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Turkish foreign policy in an emerging post-western international order: strategic autonomy versus new forms of dependence?

Kutlay, M. ORCID: 0000-0003-4942-1001 & Onis, Z. (2021). Turkish foreign policy in an emerging post-western international order: strategic autonomy versus new forms of dependence?. International Affairs, 97(4), pp. 1085-1104. doi: 10.1093/ia/iiab094


Turkish foreign policy has dramatically transformed over the last two decades. In the first decade of the Justice and Development Party's (AKP) rule, the ‘logic of interdependence’ constituted the driving motive of Turkish foreign policy. In the second decade, however, the ‘logic of interdependence’ and the soft power-driven ‘mediator–integrator’ role were gradually replaced with a quest for ‘strategic autonomy’, accompanied by interventionism, unilateralism and coercive diplomacy. This article explores the causes of this dramatic shift. We argue that ‘strategic autonomy’, which goes beyond a moderate level of status-seeking compatible with Turkey's material power credentials, has a double connotation in the Turkish context. First, it constitutes a framework for the Turkish ruling elite to align with the non-western great powers and balance the US-led hierarchical order. Second, and more importantly, it serves as a legitimating foreign policy discourse for the government to mobilize its electoral base at home, fragment opposition and accrue popular support. We conclude that the search for autonomy from its western allies and the move towards the Russia–China axis has led to Turkey's isolation and permitted the emergence of new forms of dependence.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Institute of International Affairs. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
SWORD Depositor:
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