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An Overview of Turkish Foreign Policy in the Balkans: 1990-2016

The reforming of Turkish foreign policy in the Balkans was a process that started at the end of the Cold War and with the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Turkey started reinventing its role in the geopolitical scene by standing strong to its national interests, opening up to new relations, strengthening old ones and taking a more secure place in the international arena. 25 years after, Turkey has not only earned the position of a strong player in the Balkans but has also become a regional regulator and mediator. Some suspiciously see it as a “neo-Ottoman” approach.

An Overview of Turkish Foreign Policy in the Balkans 1990-2016
The then Prime Minister, Recep Tayip Erdoğan, accompanied by his Kosovo and Albanian counterparts attended the official ceremony for the inauguration of the new terminal building in Kosovo, built by a Turkish company in 2013. AFP PHOTO / ARMEND NIMANI

Since the end of the Cold War, Turkey has been largely regarded as a very important world actor and this comes not only due to shifts in the geopolitical scene and the creation of new axes regarding the western alliances since the fall of the Berlin wall, but also due to Turkey’s striking economic, political and social development from the beginning of the 1990’s onwards. During this period, of more than 25 years, not only has the international order changed, but together with this new actors have emerged to taken a solid place in the international arena where alongside Turkey. Together with the changing world order Turkish foreign policy has also changed, reshaped at different stages, following not only the major world historical events but also its internal politics.


The aftermath of the last Balkan war with the strong support for Kosovo’s independence also marks the start of a very intensive relationship between Turkey and the Balkan states 


In general, Turkish foreign policy has been characterized at times Kemalist, at times Conservative and at times a mixture of both. Mainly designed by a Kemalist school of diplomacy with strong elements of a modern and reformist approach, where national interest is in the forefront of its formulation and the balance of power one of its main characteristics, Turkish foreign policy started its real era of transformation at the end of the Cold War. In fact, modern Turks could not very well understand the problems and the nature of communism in the Eastern bloc. This is even though a type of Marxist approach or Marxist philosophy has always existed and been the case in Turkish political thin

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