For the modern foreign policy of Turkey, the Balkan Peninsula and the South Caucasus are priority regions. The basis of this policy is the ideology of neo-Ottomanism. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Thrace, historical and the geographical area on the Balkan Peninsula, which is currently divided between Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria, is “one flag, one people, one state”. Erdogan specified which part of the Balkans historically belongs to Turkey, in his opinion, this is part of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Western Thrace.
Ankara quite successfully returned to the Balkans, where it all happens with the connivance and even complicity of the Balkan countries. In some respects it is a repetition of already passed, the historical material. At the time, the Ottoman Empire was able to capture the Balkans only because of the fragmentation and help the Balkan countries. Greeks, Slavs and Albanians odds with each other and allowed the Ottomans to intervene in their affairs, opening for them the Balkans.
The head of the Turkish government also said that Turkey will continue to invest in Thrace, work in areas that are primarily related to the study of the Turkish language, culture and the maintenance of religious buildings. Erdogan’s statement provoked an angry reaction from Greek and Bulgarian politicians. The co-chairman of the Bulgarian National Salvation Front, Valery Simeonov, speaking at the Bulgarian radio Focus, compared the words of the Turkish Prime Minister with the territorial claims of Hitler's Germany to neighboring countries and called Erdogan’s statement “a manifestation of extremism”. The Foreign Ministry of Bulgaria stated that the statement of the Turkish Prime Minister “does not contribute to the development of bilateral dialogue” aimed at solving contentious issues.
Greek Foreign Minister said that to ensure good-neighborly relations between Greece and Turkey, Ankara should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all its neighbors. Historical and geographical tour, especially for a region with a strong historical load as the Balkans, should be used with caution. Athens could with his hand to give a lot of their own historical data to refute the Turkish identity of Thrace, noted in Greece.
Ankara went on the offensive in the Balkans a decade ago, when its hopes for a “peaceful conquest” of Europe (joining the European Union) were buried by the firm position of Germany, which wants to remain the only EU leader. It should also be noted such a geopolitical aspect of the problem as the division of spheres of influence in the Balkans between the United States, the EU, Turkey and a number of Arab countries. The Balkans are a special region of Europe, it is part of the Slavic and Christian world that preserves its identity. Naturally, this does not suit the owners of Western civilization. The Balkans are trying to crush and swallow. And this process is developing quite successfully. The Balkan countries became the sphere of influence of Western and Islamic projects. The remnants of the former Russian influence in the region are successfully squeezed out.
Under the concept of neo-Ottomanism, Turkey is trying to dominate the Balkans, as well as in the Arab countries that were part of the Ottoman Empire, in the Caucasus and in Central Asia. True, the Arab direction as a whole failed. Ankara was defeated in Egypt, and in Syria, the Turks did not dare to move to more active actions, limiting themselves to supporting gangs. The offensive of neo-Ottomanism in the Balkans goes in several main directions:
- political and diplomatic, when bilateral relations are actively developing, personal contacts are established with representatives of local elites. The policy of Ankara became particularly active since 2009, when the Foreign Ministry was headed by one of the proponents of the concept of neo-Ottomanism Ahmet Davutoglu. Balkan countries are tightly included in the schedule of foreign policy visits of the first persons of Turkey - Prime Minister R. Erdogan, President A. Gul, Foreign Minister A. Davutoglu, as well as high-ranking politicians, deputies and the military. Turkey abolished or facilitated the visa regime with a number of countries in the Balkan region - Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. In addition, Turkey is actively trying to engage in resolving conflict situations in the region, to become a mediator. Thus, Ankara successfully joined the peace negotiation process between Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the same time, Ankara assumed the role of mediator between the European Union and the countries of the Balkan region. Turkey is a conductor of European integration and closer integration of the Balkan states into the structures of the EU and NATO. Local politicians are actively involved in various integration programs. On the most important issues, such as the transit of goods to Europe through the Balkans, energy cooperation, the joint development of natural resources and minerals, are created supranational structures.
It must also be said that in the future it is possible to strengthen the military aspect of the Balkan policy of Ankara. Turkey has already participated in common operations with NATO in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, supported Bosnian Muslims, Kosovo Albanians, and became one of the first countries to recognize Kosovo's independence. Turkey actively involves the states of the region in the military programs of the North Atlantic alliance. In particular, we are working on a common strategy for action in the region. The local armed forces are reorganized according to NATO standards with the help of Turkish advisers. Simultaneously, Turkish military schools are conducting courses on studying Serbian, Croatian and Albanian languages. Military ties with Albania are especially intensively developing, which became a member of NATO in 2009;
- economic, within the framework of which trade and economic cooperation is developing, real estate is being bought, Turkish firms are awarded contracts for the construction of strategic facilities in the region. Turkish goods quickly mastered the region, and the balance of foreign trade is in favor of Turkey;
- cultural-religious, scientific-educational. Turkey finances religious movements, including radical, mosque construction. Ankara stands for the "revival" of Islam in the region. The massive construction of mosques in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Serbian region of Raska (Sanjak), is being funded, where a new Muslim enclave is being formed at an accelerated pace. In this process, along with Turkey, the Saudis are actively working.
At the same time, scientific and analytical, cultural organizations are being created to study the past and future of the Balkans - like the Balkan Institute of Turkological Studies in Prizren. Discussion platforms for expert exchange of views are organized on an ongoing basis. So, the International Balkan Congress annually works. A lot of attention is paid to cooperation in science and education, medicine, charity. General history textbooks are being created with Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina. A network of joint universities and schools is being created, students and scientific and pedagogical personnel are being exchanged. Turks finance the creation of international schools and universities, introduce Western education standards. Thus, the integration of local youth in the Western structure of education. It is also important that graduates of joint educational institutions become agents of Turkish influence in the region. They actively cooperate with Turkish business, which leads to their rapid career growth. Gradually, these people enter the business elite, participate in the social and political process. In fact, this is the process of creating the “fifth column” in the Balkan countries.
In themselves, certain elements of the Neo-Ottoman policy and the penetration of the Islamic project in the Balkans do not seem dangerous and are even useful for the economy and the cultural and educational sphere of the region. Young people receive education, enterprises, schools, cultural and religious facilities are being built, infrastructure of the Balkan states is developing. However, in general, all this means the final defeat of Christianity and Slavdom (with the inclusion of the role of Russia) in the region in the long term. Western and Islamic projects are actively colonizing the Balkans, rebuilding them for their own needs.
Turkey’s main partners in the region are Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Romania. An important factor in the involvement of Turkey in their affairs was the presence of conflicts with its neighbors: Albania has a conflict with Greece (because of disputed offshore zones), Kosovo has Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina has Serbia and Croatia, Macedonian statehood is disputed by Greece and Bulgaria, Romania claims Moldova, and therefore Transnistria (there are claims against Ukraine). In addition, these states have a significant proportion of the Muslim population and areas with a population consisting of ethnic Turks.
Secondary partners are Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro. In geopolitical terms, Croatia will be more inclined towards Germany. Serbia and Montenegro are historical opponents, therefore relations with them are contradictory. Many Serbs and Montenegrins are suspicious of Turkish expansion. There is a fear that Sandjak (Raška) will become the new Kosovo. Turkey is actively trying to gain a foothold in these states. Thus, in 2011, a trade and economic center was established in the southern Serbia in Sandzak with residential and administrative quarters, as well as with a free trade zone with a total value of 1,6 billion euros (Turkey allocated 85% of funds, and Serbia) 15%. Also in Sandzak for Turkish money built a highway. The head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry Davutoglu has openly proposed "mediation in resolving the problems of Sandzak." In 2012, the Serbian authorities demonstrated a course for special relations with Turkey and Arab countries.
The main opponents of Turkey in the region are Bulgaria and Greece. These are the most integral states in the Balkans. They have strong anti-Turkish sentiments, and the attacks of the Bulgarian and Greek media on Turkey continue unabated. In 2009, Bulgaria opposed Turkey’s accession to the European Union. Turkish-Greek disputes are tied to the ownership of the islands in the Aegean Sea and the conflict over the problem of Cyprus, divided into Greek and Turkish parts. In addition, in Greece, despite the incompatibility of resources and potentials, the idea of continuing to push Turkey further into Asia, with the restoration of the Byzantine heritage centered on Constantinople, was common. True, given the current deplorable state of the Greek economy, this idea is practically not remembered.
However, Greece and Bulgaria do not have the potential of Turkey, their economies are in a deep decline, so they are also gradually sagging under the pressure of Turkish expansion. The symbol of this defeat is the message about the construction of the first mosque on an area of approximately 600 square meters in Athens. In the Greek capital, there was no official mosque for Muslims since Greece conquered freedom from the yoke of the Ottomans in the 19th century. And during a recent visit to Bulgaria of the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag, Sofia gave permission to Ankara to take care of "hundreds of Muslim cultural monuments" in the country. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are actively developing in Bulgaria programs of religious education for both Bulgarian Muslims (“Pomaks”) and Bulgarian Gypsies, who, in their opinion, also have Muslim roots.
It’s a matter of time when the Balkans will once again become a “Turkish patrimony”. Fragmented, at war with each other, with a weak economy and degraded armed forces, the Balkan states cannot oppose anything to the expansion of the Islamic project, neoosmanism. Moreover, the offensive of Turkey is supported by the West. The de-Christianization and deslavianization of the region fully fit into the plans of the owners of the Western world.
However, the Turkish experience is very interesting for Russia. In the context of historical and religious hostility of the majority population in the Balkans, less financial and material resources (in comparison with Russia), the Turks were able to quite quickly regain its influence in the region, to consolidate its presence in politics, economy and culture, subordinate actions of their business and the public, religious organizations with a single purpose. Turkey has not complained about the lack of love for them in the Balkans, and acted.
Azerbaijan and Turkey to expand military cooperation
Turkey continues to strengthen its position in the South Caucasus. December 20 ended the two-day Azerbaijan-Turkey military dialogue that took place in Baku. The military dialogue between the two countries is held once a year, starting with the 2007 year. It discusses cooperation between the two countries in the military and military-technical fields, as well as in the field of personnel training. The Turkish delegation, which included representatives of the General Staff, the Ministry of National Defense and other structures, was headed by Colonel-General Alparslan Erdogan, head of the Planning Directorate and Principles of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces.
Currently, military cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan is actively developing in such areas as the military-industrial complex of Azerbaijan, the joint production of rocket and space technologies, military exports, military intelligence, military education and joint maneuvers. Turkey, as well as Russia and Israel, is one of the leading suppliers weapons for the military department of Azerbaijan.
16 August 2010 Turkey and Azerbaijan signed an agreement on strategic cooperation and mutual assistance. According to a number of experts, the military dialogue between Ankara and Baku may lead to the signing of a document similar to the collective security agreement concluded in 1992. And this will lead to a serious change in the balance of power in the region.