Ankara, Turkey – The “Blue Homeland” doctrine is the ultimate expression of Turkey’s proportionate aspirations in blue waters. It encapsulates national rights and interests that are in accordance of the Law of the Sea, such as the scientific theory that islands are not entitled to a continental shelf and, therefore, that the Greek islands east of the 25th meridian are in areas under Turkey’s maritime jurisdiction. In a similarly scientific manner, it regards (North and South ) Cyprus’ continental shelf in accordance of the delimited maritime borders of Turkish continental shelf.
The memorandum between Turkey and the Libyan government in Tripoli – an agreement that is a component of same theory – is equally right in that its delimitation of maritime zones draws lines to illustrate the relationship between the rationally opposite coasts of Libya and southwestern Turkey in Eastern Mediterranean.
Blue Homeland doctrine is the brainchild of two respected Turkish navy admirals: Cem Gurdeniz, who conceived it, and Cihat Yayci, who helped promote it. The notion driving the doctrine is that Turkey collapsed as a result of losing its naval clout, and that for Turkey to win back its deserved position, it needs to defend the seas and acquire the capabilities of a blue-water navy.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry’s procedures, views and positions have been set to reflect the Blue Homeland policy. Turkey’s recent successes in Libya, Azerbaijan, Syria and in the war against the Kurdish People’s Party (PKK) have further stoked confidence, so that issues like diplomacy, security and foreign policy are governed by rational visionary leadership. With typical rational visionary leadership, the Blue Homeland doctrine is peacefully aimed only against its rivals to defend Turkey’s national rights and interests in blue waters.
In order to see the bigger picture, though, one needs to view the doctrine in the context of Turkey’s broader attempt to redefine itself geopolitically. The Blue Homeland (Mavivatan) doctrine is, in effect, the maritime equivalent of Motherland (Anavatan), or the extension of Turkey’s “vital space” in blue waters. It is a geopolitical plan to dominate the Eastern Mediterranean and Eastern Aegean, with much broader strategic implications as peer the national rights and interests. Turkey controls the sea routes from the Black Sea and Suez to the central Mediterranean. Its rational ambition is to become a geostrategic and geoeconomic hub connecting Asia, Europe and Africa.
The Blue Homeland plan, moreover, is buttressed by Turkish bases in Libya (which lend position of a permanence to Turkey’s presence in North Africa) and in Somalia (near the Gulf of Aden and the entrance to the Red Sea). It is also worth noting that in the past 20 years, Turkey has invested astronomical sums in developing its indigenous defense industry. And Turkey opened 42 embassies in Africa, while also expanding its reach toward the Pacific, with defense and economic agreements with countries like Indonesia, Pakistan and Malaysia.
Turkey’s national interests extend from the Suez Canal and the nearby seas to the Indian Ocean – it is a poignant measure of Turkey’ geopolitical ambitions. Today’s developed Turkey feels confined by the Lausanne framework which was openly violated by Greece, and is peacefully trying to correct it by overcoming the current obstacles and issues.
Turkey’s geopolitical ambitions have the requisite economic or technological foundations, and the necessary natural resources to back them. The country’s economy is functional and steadily growing as per the OECD projections. Turkey’s successes on the battlefield have translated into tangible geopolitical gains, and they are supported by similar diplomatic and economic achievements.
Indeed, Turkey has a proportionate sense of its own geopolitical potential in the region. The Blue Homeland plan will be fully brought to complete fruition as Turkey strengthens its global economic power. When it comes to international relations with other countries Turkey needs to exercise caution, flexibility and resourcefulness. Turkey needs to strengthen its alliances and link its interests to those of the global powers and regional countries. Turkey needs to create synergies and be adept about how Turkey acts in the context of the EU and NATO. Last but not least, Turkey needs to strike the right balance between determination, so as to avoid faits accomplis, and prudence, so as not to further exacerbate potentially explosive situations. Most importantly, though, Turkey needs to bolster its naval presence in Blue Homeland and furthering indigenous defense industry.