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Turkish foreign policy towards balkans,2013 isa erbas

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  • 1. Turkish Foreign Policy TowardsBalkansİsa ErbaşJune,2013
  • 2. Turkish Foreign Policy TowardsBalkans• Introduction• Factors behind the Foreign Policy• Turkish Foreign Policy• Purpose of the Turkish Foreign Policy towards Balkans• Background of the Balkan Countries and their Relations with Turkey• Misunderstood Policies towards the Balkans• Views of Albanian People about the Turkish Foreign Policy• Conclusion
  • 3. Introduction• Due to its geographical and cultural positions in the international system it is believed that Turkey shouldinteract and develop its relations with all countries especially with its neighbors. So in order to strengthenthe relations with its neighbors, Turkey needs to develop its economy.• After the cold war some politicians, academicians strongly supported to follow the former policy. Contraryto this support, others insisted on following more active foreign policy and they went on saying that suchpolicy should be in accordance with Turkey’s size and strength since it was an important country in theregion.• During the international developments, Turkish foreign policy was criticized for Neo-Ottomanism becauseof its passive character. The criticisms particularly appeared during international crisis and wars.• It seems that there is a kind of misunderstanding in Turkish foreign policy. This study also tries to clear thismisunderstanding and provide evidence about its policy and aims and objectives concerning foreignpolicy.• Due to the some historical and economic ties with the regions Turkey is concerned and worried about theinstability in these regions. That is why, it is necessary for Turkey to build closer relationship with theBalkan countries in order to show its significance to the West. These countries are very important forTurkey in international arena, thus Turkey should try to help these regions to preserve security, peace, andstability. Any crisis and conflicts in these regions influence Turkey. That is why; external factors areaffecting the changes in the Turkish foreign policy more than internal factors.• In 1999, conflicts started between Kosovo and Serbs. During those conflicts Turkey supported Kosovo. Thisstudy has analysed the Turkish foreign policy towards Balkans in general, particularly in Albania. WhyAlbania is important for the Turkish foreign policy? The reason is that, Albania, occupies better positions interms of democratic and economic transition with its neighbours. Furthermore, there is a large Albanianspeaking ethnic community living in Turkey. Therefore, the relationship between Albania and Turkey couldbe seen an example for other Balkan countries.1
  • 4. Factors behind the Foreign Policy• It is known that domestic issues can shape foreign policy. Foreign policy also shapes leaders positions inpower. So desires of leaders to stay in power can drive foreign policy (DeRouen, 2010, p.6). DeRouen goeson also claiming that “domestic politics, economic conditions, and public opinion are among the mostimportant domestic factors that shape foreign policy decision making” (DeRouen, 2010, p.129).• According to Bull:• Firstly, they may enter into relations with political groups in other states; business enterprises, tradeunions, political parties, professional associations, churches, all have their being partly within thetransnational. Secondly, they may enter into relations with foreign states, as when a multinationalcorporation enters into an agreement with a host government, political groups engage in a protest outsidea foreign embassy, or revolutionary groups in one country assist their co-ideologists in another tooverthrow the government. Thirdly, they may enter into direct relations with an international organization(Bull, 2002, p.267).• These factors all affect nations. For instance, foreign policy decisions have very important consequencesfor nations, their allies, and rival countries. Even the decisions can affect the survivability of leaders inpower (DeRouen, 2010, p.25). Some authors say the purpose is economy. Some say national interest andsome say stability and peace. Even some say, the leaders, who are in power, make sure to strengthen theirpower. Drezner explains so clearly the purpose of foreign policy. He says “foreign policy leaders conceiveof a national interest defined as maximizing their welfare and the security of that welfare. To further theirinterests, states will usually act to increase their own income and wealth” (Drezner, 1999, pp. 28-29).•2
  • 5. Turkish Foreign Policy• In such an environment, developments show us that international legitimacy, economic interdependence,respect for human rights, pursuing a sustainable environmental policy and harmony between peoplebelonging to different religious and ethnic origins stand as the most important tools to build lasting peace,stability and prosperity. In other words, Turkey does not only develop its bilateral and regional relations inits close neighborhood, but seeks to create a positive synergy on a much wider scale and thus aims atcontributing to global peace, stability and security. Turkey is aware of the necessity to foster the linkagesbetween political stability, economic welfare and cultural harmony in order to attain sustainable globalpeace (Affairs R. O., Synopsis of the Turkish Foreign Policy).• Turkey’s new foreign policy with the AKP reflects the equally fluid nature of the "multi-centric" world,defined by rapid power transitions. The aim of Turkey’s new foreign policy is to make Turkey have a goodposition on the national, regional, and global levels in the first decade of the 21st century by manifestingitself in the rise of the AKP and domestic economy, regional shifts, and global power transitions(Muzalevsky, 2012).• Economic growth and new political stability of Turkey since 1983, led the government to set up newforeign policies, which enabled Turkey to improve its relations with neighbors and states in the regionalike. For this reason, “Ankara is highly interested in the Balkans and it has been so since 1989” (Rüma,2010 ).•3
  • 6. Purpose of the Turkish Foreign Policytowards Balkans• Turkish foreign policy is discussed by politicians and academicians in the Balkan regions. Some academicians claimthat Turkey builds backbone of its foreign policy regarding its past. This discussion emphasizes the significance ofcultural, historical, economic and religious past of Turkey. The politicians and academicians argue that Turkeyought to increase its influence in the Balkan regions. Turkey is believed to use the chance to become global powerby developing its relations with these Balkan regions. Scholars claim that Turkey should not have any ideologicalorientations in these regions.• During the post-Cold war era, Turkey had been rediscovering its neighbors and trying to capitalize on its geo-political position in three distinct, yet interlocking regions. This process of re-discovery has been proceeding at anincreasingly faster pace during the AKP era. Furthermore, there are solid economic reasons for a pro-active foreignpolicy strategy. Turkey has dearly been responding to the changing global context which involves a diversificationof economic relations and the opening of new markets, especially at a time when Europe is faced with deepstagnation and the global economic axis has dearly been shifting in the eastern direction with the global financialcrisis. (Ziya Onis M. K., 2011,Vol. 13 No.1). The key objective of Turkish foreign policy according to the minister ofTurkish foreign policy Davutoglu is:• The key objective of Turkish foreign policy has been to contribute to peace, stability and prosperity in the world.By the same token, we spare no effort to develop our relations with our neighborhood and beyond. Asdemonstrated by the recent increase in the initiatives Turkish foreign policy has embarked upon, especially in theadjacent regions and beyond, we are deploying every possible effort to encourage the consolidation of democracyas well as the settlement of disputes, which directly or indirectly concern Turkey (Davutoglu, 2010).• One of the principles is to develop relations with the neighboring regions and beyond. So Turkey’s regionalinfluence extends to the Balkans. Turkey played an active role in the Balkans, especially, when there were crises inKosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina (Davutoglu, Turkey’s Foreign Policy Vision:An Assessment of 2007, 2008, Vol. 10 /No. 1 ).It is very obvious that, Turkey’s foreign policy`s agenda is not to find conflicts with its neighbors, but itsagenda is to promote interstate cooperation (Ziya Onis M. K., 2011,Vol. 13 No.1).Turkey tries to cooperate with allits neighboring countries.4
  • 7. • In 2007, Davutoglu emphasizes the importance of maintaining stability and peace in the Balkan regionsand he goes further: “we have to provide every opportunity in order to help our brothers in these regions”(Çelebi, 2007).• The Turkish president Apdullah Gül visited Serbia with many politicians and deputies. It showed that theTurkish foreign policy is very important for the Balkan regions. During the visit the president of Serbiaclaimed that during his 7 years presidency he has not hosted so many guests and he has never been withso many deputations before. During the meeting the president of Serbia Tadiç:• “We have been friends with dear Mr. Apdullah Gül. As a result of this long friendship Turkey and Serbiahas become a strategic partner in the Balkan regions. We cannot think the Balkan regions without Turkey.As long as Turkey considers Serbia as an important partner in the Balkan, we can maintain stability andpeace in the Balkan regions” (Bal, 2009). Apdullah Gül responds to the president Tadiç: “We suggest theethnic and religious groups, as residents of these countries. Belong to the country and you need to workfor the stability and peace for the country where you live .As a result, you can be like a bridge beetweentwo countries where you live and which one you have hitorical and religious ties” (Bal, 2009) .• FEBA (Federation of Balkan American Associations) cooperates with TUSCON in order to enable theentrepreneurs from Turkey and the entrepreneurs who are originally from the Balkan countries. With thecooperation of FEDA (Fairfield Economic Development Association) and TUSCON associations, theentrepreneurs of Turkey, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Bulgaria gathered together in NewYork. The president of Turkey Apdullah Gül also was present in that meeting. Mr. Gül underlined thememberships of these countries of the EU and NATO. He claimed that the membership will bring stabilityand peace to the regions (Basyurt, 2010). Turkey uses the roads of these countries such as: Bulgaria,Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, and Romania. If there are any problems regarding tosecurity and instability Turkey can have difficulties in importing and exporting. So peace and stability inBalkan regions is very important for Turkey in order to have commerce and trade with Europeancountries.5
  • 8. Background of the Balkan Countries andtheir Relations with Turkey• Turkey is aware of the fact that if it is not active in preserving peace in Balkans, thedoor is closed to its European Union. Because of these concerns, “Turkey has sought tobroaden its ties elsewhere, especially with those areas and countries where it has long-standing historical and cultural ties” (Dag, 2011, p. 7). It is argued that the Balkancountries such as, Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Macedoniasooner or later will become members of the European Union. These countries are thelast bridge Between Turkey and European Union (Cagaptay, 2008).• Turks of Balkan origin in Turkey, particularly of Albanian origin, have supported theresistance of Albanians in Kosovo since 1980s and they had put pressure on Turkeyduring the Kosovo conflict (Eroglu, 2005, p. 59). For this reason, Turkey has become amore active actor in peacekeeping operations and humanitarian interventions in theBalkans. (Dag, 2011, p. 30) Since 2000 there has been a big increase among the Balkanpeople that consider Turkey as a friendly country.• These statements clearly indicate the main pillars of Turkish foreign policy towardsBalkans. Turkey has the desire to see the Balkans as an area of peace and securityrather than conflicts. Preserving stability and peace was always important in theBalkans for Turkeys security. Especially after the collapse of the communist regime,the importance of Balkan countries has widely increased. It is well known that theBalkans geographically connect Turkey to Europe. Turkeys strong historical, social andcultural ties with the Balkan people have always been an essential impact in itsrelations with the Balkan regions. As a result Turkish foreign policy makers havepursued a peaceful approach with all the Balkan countries.6
  • 9. Misunderstood Policies towards theBalkans• Therefore, these developments and similar trends towards Balkan countries in general,particularly Albania will go further. For example, over the last two years, many Albanian TVscreens have begun to show Turkish soap operas which have great impacts on Albaniansociety. One describes this as ‘Turkey returns to the Balkans, nearly100 years after theOttoman Empire was forced to leave the region and the scene of history’ (Tartari(2), 2012).The Ottoman has not returned back to Balkans, only Turkey is in Balkans with its exports andgoods including soap operas. I have been living in Albania since 2003; I have not seen anysigns regarding New Ottomanism.• The Albanian Prime Minister Berisha said ‘the Turkish investments in Albania increased ninetimes starting from 2005, but this could have been 19 times and this is an objective for thefuture’ (Tartari, 2012). The discussion on Neo-Ottomanism seems groundless, for there isneither a demand for this type of outreach by the Turks /Muslims in the Balkans or by Turkishsociety, nor a concrete base for the implementation of such a policy (Rüma, 2010 ).It is quiteclear whether Turkish foreign policy towards Balkans is ‘new Ottoman’ or not. This is a highlydebated topic and will be debated more in the future. The reason is that Turkey has becomemore stable politically and economically growing country. These developments give Turkey aunique position in the region that might be perceived as a kind of threat to other interestedparties in the region. They know that public diplomacy is very important to increaseinternational gain. For this reason, some use the term ‘New Ottoman’ in order to createpublic fear against Turkey which is not Ottoman in anyway.7
  • 10. Views of Albanian People about theTurkish Foreign PolicyAs it is stated:Main tenets of Turkish foreign policy towards Albania were almost identical to Turkey’s overall Balkan policy.Main objective of Turkish Balkan policy was to endure stability and peace in the region. Bearing this mainobjective in mind, Turkey developed its bilateral relations with Albania immediately after the end of Albanianisolationist policies following the death of Enver Hoxha. Turkey, until the mid 1990s, rapidly increased itspolitical, military and economic ties with Albania (Sülkü, 2010, p. 1).One thing is for certain - this relationship has grown closer since 1990. Turkey has used various ways toenhance this relationship including economic aid, supporting social and cultural programmes by The TurkishInternational Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), training police officers and establishing schools.Further, in order to understand Turkish foreign policy towards Albania more broadly, one needs to read whathas been written on the homepage of Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is stated that TurkeyconsidersAlbania a strategically important country for the establishment of enduring peace and stability in the Balkansand supports its integration with Euro-Atlantic institutions, which, it is believed, will strengthen Albania’sinternal stability, and its efforts at bilateral and multilateral level, for developing its diplomatic relationsand international effectiveness. (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs , 2012).8
  • 11. • Survey• This survey took about 7 months’ started in December, 2012 and finished in June, 2013. I madethis survey with 512 people in different Albanian cities mainly: Tirana, Shkoder, Kaveje, Kruje,Lushnije and Durres. The survey questions about foreign policy were not easy to answer. I tried tomake survey with people, particularly, who were studying in the universities or who graduatedfrom the universities. The survey questions were completed by different group of people such as:teachers, doctors, academicians, politicians, lawyers, businessmen, economists, statesmen andalso some other profession groups. The main goal about this survey was to find out the Albanianpeople`s perception and thoughts about the relations between Turkey and Albania and also theTurkish foreign policy towards Albania.• The gender average of this survey 52.02 % is female and 47.08 % is male. The education percentageof these respondents was secondary education is 26.1% and university education was 73.9 %.Thissurvey was conducted face to face interview with different age groups starting from 18 to 60.Eachsurvey took about 10 minutes. I asked the respondents7 survey questions regarding Albanian –Turkey relations.• According to the survey that majority of the respondents, 55 percent or 182 out of 512; considerthe USA as the closest ally to Albania. According to the chart Turkey is considered as the secondclose ally to Albania with 32.9 percent or 169 out of 512 respondents.• According to the respondents, 50.9 percent or 261 out of 512, consider Turkey as the friendlieststate towards Albania.9
  • 12. According to the survey respondents, 74.9 percent or 384 out of 512,consider the U.S.A which has the most influence on Albanian Foreign Policy.The respondents, 12.3 percent or 63 out of 512,consider Turkey as a secondstate which has more influence on Albanian Foreign Policy.According to the respondents, 62.2 percent or 309 out of 512, think thatTurkey needs to improve its foreign Policy towards Albania.According to the respondents, 47 percent or 241 out of 512, think that themost important aim of Turkey`s foreign policy towards Albania is to focus onits economy.10
  • 13.  According to the respondents, 41.5 percent or 213 out of 512 think that theimage of Turkey concerning the successful conduct of foreign policy towardsAlbania is somewhat important, while 32.4 percent or 165 out of 512 thinkthat the image of turkey concerning the successful conduct of foreign policytowards Albania is very important.According to the respondents, 88.5 percent or 453 out of 512, state thatAlbania and Turkey will have more strong relations in future.11
  • 14. Conclusion• Turkey’s foreign policy towards Balkans in general is not unique. In otherwords, Turkey tries to implement its foreign policy; whereby ‘multi-dimensionality envisages increase of influence in all of its neighbouringregions and improving its relations with all international actors, ratherthan just depending on relations with the European Union and the UnitedStates’.I have stated above that there are some factors behind the Turkishforeign policy towards the Balkan countries. Secondly, Turkey wants toincrease economic relationships with its neighbouring countries includingthe Balkans. This is important because, in this global world, economicstrength leads countries to a stronger position than a military one.• Thirdly, Turkey pays more attention to tools of foreign policies namely,cultural and economic perspective and ‘political-strategic perspective,integrating to European values. In order to achieve all of this, Turkeyneeds also time and work with other countries and statesmen.• Finally, Turkey’s foreign policy towards Balkan countries is exceptionallygetting better. Hence, there is cooperation between these countries ondiplomatic and political relations. More investors of Turkey are coming tothese countries and trade between these countries is increasing.12

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