But Mr Erdogan’s assertion of Turkey’s new role in the world has recently extended further than Turkey’s immediate neighbourhood. Turkey played a pivotal role in trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Libya; then later, when confronted with Colonel Gadaffi’s obduracy, he joined in calls for Gaddafi to go.
Accordingly, this week’s mission to Somalia should be seen in the wider context of Turkey’s flexing its muscles, in what it hopes will be seen as a positive way. True, recent Turkish air-attacks on alleged bases of Turkey’s outlawed Kurdish guerrilla movement, the PKK, inside Iraqi Kurdistan have somewhat spoil this flattering image. Nonetheless, the general thrust of Mr Erdogan’s policy is clear.
Indeed, it can be summed up in a simple date: 2023. That year will see the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic, when Ataturk laid the bases for a state which would challenge the description of Turkey during the final decades of the Ottoman Empire as ‘the sick man of Europe’. Given Turkey’s extraordinary economic growth rate — over 8 per cent last year — and the dynamism of its youthful population, Turkey aspires to be the strongman of Europe by 2023. And to be welcomed to the top table of global players.

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