Turkey's strategic options

by Ian O. Lesser


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Turkey has been profoundly affected by changes on the post-Cold War international scene. These changes have emphasized the country's geopolitical importance, but have also sharpened long-standing questions concerning Turkey's identity and role. The Turkish debate on foreign and security policy has become more vigorous and more diverse. The foreign policy agenda has also expanded. Turkish interests are now more global. The deterioration of Turkey's relations with the European Union, and the worsening outlook for full membership has spurred an "agonizing reappraisal" of Turkey's interests in relation to the West. At the same time, changes in Eurasia and the Middle East, and new political currents in Turkey, have raised interest in foreign policy opportunities to the east and south. Do these non-Western orientations offer a valid alternative to Turkey's traditional foreign and security policy orientation? This analysis explores that question in light of new realities in Turkey's domestic and external environment.

Originally published in: The International Spectator, v. XXXIV, no. 1, January-March 1999, pp. 79-88.

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