Home Page
29 Nov 10

US Wary of Turkey’s Ambitions in the Balkans, Cables Show

US diplomatic cables released by the whistleblowers' Web site WikiLeaks show US concern over Turkey’s new foreign policy in the Balkans.

Besar Likmeta Tirana

A confidential diplomatic cable sent by the US embassy in Ankara on January 20, 2010, describes Turkey’s new active foreign policy toward the Balkans as problematic.

The secret memo is part of some 250,000 that WikiLeaks obtained and is gradually releasing.

According to the cable, Turkey’s interest and intentions in the Balkans were clearly showcased in a speech by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Sarajevo in October 2009, when he made a ringing defence of the centuries-long Ottoman presence in the region.

Davutoglu’s thesis is that “the Balkans, Caucasus, and Middle East were all better off when under Ottoman control or influence; when peace and progress prevailed,” the cable says. 

“Alas the region has been ravaged by division and war ever since. (He was too clever to explicitly blame all that on the imperialist western powers, but came close). However, now Turkey is back,” it continues.

The leaked memo explains that for the neo-Islamic AKP ruling party in Turkey, this new approach provides a relatively low cost and popular tool to demonstrate influence, power, and the "we're back" slogan, for the Turkish public.

Although the analysis from US diplomats admits that this “back to the past” move by the leaders of AKP is playing better in the streets of the Middle East than in Balkan capitals, Ankara has not shied away from pitching itself as a conflict mediator in the region.

Erdogan's visit to Kosovo in early November this year was the latest in a series of diplomatic missions that followed Davutoglu’s speech in Sarajevo.

In September this year, the Turkish President tried in vain to mediate between Bosnia's two semi-independent entities, the Bosnian Serb-run Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat federation, several months after Turkish officials met together with Serbian President Boris Tadic and then Bosnian Presidency member Haris Silajdzic.

In October 2009, President Abdullah Gul visited Serbia, the first such visit to Belgrade in almost 23 years.

However, despite Ankara's growing political, social, and economic offensive across the Balkans, the US is of the opinion that Turkey cannot compete in the region with other major international actors like the European Union.

To exhort its influence the US diplomats explain that Turkey is constantly aligning itself with local leaders, which are not always in favour with the west.

“With Rolls Royce ambitions but Rover resources, to cut themselves in on the action the Turks have to "cheat" by finding an underdog like Haris Silajdzic, [the former Bosniak member of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina],” notes the US dispatch.  

“This "back to the past" attitude so clear in Davutoglu's Sarajevo speech, combined with the Turks' tendency to execute it through alliances with more Islamic or more worrisome local actors, constantly creates new problems,” the US cable warns.  

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

News

serbia-turkey-relations-crucial-for-balkans-expert-say
18 Jun 15

Serbia-Turkey Ties Crucial for Balkans, Experts Say

Serbia's relations with Turkey are crucial for the Balkans, experts told a forum in Belgrade on Wednesday - although they did not all agree on Turkey's future role in the region.

turkish-president-erdogan-visits-bosnia-s-capital
20 May 15

Turkish President Cements Ties With Bosnia

On a visit to Sarajevo, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has shown the extent of Turkish support for Bosnia - while some suspect the visit is designed also to boost the hand of Erdogan's main Bosnian ally, Bakir Izetbegovic.

new-albanian-party-in-macedonia-denies-erdogan-connection
24 Nov 14

New Macedonia Albanian Party Denies Erdogan Link

A newly-formed ethnic Albanian party in Macedonia has denied allegations that it is a ‘subsidiary’ of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party.

turkish-airlines-eyes-macedonia-national-airline-bid
18 Nov 14

Turks May Help Macedonia Form National Airline

Turkish Airlines has indicated that it is willing to assist Macedonia set up its own national airline, following the demise of Macedonian Airlines several years ago.

serbia-on-alert-after-alleged-erdogan-s-remarks
14 Jul 14

Serbia Rattled by Turkish PM’s Bosnia ‘Threat’

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said he "wants to believe" that Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not say that anyone who dares upset Bosniaks will have to face 100 million Turks.

erdogan-likely-to-visit-montenegro-islamic-center-reis
01 Apr 14

Montenegro Muslim Leader Awaits Erdogan Visit

The head of the Islamic Community in Montenegro said that Turkey's Prime Minister will visit the country in April for the opening of an Islamic Centre.

turks-in-sarajevo-celebrated-erdogan-election-win
31 Mar 14

Turks in Sarajevo Celebrate Erdogan Poll Win

Dozens celebrated Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party's win at local elections in Turkey while the strongman leader thanked his Bosnian, Macedonian and Kosovo 'brothers' for support.

davutoglu-erdogan-s-kosovo-statement-misinterpreted
28 Oct 13

Erdogan ‘Misunderstood’ Over ‘Turkey is Kosovo’ Claim

The Turkish prime minister’s statement that “Kosovo is Turkey, and Turkey is Kosovo” was misinterpreted, officials in Ankara insisted after Serbia expressed outrage.

macedonian-president-s-whole-hearted-support-for-endogan-divides-critics
08 Jul 13

Macedonians Divided Over President’s Support for Erdogan

The president’s declaration of support for Turkish premier Erdogan, the target of sustained protests in recent weeks, has drawn both praise and condemnation from Macedonians.

bosnia-serbia-and-turkey-sign-cooperation-protocol
14 May 13

Bosnia, Serbia and Turkey Sign Trade Agreement

Economy and trade ministers from Ankara, Belgrade and Sarajevo formally agreed to improve economic ties in an attempt to boost mutual trade.