Neo-Ottomanism (Turkish: Yeni Osmanlıcılık) is an imperialist Turkish political ideology that, in its broadest sense, promotes greater political engagement of the Republic of Turkey within regions formerly under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor state that covered the territory of modern Turkey among others.[1][2][3][4][5]

The extent of the Ottoman Empire in 1699

The term has most recently been associated with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's interventionist and expansionist foreign policy in neighboring Cyprus, Greece, Iraq, Syria, as well as in Africa, including Libya, and Nagorno-Karabakh.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

However, the term has been rejected by members of the Erdoğan Government, such as the Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu[16] and Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop.[17]


One of the first uses of the term was in a Chatham House paper by David Barchard in 1985,[18] in which Barchard suggested that a "Neo-Ottoman option" might be a possible avenue for Turkey's future development. It seems also to have been used by the Greeks sometime after Turkey's invasion of Cyprus in 1974.[19]

In the 21st century, the term has come to signify a domestic trend in Turkish politics, where the revival of Ottoman traditions and culture has been accompanied by the rise of the Justice and Development Party (Turkish: Adalet ve Kalkınma Patisi, abbreviated AKP founded in 2001) which came to power in 2002. The use of the ideology by Justice and Development Party has mainly supported a greater influence of Ottoman culture in domestic social policy which has caused issues with the secular and republican credentials of modern Turkey.[20][21] The AKP have used slogans such as Osmanlı torunu ("descendant of the Ottomans") to refer to their supporters and also their former leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (who was elected President in 2014) during their election campaigns.[22] These domestic ideals have also seen a revival of neo-Ottomanism in the AKP's foreign policy. Besides acting as a clear distinction between them and ardent supporters of secularism, the social Ottomanism advocated by the AKP has served as a basis for their efforts to transform Turkey's existing parliamentary system into a presidential system, favouring a strong centralised leadership similar to that of the Ottoman era. Critics have thus accused Erdoğan of acting like an "Ottoman sultan".[23][24][25]


Neo-Ottomanism has been used to describe Turkish foreign policy under the Justice and Development Party which took power in 2002 under Erdoğan, who subsequently became Prime Minister. Neo-Ottomanism is a dramatic shift from the traditional Turkish foreign policy of the Kemalist ideology, which emphasized looking westward towards Europe. The shift away from this concept in Turkish foreign policy under Turgut Özal's government has been described as the first step towards neo-Ottomanism.[26]

Then-Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Hossam Zaki, Senior Advisor to the Foreign Minister of Egypt, at the Munich Security Conference in 2010

The Ottoman Empire was an influential global power which, at its peak, controlled the Balkans and most of the modern-day Middle East. Neo-Ottomanist foreign policy encourages increased engagement in these regions as part of Turkey's growing regional influence.[27] This foreign policy contributed to an improvement in Turkey's relations with its neighbors, particularly with Iraq, Iran and Syria. However Turkey's relations with Israel, once Turkey's ally, suffered, especially after the 2008–09 Gaza War[28] and the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid.[29]

Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkish foreign minister from 2009 to 2014 and "head architect" of the new foreign policy, has, however, rejected the term "neo-Ottomanism" to describe his country's new foreign policy.[30]

Turkey's new foreign policy started a debate, principally in the Western media, as to whether Turkey is undergoing an "axis shift"; in other words whether it is drifting away from the West and heading towards the Middle East and Asia.[31] Such fears appear more frequently in Western media when Turkish tensions with Israel rise.[31] Then-President Abdullah Gül dismissed claims that Turkey has shifted its foreign policy axis.[32]

Davutoğlu worked to define Turkey's new foreign policy on the principle of "zero problems with neighbours", as opposed to Neo-Ottomanism.[31] "Soft power" is regarded as particularly useful.[31]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Wastnidge, Edward (2 January 2019). "Imperial Grandeur and Selective Memory: Re-assessing Neo-Ottomanism in Turkish Foreign and Domestic Politics". Middle East Critique. 28 (1): 7–28. doi:10.1080/19436149.2018.1549232. ISSN 1943-6149.
  2. ^ Talmiz Ahmad (27 September 2020). "Erdogan's neo-Ottomanism a risky approach for Turkey". Arab News. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  3. ^ Allison Meakem (25 December 2020). "Turkey's Year of Living Dangerously". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  4. ^ Joseph Croitoru (9 May 2021). "Imperialist aspirations of Turkey - Ankara on course for expansion (Original: Imperialistische Bestrebungen der Türkei - Ankara auf Expansionskurs)". Die Tageszeitung (Taz). Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  5. ^ Branislav Stanicek (September 2020). "Turkey: Remodelling the eastern Mediterranean" (PDF). European Parliamentary Research Service. Retrieved 18 May 2021. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ Taşpınar, Ömer (1 August 2012). "Turkey's Strategic Vision and Syria". The Washington Quarterly. 35 (3): 127–140. doi:10.1080/0163660X.2012.706519. ISSN 0163-660X.
  7. ^ Antonopoulos, Paul (20 October 2017). "Turkey's interests in the Syrian war: from neo-Ottomanism to counterinsurgency". Global Affairs. 3 (4–5): 405–419. doi:10.1080/23340460.2018.1455061. ISSN 2334-0460.
  8. ^ Danforth, Nick. "Turkey's New Maps Are Reclaiming the Ottoman Empire". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  9. ^ Sahar, Sojla (2 September 2020). "Turkey's Neo-Ottomanism is knocking on the door". Modern Diplomacy. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Turkey's Dangerous New Exports: Pan-Islamist, Neo-Ottoman Visions and Regional Instability". Middle East Institute. 21 April 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2021.
  11. ^ Sinem Cengiz (7 May 2021). "Turkey's militarized foreign policy provokes Iraq". Arab News. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  12. ^ Asya Akca. "Neo-Ottomanism: Turkey's foreign policy approach to Africa". Center for Strategic and International Studies. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  13. ^ Michael Arizanti (10 October 2020). "Europe must wake up to Erdogan's neo-Ottoman ambition". CAPX. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  14. ^ Srdja Trifkovic. "TURKEY AS A REGIONAL POWER: NEO-OTTOMANISM IN ACTION". ReadCube. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  15. ^ Slaviša Milačić (23 October 2020). "The revival of neo-Ottomanism in Turkey". World Geostrategic Sights. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  16. ^ Raxhimi, Altin (26 April 2011). "Davutoglu: 'I'm Not a Neo-Ottoman'". Balkan Insight. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  17. ^ Rakipoglu, Zeynep (29 January 2021). "'Turkey determined to protect its rights': Official". Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  18. ^ David Barchard (1985). Turkey and the West. Royal Institute of International Moin Ali Khan Affairs. ISBN 0710206186.
  19. ^ Kemal H. Karpat, Studies on Ottoman Social and Political History: Selected Articles and Essays, BRILL, 2002, ISBN 978-90-04-12101-0, p. 524.
  20. ^ "İstanbul Barosu'ndan AKP'li vekile çok sert tepki". (in Turkish). Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  21. ^ "AKP'li vekil: Osmanlı'nın 90 yıllık reklam arası sona erdi". (in Turkish). Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  22. ^ "İslami Analiz". Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  23. ^ "AKP'nin Osmanlı sevdası ve... - Barış Yarkadaş". Archived from the original on 8 February 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  24. ^ "Yeniden Osmanlı hayalinin peşinden koşan AKP, felaketi yakaladı!." (in Turkish). Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  25. ^ "Kılıçdaroğlu: AKP çökmüş Osmanlıcılığı ambalajlıyor". T24 (in Turkish). Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  26. ^ Murinson, Alexander (December 2009). Turkey's Entente with Israel and Azerbaijan: State Identity and Security in the Middle East and Caucasus (Routledge Studies in Middle Eastern Politics). Routledge. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-415-77892-3.
  27. ^ Taspinar, Omer (September 2008). "Turkey's Middle East Policies: Between Neo-Ottomanism and Kemalism". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 5 June 2010.
  28. ^ Sarah Rainsford (16 January 2009). "Turkey rallies to Gaza's plight". BBC News. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  29. ^ "Turkey condemns Israel over deadly attack on Gaza aid flotilla". The Telegraph. United Kingdom. 31 May 2010. Retrieved 5 June 2010.
  30. ^ "I am not a neo-Ottoman, Davutoğlu says". Today's Zaman. Turkey. 25 November 2009. Archived from the original on 25 October 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  31. ^ a b c d Adem Palabıyık (29 June 2010). "Interpreting foreign policy correctly in the East-West perspective". Today's Zaman. Archived from the original on 3 July 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  32. ^ "Claims of axis shift stem from ignorance, bad intentions, says Gül". Today's Zaman. 15 June 2010. Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2012.

Further readingEdit