Turkey and the Balkans: Searching for Stability 1
Constantine P. Danopoulos
The rapid changes that followed the collapse of communism and the disintegration of the former Soviet Union presented Turkey with political and economic challenges. Ankara is seriously concerned with how best to operate in a region that is much less stable and less predictable in terms of policy, and how best to deal with the various sites of concern, including the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East, Russia and the Balkans. This chapter explores Turkey's efforts to deal with the Balkans.
For reasons to be identified and analyzed below, Turkish policy makers wish to maintain a favorable place in the Balkan strategic balance. To that end, the authorities in Ankara have dealt and continue to deal with developments in former Yugoslavia in a manner that will enhance their country's strategic goals in the region.
In Ankara's assessment, the way(s) in which the West handled developments in Bosnia-Herzegovina prolonged the civil war in that former Yugoslav republic and, in turn, threatened to jeopardize Turkey's interests in the Balkans. Peace in the Balkans is fragile because NATO, the European Union (EU), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) failed, until recently, to restrain Serb efforts from building a Greater Serbia at Bosnia's expense; ignored the cost in Bosnian lives; overlooked Serbian practices of cruelty, committed in the pursuit of revisionist expansionism; and attempted to change the area's map in a manner that ignores some of the aspirations of Bosnia's Muslims. Unless these practices are reversed, Turkey feels that comprehensive conflict scenarios involving many, perhaps all, Balkan states will