Norway and Turkey: Possibilities of Cooperation through the Eyes of Turkish Opinion-Makers

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Series Details Vol.2, No.1, January 2013
Publication Date January 2013
ISSN 2146-7757
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All Azimuth: A Journal of Foreign Policy and Peace

All Azimuth, journal of the İhsan Doğramacı Peace Foundation’s Center for Foreign Policy and Peace Research at Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey. It provides a forum for academic studies on foreign policy analysis and peace research as well as theoretically-oriented policy pieces on international issues.

It particularly welcomes research on the nexus of peace, security and development. It aims to publish pieces bridging the theory-practice gap; dealing with under-represented conceptual approaches in the field; and making scholarly engagements for the dialogue between the 'centre' and the 'periphery'. We strongly encourage, therefore, publications with homegrown theoretical and philosophical approaches. In this sense, All Azimuth aims to transcend the conventional theoretical, methodological, geographical, academic and cultural boundaries. All Azimuth is published two times a year by the Center for Foreign Policy and Peace Research.The authors conducted interviews with opinion-makers in Turkey in 2012 to explore the feasibility of cooperation between Turkey and Norway on issues of peacebuilding. Norway was viewed by respondents as a country with soft-power capabilities and a focus on human rights, democratic values, and the rule of law. Some opinion-makers also emphasized that both countries have a similar position on Palestine, a pivotal issue in the Middle East.

Obstacles to cooperation include the geographical distance between the two countries, the lack of common institutions, Norway’s lack of experience with different ethnicities and faiths, Norway’s failure to object to the 2005-2006 Danish cartoon scandal regarding Mohammed, Norwegian criticism of Turkey’s policies toward the Kurds, and its imprisonment of dissidents without due process of law.

Despite these issues, respondents expressed enthusiasm about future cooperation, and view Norway as a far better potential collaborator than any other European country, in part because it, like Turkey, is outside the EU but a member of NATO. The issue of trade-offs between Norway’s use of soft power and its economic aspirations, namely oil investments in other countries, was also explored.

The article concludes with a discussion of the possibility that increased cooperation between Turkey and Norway may give rise to “Turkophobia”, an extension of “Islamophobia”, a simplistic interpretative framework that rests on cultural misunderstanding and miscommunication.

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