Geographically, it not only sits between West and East, but the Anatolian landmass and adjoining seas link together North Africa, southern Europe, Greece and the Balkans, Russia, the Caucasus, and the Middle East. Through a common language, Turks are tied to perhaps 100 million Turkic speakers outside Turkey, in an area that stretches from the Caucasus to China. And the potential – though contested – for Turkey to serve as a conduit for natural gas from the Caspian Sea and the Middle East heading toward Europe further enhances the country’s strategic significance.

• Research in this theme will explore Turkey’s international relations from both contemporary and historical perspectives. What was the role of the Ottoman Empire in the formation of the modern states-system? In what ways do geopolitics and “geoeconomics” constrain and enable Turkey’s ability to conduct an effective and independent foreign policy?


Isa Blumi researches societies in the throes of social, economic, and political transformation. His latest work covers the late Ottoman period and successor regimes, arguing that these events are part of process that interlinks the Balkans, the Middle East, and the larger Islamic world.

Michael Sahlin is a former Swedish ambassador to Turkey and focuses on Turkey's domestic and foreign affairs and Turkey as a US/NATO partner in the Middle East.