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Turkish Foreign Policy in the Balkans and “Neo-Ottomanism”: A Personal Account

This essay examines the influence and performance as well as the perception of the new, pro-active Turkish foreign policy in South-East Europe. It emphasizes that certain political and intellectual circles in the Balkans have a different take on Turkey’s policies in the region. The paper assesses how Turkey’s activism in the Balkans has revived the debate on the Ottoman legacy in the region and Turkey’s perceived aspirations to renew its influence under the guise of “neo-Ottomanism.” This paper will also address the impact in this debate caused by the recent book of the well-known Serbian orientalist, Darko Tanaskovic, entitled “Neo-Ottomanism – the Return of Turkey to the Balkans.”

Turkish Foreign Policy in the Balkans and Neo-Ottomanism A Personal
In an increasingly multi-polar world, regional powers such as Turkey seek to play a mediating role to ensure that peace and stability are maintained in the Balkans.
 

The current Turkish regional policy has been widely evaluated and explained as a new, assertive policy. As far as the Balkan region is concerned, that policy is less new but more dynamic, less restrained but more decisive. Turkey’s regional policy was already active, but today it has become a pro-active policy. Previously, Turkey’s foreign policy, especially in the Balkans, was carried out in harmony with the Western alliances. However, Turkey now has emerged on the international and regional stage as an independent power, relying on its own geo-political and economic strength. This newfound independence in its pro-active regional policy is the main reason that it has met with mixed reactions and suspicions of a potential rise of neo-imperial and neo-Ottoman ambitions. Current Turkish regional policy has three directions: the Caucasus and Eurasia in a wider sense, the Middle East, and South-East of Europe or the Balkans.

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