Just as we Turks have turned our eyes to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s speech to see whether he would replace his aggressive rhetoric with a reconciliatory tone, the movers and shakers of the international community have also tuned in, to see the first glimpse of how the ruling party’s landslide victory will affect its foreign policy.
In his victory speech, which has come to be nicknamed the “balcony speech,” as he addressed his followers from his party headquarters’ balcony, the prime minister did not mention even once Europe, the European Union or the West.
Well aware that he will be watched by international audiences, he preferred to address the world as a Middle Eastern leader, rather than a European or Western leader.
He started his speech by saluting “all friendly and brotherly nations from Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Cairo, Sarajevo, Baku and Nicosia.”
Later on he said, “The hopes of the victims and the oppressed have won,” and, “Beirut has won as much as İzmir. West Bank, Gaza, Ramallah, Jerusalem have won as much as Diyarbakır. The Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans have won, just as Turkey has won.”
The fact that he mentioned Sarajevo, while avoiding mention of Europe, clearly shows that he sees himself as the leader of the Muslims and that of those Muslims who are oppressed, not by their regimes, in the view of Erdoğan, but by the Christian West. So, Erdoğan’s world view, based on juxtaposing the oppressed East vis-à-vis the imperialist West, is here to stay.