Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu may not use the phrase "regional power", but nearly everyone else does to describe his country's new influence in the Middle East, Balkans and Caucasus.

Some go so far as to describe the policy as "neo-Ottoman" - a nod back to the times when the Caliphate's writ ran from the Balkans to North Africa. Mr Davutoglu bats away such a label.

But the range of his direct concerns at the ongoing Nato foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels is an indicator of how critical Turkey has become to the western alliance's security architecture.

Afghanistan comes first. He rejects criticism that, given the 500,000-strong standing army at Turkey's command, its contribution of 700 non-combat troops is a little thin.

"Turkey is one of the biggest contributors to peacekeeping efforts in a military sense, everywhere, all around the world," said Mr Davutoglu, in an interview squeezed between meetings in Brussels hotel rooms.

In Afghanistan, he said Ankara had pledged to increase its contribution by 1,000 troops in the last month.

Turkey has taken over military command in Kabul; it has spent more than $200m in the past five years on reconstruction, building 50 schools and hospitals that have treated a million Afghans.

Mr Davutoglu called for a comprehensive military, political and social strategy in Afghanistan.

"We shouldn't use the term foreign troops," he said. "We are there as the international community to help Afghan people."

There will, he promises, be more help for the Afghan military from Turkey - help that has been forthcoming since the early days of the Turkish Republic.
'Zero-problem' policy

Bosnia, too, is a concern for the minister, and it is clear that Turkey will press hard for the country to be given a nod towards Nato entry.

Bosnians, he says, feel left out by the EU, which has recently extended visa-free travel to Serbia and Montenegro.

"Now if they feel isolated from the support of Nato, it will be a big problem," said Mr Davutoglu.

"We want Bosnia-Hercegovina to feel that the international community cares for them. We cannot forget that we watched three years of massacres in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Now we can't just leave them alone."

Mr Davutoglu describes Turkey's new regional vision as "zero-problem" with its neighbours; its relations in particular with Iran, Iraq and Syria have improved dramatically compared to a decade ago.

Turkey is also reaching out to Kurdish-run northern Iraq, and offering itself as a mediator in several conflicts.

BBC News - Turkey FM Davutoglu embraces mediation role