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Turkey’s Balkan Policy and Its Skeptics

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.

Turkey s Balkan Policy and Its Skeptics
Presidents of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Serbia, Ukraine, and Northern Cyprus in June 2018 participated in the opening ceremony of TANAP, which is a part of Turkey’s economic vision in the Balkans. ALİ ATMACA / AA Photo
 

Because of its geographical proximity and historical, social, and cultural ties, the Balkans is a region of particular interest to Turkey. During the last decades, in parallel to its economic growth and foreign policy activism, Turkey has intensified economic relations, public diplomacy, and cultural activities with this region. In the late 2000s, Ankara began to play an active role in regional politics. Although its political initiatives have slowed down in the Arab spring, Turkey's bilateral relations with the Balkan governments have remained unchanged.

Turkey's engagement with the Balkans has led to different reactions. Every once in a while, skeptical views regarding Turkey's intentions in the Balkans are expressed in the international media. The skeptics 'most-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.

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