The end of the Cold War meant the end of the ‘buffer state’ identity of Turkish foreign policy – an identity which was based mainly on the geopolitical position of Turkey in world politics. Since the 1990s, Turkey has been in search of a new identity, which has required a much more active and constructive foreign policy behavior. Furthermore, as the world has become more globalized, more interdependent, and more risky, having “strategic depth,” this new foreign policy identity entailed the employment of not only geopolitics but also identity and economy. Thus, geopolitics, modernity and democracy have become the constitutive dimensions of Turkish foreign policy today. This development in Turkey’s foreign policy identity and behavior has been perceived in global academic and public discourse as Turkey becoming a “key and pivotal actor of world politics.” This paper explores the ways in which Turkish foreign policy would become effective and achieves its main aim, that is, to contribute to the creation of a fair, better, and democratic global governance.
Pro-active foreign policy, the post-9/11 world, globalization, democratization, modernization, Turkey-EU relations.
In his influential work on world politics in the post-Cold war era, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives, published in 1997, Zbigniew Brzezinski suggests that “Turkey and Iran are not only important geostrategic players but are also geopolitical pivots, whose own internal condition is of critical importance to the fate of the region. Both are middle-sized powers, with strong regional aspirations and a sense of historical significance.”1 Of course, there have been radical changes in Turkey, as well as in world politics, since Brzezinski penned this description of Turkey in 1997. Yet, as it will be elaborated in what follows, Brzezinski’s diagnostic statement about Turkey, and his important reminder that there is a link between the ‘internal conditions’ of a country and its ‘foreign policy behavior/ identity’ has remained true. Turkey’s ‘geopolitical pivot’ and regional power role in world politics has become even more important in recent years. Turkey has been expected to initiate a proactive, multidimensional and constructive foreign policy in many areas, ranging from contributing to peace and stability in the Middle East to playing an active role in countering terrorism and extremism, from becoming a new “energy hub” to acting as one of the architects of “the inter-civilization dialogue initiative,” aimed at producing a better vision of the world, based on dialogue, tolerance and coexistence.2 Thus, there has been an upsurge of interest in, and a global attraction to, Turkey and its contemporary history. Moreover, the global attraction to the country has stemmed not only from the geopolitical identity of Turkey, as a strong state with the capacity to function as a “geopolitical security hinge” in the intersection of the Middle East, the Balkans and the Caucasian regions, but also from its cultural identity as a modern national formation with parliamentary democratic governance, a secular constitutional structure, and a predominantly Muslim population.