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Transforming Turkish Foreign Policy: The Quest for Regional Leadership and Europeanisation


Turkish foreign policy today is far more proactive and multi-dimensional than at any time in the history of the republic. Turkey presents itself as a mediating power in the European neighbourhood, intent on developing relations with all actors in order to promote peace and regional integration. This foreign policy line could be considered as an asset for Turkey’s prospects of EU membership. The current EU discourse of constructing Europe as a ‘global actor’ necessitates a strong EU presence in the wider neighbourhood. A Turkey that can effectively use its soft power resources could significantly help to remedy the weakness of the EU presence in these regions. Furthermore, it could help prevent the region’s sources of instability from spilling over into the EU. In many respects, Turkey may be viewed as ‘doing the European Neighbourhood Policy’ for the EU. Nevertheless, this contribution is dependent on certain conditions. In this new Commentary, Senem Aydın Düzgit (Lecturer at the Istanbul Bilgi University and Associate Research Fellow at CEPS and Nathalie Tocci (Senior Research Fellow at the Istituto Affari Internazionali, Rome and Associate Research Fellow at CEPS) argue for a ‘rational’ debate on Turkey, in the interests of both Turkey’s democratic future and of the EU’s chances of becoming an effective global power in the 21st century.