Since the Ottoman Empire founded at the end of the 13th century, Turkey has always been an undisputed power. However, in recent years, due to various social and geopolitical factors, Turkey seems to have weakened.
Turkey, a weakened power
While Turkey is currently experiencing tensions with the European Union, the country has always distinguished itself by having an undeniable influence, especially during the heyday of the Ottoman Empire.
However, this Turkish influence is weakening more and more, especially with the European Union, which it has been striving to join since 1987.
Recently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed his disapproval about the remarks of French President Emmanuel Macron concerning the right to caricature, following the attack in France on 16 October.
The Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, announced that economic sanctions from the European Union are considered. France proposes particularly to abolish the customs union between the European Union and Turkey.
The weakening of Turkish power is felt, but this decline dates back to the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The Ottoman Empire reached its peak when Suleiman the Magnificent came to power in 1521. The Ottoman Empire was the most powerful state in the world from his accession to power until his death in 1566.
Nevertheless, after centuries of glory, the Ottoman Empire began to weaken when revolts and military uprisings began to emerge in the early 17th century. The empire endured a real decline at the end of the nineteenth century, when it decreased territorially.
The Balkan war broke out in 1912. The Balkan League, which demands its independence and wants to push back the Ottoman Empire, is made up of Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro. It has the support of Russia. The Ottoman Empire is unable to resist and is gradually dismantling.
Albania was the first country in the Balkans to rise up against the Ottoman Empire. The Albanian people fought for years with many rebellion movements against the Ottoman Empire. After a final revolt, Albania proclaimed its independence on 28 November 1912.
Since independence, Albania has had specific relations with Turkey.
Exclusive relations between Turkey and Albania
Turkey and Albania have always had special relations. During the post-Cold War period, geopolitical complexities and conflicts in the Western Balkans led Albania to seek protective power from Turkey, member of NATO since 1951.
During the 1990s, relations between Turkey and Albania were marked by a military cooperation agreement between the two countries, signed on 29 July 1992. This agreement provided for education and training of personnel, bilateral cooperation in arms production, joint military exercises, exchange of military delegations and joint commissions on future strengthening of military relations.
Albania joined NATO on April 1, 2009, after years of collaboration.
This accession was strongly supported by Turkey. Albania has quickly become a producer of security and a stabilizing vector even beyond its own borders. Following its accession to the Alliance, Albania is notably committed to promoting stability and peace in the Western Balkans to ensure the development of Europe : “At present, it [Albania] is considered a safe country in the region, where it plays a role for peace and stability,” says Amant Josifi, former advisor to the Albanian Minister of Defence, who has worked to promote his country’s action within NATO.
The emergence of Albania in the Western Balkans as a key NATO partner has contributed to stronger Albanian-Turkish relations.
Turkey has consistently supported Albania since the 1990s on issues related to the European Union, both countries aiming to join the EU as a common objective. While the European Union has agreed to open negotiations for Albania’s membership in March 2020, the prospect of Turkey’s next accession has faded in recent years.
A desire to reaffirm its power
Turkey intends to prove its power within Europe. In this regard, the country plans strong actions to assert itself.
Recently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took position on the division of the territory of Cyprus. Indeed, following the invasion of Turkish forces in 1974, the Mediterranean island is divided between the South (called the Greek part) and the North (the so-called Turkish part). The discovery of gas deposits off the Cypriot coast has, in particular, reignited tensions in this coveted area.
On November 15, the Turkish President, during a visit to northern Cyprus, called for the creation of two states on the island: “There are two peoples and two separate states in Cyprus. Talks are needed for a solution on the basis of two separate states,” he said in a speech in the capital. According to him, a reunification of the island in the form of a federal state is now impossible.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan also opposed the latest measures taken by France. Indeed, tensions between France and Turkey have been high lately. Following the attack in France on 16 October, President Emmanuel Macron spoke out in defence of the right to caricature in French territory. These comments were strongly condemned by the Turkish president, who called on the Turkish people to boycott French products.
Facing these tensions, the European Union has shown solidarity with France. The possibility of economic sanctions against Turkey is being discussed within the European Union.