During the last decades, in parallel to its economic growth and foreign policy activism, Turkey has become an important regional actor in the Balkans. Turkey’s activism has led to different reactions both from inside and outside the region. Skeptical views regarding Turkey’s intentions are occasionally expressed in the international media. The skeptics’ mostly voiced claim is that Turkey is undermining the Balkans’ stability and Euro-Atlantic integration. Yet Turkey’s approach to the region does not provide a justifiable basis for these claims.
The Kurdish question has been one of the most highly debated issues in Turkey for the last few decades, if not earlier. Although researchers and observers have analyzed nearly every aspect of the issue, new publications about the Kurdish question continue to appear. Among these is an edited volume offering a general overview of the issue since its genesis.
This article provides a general overview of Turkey’s relations with the Western Balkans during the AK Party government. Although the Western Balkans has always been of primary interest for Turkey, the relations with this region had progressed only slowly and partially until the mid-2000s. From that time onwards, the convergence of a number of factors, including Turkey’s economic progress, the AK Party’s active foreign policy vision, the growth of civil society and the business sector, and favorable international political and economic conditions created new opportunities for Turkey in the Western Balkans. Consequently, the relations between Turkey and the Western Balkans has developed rapidly, especially in the economic and social spheres. Meanwhile, Turkey still has to deal with certain challenges and shortcomings for further deepening of these relations and their translation into political influence.