Understanding Turkey’s Behaviour and Rising Activism in International Organizations: A Socialization Approach

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The 21st Century Republic of Turkey has adopted a more proactive approach towards regional and international organizations (IOs) and makes every effort to play a constructive and reconciliatory role on current issues. As such, while taking an interest in global issues which are prominent in the UN’s agenda, has made Turkey emerge as a center for IOs. Observers of Turkish foreign policy agree that it has entered a new era of activism and in line with the new perception of Turkey’s role in the world, three questions have emerged: What justifies and characterizes this recent behaviour and activism? Which approach in international relations theory best describes this and what is the impact of this rising activism in IOs on Turkey’s political conduct and on institutional norms/policies?

Using Johnston’s process-based constructivist theory which explains the effect of involvement in an international institution on both states and the institution itself through the process of socialization, this paper sets out to analyze the theoretical foundations and the dynamic nature of this activism as well as the character of Turkey’s involvement in a major international institution and in addressing important global issues. We could assume that, if Turkey succeeded to promote these norms and policies, its behavior and activism were substantive. Thus our paper argues that Turkey’s international organization behavior and activism towards important global issues have varied from symbolic to substantive in various phases of its involvement in major IOs like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). While being aware of domestic and external international factors including security, terrorism, trade and political pressure influencing the character of Turkey’s participation in IOs, this paper due to its limited extent, is focused on the factor of socialization within NATO.



The 21st century Republic of Turkey shows an exceptional activity on the international scene, in terms of geographical range, thematic scope and the variety of used instruments. Observers of Turkish foreign policy agree that it has entered a new era of activism over the last decade. In this regard, what merits attention is the solid organization on the part of the contemporary Turkish elites of the Justice and Development Party (JDP) (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP), to play an assertive international and regional leadership role. As highlighted by Davutoğlu, Turkey wants to become the master, shaper and serviceman of the emerging order in the Middle East and such aspirations have become more obvious over the last three years as the Middle East has been going through tectonic changes during the course of the developments associated with the Arab Spring, international terrorism and the Syrian Crisis.1 In line with its new perception of its role in the world, Turkey has increasingly asserted itself as a rising actor that is determined to make a unique contribution to regional and global affairs. In this process, Turkish foreign policy has been transformed, not only in its content, but also in the instruments and mechanisms for formulating and conducting a proactive foreign-policy agenda (Davutoğlu 2004).

In effect, most attention has been focused on the various regions and issue areas in which Turkey’s activism has been demonstrated, but less on Turkey’s major restructuring of the institutional architecture to support its new regional and global agenda (Davutoğlu 2010). Nevertheless, Turkey’s attitude towards international organizations has also evolved significantly over the two last decades. In this light, it’s our argument in this article that Turkey’s international activism and behaviour within IOs, as part of its efforts to increase its strategic autonomy, regional and international influence, should be measured through its relationship with the major western super powers under different institutional platforms. As such, one of these platforms is nothing but the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the manner in which Turkey interrelates with its Western allies appears to hold out great promise to exhibit the nature, scope, and limits of Turkey’s aspirations to an emerging power status. In fact, the views that Turkey seems to have adopted during the transformation process of NATO’s will tell us a lot about the codes of Turkey’s behavior and activism in light with its emerging power status. Notwithstanding Turkey’s uncertain position within the West, especially as concerns the existing objections to its European Union (EU) membership, there are generally some fundamental differences between Turkey and other emerging countries in the context of their relationship with some Western powers within major international institutions (Akgün, 2009).

Over the last two decades, it is well-known that NATO has been going through a profound process of transformation which involved many dimensions, of which the efforts to define the alliance’s new strategic foundation and develop relations with non-western powers stands out as a distinctive feature (Wolff, 2009). The absence of the common existential threat emanating from the communist USSR, has obliged allies within NATO to be faced with the daunting tasks of defining new threats around which they could all be united as well as draw up roadmaps on how to develop cooperative relations with the states external to the alliance. As the allies within the alliance are still far away from sharing unifying threat perceptions as during the Cold War era, the process has proved to be risky and exhaustive, hence generating strong discrepancies among NATO allies with respect to numerous issues on transformation agenda of the alliance over the last two decades (Kay, 2005).

This article does not have as aim to decipher such intra-alliance disagreements in detail but to analyze Turkey’s behavior and activism during this process with a view to measuring the extent to which Turkey sees itself as part of the Western international community in terms of security considerations. Assessing the extent to which Turkey’s claim to play a more influential regional and international role as well as represents a vital, if not existential, challenge to the primacy of the West in world politics, is of vital importance in this article. In this light, NATO appears to be the ideal institutional setting to analyze whether Turkey’s activism and behaviour has been in harmony or contradiction with the current security order established by the Western powers. Since the threatening September 11 attacks, many of the developments that have affected and defined Western security interests have transpired in Turkey’s vicinity. Turkey’s collaboration or lack cooperation thereof would be essential in determining whether the West would be able to achieve its interests in the region.

From what precedes, it is therefore clear that Turkey’s raising activism in IOs has an impact on Turkey’s political conduct and on institutional norms/policies. Hence the central question on how this behaviour and activism in IOs can be characterized? In order to understand Turkey’s raising activism in IOs, this paper sets out to analyze the theoretical foundations and the dynamic nature of this activism as well as the character of Turkey’s involvement in major IOs and in addressing important global issues. One could assume that, if Turkey succeeded in promoting these norms and policies, its behavior and activism were substantive. Hence, we argue that Turkey’s international organizational behavior and activism towards important global issues have varied from symbolic to substantive in various phases of its involvement in major international organizations. While being aware of domestic and external international factors including security, terrorism trade and political pressure influencing the character of Turkey’s participation in IOs, this paper due to its limited extent, is focused on the factor of socialization within international institutions (Charlotte Epstein, 2012). Socialization might belong to the most explanatory concepts of the real nature of institutional activism in terms of compliance with organizational values as it focuses on non-material motivations.

Against this background, the first part of article will offer a brief theoretical/conceptual discussion of socialization theory in international relations. Here the goal is to offer the conceptual lenses/processes through which analysts could make sense of the activism and behaviour that Turkey has adopted in IOs especially during NATO’s transformation process. Each of these conceptual processes will tell us something different about the nature of Turkey’s behaviour within NATO as a security organization.

The second part of this paper, deeply analyzes the processes of socialization with emphases on the two-way process which critically permits an emerging country like Turkey to shape the international environment without directly confronting other super powers. Caution is necessary at this stage because when analyzing Turkey’s activism and behaviour within NATO, the dynamics of Turkey’s relations with the USA should be taken into consideration. In effect, NATO means the USA in the eyes of Turkey’s public opinion and a majority of its political elites. This also suggests that Turkey’s one-way or two-way socialization strategies within the alliance should be seen as Ankara’s responses to the positions adopted by the US on these issues. As an established fact, NATO first came into existence as a US foreign and security policy tool in the aftermath of the Second World War and since then, the US has overwhelmingly shaped the strategic raison d’être, policy instruments and institutional design of the alliance. As the strategic re-orientation of the US away from Europe to non-European geographies evolves despite the end of the Cold War, 75% of total military expenditure within NATO is still borne by the USA alone.

In the third part, in order to explain the dynamic nature of Turkey’s organizational behavior, the paper will review the character of Turkey’s involvement and relationship with the US and NATO from a security perspective. In other words, this part will simply compare and contrast the explanatory value of the two socialization logics mentioned above in understanding and explaining Turkey’s activism and behaviour within NATO. Particular emphasis will be placed on the time period under which Turkey has been ruled by the JDP because it is under its reign that Turkey’s claims to have been an active player in most IO’s and on global issues. We will conclude with a recap of the main findings of this research and offer some projections as for the future direction of Turkey’s security relationship with NATO and other global issues.

Note should be taken that, this article makes use of Johnston’s process-based constructivist theory which explains the effect of involvement in an IO on both states and the institution itself through the process of socialization (Alastair Johnston, 2001). In Johnston’s understanding, social interactions where non-material factors are stimulated by human contacts provide a solid pull to conform to a policy or a norm.2 While providing a valuable explanation for the social aspect of institutional behavior, this theory often neglects the spill-over effect from various areas: mostly security and foreign policy in Turkey’s case. Nevertheless, due to the focus of this paper, Johnston’s theory remains most suitable for further analysis.

Socialization: An International Relations Conceptual Explanation

In social sciences, socialization is a process whereby an individual acquires a social identity and learns the norms, values and behaviour appropriate to his or her social position.3 International relations scholars have borrowed the concept of socialization to conceptualize the interaction between states and international society. Thus in international relations literature, different theorists conceptualize socialization from different perspectives. Neo-realists such as Kenneth Waltz treat socialization as an emulating process of competitive behaviours imposed by an anarchic international system (Waltz, 1979) Following Waltz’s neo-realism, Joao Resende-santos argues that military emulation is a security-enhancing strategy in response to external threats, and that emulation is a form of balancing behavior (Resende-santos, 2007). The neorealist process of homogenization is not actually socialization in common-sense usage, but a typical process of selection and competition. While Kenneth Waltz’s structural model is rather spare, Cameron Thies tries to enrich neo-realism by specifying the conditioning effects of competition and socialization operating on behalf of the international structure. He develops a model of the socialization process that uses role theory to demonstrate how interstate interaction is structured at the micro-level. Consistent with neo-realism, the model assumes that socialization is heavily conditioned by material capabilities, and operates mainly on the adjustment of state behaviour (Cameron G, 2010). Constructivists conceptualize socialization as a process of the diffusion and internalization of norms, (Waltz, 1979, p.127-128). Different from the logic of consequence, constructivists demonstrate the effects of socialization by analyzing the logic of appropriateness.4 In particular, the question is that of how cooperative behaviour is possible without salient material incentives. Constructivists have investigated different mechanisms of socialization, such as social influence, emulation and mimicking.5

Bringing socialization into international relations literature sheds new light on international politics.6 Socialization particularly helps to uncover the mechanisms and processes of norm dynamics in international politics. For instance, socialization could spread norms, and could also consolidate norms through internalization (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998). Most existing studies of socialization, however view conceptualized socialization as a one-way process, which is not necessarily wrong but is at least incomplete. For instance, Checkel defines socialization as ‘a process inducing actors into the norms and rules of a given society’.7 Johnston conceptualizes socialization as a process through which social interaction leads novices to endorse expected ways of thinking, feeling, and acting (Alastair Johnston, 2001). Johnston also argues that there are two common themes in international relations literature: first, socialization is most evidently directed at, or experienced by, novices and newcomers; second, the internalization of the values, roles, and understandings held by a group that constitutes the society of which the actor becomes a member (Alastair Johnston, 2001, p.495). Many existing studies have empirically examined how new actors are learning and internalizing the existing international norms. For instance, Johnston argues that China has socialized into the existing international norms of arms control through three mechanisms of mimicking, persuasion and social influence8 (Xiaojun Li, 2010, pp. 77). In a particular period of time, socialization as a one-way process reflects the main concerns of a rising China. How to shape the evolution of international norms is not a principal concern of China’s foreign policy in that period. In this sense, the one-way process of socialization described in Johnston’s Social States is justifiable and reasonable.

As a general pattern, however, the current focus of socialization as a one-directional process is biased and incomplete (Suzuki, 2011, p.56.). It is necessary to move the research forward in the following respects. First of all, from a theoretical perspective, socialization in social theories is often viewed as a two-way process: people are not only socializees who learn social norms; they could also act as proactive agents who could influence the content and outcome of the socialization process.9 A one-way process of socialization often ignores the agency in international politics.10 It is crucial to recognize the role of agency in shaping social and political change. In international normative politics, Turkey is not only the receiver of international normative pressure; but it is also an active agency that is shaping the further evolution of international norms.11 Second, socialization in international relations literature has certain theoretical biases, which will blind us from understanding the complex interactions between emerging powers and international norms. The current conceptualization of socialization in international relations has largely ignored the role of non-Western powers in shaping the evolution of international norms. Instead, socialization in international relations literature focusinteres on socializing non-Western powers as aliens or infants. The perspective of the socializees (non-Western powers) is hence often missing; it is always the Western powers that tell the emerging powers how to behave (Charlotte Epstein, 2012).

Furthermore, socialization literature also presumes that some states are already socialized into an international society, and that other states (mostly non-Western powers) must be adopted into this club of nations (Maximillian Terhalle, 2011). If, however, the non-Western powers are not founding members of the West-dominated international society, these non-Western powers have no inherent obligations to abide by the existing rules of the game in the first place. When non-Western powers enter into the international society, therefore, the rules of the games should at least be renegotiated. Third, resistance, anti-hegemonic movement, and ‘weapons of the weak’ have a long tradition in social sciences in general and international relations in particular (James Scott , 1985, p.45). As James Scott puts it, ‘relations of dominations are, at the same time, relations of resistance’. The current concept of socialization has largely ignored the resistance of norms from non-western powers.12 In reality, non-Western powers will not passively accept pressure from the dominant Western powers. Fourth, norm diffusion in international politics is not simply about whether and how ideas matter, but also whose ideas matter (Acharya, 2004). In other words, many studies on socialization do not carefully examine the question of who is socializing whom (Alice D, 2006). The existing constructivist and liberal studies on norms dynamics often focus on cases of normative transformation in which ‘good’ international norms prevail over the ‘bad’ local norms. Thus, socialization tends to be apprehended as a bettering of the socializee (non-Western powers), because of an implicit teleological assumption of normative change as international progress. As Acharya emphasizes, however, many local beliefs and practices are themselves part of a legitimate normative order, which conditions the acceptance of international norms.

Thus, it is necessary to provide a dynamic explanation of norm diffusion that describes how local agents reconstruct foreign norms to ensure the norms fit these agents’ identities (Acharya, 2004) In norms dynamics, local actors will not either wholly accept the existing norms or totally reject them. Instead, socialization involves both resisting and reframing international norms in a particular context. Furthermore, socialization of emerging powers is not only concerned about normative socialization; emerging powers could also play a more active role in spreading their own ideas and norms in international society. Through a two-way process, therefore, emerging powers will shape the further change of international norms. Finally, from an empirical perspective, the dominant orientation of socialization cannot explain certain new patterns of interaction between emerging powers and international norms. With respect to international political change, existing theories in international politics often focus on how non-Western powers are socialized into the existing international norms. There are few discussions on how these powers will shape the emergence of new norms. Empirically, the one-way process of socialization is increasingly incompatible with the two-way process of socialization in international politics. The other side of the story how emerging powers might influence the evolution of norms has been relatively under-theorized, but it is also becoming more salient in international politics. To understand international political change, it is crucial to investigate the behaviours and perspectives of emerging powers.

Based on these theoretical and empirical reasons, this paper conceptualizes socialization as a two-way process of interaction between nation-states and the existing international society. Socialization as a two-way process is similar to the notion of ‘reciprocal socialization’: ‘rising powers are socialized into the existing international order, while reshaping the order when they enter’ (Maximillian Terhalle, 2011). Empirically, this paper focuses on how emerging powers like Turkey are shaping the emerging change of international norms. The spread of norms is not a one-way process in which local actors act as the students of transnational norm entrepreneurs. A more interactive understanding of the process is warranted in which non-Western powers are not just passive novices in international norms but proactive agents that shape their further evolution. Despite its increasingly critical stance in regard to the global governance institutions and their decision-making mechanisms in recent years, the normative challenges to Turkey and its behavioural posture within the current international order need to be nuanced from those of the other rising powers in the Global South. Turkey’s complaints about the current international order are not informed by an anti-Western attitude or Third Worldist ideology, but clearly fall into the framework of a within-system challenge. Most researches have touched on the “normative” dimension of Turkish foreign policy through an in-depth analysis of Turkey’s understanding of international law, justice and ethics and of its shifting approach to the UN over the years. It is known that the increasing normatively and cosmopolitanism in Turkish foreign policy under the AK Party government have been harshly criticized by some political and academic circles both inside and outside the country in recent years. It is thus important to draw on the regional and international activism to Turkey’s regional and global rise, as is done in this paper.

Socialization Process and Rising Powers: Mapping Turkey’s International Behaviour and Activism

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of academic studies on changes in the current international order and the way the so-called emerging powers have been contributing to these changes through their behaviours and strategies of global governance (Fontaine & Kliman , 2013). Hot debates are still ongoing in academic and political circles about whether, despite their normative challenges to the current order, these emerging states have been successfully integrated into the rule based and open liberal international order through international cooperation or have been destabilizing the liberal global governance with the aim of changing the order and functioning of global governance institutions according to their own interests. If a power transition is currently under way in the international system, how the emerging, middle and major powers are facing the systemic, regional and domestic effects of this transition remains as a fundamental question requiring an answer. In this light, socialization is crucial to the process of international political change: socialization will help define whose norms and ideas are accepted as legitimate in the international society, and what kind of social purpose a new world order will embrace.

Socialization as a One-way Process: Turkey as Norm Taker

Socialization as a one-way process is not necessarily wrong, but it is incomplete. Here, it is a question of discussing why emerging powers such as Turkey are accepting some existing norms, and will also evaluate to what extent Turkey is still a norm-taker. Socialization as a one-way process is pertinent to the early stage of the development of Turkey. This is because of several reasons. First of all, at an early stage, the top priority of emerging powers is to integrate with the existing norms so as to be accepted as normal countries in international society. Thus, learning new norms could benefit the newcomers. Second, at the early stage, emerging powers are not strong enough to impose their own agenda in international society; they face a hegemonic system dominated by the West. International hegemony refers not only to concentrated material capabilities but also to ideological and institutional control.

Internationally, Turkey’s socialization is related to Turkey’s efforts to become a “normal state”, a “pivotal state”, a “regional power”, or a “middle power” in international society (Walter Bryce, 1956). During this early stage of Turkey’s development, the major problematic of Turkey’s international studies is that of how to deal with its relationship with the existing international society. Integration could hence be regarded as a core issue of Turkey’s international relation theorizing. This one-directional process of socialization could also be applied to the case of India. Experiencing various frustrations after independence, India learned hard lessons, and was gradually socialized into the international system by emulating the behaviours of other great powers. In addition, whether an emerging power is a norm-taker or a norm-maker might depend on the specific context. For instance, in Turkey’s foreign aid policy, Turkey’s socialization into international norms varies with the thickness of the institutional environment. Turkey is emerging as a quite self-confident donor country and considers itself to be an alternative to both traditional as well as other new aid providers. As such, it shares the same underlying concepts of development cooperation as OECD-DAC donor countries. Thus many OECD-DAC donors are very interested in implementing triangular cooperation projects together with Turkey” (Jeannine Hausmann, 2014). At the regional level, Ankara is bolstering its influence over the norms and practices of regional developmental institutions (Aktaş, 2010). In a general sense, emerging powers are still norm takers in some issue areas, and continue to internalize certain exiting liberal norms, including free trade, market economy and the openness of the international system.

Socialization into the liberal order has strengthened the miraculous growth of emerging powers such as Turkey and Brazil. Emerging powers have been successful players under the existing liberal order, which states consider legitimate because it benefits not just the Western powers but all countries willing to invest in the system. Because the Western-led liberal order has provided emerging powers with unparalleled opportunities to become stronger, safer and more respected, emerging powers largely pursue a grand strategy of integration, participating in international regimes and forming a largely accommodative relationship with the community of Western nations. From this perspective, democratic liberalism is universally valid and all major powers including Turkey will eventually become democratic (Gökçenay, 2011).

In summary, socialization as a one way process is particularly relevant at the early stage of emerging powers’ development, but socialization as a one-directional process is incomplete. The next section will illustrate why socialization as a two-way process could help us better understand the more complex interactions between Turkey and international norms. As Turkey’s power and influence grow, she will not passively accept the normative preferences of the Western powers. From this perspective, international legitimacy does not just mean emerging powers accept the status quo of the existing normative order. International legitimacy of great power status implies that the emerging powers want to have a say in defining which norms are legitimate in international society.

Socialization as a Two-way Process: Turkey as Norm Shaper

Emerging powers like Turkey do not accept all the rules of the game in the existing order, and attempt to shape the environment without directly confronting the hegemon. This is similar to the notion of ‘reformist revisionist’ proposed by Barry Buzan: these emerging powers are not challenging the fundamental rules of the game, but are trying to incrementally change the system or at raise their voices within it. (Buzan, 2010) In this process, emerging powers are not only acting as norm-takers; they are also increasingly acting as norm-shapers. It is crucial to investigate how emerging powers are resisting certain norms and also trying to shape the evolution of international norms. The attitudes and behaviours of emerging powers could be viewed as those of rightful resistance. (O’Brien & Lianjiang Li, 2006) Consistent with the notion of rightful resistance, emerging powers take advantage of opportunities and authorized channels within the order to make relative gains, and to contest particular behaviours of the hegemon. (O’Brien & Lianjiang Li, 2006: 2) The strategy of rightful resistance can have opposite goals. It can strengthen the state’s position for the purpose of working within the established order, or for the purpose of waging a hegemonic bid to overturn that order when doing so becomes a viable option. Accordingly, the strategy works for both limited-aims revisionists and unlimited-aims revisionists. Although emerging powers cannot balance the economic and military power of the western powers in the short term, emerging powers have been contesting the current order in several ways. From a socialization perspective, emerging powers are accepting certain existing norms and also trying to shape the further evolution of international norms. How do emerging powers act like norm-shapers?

First, emerging powers challenge the notion that Western ideas and culture are superior to those of the rest of the world (Kishore Mahbubali, 2008). Oliver Stuenkel, a scholar from the Getulio Vargas Foundation (a leading think-tank in Brazil), reflects on the American domination of ideas in international relations. He asks whether scholars from emerging powers could generate new ideas to solve global problems. In practice Turkey never initiated nor collaborated with counter hegemonic projects. Turkey strives for global change, but is not challenging the existing world order as such. (Kardaş, 2013: 651-653) On the contrary, Turkish power is deeply embedded in the Western international system (Cagaptay, 2013). Foreign Minister Davutoğlu deems it necessary to readjust the current balance of power, which should reflect the rise of new powers (Davutoğlu, 2010: 39-40). “There will be some inevitable changes in the current global political and economic system, the UN structure of governance, and the relations between countries and nation around the world. Our goal and mission is to place Turkey among those countries that will shape the new global system.” (Justice and Development Party, 2012: 56) As such Turkey wants to contribute to the new world order through its activities in the UN Security Council, NATO, G20 and the Alliance of Civilizations. (Davutoğlu, 2010: 44) Turkey has been working in an institutional framework set up by the West, but it pursues reforms making these institutions to take into account the interests of new powers.

Second, emerging powers emphasize on their sovereignty and independence, and are hence hesitant to participate in the humanitarian interventions that the West often initiates. The normative preferences for sovereignty have significant impacts on the foreign policy behaviours of those emerging powers. For instance, in the case of the Somalian crisis, Ankara’s interests are complex to the extent that concern about the implications of humanitarian intervention is more crucial than natural resources in determining its policy towards Somalia. Turkey is thus more influential than liberal democratic states in formulating the rules of humanitarian intervention in Somalia due to a lack of political will in the West (Özcan, 2015:4). The normative preferences of Turkey undoubtedly played a decisive role in shaping NATO’s projects like the NATO Missile Defense System and decisions like the 2011 Libyan intervention, as well as NATO’s operations in Afghanistan (Özcan, 2011). Another pillar of Turkey’s conflict resolution ambitions is its contribution to intercultural understanding through the “UN Alliance of Civilizations” initiative. This initiative was launched in 2005 by Spain and Turkey as a reaction to the “clash of civilizations” thesis of Samuel Huntington, the 11 September 2001 attacks, and the 11 March 2004 attack in Madrid. (Balcı & Miş, 2008: 389-392) The project aims at stemming the atmosphere of mutual distrust, fear and polarization between the Islamic world and the West by gathering a broad coalition to foster greater cross-cultural tolerance and understanding. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, s.d. g) Turkey launched in 2010, together with Finland, the “UN Mediation for Peace Initiative”, which aims at enhancing preventive diplomacy and mediation capacity of the UN, regional organizations and individual countries. The “Friends of Mediation Group”, established by Turkey, Finland and Switzerland in March 2014 in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), serves as a platform for sharing best practices for peace-making. Istanbul now hosts the “Istanbul Conferences on Mediation, annually hold since February 2012. Turkey proposes to establish a “UN Retreat Center” in Istanbul to be used for the UN’s mediation activities (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, s.d. e).

Third, emerging powers are using multilateral forums to influence the evolution of international norms. Turkey was the first non-western country to host the 4th “UN Conference on the LDCs” in May 2011. This conference addressed the needs of 48 states, with a combined population of 900 million people, displaying the lowest indicators of HDI (Haşimi, 2014: 137). The conference ended with the “Istanbul Declaration” and an agreement about the “Istanbul Programme of Action”. Turkey is prepared to accommodate an “International Science, Technology and Innovation Center” and an “International Agriculture Center”, both dedicated to the LDCs. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, s.d. h) Turkey also hosted the first “World Humanitarian Summit” in Istanbul in 2016 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, s.d. k).

Finally, emerging powers want to have a say in defining what kind of norms should be regarded as legitimate in international society. As mentioned earlier, Ankara has become a shaper of international humanitarian norms. Although Ankara has not obstructed the development of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), it has placed its main efforts behind the state capacity-building functions of the R2P mandate. It has also worked to ensure R2P’s focused application and a definition that constrains the operational methods associated with humanitarian intervention. Ankara has aimed to develop the norm in a direction that gives primacy to the preventative aspects of R2P in hopes of diminishing the instances where the norm of non-interference in the internal affairs of states is breached (Foot, Rosemary 2011). Certain emerging countries, such as China, India, Brazil, and South Africa, feel betrayed by the Western interpretation of the mandate under UNSC resolution 1973 to intervene in Libya. The UNSC resolution legitimated an initial series of strikes against Libyan air defences, but the emerging powers wanted the West to consider a settlement with Gaddafi after the initial strikes, and were shocked by the extension of the campaign into one of regime change. The Libya experience led to the formulation of the Responsibility While Protecting (RWP) concept, which seeks to introduce more rigorous criteria with respect to the use of force in humanitarian intervention (Wright Thomasm, 2012).

Despite all this, UNSC has never mentioned an R2P norm in its Syria policy. Turkey, in the absence of the Security Council’s as promotion of the norm, tried to attract members of the international community to the carnage in Syria. In its calls to the international community, Turkey referred to the grave violations in Syria and to the extensive sufferings of the Syrian people, suggesting that the international community needed to replace the Syrian central government given that it became apparent the people were longer protected. A major initiative as part of this policy was Friends of Syria, an unofficial gathering of states expressing support for the opposition and/or the people in Syria. This bold initiative demonstrated some success in the initial stages. Turkey was able to attract more than 90 countries to this loose alliance. The initiative however, further required a strong and consolidated opposition which would have to prove its competence in order to replace the Assad regime. The example of the Friends of Syria illustrates the trend whereby emerging powers do not just act as norm-takers; they also want to be norm-shapers in international affairs.

In a nutshell, the relationship between Turkey and international norms is much more complicated than previously assumed. Emerging powers are accepting certain norms while shaping the further evolution of norms in other aspects. It is essential to investigate how ideas matter and also whose ideas matter in world politics. Socialization is not just a one-directional process through which emerging non-Western powers learn and internalize the existing norms; it is also a process through which emerging powers shape the evolution of international norms. The perspective of non-Western powers should be regarded as part of a legitimate normative order as will be illustrated through the behaviour and activism of Turkey within NATO.

Analyzing Turkey’s Behaviour and International Activism within NATO

Turkey’s position within NATO from a historical-institutional perspective shows that its approach toward the alliance has been simultaneously shaped from two different perspectives from the beginning of its membership in 1952. Primo, the fact that the alliance has been first and foremost a security alliance and balancer in the minds of Turkish elites and public opinion, Turkey tried to balance external threats levelled against its security through the NATO (Oğuzlu, 2012a). Secondo, Turkey’s membership in NATO also implies that she has been a member of the Western international community and thus the qualifications of her Western/European identity have long been assured through her membership in the alliance. In this light, NATO symbolized not only the togetherness of a set of states which are united around common norms and identities but also the collective will of the Western powers to hold resolute opposition against the security threat posed by the hard-power potentials of USSR and the communist bloc. In effect, it is not only the survival of these norms and values in the face of the ideological and identity-oriented challenges posed by the communist world during the Cold War, but also the territorial security of the allies that was at stake (Sjursen, 2004).

Due to Turkey’s geopolitical position and military capabilities, it was relatively easy for her to be admitted to the Western world through NATO as compared to the thorough and exhaustive EU membership process. She had never been asked to fulfil some membership criteria before her eventual accession because right from the very start, she has always been in an advantageous position within the alliance because of her hard-power capabilities and prerogatives. This has not only improved Turkey’s leverage within the NATO from an instrumental perspective but also ensured the legitimacy of Turkey’s claim to being a Western/ European country from an identity-related perspective. In fact, Turkey’s commitments to NATO were guaranteed by security and identity-related considerations notwithstanding the occasional rise of anti-NATO and anti-USA feelings during the lengthy Cold War period. As an illustration, Turkish political and security elites remained committed to NATO from security and identity-related perspectives due to the Cyprus crisis in 1964, the opium crisis in 1971 and embargo crisis in 1975–78. Through its membership in NATO, Turkey was not only in but also of the West (Oğuzlu, 2012b).

There have been radical shifts in Turkey’s definition of national identity and national security interests during the post Cold War era, which have indirectly affected Turkey’s view of the alliance. In effect, due to the evaporation of the existential USSR threat, and the more pronounced non-Western/European dimensions of Turkey’s national identity, one can affirm that Turkey’s security feeling has improved (Öniş, 1995). From this perspective, it is clear the developments taking place more in the Middle East than in Europe began affecting Turkey’s security as well as the intensification in her quest for a multi-dimensional and multi-directional foreign policy orientation. These trends have simultaneously manifested themselves as regards in Turkey’s policies within NATO thanks to added new momentum of the AKP. In this light, just as the alliance has gone through a two decades tumultuous period since the early 1990s while defining its new rationale in the absence of Soviet threat, Turkey has also experienced a significant shift in terms of its national identity and interests (Holmberg, 2011). To this effect, NATO’s main transformational characteristics are:

Firstly, new countries have been admitted into the membership of NATO many of whom are the former communist countries of the Warsaw Pact who joined the alliance between the 1990s and the 2000s. Secondly, crisis management capabilities have been obtained by NATO in addition to its collective defence functions. This is in response to the intra-state kind of security challenges posed by the developments taking place on the peripheries of the alliance. In the same vein, within this period, NATO has organized many peacekeeping and peacemaking operations principally in the Balkans. Likewise in the context of NATO’s extension toward non-European geographies, out-of-area operations of the alliance have also taken place with one landmark development being that of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan. This implies that the alliance has gradually transformed from being a collective defence organization in charge of Article 5 missions into being a collective security organization in charge of non-Article 5 missions. Thirdly, there has been an increase replacement of the territorial defence function of NATO’s militaries by war-making expeditionary capabilities. Ultimately, the alliance has in this regard increasingly come more under American influence at the expense of the European allies alongside its out-of-areaization process. NATO has increasingly become a post European security organization at the service of American global security interests rather than remaining as a traditional European organization (Mowle & Sacko,2007). From what precedes, the next sub-section of this paper tries to decipher Turkey’s changing behaviours and activism toward NATO by examining the explanatory value of the norm-taker and norm-shaper logics mentioned above in a comparative manner.

Turkey as Norm Taker within NATO

The norm-taker dynamics or the one-way socialization process in Turkey’s relations with NATO has witnessed various examples in recent years. Within this context, the first important point to highlight is the of the actions of the ruling JDP political elites, most especially that of the former Prime Minister, Davutoğlu, who has on several occasions underlined that Turkey’s aim within the alliance is to become one of the “owners” of NATO, but to be an issue or object of the transformation process (Davutoğlu, 2012: 7). Ankara political elites are generally prone to believe that Turkey is somehow an influential strategic actor on its own regardless of Turkey’s long membership in NATO. Under such instances, whenever NATO adopts decisions, Turkey acts as if it does not have a role to play in the formulation. General beliefs used to be that decisions within NATO were made in Brussels between the US and other important European allies and Turkey simply responded to them. Nevertheless, this ideology has begun to change in recent times, since top-ranking JDP political figures are adopting the view that Turkey’s role and mission within NATO is or should be that of helping shape the formation and implementation of the preferences and policies of the alliance. In effect, Turkey is not different from other European allies or the US in terms of its capacity to affect NATO’s policies. As a legitimate member, it is Turkey’s right and mission to get involved in all the policies and steer the future direction of NATO. Ankara has to make its views known by other allies in various NATO platforms as well as should not behave reactively in the transformation process. This implies that instead of ignoring, sidestepping or delegitimizing NATO, Turkey has grown more resolved than ever in helping shape the transformation process of NATO. Turkey’s view of the alliance as a legitimate security actor and its willingness to identify itself with NATO, attests to this resolution.

Over the last two decades and with the reign of the JDP, helping shape NATO policies as well as owning it, are very much in line with the changing Turkish foreign policy mentality. This has been manifested in the following ways: Primo, Turkey’s socialization to the liberal foundations of the 21st century NATO. From this perspective, it appears that Ankara is not at odds with the strengthening of the alliance’s international identity as a liberal security community as well as NATO’s efforts to project those values across the world. Generally speaking, NATO used to have three fundamental tasks in 1949 when was first established: keeping the US in, Germany down and Russia outside of Europe. These responsibilities fit the collective defence organizational identity of NATO. Nevertheless, the togetherness of likeminded states that share liberal-democratic values in common is also represented by NATO. Following the end of the Cold, this characteristic of NATO began to be more visible as the former communist states demonstrated a strong determination to join NATO to strengthen their western identity and liberal-democratic transformation. NATO’s effort to develop closer security cooperation with Balkan, Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, Caucasus and Gulf region countries as well as its enlargement toward the former communist countries cannot solely be understood from a realpolitik perspective. In effect, the implementation of these policies also attest to the fact that allies’ are determined to enlarge their liberal-democratic security community outside the traditional NATO area (Flockhart, 2010:3).

Illustrations of Turkey’s adoption of the norm-taker strategy are, the country’s active support to NATO’s enlargement toward central and Eastern Europe as well as efforts of NATO to reach out to the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries through the Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiatives (Davutoğlu, 2012). Secondly, Ankara has taken a leading role in the strengthening of security cooperation between NATO and Eastern Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Gulf region states. The enhancement of NATO’s relations with these states in the fields of energy security, weapons of mass destruction, piracy and terrorism, through cooperation, has motivated Turkey to support such policies. This realpolitik of security cooperation seems also to have been informed by the ideational concern that these countries would gradually evolve into more democratic entities at home through cooperation with the Western international community. As such, on different occasions Turkish political elites have highlighted that the future transformation of these states would be shaped through liberal-democracy. The internal liberal democratic transformation of Turkey, illustrates this point to a significant degree (Oğuzlu,2011). Thirdly, Turkey’s view of NATO from an identity perspective is also because of the growing reluctance of the EU members to admit Turkey to membership. In the eyes of Turkish decision-makers, it is clear that as the prospects for Turkey’s Europeanization decreased, despite the fact that the negotiations for its accession formally started, NATO appears to have gained some of the ground it lost in the past. As long as Turkey membership is denied by the EU, the alliance has continued to preserve its unrivalled status of being the most significant western international organization legitimizing Turkey’s Western identity. We should bear in mind that from strategic and identity-related perspectives, Turkey’s membership in Western international organizations is generally supported by the US, rather than European countries particularly those within the EU, (Tocci, 2012).

In effect, another good demonstration of the salience of the norm-taker logic lies in the fact that during the approval of NATO’s new Strategic Concept adopted in Lisbon in November 2010, Turkey sided with all other allies. From a close look, it is evident that threat perceptions of Turkey do significantly match with those of its allies within NATO (Özel, 2010). In November 2010, during the adoption of NATO’s latest strategic concept in Lisbon, Turkey, together with other allies, played a key role, according to which collective defence, crisis management operations and comprehensive security were the three core missions of the alliance (Active Engagement, Modern Defense Strategic Concept). From what precedes, norm-taker process can be comforted in the fact that Turkey values the idea that NATO continues to represent the transatlantic security community rather than seeing the alliance become a relic of the past. As compared to other emerging countries that will probably be happy to see NATO destroyed, Turkey feels concern about some developments that might inadvertently engender the cohesion of the alliance and thus seems to have been acting as an ardent supporter of the NATO. To demonstrate this, it is important to highlight the fact that, the two shores of the North Atlantic area differ from each other in terms of security conceptualizations have been observed in the last two decades. In other words, NATO’s European allies have increased their efforts to bestow the EU with distinctive institutional and military capabilities so that the Union could act as an autonomous security actor independent of the alliance, (Howorth, 2003) while the strategic attention of the US has increasingly been turned to non-European geographies and sidestepped the common institutional decision-making mechanisms of NATO in formulating its policies (Hallams, 2009). Within this context, Turkey has been keen on the point that the institutional strength and cohesiveness of the Atlantic security community should not be weakened by its European allies (Aykan, 2005).

On the other hand, during Drump’s Era in the White House, Turkey has equally felt sympathetic toward the calls made by the USA for credible increases in the funds that European allies spend on defence and security. In effect, from a US standpoint, the reluctance by Europe to increase defence expenditures would probably end up with the detachment of America from the European security and thus a further erosion of NATO. While designing and implementing it’s foreign and security policies, the US will continue taking NATO into consideration and giving it more importance if and only if there is an increase in the European input in the alliance. In this light, for the US to treat NATO seriously and to give its consent to the idea that it be constrained by NATO’s multilateral decision-making process, there would have to be an equal sharing of the task within the alliance. As compared to other rising countries that would love to see NATO weaken, Turkey has always expressed concerns whenever future of NATO as a credible security organization starts being contested. Turkey has not only felt uneasy whenever unilateralist foreign and security policy tendencies soared in America but has also only been against the attempts on the part of some European allies at turning the EU into a distinctive security actor independent of the alliance. In this perspective, Turkey objected to both the US inclinations to overlook the NATO at worst or turn it into an institutional platform conferring legitimacy to US-led wars in non-Western geographies at best as well as the European attempts at weakening NATO’s security role and mission in Europe.

It is important to note that during discussions on constructing a larger Western international security community, Turkish political elites would like to see Turkey being accorded a prestigious place encompassing the USA, EU and Turkey as equal members within a trilateral platform. Also worth remembering is the fact that, from the perspectives of both Turkey and the Western powers alike, security used to the initial driving force of Turkey’s Westernization process. For quite a sometime now, Turkey’s feeling of security has been associated with the transformation of the country in line with Western/European norms at home as well as its membership in Western institutions, especially NATO. On the other hand, Turkey has been approached by Western powers from an instrumental perspective in that, in Western and non-Western geographies, her western values would increase proportionally to its potential contribution to the materialization of Western security interests. The remarkable issue in the norm-taker process is that, political elites in Ankara turn to remember Turkey’s membership in NATO whenever Turkey’s feeling of insecurity is increased, predominantly owing to the developments taking place in the Middle East. This is usually due to the incapability of Turkey to deal with the negative effects of the growing instability in the Middle East on its national security. As such, the fact that in 1991 and 2003, Turkey asked the alliance to deploy air defence systems on its soil and agreed to the instalment of Patriot missile defence systems provided by some allies, simply attest to Turkey’s view of the alliance as a security provider. Additionally, Turkey also accepted to host the radar components of the NATO-led missile defence shield system in late 2011. In effect, this decision alone on the part of the JDP government in Ankara speaks volumes in terms of Turkey’s norm-taker relationship with the US and NATO. The implication of this decision is that Turkey is a part of the western security system and its ability to deal with the Middle Eastern-originated security threats without NATO is not as high as some onlookers might believe.

Turkey as Norm Shaper within NATO

Within the norm-shaper logic, Turkey increases its efforts to help influence NATO’s policies to make sure that they do not affect its global and regional foreign policy vision. In other words, this process is very much in line with the question of entrapment versus abandonment because through the two-way socialization process, the political elites of Ankara wanted to make sure that neither did NATO abandon Turkey nor that Turkey gets entrapped in unwanted contingencies (Güvenç & Özel, 2012). Additionally, Ankara shouldn’t find itself in a position to have to choose between its Western allies on the one hand and non-NATO neighbours on the other. From this perspective, Turkey tries to develop cooperative strategic relations with the influential actors across the world and is thus considered to be a multi-identity country that feels at home wherever it looks. To policy-makers in Turkey, China and Russia are as important as European allies as well as the US and thus Ankara should not put all of its eggs in the same basket (Davutoğlu, 2012). As an illustration, remember that Ankara was in support of both the adoption of the ballistic missile defence capability and NATO’s enlargement, however simultaneously put forward some reservations. The reason advanced by Turkey was simply that NATO’s enlargement toward Eastern Europe should not make Russia to feel besieged because this might result in Russia adopting aggressive and confrontational stance in the wider Black Sea and Caucasus regions. The improving relations between Turkey and Iran should not put into jeopardy and signal that Turkey is eager to cooperate with the imperial Western powers due to the adoption of the ballistic missile defence capability by NATO. The forces deployed by NATO in Afghanistan and other predominantly Muslim-inhabited countries should not impact on the improving image of Turkey in the Muslim world.

Nevertheless, though, Turkey went along with the consensus view within NATO, the two-way socialization process appears to have also played a role in Turkey’s initial reaction to the appointment of former Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen as the Secretary General of NATO. This was simply because Rasmussen had a negative image in the eyes of Muslims scattered across Europe and other regions due to his remarks on the infamous Cartoon crisis. During the Libyan crisis, this perspective came to the fore where by the NATO operation to oust Qaddafi from power was initially objected by Turkey because it also lacked the support of other international bodies, particularly the Arab League, the African Union and the OIC. This would have also implied that Turkey was not that different from imperial Western powers. Any NATO-led military involvement in Libya was highly criticized by Turkey for fear that such a development result in characterization of NATO as a tool in the hands of Western imperial powers thus simultaneously leading to the erosion of Turkey’s hard-gained positive image across the Muslim world. Turkish political elites made the point that NATO should not be considered as an instrument forcing regime changes in predominantly Muslim countries (Ismail, 2011). Turkey also wanted to balance France through NATO during the Libyan crisis and thus Turkey seems to have supported the idea that any international military operation in the country should be conducted by a relevant international organization authorized by the UN rather than seeing France and the UK undertake a unilateral military operation in Libya.

Turkey’s position on the NATO’s involvement in Libya is not a successful example of the application of the norm-shaper strategy. She could not prevent NATO from getting militarily involved in Libya because her norm-shaper strategy had been limited to the definition of the operation modalities of the alliance. Nevertheless a good example of Turkey’s two-way socialization process within NATO took place in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century when Turkey ferociously reacted to US’ proposal on the deployment of NATO forces in the Black Sea as part of the ongoing war on global terrorism. In effect the fear was simply that such moves would antagonize Russia with which Turkey began to develop closer strategic and economic relations since the early 1990s (Çelikpala, 2010). Ankara’s norm-shaper strategy can also be noticed in Turkey’s efforts to prevent the US from using NATO platforms to secure legitimacy for the US-led military operations across the world (Aybet, 2012). Thus, the reaching of NATO outside its traditional area of should not erode the alliance’s core functions as well as it’s European and collective defence identity should be preserved. From Ankara’s standpoint, the Americanization and globalization of NATO would likely run the risk of eroding alliance’s European identity and consequently putting the credentials of Turkey’s European identity at risk. This would also dilute the alliance’s multilateral decision-making process, thus forcing Turkey, like other allies, to have bilateral dealings with US. Unquestionably, this would reduce Turkey’s bargaining power vis-a `-vis Washington. The fact that Turkey felt exceedingly alarmed when America ignored the UN and NATO on the eve of the military operation against Iraq in March 2003 is a very good illustration.

From what proceeds, in the minds of Turkish Political Elites, 21st century NATO should not evolve into a global war machine that unilaterally intervenes in war zones and even without the permission of the UN. As such, Turkish new foreign policy understanding asserts that, the globalization of the alliance should not culminate in strengthening polarizations of multiple kinds all over the globe. In effect, the alliance should not transform into an institutional platform based on the idea of insiders versus outsiders. This transatlantic alliance should not evolve to become a platform of global democracies that would automatically adopt an exclusionary approach toward the countries which are not members of NATO. (Davutoğlu, 2012). From Turkey’s perspective, the basis of legitimacy for other kind of international military as well as NATO-led operations should rest with the UN. This shows Ankara’s sensitivities toward having cooperative relations with the non-Western members of the UN Security Council, namely Russia and China.


From the analysis above, it is clear that in the coming decades, rising powers like Turkey will change the distribution of material power as well as challenge the Western domination of ideas and norms in the international society. So far, existing literature focuses on how Turkey is learning and internalizing the existing liberal norms. How she will shape the evolution of international norms is understudied. To redress this imbalance, this article has investigated the attitudes of Turkey to international norms. By conceptualizing socialization as a two-way process this paper has analyzed how Turkey behaves and interacts with the international society: Turkey is accepting certain international norms while trying to shape the further evolution of international norms as a whole.

In this light, Turkey does not necessarily oppose all the existing norms because in practice, it never initiated nor collaborated with counter hegemonic projects but strived for a global change while refusing to challenge the existing world order as such (Kardaş, 2013: 651-653). Turkey’s power is deeply embedded in the Western international system (Cagaptay, 2013) and as such, socialization as a one-way process is still relevant in the early stage of Turkey’s development. At the early stage, the top priority of Turkey is to integrate with the existing norms so as to be accepted as normal country in the international society while facing a Western-dominated hegemonic system. For instance, as a rising power, the major problematic of Turkey’s international studies is that of how to deal with its relationship with the existing international society. Integration, therefore, could be regarded as a core issue of Turkey’s international relation theorizing and thus, whether Turkey is a norm-taker or a norm-shaper might also depend on the specific context. Furthermore, Turkey holds to significant normative differences on issues such as liberal democracy and security. In other words, Turkey knows what she wants, but does not have a consensus on what she wants for a new world order.

From what precedes, this article has equally shown that Turkey’s behavior and international activism within NATO can be more convincingly explained through the norm shaper and norm taker prisms of socialization. The fact that, Turkey values its membership the alliance and tries to impact its transformation process is in itself a testimony. The major difference between the two is that as concerns the norm shaper logic, Turkey’s motivation is to help mitigate the negative consequences of the transformation of NATO on its national security interests, mostly defined from an “Ankara-centric” perspective. Within this context, Turkey is defining its interest from a unilateral perspective and takes great care in ensuring that NATO’s transformation policies do not impact it negatively. As such, Turkey does not identify itself with the NATO to the same extent as was the case during the Cold War era. Concerning the norm-taker logic, Turkey’s goal is to rise with the West, which here defined as NATO and thus she finds the constitutive norms of the alliance legitimate and tries to adopt them in her efforts to feel more secure. In addition, she tries to prove the European and Western credentials of her national identity by helping the alliance promote and protect her values onto non-western geographies. This logic seems to convincingly explain why Turkey participated in NATO-led peacekeeping and peacemaking operations as well as unconditionally supported NATO’s efforts to establish strong institutional and strategic relations with the countries located in the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East and Gulf regions.

In effect, the most important indications of Turkey’s norm-taker logic to the alliance are on the one hand Turkey’s determination to see that the transatlantic security community as represented by NATO continues to exist intact and on the other hand the strengthening of the discourse that Turkey is now an owner of the alliance rather than an object or issue of NATO’s transformation process. Thus in the future, one can argue that Turkey’s commitment to NATO will likely continue since she deeply feels the negative consequences of the emerging security environment in the Middle East in the context of the so-called Arab Spring and Syrian Crisis on its national security. In the context of the ballistic missile defense, Turkey’s decision to concur with the installment of radar facilities of NATO can be interpreted as a sign of Turkey’s continuing need to rely on security provided by NATO. The emerging polarizations across the globe appear to be decisive for Turkey’s rediscovery of the alliance.

From the results one can consider that Turkey is fully on board with the established Western powers as regards the constitutive norms of the current international order. Turkey appears to share many points with other rising powers as she is sensitive on the principle of national sovereignty and non-interference in states’ internal affairs. Rising powers do share the idea that the current international order should be revised in such a way that it can reflect the existing power configurations as well as the incorporation of the non-western contributions to global governance and justice. With this notion in mind, it is clear that the world in the 21st century is heading towards multiple versions of modernity and the legitimate model of political order will be more diverse, and the ‘standard of civilization’ renegotiated.

Hence, discussions on Turkey and international norms have significant implications for international normative order. First of all, the study challenges the conventional wisdom that Turkey is either fundamentally challenging the status quo or integrated into the existing liberal order. The debate about America’s century or China’s century might miss the third likely trajectory: emerging world order will not be dominated by a single superpower, and the world must prepare for a ‘world order without superpowers’ (Barry Buzan, 2011). As Charles Kupchan argues, the emerging world might be ‘no one’s world’. (Kupchan, Charles, 2012). In terms of normative order, both the Western powers and Turkey must live in a more diverse world. Second, a dilemma confronts the Western powers. One the one hand, the West must cooperate with Turkey to address the common concerns of global issues such as international terrorism and security, migration and refugee crisis e.t.c. However, western countries also worry about challenges from Turkey to the existing liberal order. As discussed previously, the Turkey does not necessarily oppose all the existing liberal norms. Also, it is necessary to recognize that there are diverse opinions among the emerging powers on normative issues, and that the diverse opinions among emerging powers will continue to constrain their solidarity and reduce their prospects of building a coherent anti-hegemonic coalition. That said, the normative divide will constrain the prospect of effective global governance in the foreseeable future.

In summary, therefore, this essay analyzed Turkey’s international organizational behavior in major international organizations with emphasis on its interactions with NATO and came to the conclusion that, currently Turkey’s behavior often appears more substantive than symbolic. However, the main findings that importantly complement this conclusion are three. First, even though the number of global issues and international organizations was adjusted to the limited space, the nature of Turkey’s behavior even in this framework is extremely complex. Turkey’s organizational behavior varies significantly especially according to the period of time, international situation and the realm of participation where differences are especially visible between the economic and the political sphere. The level of cooperation also reveals important cleavages between rhetoric, policies and their actual implementation. Second, despite being applicable only to some aspects of Turkey’s international organization behavior, Johnston’s theory presents an important tool for analysis of Ankara’s foreign policy. It reveals how participation in an international institution might contribute to the internalization of its norms and compliance with its values. Third, Turkey’s international organization behavior does not appear to follow one stable pattern.


1 Turkey Owns, Leads, Serves to ‘New Mideast:’ Davutoğlu
2 Johnston, “Explaining.” Johnston described factors pushing the socialization process which are social influence, social liking and others.
3 For socialisation in social sciences, see Talcott Parsons and Robert Bales, Family: Socialization and Interaction Process (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1956); Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality (New York: Anchor Books, 1967), p. 130
4 For the distinction between logic of appropriateness and logic of consequence, see James G. March and Johan P. Olsen, ‘The Institutional Dynamics of International Political Orders’, International Organization, Vol. 52, No. 4 (1998), pp. 943–69.
5 For different processes of socialisation, see Alastair Iain Johnston, Social States.
6 For instance, Jeffrey T. Checkel, ‘International Institutions and Socialization in Europe: Introduction and Framework’, International Organization, Vol. 59, No. 4 (2005), pp. 801– 26; Alastair Iain Johnston, ‘Conclusions and Extensions: Toward Mid-Range Theorizing and Beyond Europe’, International Organization, Vol. 59, No. 4 (2005), pp. 1013–44.
7 Jeffrey T. Checkel, ‘International Institutions and Socialization in Europe’, p. 804
8 Alastair Iain Johnston, Social States. See also Xiaojun Li, ‘Social Rewards and Socialization Effects: An Alternative Explanation for the Motivation Behind China’s Participation in International Institutions’, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, Vol. 3, No. 3 (2010), pp. 347–77
9 Kent L. Sandstrom, Daniel D. Martin, and Gary Alan Fine, Symbols, Selves, and Social Reality, pp. 65–66. Socialization as a two-way process is widely accepted in the literature of sociology and social psychology. However, most literatures in international relations do not conceptualise socialisation as a two-way process
10 For the discussion of ‘agency’ in a general sense, see Mustafa Emirbayer and Ann Mische, ‘What is Agency?’, American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 103, No. 4 (1998), pp. 962–1023.
11 For instance, most studies of China’s interaction with international norms have conceptualised this as one way process in which China responds to the international pressure. See Ann Kent, ‘States Monitoring States: The United States, Australia, and China’s Human Rights, 1990-2001’, Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 3 (2001), pp. 583–624; Ann Kent, ‘‘China’s International Socialization: The Role of International Organizations’, Global Governance, Vol. 8, No. 3 (2002), pp. 343–64. For the studies that pay more attention to the active role of the Chinese state, see Chen Dingding, ‘China’s Participation in the International Human Rights Regime: A State Identity Perspective’, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, Vol. 2, No. 3 (2009), pp. 399–419; Rana Siu Inboden and Titus C. Chen, ‘China’s Response to International Normative Pressure: The Case of Human Rights’, The International Spectator, Vol. 47, No. 2 (2012), pp. 45–57
12 Resistance is related to the notion of ‘anti-socialization’. See Shiping Tang, ‘Foundational Paradigms of Social Sciences’, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Vol. 41, No. 2 (2011), pp. 227–8. It should be noted that anti-socialisation is different from a two-way process of socialisation. That said, resistance is still related to a two-way process of socialisation. Resistance (or anti-socialization) could prepare conditions for a new process of socialization. In other words, once the resister with an anti-hegemonic ideology becomes new dominant power, the new power could socialise others with new norms. Thanks to Tang Shiping for pointing this out.


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About the Author:

Nkwah Akongnwi Ngwa

Nkwah Akongnwi Ngwa is a Cameroonian Diplomat, PhD Candidate at the Graduate School of Social Sciences in Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University and an ERASMUS Research Fellow at the Europa-Institute of Saarlandes University. He is a member of both the International and Turkish Political Science Associations. His areas of research interest are Foreign Policy Analysis, Political Psychology, Comparative Politics, Migration Studies and Emerging Power Politics (especially Turkey).