Assessing Turkey’s Blue Homeland Geostrategic Concept
Sine Özkaraşahin, Researcher
- Between February 27 and March 8, 2019, Turkey carried out a series of naval drills under the operational name ‘Mavi Vatan / the Blue Homeland’. More than 100 pieces of platforms participated in the exercise, marking Turkey’s first synchronized ‘sparring’ in its entire surrounding waters. Yet, the Blue Homeland is, by all means, more than a military designation for a large-scale drill. Seemingly, it looms large as Turkey’s new compass in the high-seas, an ambitious one with rewarding opportunities and hard to tackle challenges at the same time.
What is the Blue Homeland?
- The Blue Homeland, an aspirant geostrategic concept developed by Ankara, refers to extending Turkey’s political-military grip towards surrounding waters and high-seas around the Anatolian Peninsula. Specifically, it aims projecting Turkey’s national capacity through its overseas areas of strategic interest. Inevitably, such a concept comes into focus with maritime delineation disputes across the spectrum which recently surfaced with the hydrocarbon bonanza in the Mediterranean.
- At present, ‘the Blue Homeland’ remains one of the primary political-military pillars that dominate the Turkish naval warfare agenda as well as Turkey’s expeditionary ambitions. As the Blue Homeland unfolds, the Turkish Navy has expanded its role and has already transformed into an active player in energy geopolitics competition.
Naval Modernization Trends and Turkey’s Blue-Water Navy in the Making
- Due to its pivotal significance in the Blue Homeland, Ankara strives to equip the Turkish Navy with new capabilities and sophisticated equipment. Air-independent propulsion submarines, advanced unmanned naval aviation systems for conducting anti-submarine warfare tasks, electronic & signals intelligence vessels, anti-air warfare frigates, and an amphibious assault vessel – which can be followed by her sister combatants in kind –, TCG Anadolu, are critical examples in this regard.
- Should everything goes according to the Erdogan administration’s plans, Turkey’s Blue Water Navy can make a significant gunboat diplomacy asset within the 2020s. Current efforts for establishing a naval base in Misrata is another trend to monitor in this respect.
- Yet, Turkey’s shrinking economy in the age of Coronavirus Pandemic is likely to drag the nation’s defense economics into a downtrend. Besides, Turkey’s expeditionary military posture faces the risk of being overstretched in multiple-front wars ranging from the Levant to North Africa. These factors, together, pose grave challenges to the success of Turkey’s Blue Homeland concept and its strategic naval transformation aspect.
 Daily Sabah, “Modernized navy adds further muscle to Turkey’s aspiration to protect national interests”. February 9, 2020. Accessed on 1 September 2020 at https://www.dailysabah.com/business/2020/02/09/expanded-modernized-navy-adds-further-muscle-to-turkeys-aspiration-to-pursue-protect-national-interests-on-high-seas
 Anadolu Agency, “The Blue Homeland: Turkey’s largest naval drill”, February 27, 2019. Accessed on 1 September 2020 at https://www.aa.com.tr/en/analysis/-the-blue-homeland-turkey-s-largest-naval-drill/1404267
 Uzgel, Ilhan, “The Blue Homeland and Turkey’s new forward defence doctrine”, June 25 2020. Accessed on 1 September 2020 at https://www.duvarenglish.com/columns/2020/06/25/the-blue-homeland-and-turkeys-new-forward-defence-doctrine/
 Anadolu Agency, “The Blue Homeland: Turkey’s largest naval drill”, 27 February 2019. Accessed on 1 September 2020 at https://www.aa.com.tr/en/analysis/-the-blue-homeland-turkey-s-largest-naval-drill/1404267