Liridon Lika is assistant and PhD Candidate at the Center for International Relations Studies (CEFIR) of the Department of Political Science of the University of Liège (ULg). He obtained a master's degree in Political Science: International Relations at ULg, and an advanced master's degree in Interdisciplinary Analysis of European integration at the Institute for European Studies of the Free University of Brussels. It carries a doctoral thesis on 'L'Union européenne face à la projection turque dans les Balkans occidentaux : défi ou opportunité ?' under the direction of Professor Sebastian Santander. His research focuses on the Western Balkans, the external action of the EU and Turkish foreign policy. In 2012, he won the special mention of the Euro-Atlantic Award of Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs for the master thesis on international consolidation of the independence of Kosovo, defended in 2011 under the direction of Professor Sebastian Santander.
Abstract: In the new Turkish foreign policy, besides the great interests in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Middle East and Africa, the Western Balkans are also important. Turkey is making great efforts to play a greater role on the international scene and creates its area of interest, especially where the links of Ottoman legacy can help. Although it is defined as a peaceful power in the region, some describe it as neo-ottoman, a term rejected by the Turkish authorities because of its possible soft imperialist connotation. Indeed, European prevarications about its accession to the European Union (EU) reinforce the belief of Ankara to open up towards other parts of the world. Through the diplomatic initiative, mediation, privatization of strategic sectors and cultural exchange, Turkey has emerged as a real player, making the Western Balkans the only region where the principle of "zero problems with neighbors" gives the most tangible results. However, the new Turkish influence also found some limitations concerning the fact that people living in the Western Balkans have not erased the days of Ottoman rule from their memory. Moreover, despite cooperation between Ankara and Brussels in areas such as peacekeeping or conflict mediation, the EU, which continues to maintain its leading authority in this close area, seems challenged somewhat by the assertive presence of Turkey. This paper aims precisely to study the return of Turkey to the Western Balkans. Our central question is: is the Turkish projection in the Western Balkans a challenge or an opportunity for the EU?
Keywords: Cooperation, Competition, Emerging Power, European Union, Rivality, Turkey, Western Balkans.