MILITARY-POLITICAL ASPECTS OF COOPERATION BETWEEN TURKEY AND THE CENTRAL ASIAN COUNTRIES: OVERALL DYNAMICS OF DEVELOPMENT

Levon HOVSEPYAN


Levon Hovsepyan, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Political Research (Erevan, Republic of Armenia)


Introduction

The geopolitical changes going on in the world in the aftermath of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union have prompted Turkey to take a fresh look at its foreign policy, as well as at several issues relating to the countrys security and defense. The approach of Turkeys leaders to the countrys national security strategy and policy has widened its horizons to encompass the place these two elements occupy in the overall development of Turkeys so-called alternative foreign policy.

Since the very beginning of the 1990s, the Caucasus and the Central Asian region (CA) have become a new alternative vector in Turkeys foreign policy. Given its ethno-linguistic and cultural communality with the Turkic-speaking nations that populate the region, Turkey began employing a new political strategy, trying to assume the role of leader there. This was a unique opportunity for it to raise its status as a regional power.

In this article, we will attempt to shed some light on the special features of the development of Turkeys military-political cooperation with the newly independent states of Central Asia.

End of the Cold War and the Reasons for Turkeys Intensified Foreign Policy in Central Asia

The end of the Cold War and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union prompted serious changes in Turkeys foreign policy. The Turkish leadership was afraid that the end of the Cold War would undermine the countrys position as a NATO member. It began looking for a new foreign policy strategy aimed at intensifying its influence in the Turkic-speaking countries of the post-Soviet expanse (Türkçe konuşan ülkeler).

In one of his articles, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs İsmail Cem noted: Turkey, in the aftermath of the Cold War, has assumed a far greater geopolitical and strategic role at the centre of a vast land mass stretching all the way from Europe to the centre of Asia.

The creation of a union of Turkic-speaking countries, with Turkey at its head, would raise the geopolitical importance of the latter, particularly in its interrelations with the West. Turkish analyst S. Laçiner notes that creating this kind of Turkic-speaking world (Türk Dünyası) would not be an alternative to the European Union or to the West as a whole. Turkey just thought that, with the support of the Turkic-speaking world behind it, it would feel more confident in its relations with the West.

Although Turkey lost its former significance in the eyes of the West after the end of the Cold War, certain premises have nevertheless appeared for it to become a serious player in the Central Asian field; since it has..


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