Turkish Foreign Policy in Central Asia in the Era of Erdoğan: The Convergence of Pan-Turkism, Pragmatism, and Islamism

Number: 64
Mohammed Alrmizan

The study explores the evolution of Turkish foreign policy toward Central Asia over the past three decades. It shows how Avrasyacılık (Eurasianism) and pan-Turkism initially informed Turkish state approaches to the region following the independence of the Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan in the early 1990s. In the era of Erdoğan, Turkey first adopted pragmatism in the 2000s, but later underwent a course-correction in the 2010s that emphasized the development of political and military relations. As Turkey is not alone in Central Asia, the study also considers how its evolving footprint in the region was impacted by external actors, including Russia, China, and the Gulf, among others. Despite this competition, the study argues that Turkey enjoys cultural and religious advantages, as well as deep-rooted political and institutional arrangements with Central Asian states, that ensures it an enduring presence there.