Turkey shifts to presidential system of governance after the Constitutional referendum narrowly passed on Sunday. The 18 constitutional changes were passed by a 51-to-49 ‘Yes’ vote in favor. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan now gets direct control over the army, the general staff and the government. The Prime Minister’s post gets eliminated, and the President actually becomes the head of government and can now manage the country’s budget. In fact, Erdogan theoretically has an opportunity to remain in post until 2029.
At the same time Erdogan’s policy strengthens national and religious sentiments inside the country. To put it differently, nationalism and Islam are becoming a serious political factor. “This cannot but affect the foreign policy,” says Bagrat Estukyan, Armenian editor for Agos daily. According to him, Turkey is becoming more unpredictable and Erdogan might adopt a more aggressive foreign policy in relation to both the South Caucasus and the Middle East to divert public attention from domestic issues and consolidate the society,” Estukyan told a press conference at the Media Center today.
Expert of Turkish studies Levon Hovsepyan noted that all facts indicate Turkey’s foreign policy is going to become more aggressive. “Ankara’s foreign policy is widely dependent on the logic of domestic policy and interests. Therefore, when political Islam and nationalism reinforce here, it cannot but affect the regional policies,” he said.
Hovsepyan considers that Turkey will maintain its anti-Armenian policy and there are no grounds to speak about the perspectives of improvement of Armenian-Turkish relations.
Bagrat Estukyan believes that the lack of relations with Turkey is better for Armenia under the current circumstances. According to him, Turkey has grown into a center of regional instability and there are huge dangers coming from Ankara. “Along with Saudi Arabia, it is one of the main forces destabilizing the Middle East. Turkey rouses the flame of war in Syria. Closed borders reduce the risks for Armenia,” he stated.