Caucasus and Central Asia in Turkish Foreign Policy: The Time Has Come for a New Regional Policy
After the end of the Cold War, the disintegration of the Soviet Union (USSR) and the emergence of new independent states in the Caucasus and Central Asia, Turkey was forced to restructure its regional policy concept and started a new pursuit in its foreign policy. Turkey has been in interaction with this transition geography and has a complex array of economic, political and cultural relations with its neighboring regions. Since the AKP assumed power in 2002, Turkey has been trying to follow a pro-active regional policy approach and solve existing problems with its 'zero problems with neighbors' policy concept. This article focuses on the Turkish regional policy in Caucasus and Central Asia and provides an assessment of this policy. It argues that Turkey needs a new applicable, feasible and realistic action plan regarding the Caucasus and Central Asia in order to combine its normative outlook with the realities of the region. The article asserts that in order to enhance cultural, economic and political ties with the region, first, the necessary structural and institutional conditions have to be created. The article also draws attention to the importance of organizations like TIKA, Turkic Council and Eurasian Economic Council as the institutional basis for Turkey's cooperation efforts in the region.
Turkish Foreign Policy, Central Asia, Caucasus, foreign policy, cooperation