A New Governance Approach for Border Regions in Turkey

Çiğdem Varol, Emrah Söylemez

Abstract


National borders have undergone a transformation from the linear boundaries towards socio-economic regions with the effect of increased movements of goods and people crossing the border lines. This transformation has brought about structural and functional changes that have led to the increase of flows and differentiation of social, economic and spatial relations on nation-state boundaries for both sides of the border. In this framework, border regions become the places of “articulated moments in networks of social relations and understandings” (Massey, 1993) rather than “areas with boundaries”. This makes the border region an area of social practice involving multidimensional relations of local, regional, national and supranational actors.

Social, economic and cultural characteristics and dynamics specific to the region lead to differentiation of cross border interaction of the local actors/inhabitants, and this changes the content of regional socio-economic development. On one side while the relationships depend on formal regulations, on the other side they may maintain by informal relationships. In this multi-dimensional, network-based, socio-spatial structure, there is a need for a new governance approach specific to the border region for actors, relationships and processes.

The governance of border region should depend on a multidimensional, complex institutional structure that is framed by common specifications (political, economic, social and spatial) of the two countries on either side of the border (Gualini 2003; Perkmann 2003). This governance structure, shaped in the sovereignty areas of different countries and intensely interacting with the other side of the border, acquires a new identity with network structures and social and economic flows in the border region. In border regions, horizontal coordination and relationships across different actors and vertical coordination across different levels and dimensions require particular governance approach because of the institutional asymmetries, types of relationships and border specific patterns among different border regions.

Thus, in the Turkish case, this study focuses on the intensity, content and pattern of relationships in Eastern and Western borders by using social network analysis within the context of different actors and institutional structures. When evaluated in terms of network pattern, intensity, content and actor relations, the findings obtained in two different border regions exhibit the necessity for different governance approaches. While in the West border (Turkey-EU) the content of relationships guides a socio-cultural oriented approach, for the East border (Turkey-Georgia) an economic and spatial oriented approach is more relevant.

 


References


Gualini E (2003) Cross-border governance: inventing regions in a trans-national multi-level polity. DISP 152: 43–52

Massey (1993) Power-geometry and a progressive sense of place, in J. Bird, et al (eds) Mapping the Futures, Routledge, London, 59-69.

Perkmann M (2003) Cross-border regions in Europe: significance and drivers of regional cross-border co-operation. European Urban and Regional Studies 10, 153–171.


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