The Gulf nations, particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been pushing behind the scenes for more assertive action to end the conflict. Privately, they see little benefit in the Arab League's efforts to reach a peaceful settlement and prefer instead to see a small core of nations banding together to act on their own.
Among the options they are considering are arming the Syrian rebels and creating a safe haven for the opposition along the Turkish-Syrian border to serve as a humanitarian refuge or staging ground for anti-regime forces. Such a step would require help from Turkey — the country best positioned to defend such a safe haven — but so far Ankara has seemed reluctant.
Babacan is a founding member of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party and considered a leading member of the “Neo-Ottomanism” movement, moving Turkey’s foreign policy away from a predominantly Western focus to integration and activism in its immediate neighborhood – the territories of the former Ottoman Empire.
Babacan contrasted the Western economic turmoil, with Turkey’s booming economy which he said grew at 9.2 percent growth rate in 2010, and 8.5 percent in 2011.
Cries of panic and horror filled the air as a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey, killing at least 88 people as buildings pancaked and crumpled into rubble.
Tens of thousands fled into the streets running, screaming or trying to reach relatives on cell phones as apartment and office buildings cracked or collapsed. As the full extent of the damage became clear, survivors dug in with shovels or even their bare hands, desperately trying to rescue the trapped and the injured.
It was inevitable because Turkey lies in one of the world's most active seismic zones, crossed by numerous fault lines. As much as in Northern California or Japan, earthquakes are a fact of geological life in Turkey. But it was shocking because so many people — at least 279, many in the city of Ercis — died in the 7.2 temblor.
Both, Turkey and Israel are handicapped by their own misguided political rhetoric and posturing when it comes to their bilateral relationship. In the fallout over the flotilla incident last May, Turkish-Israeli relations -- which were already declining -- hit rock-bottom, and have since failed to significantly regain their footing. However, the many shared challenges that both nations face in the region today could serve to bridge the gaps that have kept their reconciliation at bay, and re-shape Israeli-Turkish relations amidst a rapidly-evolving Middle East.
As the Nato summit in Chicago edges closer, organisers are still unsure how many name badges to print out. Turkey, the Nato member with the second-largest army after the United States, is maneuvering to bar the EU and Israel from attending the summit, while calling for the inclusion of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC). This series of last-minute demands highlights dramatic shifts, both within Nato's power structures and in terms of Turkey’s own foreign policy aspirations.
Turkey is a vibrant, competitive democracy of 79 million people with a thriving economy whose influence in its region has grown as it has moved away from its secular roots under an Islamic-leaning government.
The government led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party received a strong mandate in parliamentary elections in June 2011. Supporters credit Mr. Erdogan with elevating Turkey’s profile in the Middle East, turning the country into an increasingly assertive regional player at a time when several of its neighbors are locked in sometimes violent struggles for democracy.
Formerly close allies, relations between Israel and Turkey, strained by Israel's military offensive into Gaza in 2008, have been pushed to breaking point by the flotilla incident on May 31, 2010.
Israeli soldiers attempting to prevent a flotilla of activists from breaching Israel's naval blockade of Gaza were overwhelmed by 40 activists on board the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, whom they claim resisted efforts to take over their vessel with knives and iron bars. Nine Turkish men were shot at point blank range and killed and many more wounded.
Once the centre of the Ottoman Empire, the modern secular republic was established in the 1920s by nationalist leader Kemal Ataturk.
Straddling the continents of Europe and Asia, Turkey's strategically important location has given it major influence in the region - and control over the entrance to the Black Sea.
Nearly half a century after Fethullah Gulen began delivering impassioned sermons in Izmir, a city on Turkey's Aegean coast, the religious movement he helped inspire counts as many as six million followers. (There is no formal membership structure, Gulenists say, making exact numbers impossible to compute.) The largest religious movement in Turkey, Gulen sympathizers are known to run hundreds of schools, several media outlets, including Zaman, the paper with the highest circulation in Turkey, as well as a bank, a number of foundations, and a major charity.