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Arab Uprisings and Completing Turkey’s Regional Integration: Challenges and Opportunities for US–Turkish Relations

Kemal Kirişci

Abstract:

Today, regional economic integration in the Middle East continues to remain at an unusually low level compared to other regions of the world. This is especially problematic because traditionally, regional integration has long been seen as an effective tool for encouraging regional peace, stability and prosperity, with also the added expectation that economic growth may also help or facilitate transition to democracy. This paper asks the question of whether the Arab uprisings might provide a new environment in which Turkey and the USA, together with the European Union, could cooperate to bring about some degree of regional economic integration. The paper discusses Turkey’s increasing economic engagement of its neighbourhood since the end of the Cold War and argues that this experience constitutes a good basis for cooperation, even if there remain a number of challenges stemming from Turkey as well as the Middle East. As much as these challenges may seem insurmountable, initiating a tri-lateral dialogue is of critical importance as the rewards of regional integration in the Middle East in terms of stability, peace and prosperity would be huge and of a ‘win-win’ nature for Turkey, for the EU, for the USA, and of course for the region.

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