Turkey in World Politics: An Emerging Multiregional Power

Turkey in World Politics: An Emerging Multiregional Power

Turkey in World Politics: An Emerging Multiregional Power

Turkey in World Politics: An Emerging Multiregional Power


This study explores Turkey's new international posture. It discusses Turkey's policies toward Europe, Russia, Central Asia, and the U.S., as well as its growing role in the Middle East. Also looked at are the critical issues of economic, energy and water policy.


Turkey has transformed its foreign policy and self-image more thoroughly than any noncommunist country in the post–Cold War era.

But while this factor has made Turkey's international role far more important, what makes it really distinctive is that virtually no other state— except for the United States—plays a part in so many different geographical regions. Moreover, all these areas are on Turkey's borders, making relations with them a matter of immediate importance. in addition, each area has its own set of political systems and issues. Consequently, Turkey has one of the most complex foreign policy situations in the world.

Since the establishment of the Turkish republic by Kemal Atatürk in 1923, the country followed a relatively consistent course. Turkey had been generally inward-looking and avoided foreign entanglements whenever possible, though the country's main goals were oriented toward gaining acceptance in the West, and especially to be seen as part of Europe.

Two specific factors are critical in explaining Turkey's historic restraint in foreign affairs. First, Turkey was reacting to the dramatic decline and fall of its predecessor, the Ottoman Empire. the entanglement in Europe's great-power politics and the attempt to preserve an extended empire led to disaster in World War I. Not only was the empire lost but the country itself was devastated, and came close to being partitioned by other European empires. Turkey had to distinguish itself clearly from the Ottoman Empire to assure neighbors that it was not threatening them by trying to revive old boundaries.

Foreign adventures, spheres of influence, alliance systems, and ambitious international interests were all considered foolish, risky, and even suicidal. Moreover, because Atatürk's goal was consolidating the Turkish nation, extending Ankara's dominion over non-Turks would defeat the purpose of a nation-state replacing a multinational empire. At the same time, seeking to build a pan-Turkic empire would have brought Turkey into collision . . .

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