7. Ahmet Davutoglu
for being the brains behind Turkey's global reawakening.
Foreign minister | Turkey
Ahmet Davutoglu rose to prominence in Turkish academic circles as an advocate for what he called "strategic depth": Turkey, he argued, should use its geographic position and identity as a secular Muslim democracy to build bridges between Europe, the Caucasus, and the Middle East. Over the last seven years, Davutoglu has brought his theories out of the classroom and onto the international stage -- with some impressive results.
Davutoglu's diplomats have worked to reconcile Iraq's fractious political groups and plan a pipeline that will link the oil fields of the Caucasus and the Arab world with Europe. His ambitious "zero problems with neighbors" policy has attempted to boost Turkey's relations with everyone in the region simultaneously, a task much easier set than accomplished.
Ankara's new independence has raised some eyebrows. After an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla left nine Turks dead this summer, Davutoglu said the attack was "like 9/11 for Turkey." Turkey's warm relationship with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has also raised fears that the country is drifting away from the West at a time when its long-held aspiration to join the European Union appears hopelessly stalled.
Still, the foreign minister seems undaunted. "The world expects great things from Turkey," he wrote in an essay for Foreign Policy. Under his watch, Turkey has assumed an international role not matched since a sultan sat in Istanbul's Topkapi Palace.
Read more: Ahmet Davutoglu talks to FP about his side of the Iran-Brazil-Turkey triangle.
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