Turkish Geopolitics: the Geographic Inevitability
This study argues that the legacies of geography, history and culture impose limits on what could be achieved in any particular place. Even maps refute the concepts of equality and unity of human race because they remind us of the different environments of earth that make people unequal and deeply fractured leading to conflicts.
For Turkey, the issue of harmony between the components of the Westphalian state has been a matter of great controversy since the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923. The integration and exclusion trends that are considered two of the most important features of the Turkish political scene, have also influenced the way the Turks viewed their external environment, especially in light of the great influence of Turkey on any change in the structure of international politics. This study argues that the political and intellectual employment of geopolitical concepts in Turkey has contributed significantly to the delimitation of Turkey’s internal, regional and international identity.
The study analyzes the early beginnings of geopolitics in Turkey, where the military establishment is considered the first to introduce it as a scientific and rational concept in the context of defending the vision of the Turkish Republic founders as a Western entity geographical and cultural wise. The study also discusses the diversity in the Eurasian thinking that emerged and widely spread in Turkey after the end of the cold war. It argues that despite of the different political agendas and geographical definitions given to Eurasia, yet all its defenders admit that Turkish geography is an obstacle and an inciting factor in determining Turkish foreign policy.
In this context the study is divided as follows:
Firstly: the army and the Turkish geopolitics: extents of impact.
Secondly: Eurasianism and the geopolitical identity crisis in Turkey.
Thirdly: Eurasianism and nationalism: Turkish pragmatic approach to Eurasia.
Fourthly: Eurasianism and Kemalism: links with international Eurasianism.
Fifthly: Political impact of the conflict between supporters of European identity and Eurasianists.
Sixthly: Cultural Eurasianism.
The study is concluded by emphasizing the great role of geopolitical concepts, especially the geopolitical determinants of Turkish domestic and foreign policies. This inevitability presupposes the existence of a strong state regardless whether the source of power is military or civil. The study suggests that such powerful state would be one of the following three:
European state: defenders of such state argue since the establishment of the Turkish state that the European forces defeated the Ottoman Emperor, not because they have greater armies, but rather because they have greater civilization that lead to the existence of greater armies. Therefore Turkey must be western and have European identity.
Eurasianism: defenders of this trend introduce Turkish nationalism and economic interests as Turkish state pillars of power.
Civilizational Perspective: defenders of this trend argue that a greater role of Turkey requires focusing on geographical inevitability in some stances and getting over it in other stances to reach the desired aspirations. In this context, the study stresses that the determining element in any definition of the Turkish identity is the way decision makers employ geography. For it might be true that geography determines the future of conflicts, but at the same time, by adding a human dimension to it could turn it into a factor pushing towards non confronting alternatives1.
(1) The views are expressing of their authors, not necessarily reflect the Egyptian Institute for Studies