A geopolitical and geo-economic inventory of Turkey's assets in the middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century reveals such strengths, beyond its military capa-bilities and other state institutions, as industry, population, and, above all, geographic lo-cation. These are foremost among the instruments of the country’s national power that may be mobilized or put to the projection of national power and defense of national inter-est. The territory of the Turkish Republic, in comparison with that of its neighbors, does not hold vast quantities of energy resources (with the exception of coal). However, the country’s well-known geographic situation as a crossroads of continents makes it espe-cially well suited to pursue a policy as a facilitator of energy transport. This strategic di-mension of Turkey's new geopolitical environment provides unique opportunities for en-gagement in response to new policy challenges. It should become a central, indeed defin-ing feature of Turkish diplomacy in years to come.
The key issue identified in this essay, relating to the changes in Turkey's neighborhood and how Turkey might respond to them, is therefore energy security, both national and international. The “change in Turkey's neighborhood” (to adopt the lan-guage of the Call) that make this issue especially salient for Turkey is the increased sig-nificance of Eurasian energy resources towards the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, when world energy demand is growing faster than expected and prices have risen as a reflection of tighter supplies. This change holds implications for the whole of Turkey's immediate as well as extended neighborhood. It has already affected and will only affect more deeply Turkey's relations with the European Union, Russia, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Middle Eastern neighbors, and Central Asia, as well as Turkey's potential role in transatlantic relations.
Just as neighboring states are the regional international environment for the for-eign conduct of the Turkish Republic, so is Turkey a component of the international environment of other states in the neighborhood. The discussion here, of how Turkey might respond to these changes, sets out Turkey not just as a reactive but pro-active agent in both its immediate and extended neighborhood, an international actor not only respond-ing to changes but also capable of influencing their development by creating trends based upon Turkey's own elements of national power and its capacity to employ them not only for Turkey's benefit but also for that of its partners.
The first section of this essay reviews the evolution of Turkey's geo-economic situation in the changing regional and international environment over the past fifteen years, i.e., since the Soviet Union ceased to exist. The second section examines in greater detail Turkey's situation at the center of the compass of the Eurasian geo-economic envi-ronment. The third section draws policy recommendations on the basis of the preceding analysis. The concluding section of the essay ties the threads together and summarizes the argument.