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Turkey: The land of ‘zero problems’ has an awful lot of problems

Turkey, today, took the dramatic step of cutting off diplomatic ties with France over a new law passed by the French government that would criminalize genocide denial, including the 1915 slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks. Yigal Schliefer writes, "Add France to the countries that Turkey now has strained relations with." The list does seem ...

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Turkey, today, took the dramatic step of cutting off diplomatic ties with France over a new law passed by the French government that would criminalize genocide denial, including the 1915 slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks. Yigal Schliefer writes, "Add France to the countries that Turkey now has strained relations with."

The list does seem to be getting pretty long. In Dec. 2010, Turkish Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Foreign Policy that "We have to have zero problems with our neighbors." The phrase "zero problems" has become a shorthand for Turkey’s non-aligned approach to international relations under Davutoglu and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But of course, Turkey actually has problems with quite a few countries, including its neighbors. Here are just a few:

Israel: Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador after a U.N. report this year held Israeli forces responsible for last year’s Gaza flotilla raid. 

Syria: Condemnation of Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on protesters

Cyprus: Over the unresolved issue of Northern Cyprus. 

Greece: Longstanding historial tensions as well as new plans to build a border fence to prevent immigration into Europe. 

Iraq: Turkish troops have repeatedly crossed into Iraqi territory to hunt PKK militants.

Armenia: A promising-looking peace accord stalled in 2010.

The European Union: Over its long-suffering membership bid

United States: A variety of issues including Israel policy and periodic attempts to recognize the Armenian genocide.

Iran: Support for the PKK and a proposed U.S. radar system in Turkey. 

Russia: Disputes over gas prices.

Canada: Ambassador recalled after Canadian officials participated in Armenian genocide event in 2009.

Argentina: Recognition of the Armenian genocide.

Not all of these are disputes that Turkey started or is solely responsible for. But Davutoglu’s vision of a conflict-minimizing foreign policy doesn’t seem to be panning out quite as hoped. It’s also clear that the policy of cutting off ties with countries that dare to use the "G" word about a nearly century-old incident isn’t helping matters. 

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