Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkey emerged as an influential player in the Muslim and ethnically Turkic republics of Central Asia. Despite an unrealistic initial policy approach aimed at creating a wide-spanning Turkic union, Turkey reoriented its foreign policy toward the region and since the mid-1990s has relied on a sophisticated combination of bilateral engagement, multilateral institutions, economic linkages, and soft power vis-à-vis Central Asia. The recent thaw in Turkish-Uzbekistan relations offers new opportunities for cooperation, while Central Asia as a whole is likely to gain importance in Turkish foreign policy against the backdrop of Turkey’s deteriorating relations with traditional Western allies.
Just after the end of the Soviet Union and the emergence of three independent states in the South Caucasus Turkey started to manifest a real interest for this region. Energy issue, which is the key issue in this Turkish policy since the beginning, is expected to remain the key priority for Turkey because of its growing economy. Ankara tries to have a balanced relations with the three South Caucasian countries, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, but for multiple reasons, Turkey’s policy in the South Caucasus is still determined by its relations with Azerbaijan who is the best ally and economic partner for Ankara.