Journal of International Relations, European, Economic and Social Studies
F. Central Asia Central Asia is a vast geographical area that encompasses the territories of Kazakhstan (a country as vast as one quarter of the entire European continent with an area of 2.5 million square kilometres), Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Among other reasons, these countries are important because they are in transition from the communist era to the postSoviet era, because they are rich in mineral or hydrocarbon reserves, they are unstable, or because they are located in areas where the interests of major world powers clash. Turkish presence in this region is either within the framework of cultural cooperation, such as in the case of the “Union of Turkic Republics,” within the framework of economic organizations such as ECO (Economic Cooperation Organization, an organization which includes Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as the aforementioned five central Asian countries), within the Islamic Conference Organization, or because some Turkish businessmen are strongly entrenched in the economic life of several countries of the region. Turkey is in a better position to understand the mentality of the peoples of these countries and to communicate with them because of cultural and linguistic affinities.
III – Turkey’s multiple identities Is Turkey is a Middle Eastern or a Balkan country? This question implies that a country may have only one single regional, cultural or political identity, whereas it may have more than that. In fact Turkey has several identities. It is a Middle Eastern country; it is a Balkan country; it is a Caucasian country. Its ancestors have come from Central Asia, and it has strong ties with Central Asia. It is part and parcel of the Islamic world (the Secretary General of the Islamic Conference Organisation is a Turk.) It is a major Black Sea country; it is Mediterranean country. It took a decisive part in the shaping of the history of Europe, sometimes being in military conflict with various European countries, sometimes as the friend of one or other European country seeking alliance with the Ottomans against another European country. It is a country currently negotiating with the European Union for full membership. It is a secular country with a predominantly Muslim population, Turkey on the European doorstep
Published on Feb 16, 2012
A Publication based on the International Conference organised at the European Parliament/Brussels by Dr. ELENI THEOCHAROUS, Member of the Eu...