Neo Ottomanism, Historical Legacies and Turkish Foreign Policy

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This paper explores the sources of and patterns associated with a growing propensity on the part of some Turks to ‘confront the past.’ It suggests that in so doing, they are seeking to rewrite national identity, and by extension, foreign policy. Broadly, they challenge three aspects of the national project as it was conceived in the 1920s—the unitary pillar of national identity, the strict interpretation of secularism, and the paradoxically Western yet anti-Western anchor of identity and policy. When challengers’ agendas converge they may form ad hoc coalitions, as appears to be the case with liberal and moderate Islamists’ readings of the Armenian question and neo-Ottomanism. That said, the former seem more concerned with the genocide debate, while the later see rapprochement with Armenia as part and parcel of a broader strategy of consolidating Turkey’s position as a regional power.