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Uzbekistan as a Gateway for Turkey’s Return to Central Asia

After two decades of downhill diplomacy, Turkey and Uzbekistan have pledged to deepen bilateral ties in years to come. Given its geopolitical importance, Uzbekistan can help Turkey’s reintegration with the Turkic world. Thus, Ankara’s relationship with Tashkent constitutes one of the backbones of its long-anticipated opening up to Central Asia. In this vein, Turkey’s cooperation with Uzbekistan in the new era seems indispensable for the sake of its interests and influences in the region. A full-fledged Turkish-Uzbek partnership from now can be materialized through a decisive political will of both sides and gradual institutional changes in their foreign policies.

Uzbekistan as a Gateway for Turkey s Return to Central

Since the fall of the former Soviet Union (USSR), Eurasia has emerged once again as the “geographical pivot of history” in calculations of the 21st century’s ‘great game of geopolitics,’ which is played by Russia, China and the U.S., as well as by some other regional powers like Turkey, Iran, India, Japan and South Korea. Grand theorists and strategists from Mackinder to Mahan and from Brzezinski to Dugin have all designated Eurasia as the “heartland” of the “world island” given the importance of its geopolitical landmass and geo-economic potentials. In their common understanding of politics, “whoever rules the heartland, would also rule over the world.”1 

 

As for Turkey, the geographical term of “Eurasia” has frequently referred to post-Soviet Turkic republics (of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan) with the promotion of the well-known ideology of Pan-Turkism (and/or Turanism) among Turkish intellectual circles and policymakers.2 The revival of a neo-Pan-Turkism under the auspices of the then president Turgut Özal steadily increased Turkish public awareness regarding common historical, linguistic, cultural and religious affinities with the peoples and states in post-Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus. Therefore, Turkey’s relations with Central Asia have been since then discussed and explained with the affinities of Turkic roots and cultural interactions in the wake of the fall of communism. 

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