The Evolution of Turkey’s ‘South Asia Policy’: Continuities and Ruptures in Outlook, Roles, Actors and Constraints

Aslan Ö.

Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs, vol.9, no.1, pp.122-149, 2022 (Refereed Journals of Other Institutions) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 9 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/23477970221076754
  • Title of Journal : Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs
  • Page Numbers: pp.122-149
  • Keywords: Afghanistan, Asia Anew, India, Pakistan, South Asia, Turkey


Turkey’s South Asia policy remains an underexplored area of research in Turkish foreign policy literature despite a rich history of Turkish activism in the region. While bringing to surface Turkey’s perception of South Asia, this article utilises insights from foreign policy analysis literature to make sense of international and domestic drivers behind Turkey’s South Asia policies during and after the Cold War. Using primary resources drawn from Turkish, American, Indian and Australian archives, memoirs by retired Turkish generals and diplomats, and interviews the author conducted with retired Turkish diplomats serving previously as ambassadors to New Delhi and Islamabad, the article argues that Turkey has felt most motivated to be involved in the region when encouraged by and had the ability to coordinate its policies with its western partners. I highlight Turkey’s mediation missions in inter- and intra-state disputes in the region, attempts to shift its South Asia policy and discuss Turkey’s approach to various hot conflicts within and between states in the region. I finally provide the place of South Asia in Turkey’s recent ‘Asia Anew Initiative’ and seek to explain an actor-based evolution of Turkey’s South Asia policy under the AKP governments over the last two decades.