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Hale, William (1998) 'Turkey and Transcaucasia.' In: Menashri, David, (ed.), Central Asia Meets the Middle East. London: Frank Cass, pp. 150-67.

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Abstract

Soon after the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the USSR, Turkey's potential role in the transformed environment of Central Asia, Transcaucasia and the Balkans began to attract the attention of Western journalists, diplomats and scholars. Turkey, it was often pointed out, was the strongest state in the region, it had a fast-growing market economy and a reasonably stable and democratic political system. It was also a long-standing ally of the West. Moreover, Turkish interests, particularly in the predominantly Muslim republics of the former USSR, converged with those of the Western powers, in that both sought to promote political and economic liberalization, to pre­ sent a more moderate form of Islam, and to prevent the incursion of fundamentalist Islam, assumed to be sponsored by Iran. As a Muslim nation, with strong linguistic and other cultural links with most of the peoples of the region, Turkey, it was further argued, could serve as their bridge to the West, and a successful example of what it was hoped the new republics would become. 1 Three years later, the optimism has faded. Most of the ex-Soviet republics have made few advances towards stable democratic politics or expanding market economies - in fact, in many cases, the movement has been backwards rather than forwards. Several of them are faced with continuing interstate wars, or debilitating civil strife. Transcaucasia stands out as an acute example of this saga of wasted opportunities. The economies of all three states in the region have steadily deteriorated, even since the disintegration of the USSR. Georgia is still wracked by internal conflict, the war between Azerbaijan and the Armenians has dragged on, and Azerbaijan's first democratically elected president has been overthrown by a virtual coup d'etat which was probably supported by revisionists in Moscow. The Turks have been very active in attempting to expand their economic and cultural role but, like the other nations involved there, they have not yet been able to make much impact on a generally depressing and chaotic situation.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Politics and International Studies
ISBN: 9780714641294
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315037493-12
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2007 13:38
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/2890

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