political spectrum as is the majority of Turkish society. On the other hand, they do not necessarily see eye to eye on some foreign policy issues and this might complicate their process of co0habitation should it come to pass.
- How much in the interests of Turkey are the actions of ISIS?
Answer - They are not. Turkey is just as threatened by the potential of this non state actor to wreak havoc in the neighborhood as is every other neighboring country. Although ISIS may have suited Turkey for a while, it has become too much of a challenge to be unchallenged by Turkey.
- The relations between Sunnis and Shiites are strained in the Muslim world. In this context, what can the close encounter of the Sunni Ankara and Shiite Bakube accounted for?
Answer - You mean Shiite Baku? Religion does not play a role here…the Turkic factor is more relevant as are the strategic interests of natural resources. An eventual reduction of Azerbaijan’s role as an energy producer may affect relations in the future….but this is not going to happen any time soon.
Tatev Harutyunyan,  www.aravot.am
- What impact can the new political reshuffled arrangement that emerged as a result of the parliamentary electionsin Turkey have on the Armenian-Turkish relations? Can there be a new development in this matter and what specifically will it be?
Answer - We still do not know what government will emerge. Even if one emerges soon, it will have no impact on the resolution of relations between Turkey and Armenia s its priority will be on the other priorities the country will have to deal with such as the state of the economy, the Kurdish question and relations with Iraq and Syria…the process of rapprochement that is underway will not be affected either though…Its results will be felt when the time is ripe…
- PACE criticized the process of the parliamentary elections in Turkey. In particular, in the adopted statement concern isexpressed that the President has violated the Constitution and engaged in the propaganda of the ruling party.Many facts of pressure and attacks on the offices of political parties, as well as violence have been established. How do you assess this concern of PACE, what are these offences caused by?
Answer – Turkey is not a perfect democracy, it is rather a polarized one. Sadly, PACE's concerns have had no impact of the process.


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