Development of Turkish Foreign Policy Towards the Western Balkans with Focus on Bosnia and Herzegovina

Abstract

Under the AKP government, Turkey’s foreign policy towards the Western Balkans, and Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular, has led many analysts to suspect it of possessing neo-imperial, or so-called neo-Ottoman, objectives. These suspicions have been compounded by the repeated declarations of former Prime Minister Davutoğlu and current President Erdoğan that the history and religious identity shared by Turks and Western Balkan Muslims forms the basis of both Turkish-Balkan relations and a common future. Critical examination of official Ankara’s attitudes toward the Western Balkans in general, and especially Bosnia and Herzegovina, identifies four distinct phases in which cultural, historical, and religious appeals morphed into the set of distinctive foreign policies. These policies have also been shaped by pragmatic pursuits of regional influence, the effects of internal (Turkish) transformations, and more recently, the ad hoc policies of President Erdoğan. This article will reconstruct the development of Turkish foreign policy since 1990, from multilateral and soft power efforts to religious and economic objectives, and will analyse the limits of this policy

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