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Abstract


Turkey’s Black Sea Vision and Its Dynamics
Following the decline of the Soviet Union, the Black Sea Region has increased in significance on the global agenda. Turkey, having historic ties and the longest coastline among littoral states in the region, has developed a regional discourse, as it has control of the Straits in the region in accordance with the Montreux Convention of 1936. It has started to pursue an active policy to create consciousness of regionalism in the region and to enhance cooperation among all littoral states in the fields of economy, politics, and security; and it has undertaken a leading role in initiating various formations in the region, such as Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), the Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group (BLACKSEAFOR), and Operation Black Sea Harmony (OBSH). While all these Turkish efforts in relation to the region have created some consciousness of regionalism, it has not been possible to regionalize the Black Sea Region thus far, for various reasons. These reasons can be summarized as follows: First of all, Turkish initiatives reflect the lack of regional conception, and in fact Turkey itself does not have a distinctive regional conception. On the other hand, the drivers of regionalism belong to various regional, political, and economic organizations, and they each have different priorities in their internal and external affairs. In other words, regionalism is mainly seen by littoral states in terms of cooperation with the West. Furthermore, Turkey has had to deal with its other security issues, such as terrorist threats, the Middle East context, and so on. And lastly, Russia, as a historic rival of Turkey and a dominant power in the region, exists in almost all regional initiatives. The existence of Russia mostly leads to rivalry rather than the promotion of regional cooperation in the Black Sea Region. This study begins with a brief definitional discussion of the concept of regionalism. The second part of the study bounds the Black Sea Region with its history to provide the background to Turkish regionalism in the region. Then, Turkey’s Black Sea vision is discussed, including its initiatives and bilateral relations with Russia. The study mainly points out the shortcomings of the Black Sea with regard to regionalism and the limitations of Turkey’s regional initiatives, and seeks answers to the questions “what is Turkey’s Black Sea vision?” and “which dynamics affect that vision?”

Keywords
Regionalism, Turkey’s Black Sea Vision, BSEC, BLACKSEAFOR, OBSH


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