Ilgar Mamedov, Candidate of Historical Sciences
Institute of Slavic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences

Moscow, Russian Federation



Vol. XXXVIII, 1/2020, pp. 185–202



The Balkans and Turkey retained close links. Turks and Muslims reside in the Balkans and many Turks are of Balkan origin. With the start of the Kosovo crisis in 1998 the Turkish Albanians wanted to lobby for their brethren. Turkey, however, was very cautious, pursuing a policy of noninterference and calling for diplomacy. There were several factors at play. The local Turks were under oppression by the Kosovo Albanians. Kosovo was a part of Yugoslavia, a country where Turks were treated fairly well and with which Turkey had good relations, considering it as a balance against Greece. In the course of 1998-1999, certain developments affected Turkish policy. The EU’s refusal to consider Turkey’s candidacy in 1998, the European defense and security identity of 1999 that might have isolated Turkey in the Western community, the wish to outmaneuver Greece, which did not participate in the NATO operations, the 1999 local elections, which presented an opportunity to express support for kin communities in Kosovo, were the factors which forced Turkey to join the NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia, which turned out to be the only Western club Turkey was a part of and it desired to reinforce its status there. Participation in the air campaign was a reluctant step, done under compulsion, and did not fulfill the basic interests of Turkey. Turkey’s regional interests in the Balkans were in contradiction with its membership in NATO and the interests of the Western camp. That was, as we termed it, “Turkey’s Balkan dilemma”.


KEYWORDS: Aggression, Albania, Balkans, Turkey’s Balkan Dilemma, Bombing, Kosovo, NATO, Turkey, Yugoslavia



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