While Turkish foreign policy has become increasingly active and assertive, it has recently confronted with a number of challenges in the Middle East, leading critics to claim that the AK Party government’s “zero problems with neighbors” vision has failed.2 In the meantime, however, Turkey’s relations with the Western Balkans3 have displayed a completely different picture. During the last decade, Turkey has not only maintained, but also advanced its good neighborly relations with all countries in this region.
A Golden Age of Relations: Turkey and the Western Balkans During the AK Party Period
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.
Citizens welcome Prime Minister Erdoğan to Prizren, Kosovo. AA
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