Regionalization and Globalization in the Modern World Economy: Perspectives on the Third World and Transitional Economies

By Alex E. Fernández Jilberto; André Mommen | Go to book overview

8

A REGIONALIZING MIDDLE POWER

Turkey’s role between Europe and Asia

Zehra Gamze Aslancik

Turkey is unique for many reasons. It is an Islamic country which has embraced Western institutions and a Latin alphabet. In the 1920s the country carried out a national revolution from above, modernizing its political and social institutions. In the immediate post-war years, Marshall Aid was granted to Turkey and in 1952 the country became a member of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC), thus promoting Turkey’s ties with the West. Turkey obtained membership of NATO and established close contacts with Europe. For several decades Turkey was America’s closest ally against the Soviet Union in the Caucasian region. Therefore Turkey joined several anti-Soviet regional organizations. In the early 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, when defining Turkey’s international role in a globalizing and regionalizing world, President Turgut Özal spoke about ‘establishing a hegemony from east to west, from the Adriatic Sea across Central Asia to China’. Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel spoke in a similar way: ‘The achievement of independence by these countries [of Central Asia] is an embodiment of the age-old Turkish dream and… [Turkey] is prepared to do everything possible to help them implement political and economic reforms’ (Smolansky 1994:203).

The ‘awakening’ of this imperial idea designated Turkey’s leadership in a region where China, Russia and the European Union (EU) meet and where political instability has grown. Will contemporary Turkey be able to fullfil these imperial aspirations?

TURKISH LEADERSHIP

Turkey is a regional power that, in relation to the newly emerged Caucasian and Central Asian republics, has regained some influence in this region. Common ethnical, linguistic and cultural ties may serve as common ground for the establishment of a Turkish-dominated economic and political regional integration process that could serve Turkey’s expansionary policy. Of the twelve states that were created after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, six are Muslim countries and a majority of their population consists of Muslims. These are: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan,

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