Turkey’s Policies Towards Bosnia Wander Between Myth and Reality

A recently published academic article explains the nature of contemporary Bosnian-Turkish relations as a collision of myth and reality.
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An academic article recently written by FeniksPolitik’s Hamdi Firat Buyuk and Adnan Huskic from the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology engages in a deep discussion on the nature of relations between Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The article, entitled “Measuring Turkey’s contemporary influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina: myth and reality”, was published by the journal of Southeast European and Black Sea Studies and highlights that Turkey’s influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been debated in simultaneously positive and negative lights, often creating a contradiction between reality and discourse.

According to the authors, “[w]hen it comes to Turkey’s influence in Bosnia and the Balkans, myths and realities often conflict and are debated by public, academics and politicians”, ultimately being interpreted in two main ways.

“The first group who are close to Turkish and Bosniak ruling political elites exaggerates and glorifies Turkish influence and offers the country and its leader as regional hegemon especially in relation to the region’s Muslims.

“The second group who questions Turkey’s current role in the West, however, underestimates and harshly criticizes Turkey’s policies mostly due to Turkey’s new approach based on Islam and deteriorating relations with the West as well as its poor democratic record at home,” the article argues.

After providing a brief history of the two countries’ relations, the article aims to evaluate Turkish influence in Bosnia through interviews with academics, diplomats, decision makers, researchers, and journalists, among others.

The article explores five main areas – politics, economics, media, culture and education and religion –, expounding on obstacles and opportunities in order to paint a holistic picture of Bosnian-Turkish relations.

“The peak of Turkish influence in the Balkans coincided with its period of promising democracy, a flourishing economy and good relations with the EU and the West. According to the majority of interviewees, Turkey could become a reliable partner if it were to return to democratic values and its support for Bosnia and the Balkan countries in the field of Euro-Atlantic cooperation,” the article explains, highlighting the significant effect that Turkey’s authoritarian shift has had on Bosnian-Turkish relations.