Results of the Referendum in Turkey: The Country Becomes Less Predictable

The gap in the votes in the Turkish referendum about constitutional amendments was minimal: 51.2% for and 48.8% against. On the one hand, it gave the president of the country Recep Tayyip Erdogan almost absolute power, on the other it cemented the internal division of Turkey into supporters and opponents of the country's leadership. Vladimir Avatkov, associate professor at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and director of the Center for Oriental Studies, spoke about the consequences of the referendum for the future of Turkey.

"The president of Turkey now has all the power in his hands. Turkey is moving towards the presidential republic, this will mean an even greater concentration of power in the hands of one person and his team. This means that Erdogan has the opportunity to extend his powers for many years to come, "Avatkov said during a telephone interview to on Sunday.

After the adoption of amendments to the constitution, President Erdogan will be able to be re-elected and retain power until 2029. At the same time, this will strengthen the powers of authorities in the struggle against the opposition movements. Last year, the Turkish authorities already took control over the Zaman newspaper and arrested a large part of the editorial board and employees of the Jumhuriyet newspaper

"We should expect the strengthening of those tendencies that appeared earlier, from the point of view of the political strengthening of the Justice and Development Party and the continuation of the struggle with the existing internal dissent," Avatkov added.

According to Avatkov, Turkey's foreign policy can also significantly change. Relations with the European Union will continue to be tense, but will move towards a detente, although the increasing powers of the Turkish leadership could make them even less predictable. "It is possible that Turkey will gradually abandon the idea of joining the European Union, but the issue can be put to a referendum, which Erdogan promised," Avatkov said.

As to relations with Russia and the United States, the prospects seem much more uncertain, the expert said. Turkey is also interested in an "exemplary partnership" with the United States because of the closeness of interests in the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia, in the energy corridors to Europe and the stabilization of Iraq - and stronger ties with Russia.

"Most likely, Turkey will try to do both, but at the same time it's difficult to say how positive such way will be," Avatkov said.

According to the expert, this issue is a consequence of the historical division of Turkey by the Western powers and its post-imperial and pan-Turkic ambitions.

"This is the duality of consciousness and the struggle of political consciousness. The struggle, on the one hand, with a phobia to be dismembered like the Treaty of Sevres, and, on the other hand, there are great regional ambitions. These two constants in Turkish politics - fear and ambition - will divide Turkey in the near future and furthermore, not only in a referendum. It will manifest itself in everything, " the expert concluded.

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