Turkey’s Political Agenda in the Balkans: Erdogan’s Islamic Influence in Bosnia

As Turkey’s President Erdogan runs out of money, he is now, more than any time before, using religion to exploit the Balkans, especially the states that are more susceptible to Islamic influence. Bosnia is at the fore of Erdogan’s ambitious Islamic agenda, where he is sparing no political capital or financial resources, even under his current economic hardship, to assert his influence and distance the country away from the EU’s reach. Obviously, the Bosnians cannot survive simply on being devout Muslims, with the youth unemployment rate at almost 60 percent. Turkey is unlikely to economically recover anytime soon, and Erdogan’s promises to provide financial aid and investments will ring hollow in the face of his deepening financial crisis.

The war of words, hyperinflation, US sanctions, and reckless investments on borrowed money have steadily been chipping away at the value of the Turkish Lira. Five years ago, $1 was worth 2 lira; today, six liras are exchanged for a dollar, but that has not discouraged Bosnian leaders from seeking closer association with Erdogan.

Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosnian Muslim leader and the chairman of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, said last May (in front of thousands of Turkish expatriates and Bosnian supporters of Erdogan who travelled from all over Europe to Sarajevo) that

“God has sent [our] nations one person to return them to their religion… He is Recep Tayyip Erdogan. We remain standing with God’s help.”

The crowd cheered when a leader of diaspora Turks equated and idealized Sarajevo as “the Jerusalem at the heart of Europe”.

Bosnia was more than willing to open the door for the Turkish president to organize an election rally in Sarajevo, especially following the EU’s refusal to allow him to campaign in its member states. For Erdogan, the Balkans is the region that can put him in a position to realize his political goal of reviving some semblance of the Ottoman Empire while undermining the EU’s influence in these countries.

Bosnia consists of two entities: The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose population is made up of Muslim Bosnians and Catholic Croats; and Republika Srpska, where Orthodox Serbs are a majority. About half of Bosnia’s 3.8 million citizens are Muslims, many of whom consider Erdogan their trusted leader, if not their savior.

For more than a decade, Erdogan has invested heavily in spreading his influence among Balkan states, and Bosnia was and still is one of his main targets. He pledged a multi-billion dollar investment in a key motorway connecting Serbia and Bosnia. Turkey and Bosnia signed a letter of intent for the construction of a highway connecting the two Balkan capitals, a project estimated to cost $3.5 billion, which has not yet started because of lack of financial resources.

Meanwhile, the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA)—a vehicle through which Turkey spreads its Islamic agenda in the Balkans—has completed more than 800 small projects in Bosnia, mostly related to religious institutions.

European leaders have already been voicing concerns over Turkey’s influence in the Balkans. Only a few months ago, French President Emmanuel Macron declared

“I don’t want a Balkans that turns toward Turkey or Russia”.

During his May speech in Sarajevo, Erdogan urged supporters to actively participate in European politics to counter anti-Turkish sentiment.

“You need to be in those parliaments instead of the ones who betray our country,” he said, referring to European lawmakers with Turkish roots.

In a conversation with us, Orhan Hadzagic, a political analyst from Bosnia, said that Erdogan is adulated by Bosnians as more than just a foreign leader. He rhetorically asks,

“From Erdogan’s last visit to Bosnia, what was the benefit for Bosnian citizens from that rally, an event featuring the heads of two parties who support one other?”

Hadzagic is convinced that his country is risking its accession to the EU by opening its doors to Erdogan, from where he is challenging Brussels directly.

“Many NGOs”, he said, “are close to Turkey; they receive financial support to change the negative image and the perception about the rising authoritarian rule in Turkey, among Bosnians.”

Although a large majority of Bosnians do not see any alternative to the European Union, they are passionate in their support of Erdogan. In a poll conducted by the International Republican Institute and released in March of this year, 76 percent of Bosnians said they had positive views about Turkey’s role in their country.

For Erdogan, Bosnia occupies a special place and he will endeavor to maintain his image both as a religious leader and economic savior. That said,

“Erdogan’s list of priorities is growing, so Bosnia is inevitably descending on that list,” said Hadzagic, “which will reduce [Erdogan’s influence on] the state, NGO, and media organizations here in Bosnia. Consequently, it will lead to the reduction of Ankara’s influence.”

As such, Erdogan is increasing his focus on the local media outlets and non-governmental institutions in Bosnia by providing them with some financial aid to support his political agenda. But even that is becoming financially burdensome, making it more difficult to continue with his media campaign.

Sead Numanovic, a well-known journalist from Bosnia, told us that

“The EU and US are still (and I fear they will continue to be) very passive in the Balkans, this environment gives an additional space for Erdogan to work easily on his anti-Western agenda.”

This explains why Erdogan’s AK Party has recently opened an office in Sarajevo, its first official branch in the Balkans.

A spokesperson from the Turkish Embassy in Sarajevo told Foreign Policy that Turkey firmly supports the NATO and EU membership process of Bosnia and Herzegovina—“Turkey is not [in Bosnia] to seek influence, but to encourage political stability for the sake of the entire region.” There is nothing further from the truth.

Xhemal Ahmeti, a historian and expert on Southeast European issues, said that Bosnia’s Muslims currently are most loyal to the Turkish autocrat.

“Bosnian Muslims have lost their hopes that their Trinitarian state will become an EU member. That’s why they rely on Turkey to survive, given that they are sandwiched between Catholics, conservative Croats, and Orthodox jurisdictions”, said Ahmeti. “Paradoxically, though, while the Bosnians Muslims seek Erdogan’s protection from the Orthodox (Serbs and Russians), Erdogan’s close allies are Putin and [Serbia’s Prime Minister] Vucic.”

Bosnian leaders and citizens must realize that Erdogan is moving ever closer to Russia and Iran. The EU has already made it clear that since full adherence to its charter, especially regarding human rights, freedom, and democracy, are prerequisites to EU membership, Bosnia must not cozy up to Erdogan because he has flagrantly abandoned the EU’s founding principles, and the development of a full-fledged democracy in Bosnia does not serve his interest.

It is now up to the Bosnian leaders to determine their own destiny, which must inexorably be linked to full membership with the EU if they want to grow and prosper while embracing full democracy.

This does not suggest that they should sever relations with Turkey as a regional power, with which they will need to intensify the development of a mutually gainful relationship once Erdogan departs the political scene.

In the interim, they must be cautious in their dealings with Erdogan, who manipulates them by using Islam to pursue his sinister political agenda.


Originally published on 2018-09-14

About the author: Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Source: Global Research

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

READ MORE!
The Geopolitics of the Kosovo Battle (1389)
In 1389, the Turks wanted to magnificently celebrate the first hundred years of their Ottoman Empire, which had a Sultanate at the time. Their plan was to go to war, to conquer the Serbian Empire and defeat its Army in Kosovo, and to mark the anniversary in a glorious way. The Turks started from Anatolia and headed to the Balkan peninsula via Kosovo, Belgrade, then over Drina, upstream Sava river, then to the South towards the Adriatic sea and then, go back home via Zeta and Raška. They wanted to make their sultanate an intercontinental empire. The battle against the ...
READ MORE
Western Intelligence Operation “Kosovo Liberation Army” Harvested Serbs’ Organs – The EU’s inquiry
An inquiry by the EU has found “compelling indications” that ten Serb captives had their body organs harvested for illegal trafficking during the 1998-99 Kosovo war. However, it wasn’t widespread and there will be no trial, the lead investigator said. The chief prosecutor Clint Williamson, who led the investigation, said there was no evidence of widespread organ harvesting, but that the crime had occurred a number of times. “There are compelling indications that this practice did occur on a very limited scale and that a small number of individuals were killed for the purpose of extracting and trafficking their organs,” he told ...
READ MORE
Faith Attaguile, from Encinitas, yells chants with others on the corner of Broadway and Front Street , Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in downtown San Diego, during a protest in opposition of Donald Trump's presidential election victory. (Hayne Palmour IV/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP)
On April 7, two U.S. Navy battle ships USS Porter (DDG-78) and USS Ross launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at al-Shayrat military airfield in Syria’s Homs province from the Eastern Mediterranean. The U.S. strikes particularly targeted the main landing strip, aircraft, radio locators, air defense system and fuel stations. The strike was approved by U.S. President Donald Trump, who said that the Syrian Air Force used affiliated al-Shayrat air base to prepare chemical attack on the city of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib.  “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and ...
READ MORE
Genocidal Corporate Media
Genocidal corporate media presstitutes follow the all-too-familiar script of blaming the victim for the crimes perpetrated by aggressor nations. NATO terrorists, for example, are invading and occupying Syria, and the Syria government is blamed for the ensuing disasters, but the presstitutes omit this this from their narratives and instead find creative ways to blame the al Assad government whose duty it is to protect Syria, its sovereignty, and its territorial integrity. When terrorists are occupying cities, as they do in Syria, innocent people will always be victimized, including during government operations to clear out the terrorist infestations, but the presstitutes blame ...
READ MORE
Kosovo: An Evil Little War
Six Years Later, Kosovo Still Wrong In the early hours of March 24, 1999, NATO began the bombing of what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. For some reason, many in the targeted nation thought the name of the operation was “Merciful Angel.” In fact, the attack was code-named “Allied Force” – a cold, uninspired and perfectly descriptive moniker. For, however much NATO spokesmen and the cheerleading press spun, lied, and fabricated to show otherwise (unfortunately, with altogether too much success), there was nothing noble in NATO’s aims. It attacked Yugoslavia for the same reason then-Emperor Bill Clinton enjoyed a ...
READ MORE
Export of Kosovostan Jihad in the Middle East: The Christian Genocide in Syria
Many of us go through life searching for our purpose, for something that we are passionate about. After years of searching finally I stumbled upon mine a few years ago. Having the world hear Syrians telling their side of the story while living through this imposed war is what ignited that fire in me. As a Syrian American that was born in Syria and lived in both countries my entire life, I feel a strong link to my heritage, my birth country, my culture, my language, my customs, my nationality, and my history. We have been bombarded with lies and propaganda ...
READ MORE
From Cyprus to Syria: Turkey’s Continued Invasions
On January 20, the Turkish military began an invasion of the Kurdish-controlled Afrin region in northern Syria. Turkey’s government has declared that its operation aims “to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity,” remove “terrorist elements,” and protect civilians. The Independent, however, published the first Western media report from Afrin, and Robert Fisk reports that the list of dead includes infants. “One-year old Wael al-Hussein, a refugee…was killed on 21 January, six-year old Moussab al-Hussein from Idlib (clearly from another refugee family) on the same day,” he writes. Many journalists in Turkey, in the meanwhile, are rubbing their hands. Necati Doğru, a columnist with one ...
READ MORE
The U.S. Documentary Movie: “The Origin Of Islamic State”
Truth in Media, THE ORIGIN OF ISIS Ben Swann explores the origin of ISIS that has already been long forgotten by American media. Swann takes on the central issue of whether or not ISIS was created by “inaction” by the United States government or by “direct” action. Link to the movie: THE ORIGIN OF ISIS Originally posted by Posted by Ben Swann on Thursday, 19 March 2015. Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging ...
READ MORE
Bosnian Muslims Suppressed Their Dirty Nazi Legacy
The Bosnian Muslim Nazi SS Division Handzar, above in 1943, was made up of 18,000 Bosnian Muslims and 300 Albanian Muslims. Bosnian Muslims were not Nazi and fascist “collaborators”, but Nazis themselves. The Bosnian Muslim Government and Army of Alija Izetbegovic reformed and reconstituted the Bosnian Muslim Nazi SS Division Handzar from World War II. Contrary to the nonsensical screed of Croat Marko Attila Hoare, whose mother is Croatian Marxist and Ustasha apologist Branka Magas, and other Bosnian Muslim apologists and propagandists, there is overwhelming and abundant proof of the existence of a “Handzar Divizija” in the Bosnian Muslim Army. The existence of ...
READ MORE
From Kosovo to Crimea — Tales of Referendums
Following the death of President Tito in 1980 the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia slid towards chaos. In the 1990s the plunge accelerated into civil war and one of the regions most affected was Kosovo from which Serbia withdrew after a NATO bomb and rocket offensive from 24 March to 11 June 1999. That blitz involved over 1,000 mainly American aircraft conducting some 38,000 airstrikes on Yugoslavia that killed approximately 500 civilians and destroyed much of the economic and social infrastructure of the region. NATO said its air bombardment was essential to halt repression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and justified the ...
READ MORE
Waffen-SS Im Einsatz: Hitler’s Soviet Muslim Legions
During World War II, hundreds of thousands of foreign peoples joined with Hitler's legions to bring theirs people into special status in Hitler's New Order. Tens of thousands among them were Muslims, where the majority of them came from Soviet Union. Under the banner of the crescent and the swastika, these Soviet Muslims believe to become holy warriors to liberated theirs land. But the end of this unholy alliance was a disaster for them. The Pro-Nazi Soviet Muslims When the German Army invaded Soviet Russia on June 22, 1941 they saw many of their opponent inhabitants welcomed them as liberators. One ...
READ MORE
The Destabilization of Macedonia? Greater Albania and the Process of “Kosovization”
Introduction The last open armed conflict in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – FYROM (former Socialist Republic of Macedonia as one of six federal republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) in the May 2015 was just an expected continuation of constant tensions between the ethnic Albanians and the Macedonian Slavs during the last quarter of century.[i] However, these tensions are time to time transformed into the open armed conflicts of the Albanian extremists, usually coming from Kosovo, with the Macedonian security forces. The most notable conflict incidents in Macedonia after the Kosovo War in 1998−1999, when the Kosovo Albanians ...
READ MORE
Trump Bombs Syria and Obliterates His Anti-Interventionist Promises
On the evening of April 6 the U.S. military fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at an airbase in Syria. The bombing was a “response” to the alleged chemical weapons attack by the Assad government, which critics of the American deep state and the US imperial agenda have called a false flag attack. The U.S. assault, which was done without congressional approval, marks a complete reversal of Trump’s campaign trail anti-interventionist claims as well as his condemnation of previous US presidents’—Bush and Obama’s –military actions in countries like Syria and Iraq. As Think Progress reports, this action marks a “dramatic reversal from Trump’s position ...
READ MORE
The 1967 Obsession, Trump and Trivia
I arrived in Jerusalem last night and as always during the weeks between mid-May and mid-June the media is full of romanticized memories. Within these weeks are the two most siginicfant dates in modern Palestinian history: May 1948 when Palestine was conquered and renamed Israel, and June, 1967 when the Israeli army completed the conquest of Palestine by taking East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. For Palestinians these dates bring back bitter memories, but for Israelis the memories are sweet – those were the days when we were young and brave and innocent.  Vintage photos of soldiers at the newly conquered ...
READ MORE
The World According to ISIS
This article is excerpted from Fawaz A. Gerges’s forthcoming book, ISIS: A History. Although the spectacular surge of ISIS must be contextualized within the social and political circumstances that exist in Iraq and Syria and beyond, the group’s worldview and ideology should be taken equally seriously. Ideology is, after all, the superglue that binds Salafi-jihadists known as revolutionary religious activists or global jihadists of the ISIS variety to each other. The Salafi-jihadist movement emerged from an alliance between ultraconservative Saudi Salafism (or Wahhabism) and revolutionary Egyptian Islamism which was inspired by the Egyptian master theorist, Sayyid Qutb. The Afghan war against ...
READ MORE
Srebrenica 1992-95: Another Genocide over Serbian Population
In nineties, Srebrenica was the center of terrorist activities – « Jihad », the Muslim 28th Division under the command of Naser Oric Monster, with the participation of  mujahedeens  operated here, covered by UN and US forces. In 1993, The Embassy of Bosnia & Herzegovina, in Vienna, even issued the Bosnian passport to Osama bin Laden! Thus, Bin Laden became honored Bosnian citizen, under  blessings of the Bill Clinton administration. The US diplomacy is still supporting the pro-Muslims’ politics in the Balkans. Bil Laden was killed, but his mujaheedins can still freely work in Kosovo, Bosnia and Macedonia. How is that ...
READ MORE
Serbia: Parliamentary Elections for the NATO/EU’s Membership
Author’s note: a draft version of the article was originally written at the end of December 2015 and published in March 2016. This is the extended article’s version. On April 24th, 2016 Serbia faced three-level elections: for the national parliament, local municipalities and Vojvodina’s autonomous provincial administration. The elections did not cover Kosovo province as current Serbia’s pro-NATO/EU’s government already two years ago de facto recognized in its negotiations with the EU and Pristina’s government that this province is not any more an integral part of the legal and administrative system of the Republic of Serbia. Nevertheless, these elections were in ...
READ MORE
The Vatican’s Complicity in Genocide in Fascist Croatia: The Suppressed Chapter of Holocaust History
Fourteen years ago the U.S. Government de-classified the now famous “La Vista Report” of May 15, 1947, a top-secret U.S. Army Intelligence report documenting the Vatican’s role in aiding the escape of numerous high-ranking Nazi war criminals, among them Ante Pavelic, fascist leader of wartime Croatia; Franz Stangel, Commander of Treblinka; Eduard Roschmann, “the Butcher of Riga”; Klaus Barbie, “the Butcher of Lyon”; SS General Walter Rauff, inventor of the mobile gas truck; Adolf Eichmann, “architect of the Holocaust”; and tens of thousands of others. Writing about the document prior to its release, internationally renowned Nazi hunter Charles R. Allen ...
READ MORE
The Collapse of the European Union: Return to National Sovereignty and to Happy Europeans?
Imagine – the European Union were to collapse tomorrow – or any day soon for that matter. Europeans would dance in the streets. The EU has become a sheer pothole of fear and terror: Economic sanctions – punishment, mounting militarization, the abolition of civil rights for most Europeans. A group of unelected technocrats, representing 28 countries, many of them unfit to serve in their own countries’ political system, but connected well enough to get a plum job in Brussels – are deciding the future of Europe. In small groups and often in secret chambers they decide the future of Europe. Take ...
READ MORE
A Boomerang Policy: From Paris to Paris
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations. Save
READ MORE
The Geopolitics of the Kosovo Battle (1389)
Western Intelligence Operation “Kosovo Liberation Army” Harvested Serbs’ Organs – The EU’s inquiry
Chemical Attack in Idlib – Duplication of Scenario in Eastern Ghouta
Genocidal Corporate Media
Kosovo: An Evil Little War
Export of Kosovostan Jihad in the Middle East: The Christian Genocide in Syria
From Cyprus to Syria: Turkey’s Continued Invasions
The U.S. Documentary Movie: “The Origin Of Islamic State”
Bosnian Muslims Suppressed Their Dirty Nazi Legacy
From Kosovo to Crimea — Tales of Referendums
Waffen-SS Im Einsatz: Hitler’s Soviet Muslim Legions
The Destabilization of Macedonia? Greater Albania and the Process of “Kosovization”
Trump Bombs Syria and Obliterates His Anti-Interventionist Promises
The 1967 Obsession, Trump and Trivia
The World According to ISIS
Srebrenica 1992-95: Another Genocide over Serbian Population
Serbia: Parliamentary Elections for the NATO/EU’s Membership
The Vatican’s Complicity in Genocide in Fascist Croatia: The Suppressed Chapter of Holocaust History
The Collapse of the European Union: Return to National Sovereignty and to Happy Europeans?
A Boomerang Policy: From Paris to Paris
Policraticus

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu