From myth to reality: How to understand Turkey’s role in the Western Balkans

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Publication Date March 2019
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Key aspects of this Policy Brief, published in March 2019:

  • European fears of Turkish expansionism in the Western Balkans have no basis in reality;
  • Turkey spots opportunity in the region – yet it actually wants the Western Balkans inside the EU and NATO;
  • The AKP’s approach once deserved a ‘neo-Ottoman’ tag, but Erdogan has since refocused on personalised diplomacy and pragmatic relations;
  • Western Balkans governments remain reluctant to act on Turkey’s behalf by pursuing Gulenists, despite overall warm ties;
  • Europeans should cease questioning Ankara’s motives and work on shared goals instead – hugging Turkey close and keeping it out of Russia’s embrace.
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