Turkiye in the Western Balkans Today: Numbers and Estimates

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2023-67-8-110-120
Institute of System-Strategic Analysis (ISSA), 16, Kuskovskaya Str., Moscow, 111398, Russian Federation.
E. Ponomareva, nastya304@mail.ru
Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the Ministry of Foreign Relations of the Russian Federation, 76, Prosp. Vernadskogo, Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation.

Received 21.03.2023. Revised 24.04.2023. Accepted 30.05.2023.

Abstract. The article examines the outcomes of Turkish foreign policy towards the Western Balkans from the moment of its intensification, designated as the “Erdogan era”, up to date. As a period of development of Turkish-Balkan relations, it is characterized with the priority of economy over diplomacy and personal ties over institutional interaction. The article evaluates historiographical drift in the perception of Turkiye as an influencer in dependence on transformation of its general foreign policy and regional strategy. Negative assessments and connotations have prevailed in recent years: Turkiye has been analytically “separated” from the Western influential powers and referred to as a so-called Eastern power (along with Russia, China, and the Persian Gulf countries), recognized by western tradition as a nondemocratic force with malign influence in the region. The authors argue that this analytical construction does not correlate with the current Turkiye’s state of affairs in the region and its self-positioning in the changing world order. They point out that the Turkish authorities see and interpret Turkiye’s alleged challenge to the current international order as an intra-alliance opposition. Although often being called a “spoiler” of EU policy in the Western Balkans, indeed, Turkiye mostly remains in line with NATO, the EU and the US, still favoring Atlanticism and Europeanism in practical politics, despite severe criticism in public rhetoric used mainly for Turkish domestic consumption. The research pays special attention to Turkiye’s vulnerabilities. It evaluates achievements in the region with a focus on: low entry points in economy and politics of Turkish-Balkan relations; lack of interest and motivation of Turkish private business to explore the markets of the Western Balkans; inability to compete with the EU dominance in the foreign trade sector; incomparable capabilities of Turkiye with those of the leading “quintet” of external actors (China, EU, Russia, UK, and US) in the Western Balkans.

Keywords: Turkiye, Western Balkans, “Erdoganism”, R. T. Erdogan, external actors, international trade, regional markets


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For citation:
Arlyapova E., Ponomareva E. Turkiye in the Western Balkans Today: Numbers and Estimates. World Eсonomy and International Relations, 2023, vol. 67, no. 8, pp. 110-120. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2023-67-8-110-120 EDN: YTBTAS

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