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Turkish Identity and Foreign Policy in Flux : The Rise of Neo-Ottomaism

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 341
Imad Mansour

1Turkish Identity and Foreign Policy in Flux The Rise of NeoOttomanismModern Turkish identity is contested the belief that its a range between being Western or Islamically oriented others saying its a country torn apart incorporating aspects of both civilizations Most discussions fail to recognize the impact of OttomanIslamic sources on Turkish NationhoodThe expansion of higher education mass media and communications and the development of a very substantial bourgeoisie have played a critical role in the new public emergence of an Islamic identity at the highest levels of the Turkish stateArticle seeks to deconstruct the assumed causal relationship between identity and interest by arguing that the interactions between the local and the global are context specific and reciprocalIdentity and National InterestIdentity is a frame of reference within which the social and political environment is both recognizable and discernible National Interests can be defined as those concerns and commitments derived from the cognitive map of identity by political and cultural elites to protect and promote a national self in relation to perceived others Identities do not directly mould interest but rather help to determine the content of national interest and the underlying concept of the politicalThe recognition by Turkey of Russia in the guise of the Soviet Union as the significant other reinforced the postwar Turkish elites desire to become a part of the West and facilitated Turkeys integration into NATOIn recent years OttomanIslamic origins of Turkish nationhood in particular have become more assertive and effective in conditioning and shaping the states policies and the societys perception of selfThe main catalysts behind the formulation of the current discourse of neoOttomanism have been two major interrelated developmentsDomestic societal transformations that created alternative discursive spaces for critical thinking within the emergence of a new liberal political and economic milieuMajor international developments such as the gradual collapse of the bipolar system the Cyprus crisis the EUs refusal to accept Turkey as a full member European indifference to the ethniccleansing in Bosnia and Kurdish ethnonationalism in southeastern TurkeyNeoOttomanism Search for an Economic and Cultural SpaceNeoOttomanism has two faces one looks back to an invented OttomanIslamic past as a Turkmade epoch The other looks forward to a vision of a regionally dominant industrialized but not necessarily civic and democratic TurkeyNeoOttomanism has a powerful ethnic Turkish amplitude by positioning Turkey at the center of a new imperial project to lead the Muslim world This ethnoreligious neoOttomanism is distinct from the Ottomanism that officially was promoted by the Ottoman stateNeoOttomanism is a worldview that is constructed on the basis of a selective reading of Ottoman administrative practices as pluralisticNeoOttomanists hope to construct a new Turkey where loyalty is determined not by any exclusivist form of racial and linguistic characteristics but rather by a shared Ottoman historical experience and a broad and diffuse attachment to IslamRecent traumatic events on Turkeys historic periphery and sweeping changes in the international system have had a direct impact on the identity debate and this has come to be reflected in Turkeys FPTurkeys national identity has several layers of orientation Turkic Islamic Balkan and CaucasianNational Identity Formation in Republican TurkeyThe Republican elite and institutions in a radical attempt to overthrow the past officially declared national identity and the framing of national interest to be European The Republican elite sought to restructure society to meet international standardsDuring the Kemalist Period 19221950 two versions of nationalism actually competed secular linguistic nationalism and ethnoreligious nationalism
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