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Central Asia and Turkish Foreign Policy

The emergence of Turkish interest in the Central Asian region began with the geopolitical changes appeared in the former Soviet South geopolitical area following the disintegration of theSoviet Union. After the disintegration five states in Central Asiadeclared their independence and began to develop foreign relations with the states outside the region. Encouraged by the mentioned changes Turkish decision-makers began to show interest toward the region and this resulted in the orientation of Turkey toward the Central Asian states which was abandoned since Bolshevik Revolution and establishment ofTurkishRepublic.

It can be said that the US back played an important role in reinforcing Turkish orientation toward the Central Asian region too. The US did not hesitate to support Turkish state economically and politically in order to make her more influential in the Central Asian region. The US presented soft Muslim Turkey as a laic, secular and democratic model to the Central Asian states in order to remove the possibility ofIran’s attempt to benefit from this heavily Muslim populated region for political pragmatism. Such encouragement of theU.S.resulted in the reinforcement of Turkish interest and policies toward the Central Asian region.

The radical change in Turkish foreign policy preference after 1990s had also a share in the increase of Turkish interest toward the region. Along with the changes which emerged in international systemTurkeyhad to make rearrangements not in its foreign policy principles but in foreign policy preferences. Among the reasons which forcedTurkeyto rearrange its foreign policy preferences; the assumption that Turkey’s function and importance in the NATO began to downgrade, newly-emerged volatility and fluidity in the former Soviet geopolitical area, removal of the Soviet threat and the delay in the EU full membership process consisted the primary importance. These changes prepared a suitable milieu for Turkey to adopt multi-lateral foreign policy preference different from bi-lateral foreign policy preference strictly followed by Turkish decision-makers under the conditions of the Cold War period. Along with the adoption of multi-lateral foreign policy preference, Central Asian states, with whichTurkeyhas some cultural, ethnic, religious and historical ties, began to be regarded as an alternative which might presentTurkeysome economic and political advantages.

However despite sincere attempts, due to some external and internal reasons, Turkish decision-makers could not cover their expectations in regard to the Central Asian states. In this article; on the one hand we will discuss the development of cooperation strategy model as an alternative to maximize Turkey’s foreign policy advantages in the Central Asian region and foreign policy goal/s that should be adopted by Turkish decision-makers for the Central Asian Region, and on the other hand foreign policy goal/s and interests of the US, Israel, Iran, India, Pakistan and Russian Federation in relation with the mentioned region, since we believe that foreign policy goals of those states indirectly affect the political stand and foreign policy goals of Turkish governments in Central Asia.

Güngörmüş Kona, Gamze, “Central Asiaand Turkish Foreign Policy”, Turkish Rewiev of Eurasian Studies, Annual 2006-6, İstanbul.

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