Academic journal article Review of European Studies

Kyrgyzstan-Turkey Relations: Cooperation in Political and Educational Spheres

Academic journal article Review of European Studies

Kyrgyzstan-Turkey Relations: Cooperation in Political and Educational Spheres

Article excerpt


In 1991, Kyrgyzstan gained its independence, and started establishing direct links with the world beyond the Soviet frontier. To conduct foreign relations Kyrgyzstan opened its embassies and/or consulates in almost 30 countries. Turkey is one of the key partners for Kyrgyzstan and plays an important role in the country's foreign relations (Note 1). This article aims to look at the development of Kyrgyzstan-Turkey relations from 1991 till 2012 focusing on the aspects of the political and educational cooperation. Cooperation in the political sphere is studied by looking at official statements at all levels and, participation and collaboration in multilateral structures. As for the educational sphere, the focus is mainly on Turkey's various initiatives such as Turkish schools and universities, as well as student exchange programs that can be seen as one of the 'soft power' tools inevitably promoting Turkish culture and values. The paper shows asymmetric relationship in which Kyrgyzstan seeks to pursue multi-vector policy rendering certain limitations in the relationship. Kyrgyzstan is essentially eager to receive Turkish foreign policy initiatives. Turkish presence in Kyrgyzstan has mostly been confined to spheres of education and economy. This reliance on 'soft power' is attributed to the fact that Turkey seems to, at least for now, lack resources and willingness to challenge Russia, China and USA in the competition for political and military influence in Central Asia.

Keywords: Kyrgyzstan foreign relations, Kyrgyzstan-Turkey Relations, Kyrgyzstan Foreign Policy, Political and Educational Spheres of Cooperation, soft power

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1. Introduction

For the purpose of placing the relations between the two countries in the framework of a particular theory of foreign policy, it is necessary to define foreign policy. Foreign policy refers to goals that two countries (in this paper Kyrgyzstan and Turkey) seek abroad, the values that underline those goals and the means used to pursue them (Kegley & Wittkopf, 2010-2011). In other words, understanding of Turkey's goals in Kyrgyzstan, values and means used to achieve those goals will shed light to Turkey's foreign policy in Kyrgyzstan and vice versa. Looking at relations between the two countries from this perspective will help to understand the so-called directed dyad and the summed dyads (Note 2).

A nation can secure defined goals of national interest by means of foreign policy during the course of its relations with other nations. Therefore foreign policy involves all activities of a nation by which that nation tries to change or maintain/regulate the behavior of other nations and to adjust its own behavior in the international environment (Ghai, 2004, pp. 233-234). In this regard, to understand what constitutes Turkey's interest in Kyrgyzstan and vice versa is of importance. Modern day literature reveals lack of consensus on that issue. Next, it is vital to understand to what extent relations between Turkey and Kyrgyzstan can be explained by studying national interest and activities of the both states with regard to each other. In this paper activities include official statements, visits, agreements, rhetoric of brotherhood and fraternity, participation and collaboration in multinational frameworks, exchange of experience, aid, investments, and cooperation in the educational sphere.

Perceptions, though being very difficult to study and measure, are of utmost importance as they shape images reflected in bilateral relations. Perceptions may include images that exist among Kyrgyz political elites, Kyrgyz and foreign experts, Turkish and Kyrgyz high officials, intellectuals and other segments of society. I tried to reflect and incorporate in this paper, the perceptions revealed in interviews (both personal and printed), reports, articles, book chapters and roundtable working papers. It is beyond the reach of this paper to study the perceptions intensively due to lack of time and resources. …

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