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Is Turkey on course of foreign policy shift with pan-Turkist flavor?

Ankara appears to be mulling a US-friendly foreign policy revision to counter Iran and Russia in the Caucasus and Black Sea regions, but such a shift will not be without geopolitical risks elsewhere.

In a rather unusual post on its website last week, Turkey’s Defense Ministry published footage and pictures from a meeting the country’s defense and foreign ministers had with representatives of two Turkic minorities — the Ahiska Turks and the Gagauzes — during their visit to Ukraine. Holding meetings with Turkic minorities abroad and publicizing them is hardly commonplace for Turkish defense ministers, as long-time Ankara watchers would know. Such contacts have been the duty primarily of the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities, a branch of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, within the scope of soft power projection rather than defense and security.

Ankara’s interest in its ethnic kin abroad has markedly perked since the flare-up of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in late September. Turkey’s military assistance to Azerbaijan, with which it has close political and ethnic bonds, helped the Azeri army reclaim some of the territories that Armenian forces had occupied since the early 1990s. In Turkey, the six-week war shifted public attention to the South Caucasus from the Middle East, where Turkish military operations in Syria and Libya had dominated the country’s foreign agenda in the past several years. 

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