Turkish-Iranian relations in the 2000s: rapprochement or beyond?

Uzun, Özüm Sezin
For most of their histories, Turkey and Iran have had a friendly but competitive relationship in ideological and geopolitical venues. When this competition reached its peak in the 1990s, conventional wisdom foresaw prospects for cooperation between Turkey and Iran would gradually decrease. Instead, bilateral relations began to be enhanced in the early 2000s, which is commonly labeled as rapprochement. This rapprochement spread to the political, economic and security arenas, and has accelerated during AKP (Justice and Development Party) rule in Turkey, especially after the Iraqi War of 2003. However, the rapprochement process in bilateral relations lost its momentum in 2010. This thesis examines the reasons and extent of the rapprochement process in Turkish-Iranian relations in the first decade of 2000s, attempting to answer the following research questions: „How can the rapprochement process in bilateral relations be defined?‟ and „Is this rapprochement a structural or just a conjectural change?‟ In this respect, three issues, the Kurdish issue, the nuclear issue and economic relations, are analyzed. This thesis argues that Turkish-Iranian relations moved from fragile détente between 1998 and 2002, to sustainable rapprochement between 2003 and 2011, as a result of conjectural changes. However, moving from the existing sustainable rapprochement to durable partnership is less likely. On the contrary, returning to fragile détente is most likely, which includes the possibility of a return to conflictual relations, as in the 1990s, before the period of fragile détente.


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Citation Formats
Ö. S. Uzun, “Turkish-Iranian relations in the 2000s: rapprochement or beyond?,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2012.