Turkey’s Neo-Ottoman Problem

Turkey’s Neo-Ottoman Problem

The term "zero problems with neighbors" has become closely associated with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's ambitious and proactive new foreign policy. The formula is used to describe an approach that has seen Ankara re-engage politically, economically and culturally with its surrounding region.

But there's another term that has frequently been attached to Ankara's newfound diplomatic activism, one that Turkish policymakers are much less fond of: "neo-Ottomanism." At its best, the term describes a foreign policy that derives part of its legitimacy from Turkey's experience as a longtime imperial power in its wider neighborhood. At its worst, it suggests hegemonic ulterior motives behind Turkey's newfound activism. Despite Ankara's displeasure, it has stuck around, sustained to a certain extent by Turkey's own ambitions.

"The official rhetoric is that Turkey is doing [its foreign policy outreach] for the good of the region, but there is also this sense of grandeur," says Sami Kohen, a veteran foreign affairs columnist with the daily Milliyet newspaper. "Davutoglu himself wants Turkey to be a major player, with this sense of mission. It's no wonder that there is all this talk of neo-Ottomanism."

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.