Friday, February 6, 2009

Turkey-Sudan Ties Compromise Turkish Foreign Policy

From TDZ:
Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, the first vice president of Sudan, was in Ankara yesterday for talks with senior Turkish officials ahead of an expected decision by International Criminal Court (ICC) judges on whether to indict Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Taha had talks with Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan and was scheduled for a meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the evening after Today's Zaman went to print. Erdoğan was expected to host a dinner in honor of Taha.
Sudan is seeking Turkey's support at the Security Council, hoping to take advantage of Turkey's new status as a non-permanent member in its efforts to thwart the ICC's indictment of al-Bashir. In December, Ashraf Qazi, UN special envoy to Sudan, met with President Gül and Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, and in August, al-Bashir paid an official state visit, using Turkish soil to deny Sudanese government crimes committed in Darfur and excoriate human rights activists worldwide as complicit in a "Western conspiracy" against his country.

Turkish hospitality toward genocidaires not only calls into question the moral ground on which Erdoğan denounced Israeli crimes in Gaza, but undermines Turkey's commitment to human rights. This commitment is particularly important in terms of its EU accession bid, and EU policymakers are justifiably discouraged when Turkey hosts al-Bashir and allows the genocidaire to use the visit as a world stage. One day Turkey is declaring its commitment to human rights in Brussels, and the next it is hosting Sudanese dictator and genocidiare al-Bashir and talking about building better relations with a genocidal state. This must end, and Turkey must instead work to better align its foreign policy with that of Europe. While Europe is no doubt still struggling in its own right to determine a common security policy, hosting dignitaries from Khartorum gives credence to arguments that Turkey is moving further away from European foreign policy norms.

UPDATE 2/10 -- From Ankara, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin urged the ICC to postpone indicting al-Bashir. Babacan did not comment on the ICC indictment, but expressed implicit support for Sudan, reiterating Turkey's support for the political unity, territorial integrity, and sovereignty of Sudan. Ignoring that al-Bashir is considered by many in the world to be a war criminal, Babacan held the Sudanese president's leadership necessary to resolution of conflict in Sudan.

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