The New Geopolitics of Eurasia and Turkey's Position
by Bülent Aras
London: Frank Cass Publishers, 2002. 110 pp. $24.50.
Reviewed by Zeyno Baran
The Nixon Center
Middle East Quarterly
The geopolitics of the Eurasian region and Turkish policy are important subjects, and this book would have made a good contribution had it been published in 1998. However, most of the data and analysis it contains now are severely outdated. In fact, most of the references date back to the mid-1990s, leaving the reader with a sense that The New Geopolitics of Eurasia and Turkey's Position took four years to publish. At this point, it is an interesting look at how a Turkish academic viewed the region in 1998, but the work falls short of providing any insights into the challenges presented to the region or Turkey following the September 11, 2001 attacks and developments henceforth.
The main contribution of this work to existing literature is its inclusion of Greek and Israeli policies towards Eurasia, albeit with Aras's own interpretation. In fact, in many parts of the book it is not clear whether Aras is giving his policy recommendations (and if so, who is the audience?) or describing "Turkey's position." Many of his recommendations and findings miss important subsequent developments. For example, his skepticism about a key oil pipeline from Azerbaijan's Baku to the Turkish port Ceyhan comes across in many places, and while he cautiously writes that the oil consortium "recently expressed tentative approval of the Baku-Ceyhan route," this project was sanctioned in 2003 and construction is half-way done.
In discussing the European Union (EU)'s relations with the Turkic republics, Aras argues the EU should work with Turkey as its gateway to this region, but he does not explain what contribution Turkey would make. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkey had tried to play an economic and political role in this region in the early 1990s but failed due to its own political challenges and economic problems. In the meantime, the EU and the United States have established direct, bilateral relations with these Eurasian countries and no longer have a need for Turkey, especially given that Turkey has no strategy for this region. His book would have been more interesting had Aras discussed why and where Turkish policy failed and how it could be improved.
Related Topics: Central Asia, Turkey and Turks | Zeyno Baran | Spring 2004 MEQ
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