The eastern Mediterranean is becoming ever more perilous as geopolitical fault lines steadily enmesh the region. These rifts emerge from the Cyprus ‘frozen conflict’, competition for valuable gas fields, and the increasingly entangled wars in Libya and Syria.

Overview: Fear and loathing in the Eastern Mediterranean

Asli Aydıntaşbaş Julien Barnes-Dacey Cinzia Bianco Hugh Lovatt Tarek Megerisi

In a world of pandemics, forever wars, and great power showdowns, it might come as a surprise that Europe’s next crisis is emerging from disputes over maritime law. In the eastern Mediterranean, a scramble is under way between countries in the region for access to recently discovered gas fields. Conflicting legal claims to the fields are merging with old and new conflicts, and have led to the creation of a new geopolitical front in the eastern Mediterranean that should cause Europeans substantial concern. At the heart of these tensions lies the unresolved dispute in Cyprus and long-standing antagonism between Turkey and Greece, around which a broader front of anti-Turkey forces is lining up. These disputes have also now grown to encompass the civil wars in Libya and Syria, and have drawn in states from as far afield as the Gulf and Russia.

The eastern Mediterranean’s potential for escalation was evident in February 2020, when France deployed its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to defensively stalk Turkish frigates sailing near to the contested gas fields close to Cyprus. The fact that NATO allies are staring each other down on the European Union’s doorstep should cause all Europeans to pay greater attention to the region. The escalating conflict in Libya and the rivalry between Turkey and its Gulf rivals now directly intersect with the European-Turkish disputes over gas and territory. What happens in the eastern Mediterranean is no longer a peripheral issue for Europe.

The EU has a direct stake in the matter, but remains divided on how to approach it. The bloc has a significant interest in upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus, securing its own energy interests, and advancing a political resolution to the conflict in Libya to manage refugee and terrorism challenges. The anti-Turkey front that has converged in the eastern Mediterranean is led by EU member states Cyprus, Greece, and France. They, in turn, are working with players from further afield, such the United Arab Emirates, whose intensifying competition with Turkey is a defining feature of the strained – and ever-more destabilising – situation in the Middle East. But, collectively, these countries’ activity risks entrenching geopolitical fault lines, with consequences for Europe as a whole, not least the crucial relationship with Turkey.

To address this, the EU and its member states need to change tack and pursue a wider, inclusive deal with Turkey. They will need to incrementally agree on the components of this new bargain and, critically, base it on pragmatic engagement with Ankara rather than escalatory measures against it. Europe’s decision-makers are aware that they cannot afford a complete diplomatic breakdown, much less a kinetic confrontation, with Turkey given the world of trouble already present on their eastern and southern flanks.

This awareness needs to translate into a policy shift in which Europeans remain committed to key policy principles – namely, the sovereignty of Cypriot and, therefore, EU territory – but also recognise the dangers of current tensions with Ankara, as well as the convergence of Middle Eastern conflict lines within areas of their dispute. This approach can only succeed if Turkey also demonstrates its support for it by scaling back its drilling activity and naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean. Europeans should incentivise Turkey to do so by dialling down the recent military and political measures they have put in place. This will help prevent the dispute from slipping into increasingly zero-sum and dangerous positioning, while dispelling the impression that Europe has ganged up on Turkey in a common cause with Arab states.

Cyprus is central to the eastern Mediterranean’s rising tensions. After more than 40 years of frozen conflict, over the past decade hopes rose that the discovery of significant gas reserves could improve the chances of a settlement between the island’s Turkish and Greek communities. In the process, gas exports from Cyprus would help the EU diversify its energy supplies and boost regional cooperation. In time, however, a different impulse took over – one that is now increasing tension between not just Cyprus and Turkey but also between wider regional players.

A collective interest in leveraging eastern Mediterranean gas reserves spurred increased cooperation between Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and Egypt, as well as key energy companies from Italy and France. This grouping has grown to encompass Italy itself, Jordan, and Palestine, culminating in the creation of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) in Cairo in January 2019. Noticeably absent is Turkey – despite its overlapping maritime claims, vast domestic market, and potential as a transit route for eastern Mediterranean gas exports. This coalition has received the backing of the United States, whose relationship with Turkey is also strained due to divergences on a growing number of issues, most recently Ankara’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 air defence systems.

Although the desire to create a geopolitical hub that excludes Turkey was not the organisation’s founding purpose, it has grown to define the emerging coalition. Perceptions of the EMGF as an anti-Turkey club were bolstered when it extended its remit to include regional security cooperation and joint military drills around Cyprus. Greece and Cyprus have sought to leverage the undersea gas reserves and the creation of the EMGF grouping to improve their own political standing – at Turkey’s expense. The forum offers both countries a means to strengthen a broader alliance to counter Turkish influence. Israel and Egypt maintain acrimonious relations with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while the forum’s anti-Turkey slant has also attracted the UAE, which is engaged in an acute regional rivalry with Turkey. Like Egypt, the UAE takes issue with Turkey’s support for Muslim Brotherhood movements across the region.

This fault line is starkest in Libya, where Turkey and the UAE provide military support to opposite sides in the deepening civil war. In November 2019, Ankara and the internationally recognised Libyan government struck a partnership agreement on a maritime boundary, which created an exclusive economic zone that cuts across Greek and Cypriot interests. The move seeks to preclude the proposed EastMed pipeline, which would bring gas to European markets from Israel, Egypt, and Cyprus. Turkey has also recently applied for licences to start drilling off the coast of Libya.

This agreement caused Cyprus and Greece to line up behind Abu Dhabi’s man in Libya, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who France has long supported. But these fault lines also extend into Syria, with supporters of both sides of the civil war hiring Syrian fighters. This draws the Libya and Syria conflicts closer together – and gives Russia a greater opportunity to cement its position in the Mediterranean.

The Turkish government has long suffered from a chronic siege mentality, believing itself to be surrounded by hostile forces that threaten its core interests. The formation of the EMGF appears to vindicate such concerns.

Turkey has little room for manoeuvre to its south and west, despite having the longest contiguous coastline in the eastern Mediterranean. Ankara also believes that making concessions in this part of the sea would be tantamount to conceding to the Greek position on various maritime disputes between the two countries in the Aegean. Turkey’s difficulties are exacerbated by its failure to discover gas in its local waters. Given its own economic woes, Turkey will not cede the potentially lucrative exploitation rights around Cyprus without representation for Turkish Cypriots. Turkey has long favoured a model that allocates maritime rights based on continental shelves. But this differs from the approach adopted by European states, which is based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), to which Turkey is not a signatory.

From Ankara’s perspective, there are clear links between this eastern Mediterranean coalition – as embodied by the EMGF – and wider regional conflicts, as well as the Emirati-led campaign against Turkey. Turkey believes that a slowly emerging superstructure of political, economic, and security interests will inevitably challenge its regional position. This has transformed an economic competition into an existential struggle. Turkey has responded in its traditional fashion – with escalation: namely, by increasing its military presence in Libya and concluding the maritime agreement with the Tripoli-based government. In parallel, Turkey has deployed naval expeditions to explore gas fields claimed by the Republic of Cyprus and to chase away research vessels operating under Republic of Cyprus licences.

The EU’s current eastern Mediterranean policy centres on a ‘soft containment’ of Turkey, as marked by its introduction of new sanctions on the country in February 2020. These measures came at the request of Cyprus, Greece, France, and Italy in a bid to curtail Turkey’s predatory drilling expeditions. This dynamic was further highlighted in May 2020 in a joint declaration by Cyprus, France, Greece, Egypt, and the UAE, which “urged Turkey to fully respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of all states in their maritime zones in the eastern Mediterranean … [and] strongly condemned Turkey’s military interference in Libya”. Turkey responded by accusing the states of forming an “alliance of evil” that would create “regional chaos and instability”.

Clearly, the EU is right to stick up for the sovereignty of the Cyprus and its maritime claims: the bloc’s non-recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is a pillar of its legal policy on the island. Nevertheless, the exclusionary approach towards Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean has contributed to escalation in Cyprus, as well as Libya, where European interests relating to migration and terrorism are directly under threat. This wider confrontation has also drawn the UAE more deeply into the Mediterranean theatre, a development that should be as much a cause for European concern as Turkey’s widening role. The threat of a confrontation with Turkey on Libya and wider eastern Mediterranean issues risks destabilising the long-standing refugee deal between Ankara and the EU. It could also weaken the EU position on Syria if, as has been mooted, some member states re-engage with Bashar al-Assad as a means of increasing pressure on Turkey, which maintains a military presence in northern Syria. More broadly, unless the pressure eases, this could further worsen Turkey’s relationship with the US, NATO, and the EU more generally.

There is no doubt that the EU needs a more functional relationship with Turkey to protect its core interests in migration, energy, and the Middle East. The EU should now adopt a different approach – one that recognises the need for more constructive engagement with Turkey, and that highlights their shared interests in trade, energy, and regional security. This does not have to involve a miraculous resolution of the Cyprus conflict – or, at the other end of the scale, a move towards the two-state solution supported by hawks in Turkey and Turkish Cypriots. But it might involve the recognition of some Turkish claims around the rights of Turkish Cypriots to the region’s energy spoils. And it should certainly include a rejection of active European participation in the destabilising regional conflict between Ankara and Abu Dhabi. The EU needs to carefully advance the following confidence-building steps that are in sync with core EU principles.

The highly contested, internationalised, and multilayered nature of problems in the eastern Mediterranean makes it impossible to address all sources of tension in one go. Instead, the EU should view the Cyprus conflict as the symbolic heart of the crisis and as a potential way to advance wider de-escalatory measures. While holding firm to its core principles, the EU should explore avenues for addressing technical issues related to gas exploitation. These are easier to engage with and resolve than more ideologically charged political questions around a final resolution of the conflict or maritime law. Besides allowing for meaningful headway on important issues, this approach would build much-needed confidence between the parties.

Firstly, European states should push the Cyprus and Turkish Cypriots towards technical-level discussions, with the goal of ensuring that all Cypriots can benefit from the island’s gas reserves – whether they live in the north or the south. Turkish Cypriots can be represented without needing to recognise the TRNC or legitimise the Turkish military presence on the island. As the EU and the UN already regard Turkish Cypriot leaders as interlocutors on intercommunal issues, they should bring them into discussions on hydrocarbons. This process could be underpinned by a moratorium on gas exploration in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, while Turkey would need to pull its drilling ships and navy out of the area.

Bring Turkey into the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum
A wider agreement with Turkey would have to include Turkish access to the regional gas network, both in its current form and in future infrastructure developments. The current configuration of the EMGF as a conduit for political and security developments is aggravating regional tensions. For energy, security, and economic reasons, Europe and Turkey have similar imperatives to reach a deal with each other. The EU should propose Turkish access to the EMGF as an entry point to a wider deal. This would also help improve relations between Turkey and Egypt, and ease exploration and development tension between the EU and Turkey.

Linking up Libya
Enhanced European cooperation with Turkey on Libya is another necessary dimension of a more effective EU approach to the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey’s deal with the Libyan government has angered much of Europe. But Europe’s current response risks marginalising it in the region – and will only prolong the war in Libya, given Turkey’s centrality to any resolution there.

Europeans need to adopt an approach that not only presses Turkey to take a seat at the negotiating table but also provides it with incentives to do so. Europe should simultaneously ask the same of Haftar’s external backers, who in many ways bear greater responsibility than Turkey for the recent escalation in Libya.

The EU should use the assets of its recently deployed naval operation and the opening created by Tripoli’s Turkish-backed military gains to press the UAE to agree to a ceasefire and meaningful political talks. Europe should express frustration with not only Ankara but also Abu Dhabi for its role in escalating the regional conflict. This step would help convince Turkey that the EU is not singling it out. A balanced European approach to Libya, including an impartial attempt to monitor arms-embargo violations, would help persuade Turkey that the southern Mediterranean is not turning into another arena to exclude Turkish influence.

Progress on wider maritime talks would also help advance this effort, given that Turkey’s position in Libya is partly driven by concerns that other actors are looking to squeeze it out in the Mediterranean.

The EU can take steps to ease deepening eastern Mediterranean tensions in accordance with European interests. It should adopt a broad-based approach that recognises and seeks to reconcile the complex linkages that now criss-cross the eastern Mediterranean. The EU has the capacity to ensure that the accumulated benefit of a wider deal prevents backsliding elsewhere. Ultimately, a wider EU approach would aim to turn the current situation on its head, taking advantage of the highly interconnected nature of the issues and of shared interests to create a mutually acceptable stabilising track. The depth of the problems means that no single, all-encompassing bargain is possible. But Europeans could stitch together a patchwork of more self-contained deals as they work towards establishing a ‘new bargain’ with Turkey.

Given the potential for instability in the eastern Mediterranean to affect core EU interests – migration, counter-terrorism, energy security, sovereignty, and more – European states not directly involved in the overlapping conflicts should help improve the relationship with Turkey.

Countries such as Germany have highlighted how they could work to support the political process in Libya. Berlin has already provided a neutral forum for all states to try to agree on core principles. But so far it has failed, partly because of a lack of European consensus on broader eastern Mediterranean issues and relations with Turkey. This was demonstrated most recently by Turkey’s recent pressure on Malta to withdraw its support from the EU’s Mediterranean mission, Operation IRINI. As is so often the case, a lack of unity is fatally undermining Europe’s attempts to become a relevant actor, and is creating further space for other actors beyond Turkey and the UAE – namely Russia – to fill the void.


This article taken from

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There is unrest in Libya and an internal war continue between conflicting forces. Libya is important for Europe as it is one of the main sources of the illegal immigration. EU leaders have been gathered and took decisions which can affect the conflict. Here is the Article from regarding the subject

Libya conflict: EU agrees new patrols to stop arms flow

EU states have agreed to launch a new military mission off the Libyan coast to enforce a shaky UN arms embargo.

The 27 governments still have to draft a legal text for the mission, after agreeing it in principle in Brussels.

“The main objective is the arms embargo,” said Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn.

The UN-recognised government in Tripoli is under attack from the forces of Gen Khalifa Haftar, which control most of eastern and southern Libya.

The EU’s new naval and air mission is to operate in the eastern Mediterranean, away from the migrant-smuggling routes from Libya which have caused bitter divisions in the EU.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said that if the EU ships proved to be a “pull factor” for migrants desperate to reach Europe “the mission will be stopped”.Under international law EU ships – whether military or civilian – are obliged to rescue people in distress at sea.

Former Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini took a hard stance on migrant boats, implementing a closed ports policy.Austria led opposition to renewing EU naval patrols off the Libyan coast, but finally accepted a new mission with a different mandate from Operation Sophia, which had sought to stop people-smuggling gangs.

Operation Sophia began in 2015 and its mandate ends in March. Last year Italy blocked the deployment of new ships, accusing its EU partners of a lack of solidarity, as Italy has had to cope with the largest numbers of irregular migrants.

Libya control map showing oilfields and pipelines

Many of those rescued off Libya are refugees from the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. But many impoverished migrants from sub-Saharan Africa also risk their lives on unseaworthy boats, desperate to flee the violence and abuse that are rife in Libya.

As in Syria, international rivalries are being played out in Libya, and that competition is fuelling arms deliveries to the warring sides.

Gen Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has support from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, France and Russia, while the Tripoli government has the backing of Turkey, Qatar and Italy, among others.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said the EU would not be able to patrol the Egypt-Libya land border, across which artillery is still being supplied to Gen Haftar’s forces.

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Following the Brexit UK should make new trade deals with EU as EU is the main trade partner of the UK and all types of advantages regarding customs duties and several other issues shall help UK economy a lot. But it seems that EU shall not make the life easy for the UK. Here is an article from regarding the issue.

Brexit: EU Parliament makes tough demands for talks

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After years of long debates and changing governments UK managed to exit from the EU. All aspects of this exit have been deeply analyzed over the recent years. And the latest thoughts of some respectable journalists are as follows regarding the Brexit;


Brexit: Will it be a Canadian or an Australian ending?

By Laura Kuenssberg (

A large Commons majority will make it easier for the PM to withstand the inevitable trade-offs ahead
First “Brexit meant Brexit”. Then it was the “exact same benefits”. Then it was “frictionless trade”.

Then it was a reluctant acknowledgement that to get a deal done with the EU, there would have to be some friction, some customs checks, but the promise was they would be minimal.

And never fear, there was still the claim during the election that there was “absolutely zero” chance of failing to get a trade deal by the end of the year, that would guard against some of the risks of leaving the EU.

Now today, as the prime minister acknowledged, “we have made a choice”.

With a thumping majority in his back pocket, he wants a Canada-style deal with the EU, a free trade agreement where the two sides – after many years – agree not to charge taxes on imports or to restrict the amount of business that can be done. And, oh, he wants it wrapped up by the end of the year.

It is a significant understatement to say that the Tory Party has been on a journey when it comes to what it wants in the long term from Brexit for how we trade with the EU.

Theresa May was accused by her former chief of staff, Nick Timothy, as always seeing Brexit as a damage limitation exercise.

Whether that’s fair or not, it is certainly the case that for the first couple of years after the referendum, the government’s agony was largely because the then prime minister was on a quest to avoid too much disruption and it drove Brexiteers round the twist.

But Boris Johnson’s team are looking through the other end of the kaleidoscope.

They seem to prioritise the potential, if uncertain, wins of Brexit over protecting against the guessable losses. The ability to do things differently is, for them, the point of having left. And that’s why, at the moment, the prime minister is adamant the UK, newly sovereign at the end of this year, simply would not contemplate letting anyone else tell the country what to do.

This philosophy, which was absolutely obvious during the election, smacks headlong though into the EU’s opening gambit in these vital trade talks.

It’s simple from their point of view as well. The further the UK tacks away from the EU the more complicated it will be to do business, and the less willing they will be to preserve access to their vast market.

Even though Boris Johnson suggested it was outrageous to imagine that the UK was behind the rest of the EU on standards, Brussels does worry about the UK undercutting their businesses, becoming a more nimble competitor ready to grab billions from across the Channel.

So if they’re to play nice in terms of doing a deal, they want the government to give legal guarantees that they will stick to the letter of EU rules. If Boris Johnson sticks and says ‘no’, they might say ‘non’ to a deal altogether.

Of course there is lots of hard bargaining ahead. The kind of deal that is reached or not reached could have an impact on millions of jobs here and across the continent and billions of pounds of business. And yes, it is in both sides’ interests to get a deal done (you’ll have heard that before).

But gone today was Boris Johnson’s previous breezy optimism about there being “zero chance” of there being no deal by the end of the year. In its place a new claim that if there is no “Canada” deal, there could instead be an “Australian” deal.

Let’s be clear about one thing. There is no Australian free trade deal with the EU. Negotiations started on one last year, and at the moment the two sides trade under a decade old much looser partnership while trying to thrash through issues from fuel emissions to what producers on opposite sides of the world should be allowed to call their cheese.

And for Number 10, this sudden reference to an “Australian deal” seems to be an effort to rebrand what the government’s written statement later said was a relationship “based simply on the Withdrawal Agreement deal agreed in October 2019, including the Protocol in Ireland/Northern Ireland”.

In other words, if there isn’t a comprehensive trade deal by the end of the year, the UK would move to a situation trading with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms. This would mean taxes on exports and customs checks which, if it came to pass, could be massively disruptive for businesses and very costly for the economy.

An “Australia-style deal” sounds a lot less scary than the “no deal” circumstance that politicians have talked about for so long. And yes, the issues on paying the EU bill, citizens’ rights and the Irish border were all settled in the last few years and the overall divorce deal agreed before our departure last week.

But when it comes to the trade arrangements, it is not the case that as one government official tried to suggest “no deal is not a concept” .

There is no substantial agreement on how the UK will do business with the EU in the years to come. It will take time. There will be big political rows ahead. Right now it seems like the two sides are very far apart.

But don’t expect either Number 10 or the EU negotiating team to be particularly rattled by the tough talking by their opponents across the table. It’s not surprising that there is a certain amount of chest beating going on. It will be a while before the talks properly begin.

And the EU cannot, this time around, accuse the UK of not being clear about what it wants. That common claim was made repeatedly during the early stages of Theresa May’s negotiation. That can’t be made this time. There is an obvious approach and a tight deadline.

And however definitive the prime minister was today, the Tories’ approach to the kind of deal they will ultimately strike may have more evolutions yet.

With a majority of 80, Mr Johnson doesn’t have to worry, like his predecessor, about being able to cope with trade-offs. But he’ll be all too aware that the kind of deal he can do, and how long it takes to do it, will be a big factor in defining his political success or failure.

P.S. One former minister suggests waspishly that by suggesting we could leave with a relationship just based on the Withdrawal Agreement, that the government has already got its capitulation in early. Under their interpretation, just basing it on the Withdrawal Agreement would mean prolonging the status quo of the transition period, where we pay into the budget and follow the EU rules.

This, of course, is the opposite to what the government says it is after. But these trade talks will go through many, many machinations and on both sides, smoke and mirrors may apply!


Brexit: What will change after Friday, 31 January?

Now that the UK has formally left the European Union, it immediately enters an 11-month transition period.

During the transition the UK will continue to obey EU rules and pay money to the EU. Most things will stay the same but there will be some changes:

1. UK MEPs lose their seats

Nigel Farage celebrating with newly-elected Brexit Party MEPSImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe Brexit Party won the most UK seats in the May 2019 European elections

Familiar faces such as Nigel Farage and Ann Widdecombe are among the UK’s 73 MEPs who will automatically lose their seats in the European Parliament.

That’s because, at the moment of Brexit, the UK will leave all of the EU’s political institutions and agencies.

However, in addition to the UK following EU rules during the transition period, the European Court of Justice will continue to have the final say over legal disputes.

2. No more EU summits

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will have to be specially invited if he wants to join other leaders at EU Council summits in the future.

British ministers will also no longer attend regular EU meetings that decide things such as fishing limits.

3. We will be hearing a lot about trade

The UK will be able to start talking to countries around the world about setting new rules for buying and selling goods and services.

It has not been allowed to hold formal trade negotiations with countries like the US and Australia while it remained an EU member. Brexit supporters argue that having the freedom to set its own trade policy will boost the UK’s economy.

There’s also a lot to be discussed with the EU. Agreeing a UK-EU trade deal is a top priority, so extra charges on goods and other trade barriers aren’t needed when the transition ends.

If any trade deals are reached, they won’t be able to start until the transition period ends.

4. The UK’s passports will change colour

British passports
Image captionBlue passports were replaced in 1988 with the burgundy design

Blue passports will be making a return, more than 30 years after they were replaced by the current burgundy design.

Announcing the change in 2017, then Immigration Minister, Brandon Lewis, praised the return to the “iconic” blue-and-gold design, first used in 1921.

The new colour will be phased in over a number of months, with all new passports issued in blue by the middle of the year.

Existing burgundy passports will continue to be valid.

5. Brexit coins

Sajid Javid with the new coinImage copyrightPA MEDIA
Image captionThe coins had to be re-made after Brexit was delayed

About three million commemorative 50p Brexit coins bearing the date “31 January” and the inscription: “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations”, will enter circulation on Friday.

The coin has received a mixed reaction, with some Remain supporters saying they will refuse to accept it.

The government had planned to introduce a similar coin on 31 October, the date Brexit was previously meant to happen.

However, those coins had to be melted down and recycled after the deadline was extended.

6. The UK’s Brexit department shuts down

The team that handled the UK-EU negotiations and no-deal preparations will disband on Brexit day.

The Department for Exiting the European Union was set up by former Prime Minister Theresa May in 2016.

For the upcoming talks, the UK’s negotiating team will be based in Downing Street.

7. Germany won’t extradite its citizens to the UK

It won’t be possible for some suspected criminals to be brought back to the UK if they flee to Germany.

Germany’s constitution does not allow its citizens to be extradited, unless it’s to another EU country.

“This exception cannot apply any more after the UK has left EU,” a spokesman from the German Federal Ministry of Justice told BBC News.

It’s unclear if the same restrictions will apply to other countries. Slovenia, for example, says the situation is complicated, while the European Commission was unable to provide comment.

The UK Home Office says the European Arrest Warrant will continue to apply during the transition period. (That means Germany will be able to extradite non-German citizens.)

However, it adds that if a country’s laws prevent extradition to the UK it “will be expected to take over the trial or sentence of the person concerned”.

Seven things that will stay the same…

Because the transition period begins immediately after Brexit, the vast majority of other things remain the same – at least until 31 December 2020 including:

1. Travel

UK nationals will still be treated the same as EU nationals during the transition

Flights, boats and trains will operate as usual.

When it comes to passport control, during the transition period, UK nationals will still be allowed to queue in the areas reserved for EU arrivals only.

2. Driving licences and pet passports

As long as they are valid, these will continue to be accepted.

3. European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

EHICs will still be valid during the transition

These are the cards that provide UK nationals with state-provided medical treatment in case of illness or accident.

They can be used in any EU country (as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and will continue to be valid during the transition period.

4. Living and working in the EU

Freedom of movement will continue to apply during the transition, so UK nationals will still be able to live and work in the EU as they currently do.

The same applies for EU nationals wanting to live and work in the UK.

5. Pensions

UK nationals living in the EU will continue to receive their state pension and will also receive the annual increase.

6. Budget contributions

The UK will continue to pay into the EU budget during the transition. This means existing schemes, paid for by EU grants, will continue to be funded.

7. Trade

UK-EU trade will continue without any extra charges or checks being introduced.

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Ege Eralp

European Union’s Enlargement on Balkans and Russia as a Great Opposition


European Union is an organization that aspiring to unite democratic European countries in an union and improve their citizens’ living standards in a basic scale. If we take Europe’s history as an example which contains full of wars, creating a cooperation system was very difficult for them. But with the innovations and developments most importantly on single market which enables the free circulation of capital, employment and commodity, they managed to maintain peace and prosperity on Europe. With the increasing development rate of European Union, their plans on extending its scope became more of an issue because with an enlargement, the European Union’s prosperity could grow and provide better conditions to its members. But before examining the EU’s enlargement, we need to take a closer look to the meaning of “enlargement” on multinational organizations’ scale.On multinational organizations scale, especially European Union in this study, most of the time “enlargement” means prosperity. With the new participants (it could be a country, a company, an association, etc.) the union’s sphere of influence enlarges, thus its capability on providing development and providing market profit improves. Therefore, the enlargement of a multinational organization is an important achievement to procure.

European Union is focusing on an enlargement mainly because the factors we mentioned above. Chances of extending the free market and its profit, and also single market. With the enlargement of “the single market”, “innovative business models could improve, retailers could do business in more extensive areas”[1]. In the meantime, the improvements on free and single market could provide a basis for prosperity and opportunities for both European businesses and citizens.  Also with the enlargement, EU could ensure the peace and stability in its surrounding regions. By this means, the European Union can gain strength and pursue its interests. With all of these advantages and benefits of the enlargement, European Union’s long-term objectives on the enlargement seems judicious.


  • Why Western Balkans are Very Important for the EU Enlargement?

            In the EU’s plans on enlargement, Western Balkans plays an important role for their goals. Approximately for the past 15 years, the European Union has been contemplating and planning the prospect of membership of the Western Balkans countries. Due to this, relationship between the EU and the Western Balkans taking shape from this situation. The European Union’s enlargement plans on Balkans are mainly based on the ground of EU’s desire of protecting its political deepening process against the conflicts and regional wars which taking place in Balkans.Before the 2003, relations between these two side were not that good. In the 1990’s Yugoslavia fell apart, the state authority broke down in 1997 in Albania, a civil war just barely averted in Macedonia in 2001 and the idea of nationalism in Serbia and Crotia created an autocracy[2]. Therefore, the criteria which European Union stipulates for the membership was excessively impossible to fulfill by the Western Balkans countries, and beside that, most of them also did not want to become a member of the Euopean Union mainly because of their communist background. But after the death of Crotian dictator Franjo Tudjman in 1999 and the ouster of the Milosevic regime in Serbia, a new democratic chapter seemed to be opening within the EU and the Balkans. In the sequel, with the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003, some type of social contract constituted between the Balkan states and the European Union, and this contract seemed as it will be well suited for the consolidation of democracy in the post-Yugoslav space. Together with social contract which came up with the Shessaloniki Summit, European Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy became the main topic in relations between the Balkans and due to this policy, EU subsequently deployed civilian and military missions in Balkan countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia. Ever since the starting of these missions, the European Union viewed these countries throughout the lens of EU enlargement. The CSDP of the EU seemed as successfully delivered and no major violence has occured in the region since 2000’s, except some little incidents. All of the countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania and Serbia have democratic institutions and regular elections nowadays. Since the early 2000’s, power just has passed peacefully, democratically and regularly between government and opposition in the countries which I mentioned above.



  • Changing Aspects of EU Enlargement

Today with the current circumstances, the sense of optimism on EU’s enlargement and relations between Balkans which became more essential with the important developments that started in the early 2000’s, seems like disappearing. There is a policy drift on the EU side and a regression in the “Western Balkan 6” think tanks. Most of the powerful members of the European Union have turned against the idea of enlargement. Member countries like Netherlands, Austria and the France which was always agrees with the opinion of enlargement are now stopped supporting the enlargement. More importantly the United Kingdom, which is the main supporter of enlargement, is on the brink of departing the EU. This change of mind mainly depends on hostile public opinion towards enlargement in leading member states and this ideational change creates a labefaction on EU’s strategic commitment to enlargement. With the ups and downs on popular or elite opinions for enlargement in the leading members, the European Union could not manage to reevaluate its enlargement plans and also still could not ensure that enlargement is a prior policy on its future agenda.

As a result, the European Union lost the great chance of gaining influence in the region, which would serve to it as a tool of gaining “soft power” that underlies in union’s self-indentification. Meanwhile in Balkans, political elites have started to learn how to acquire European Union’s main elements without being a member of it. These elements are primarily; reforming, the rule of law, civil society involvement, etc.. Also these politicans used these elements to consolidate their power over civic space, the media and political parties. “Leaders of these countries started to defy the European Union without thinking the consequences and addition this, ordinary citizens of the some Balkan countries have learned not to expect any effective support from abroad.”[3] For example Serbia praised as a “frontrunner” in the European Union accession process but with the following attitudes of President Vucic, which includes consolidation of his power and hegemony over the Serbian media, the institutions and the political life, made Serbia to lose its political freedom, which is not acceptable by EU criteria.

However, the European Union is evidently aware of this state of affairs in the Western Balkans countries. EU’s own reports showing us that the main problem lies in the continuation of the current approach. The problematic and non-democratical administrations in the candidate countries are great obstacles against the membership process, but the reports proved that 35 policy chapters which prepared by the EU just failed to create the convenient conditions for the candidate countries too, and its diplomatic language made it incomprehensible in the eyes of civil society. Consequently, the European Union enlargement process on Balkans is continuing and relations between them are still in progress. With the rise of different aspects, both Balkans’ and the EU’s point of view on enlargement regularly changing. But, apart from EU and Balkans, this enlargement operation has one more component which is very huge, Russia.


  • Russia’s Thoughts and Behaviors Against EU’s Western Balkans Enlargement


Balkans always had an important role in Russian foreign policy throughout the history. The relevancy between Russia and the Balkans firstly and most importantly base on their sameness on culture, religion and origin. The idea of integrating the Christian (Orthodox) and Slavic people was always a dream ever since the times of the Russian Empire. At the times of Russian Empire, reasons behind adopting this policy were coming from wideness of the Balkans lands and its closeness to the Europe. But in the process of time, after the World War II, the integration idea remained the same, but its ingredients were changed. After the war, their policy was focusing on spreading the communion of socialism. They planned to instil the Soviet model of socialism in the Eastern Europe and the Balkans to become dominant in the region, but the multi-national structure of the Soviet Union made it difficult to achieve because of the various political opinions in those nations under Soviet Union. In the early phases of post-war era, the Soviets were planning to prevent Balkans nations (which are already suffering from crisis) from an unification. If this kind of unification just had occured, Tito’s Yugoslavia might have gained more strength and this situation would seriously damage the Soviet plans of dominating the region. Even though their culture and religion were so similar, Tito’s behavior on implementing a different type of socialism in Yugoslavia (mainly because of the disagreements between Tito and Stalin due to the agreements which arranged within Stalin and Churchill during the World War II)  was the starting point of this situation. So esentially, Russian behavior on Balkans is once again shaped around the idea of holding the region in its hands and not allowing any other nation to rise powerfullyin the region.

In the 1990’s, Balkans were a war zone for a long time. After the death of Josip Broz Tito (1980), ethnical conflicts and economic depressions increased too much and these factors combined and concluded with pitched wars. With the end of these civil wars (in this case these wars in Yugoslavia should be considered as civil wars even if them happened between different sides of population like Serbians or Kosovans, due to the federation system) which continued for almost 20 years, Yugoslavia divided into seven different sovereign country. Lastly after the death of Milosevic, Serbia and Montenegro also decided to loose the union between them which came with Yugoslavia’s Federated system. With this regulation, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia changed to the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.

Even though Balkans were struggling with serious conflicts, Soviets could not manage to intervene to the region and secure its dominance, but it has some important reasons. In 1991, President Mikhail Gorbachev resigned from his assignment and the disintegration of the Soviets just started. Disintegration of Soviet Union has several reasons like their defeat against Western Bloc on armament race and economic troubles which happened due to this race. Starting from 1992, Russia decided to draw away from Balkans by using its inside problems as an excuse. The problems that Russia suffers were so huge and it had to gather some strength but this alteration process did not last very long. Russia revised its foreign policy once again in 1994 and decided and set the Balkan crisis as a non-negligible foreign case for them. In the absence of Russia, Western countries started to gain dominance in the Balkans region and this situation created a panic in Russian foreign policy.So the tension between West and the Russia wasquite important that it had the potential of making Russia to change its foreign decisions in a short period of time. While changing its policy, Russia used the existence of Western countries in the Balkans as a legitimate reason to expand its military force in the region.

Including Russian Empire, Second World War, Post-War and Cold War periods, Russia’s Balkans policies were always both ideological and strategical. Like I mentioned above, Western Bloc’s efforts on creating a sphere of influence on Eastern Europe is a crucial case for Russians. For example, the military operations of NATO in Bosnia-Herzegovina corresponded with concern by Russia and accepted as an expansion of European Union on Balkans. Since there are cultural and religious similarities between Russia and the Balkans, and Russia’s long-term policies which shaped around their ambitions on retaining the Eastern Europe region, this type of military operations are quite naturally have the potential of making Russia worried. With the EU’s enlargement on Balkans, Russia would be obliged to watch EU’s pressure on themself and degrade to a lower position for retraining its dominance, and end up with economic and geographic difficulties.At this point, since because we are examined the importance of the region for both Russia-EU relations and Russia’s own foreign policies, I want to continue with Russia’s moves which are adopted in order to absorbing the European impact on their interests.

After realizing the importance of the Balkans region again, Russia started to improve their relations with the new constituted countries which were occured after the collapse of Yugoslavia. Developing relation with the regional countries was so important for Russia because a stable and consistent dialogue with these countries ensure the safety of Mediterranean and Black Sea regions for the benefit of Russia. For the purpose of securing its interests in a highyl important geopolitical area, Russia chose the way of creating commercial relation with regional partners and used its energy resources to maintain it. In this case, using the energy resources for the purpose of holding the Balkans in its hands is a very functional and reasonable action by Russia, because the Eastern Europe region is requiring too much of an energy to continue their development process. In these circumstances, Russia is the perfect supplier for their demands with their rich sources. Despite the old connections (origin, religion and culture) between them, their relations are mostly shaped around these commercial actions, so using this method to obtain dominance in the Balkans region is a very effective way to achieve it for the side of Russia. Due to these reasons, it is impossible for Russia to avoid bilateral relations with the Balkans nations because it would end up with a great risk of losing the influence on precious geological zones. Lastly, in a hypothetical and inevitable crisis with the Balkans, Russia would have constrained to adopt the path of cooperating with the West, because the situation that contains bad relations both with the Balkans and the West could seriously damage the Russian benefits and end up with a permanent lose of power in this region. Regarding this, the trade agreements which formed between Russia and the countries like Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Montenegro are have a great importance for Russia to maintain its influence on region and overall state income.


  • What Could Take Place on Balkan Casein the Future

European Union and Balkans –

             During the time of war (1990-2000), European Union tried to take the control and become a dominate power in the region with its Common Security and Defence Policy. Since they could not manage to achieve it while the socialist thoughts were still dominant, they tried to take the advantage of Eastern Europe’s disordered position. Their efforts on integrating the Balkans to the organization was very effective at this time. With the increased and improved relations, the Balkans seemed like it could be included into the European Union system very successfully any time soon. But there was a quite important problem in the process of integration and it was the historical difference of opinion between these two sides. Balkans countries like Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia showed some significant progress with the attempts on creating more democratic political platform and fulfil the European Union criteria. However, even if these developments were remarkable for their democratization process, it was not enough to bring them together with the fundamental thoughts of European Union. With the re-rising ideas around the world (especially in Europe) like nationalism, its meaning came to light more clearer. In Europe, far-right parties just started to gain strength in their countries (Austria, Italia, Spain, etc.) and follow policy in paralel with it. Due to their attitude, a region’s involvement to the European system which contains socialist ingredients in its past became an impossible job to complete. Apart from this, European countries started to dissent on basic issues and could not manage to strike a balance. So even when Europe agitating with the far-right parties’ impact on daily political life, relationship between the European Union and the Balkans seems like it will stay constant.


  • Russia –

While European Union suffers from the rise of far-right parties and ideas, Russia could take an advantage from this uncertainty between EU-Balkans relations. Tentative future of their relations could be useful for Russia to improve and regulate its works in the region. To achieve its aim, Russia could use its common background with the Balkan countries. Since the rising nationalism seems like it is also effecting the Balkan region, it would not be so difficult to create a common ground with the regional countries for Russia. Creating this type of common ground would be so significant for Russia’s economic and strategical goals. If it can manage to achieve this, it could help Russia to invigorate its dominance on Balkan region and with this evolvement, Russia could create a huge pressure on West, economically and psychologically. While Europe is struggling with internal conflicts, Russia’s pressure could create a more severe impact than it could in a more stable time of period. So, from my point of view, this moment is the correct time for Russia to concentrate its policies and affairs on Balkan region.

To conclude, this case has multiple aspects in it. All the sides have its own perspective and they are trying to achieve their objectives. When we look, we can see that this enlargement is a wide-ranging case that concerns more elements than only Russia, Eastern Europe or European Union. So its results will absolutely effect more elements more than just the three main actors.


  • References



Demirci, S., R., (2008, 18 Haziran), Rusya’nın Balkan Politikası,

Sancaktar, C., (2006, 14 Haziran), Avrupa Birliği ve Balkanlar,

Demirtaş, Birgül, AB’nin Dönüştürücü Gücü ve Batı Balkanlar’da Demokratikleşme Süreci: Başarılanlar ve Başarılamayanlar, Hukuki, Siyasi ve İktisadi Yönleriyle Avrupa Bütünleşmesinde Son Gelişmeler ve Türkiye-AB İlişkileri, Ankara, 2018.

Gower, Jackie, EU-Russian Relations and the Eastern Enlargement: Integration or Isolation?, (2008 May), 75-93.

Dejevsky, Mary, How the European Union’s Eastern Expansion created Brexit and made an enemy of Russia, (2019, May 2).

Miner, L., Parrock, J., Amiel, S., EU-Western Balkans Summit: Is Enlargement in Sight?, (2019, July 5)

Nadibaidze, Anna, Can EU Enlargement in the Western Balkans Revive?, (2019, January 31),





Visits: 571

Note of the Month – May 2019

Note of the Month – May 2019

S-400 Crisis

As the timeline of delivery approaches, the tension between US and Turkey increases day by day. In May several US institutions declared their concerns about that matter. US government and military has made several threats including the non delivery of the F-35 fighter jets, interrupting the training of Turkish pilots, a possible suspension of Turkey’s NATO membership and economic sanctions.

The determined position of US about the matter put Turkish Government into trouble as Turkey has already paid for S-400s and the delivery should begin during July. As an independent state Turkey should be buying arms from the country it wishes. However, US’ main concern is the conflict of software of the S-400 missiles with weapons of NATO. They claim that they will cause fatal problems in case they used in the same army. That can be a reality or an excuse to make Turkey cancel its order.

Turkey has some alternatives regarding the issue, first it can cancel the order but that will be very difficult to explain to the Turkish citizens. Second Turkey may suspend the delivery of the missiles and gain more time to make a final decision. Third, the delivery will be made by Russia but Turkey will give its word to US that it will not use these missiles and take them to a storage facility. Fourth, Turkey shall find a way to sell these missiles to a third country but in that case Russia and US most probably will object to that.

Turkey is in a difficult situation about S-400 missiles and it seems there isn’t any feasible solution to satisfy all those three countries.


Resignation of Theresa May

In the last week of May, UK Prime Minister Theresa May declared in tears her resignation from the office. She may be a successful politician but no matter how hard she tried she could not find a solution to the Brexit. As UK’s main problem for the last couple of years is the Brexit process her work could be considered as a failure as the faith of the Brexit is still unknown and very complicated.


Re-election of the Mayor of Istanbul

After several objections and recounting the votes High Election Board of Turkey decided a re-election for Istanbul. The elections will be on 23rd of June and voters shall only vote for the Mayor of Istanbul city.

Visits: 254

Note of the Month December 2018

Syrian Front and Turkey’s Relations with US

                Turkish army has made all preperations and is ready to face PYD/YPG in Syria to ensure its security along the Turkis frontier with Syria. US decision to evacuate Syria has been very useful as in case of an action Turkish troops will not face American soldiers. The situation in the Syrian Province of Idlib  is still complex and dangerous. It is becoming more and more difficult to maintain the securityy cordon around Idlib because Syrian Government and Russia are becoming impatient with frequent hit and run attacks by Tahrir us Sham formations.

Meanwhile withdrawal of US forces from Syria is coupled with the decision of the Senate to announce its decision regarding the ban on sale of Patriot missiles to Turkey even though any sale will have to be authorized by the US Congress and payment difficulties must be overcome because of the cost of the purchase under difficult ecoıomic conditions  of Turkey.  Furthermore, the question is whether Turkey can give up the purchase of S-400 missiles from Russia which are already in the production process. According to news reports, it seems that the US Government is changing its attitude towards Fethullah Gülen and the other FETÖ refugees in the US. With these developments onemay legitimately ask whether Turkey-US relations is once again back on the strategic partnership track.

Europe and Turkey

                The “yellow vest” uprising in Paris and Belgium and the uprising in Budapest for press freedom shows that discontent and wealth do not necesarily seem sufficient to placatepeople if and when they  are not happy with how they are treated. In the UK the fate of Theresa May government and the Brexit agreement will be decided by the Parliament in January 2019. It is doubtfull whether UK can throw aside the Brexit agreement reached in Brussels if the alternative is Brexit with no agreement as stated by EU leaders. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Merkel’s decision to resign from the CDU Party leadership is proceeding. Whether this will have an impact on Germany’s attitude on refugees is to be seen.

Visits: 312

Changing German Attitude Towards Turkey-Why, in the recent years,the German attitude towards Turkey has hardened?

Why, in the recent years,the German attitude towards Turkey has hardened?

Strange enough up to now German foreign policy and that of the European Union towards Turkey was very much dependent on the US relations with Turkey and Europe. After President Trump took office the US policy towards Europe has economically and politically become more independent as demonstrated by the failure to develop a free trade agreement between the US and the European Union. US accuses Europe for its protectionist economic policies and Europe accuses US of becoming also a protectionist state as demonstrated by its imposition of  additional tax on steel products imported from the EU countries. As a result, German policy towards Turkey has become more independent from US policies and more dependednt on the general attitude of EU countries in the face of recent developments in the region and much criticized Turkish domestic and  foreign policies not in harmony with the EU policies.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Chancellor Merkel’s approach to Turkey’s role in Syria is an outcome of the overall changes in the foreign policy of the new coalition Government in Germany.

Visits: 66

Europe Revisited

Europe Revisited


Seyfi Taşhan


The Second World War ended with greatest human loss and suffering history ever witnessed. This tragedy led to attempts aimed to prevent the repetition of the calamity of war through union of nations. The United Nations was to be the most influential instrument to prevent conflicts among nations of the World; and Western Europe chose to create institutions that would  lead to ever growing  integration among European nations. However, division of ideologies between Eastern and Western Europe divide, a fear of war, as Churchill said, an Iron Curtain fell between Eastern and Western Europe.  While socialism and commumnism were the dominant ideologies  in Eastern Europe, union through democracy and human rights  was expected to serve greater union among European nations. The Council of Europe would bring all European nations together oncve they accepted to adopt democracy and respect for human rights as the guiding principles of nations. Through the creation of a Human Rights Court and a mechanism of arranging multinational legislation leading to cooperation among Euroopean nations in all fields of life. However, Council of Europe’s role remained somewhat limited in fulfilling its aim of creating greater unity among member states.

It was soon fealt that the developed democratic countries of Western Europe could create an economic community that would lead to the estblishment  of the European Economic Community through creation of a single market for goods, labour, services and capital among the member states and creation of  common transport and agriculture policies.

Beginning with 6 Europen nations, it gradually increased its membership. The success of the Economic Community was impressive and led to the Maastricht Treaty transforming the Community into the more ambitious “European Union”,  overtaking most of the functions of the Council of Europe, thus creating not  a dicotomy in European legislation. As Soviet Union broke down in 1991 all Eastern European countries except Russia and Ukraine became candidates and eventually taking part as full members of the Union.

In 1995 EU Council, at its Madrid summit, decided that all European countries would eventually become member states and Russia, Turkey and North African countries   would become strategic partners.

However, Turkey had signed in 1963 the Ankara Treaty with the aim of becoming European Community member according to a step by step arrangements. In 1995 Turkey had concluded all of its obligations under the Ankara Treaty and established a Customs Union with the EU. On the other hand, the European Community and Union did not fulfill its obligations towards Turkey such as creating free circulation of labour and services.

In 1999 EU changed its attitude towards Turkey by accepting it as a candidate country of the EU. However, political neccessities made Europe forget its obligations under the Ankara Treaty, candidacy for membership, once the Customs Union was established. It was only in 2004 that chapter by chapter negotiations could begin. Even then the process was open-ended and is still continuing at snail speed due to the political attitudes of some member states who unilaterally put embargos on the progress of negotiations.

Has the European Union done enough progress to achieve its role of creating a real union,  establishing a union that would create a geniune subsidiarity and reduce nationalism among its members?

To answer this question we could mention the economic development of all European countries as a positive factor. Whereas impossibility of creating multinational defence and government functions in a united Europe must be considered as the greatest impediment in the creation of a United Europe. Strength of nationalism among the member countries in varying degrees prevented the creation of a real Europe and community members had to accept regional arrangements such as Monetary Union and Schengen travel arrangements became destabilazing factors in European politics instead of serving towards full Union. Furthermore, Community institutions were not of a character that would be capable od representing the entirety of Community members. Parliament was given large advisory powers but limited positive acts. Parliament approved the budget, approved new members to the Union.

The most important decision making organ is the Council composed of representatives of all member states’ governments with varying voting rights. This structure makes, in effect, the entire Union as an intergovernmental organization and because of the voting pattern, population factor makes votes in the Council stronger. In other words, Germany and France have more power than others.

The attempt to establish a European Constitution  could not enjoy the support of all member states. After 2001 terrorist attack on the US and increasing migration gained ground. We have, at this point, the  concept of security shifted from military purpose to a united fight against terrorism.This situation also led to xenophobia and particularly  Islamaphobia. This development also led to open war against Islamist led terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. The exodus of people from Syria shook the foundations of the European institutions. On this issue, UK decided to leave EU because it did not want to have to participate in sharing the quota of Muslim immigrants, further reason for Brexit.  The influx of refugees from Africa and Middle East will be continues and unavodiable problem for Western Europe.

The orther economic problem concerned Southern countries of Europe. These, comperatively less developed Mediterranean countries  of EU had spent more than their exconomies could support. Particularly Greece underwent great trauma for obtaining from EU institution funds that would allow only a modest way of life in contrast to supporting their luxurious spending among government isntitutions and peoples. Italy, Spain and  Portugal also suffered. The crisis in Italy is very grave and prevents governments from daring to impose radical social and economic refıorms. To a lesser degree, this situation is also valid for Spain and Portugal.

For Turkey the egreeement between the EU concverning return of illegal immigrants to Turkey aginst lifting visa restrictions for travel of Turkish citizens in European countries become a problem. However, the increasing migration into Turkey, Turkey’s inability to fulfill all of the demands of EU to make necessary revisions in the Turkish legislation, terrorism and ensuing verbal exchanges between European and Turkish leaders led the EU Parliament to ask for suspention of negotiations with Turkey but the EU Council, where executive decisions are taken, decided for the continuation of negotiations. The current economic and political  situation in Europe ias such that no one could expect any further enlargement of Europe in the near future. Because of this situation there is a sharp devision in the Turkish public opinion whether Turkey should join the EU.  Secular part of the population which is around half of Turkish population usually support closer relations with Europe. The other half has strong ideological objections.

Inspite of all that has happened,  the EU countries enjoy very high standards in their life styles. Behind the minds of Europe’s thinkers there is always a worry whether Europe can maintain such standards against challanges of rising economies, particuylarly of China and India. One of Europe’s main hopes was to establish a free trade arrangement with the US, but under  Donald Trump’s presidency and his already expressed doubts about free trade zones, it is not likely that free trade arrangement with Europe can ever be materialized.  There is the possibility that Brexit may naturally be a boon for British economy. It could establish closer ties with the US commonwealth countries while maintaining free trade with EU .

The lack of a proper European security institution is expected to be remedied by the NATO Alliance. Whatever the Washington Treaty says, in reality it makes NATO a guarantee for European countries against a possible Russian agression. In the realization of NATO goals, it is not absolutely clear whether in case of a Russian agression in Eastern Europe the entire Alliance will sufficiently react. In Turkey, we have from time to time observed strong doubts about the conditions of guarantee as embodied in the NATO Treaty. For example, we have observed at the time of President Kennedy the withdrawal of Jupiter missles located in Turkey, to pursuade the Soviets to withdraw their misslers from Cuba without consulting or even informing the Turkish Government. President Johnson openly threatened for not helping, Turkey in case of a Soviet attack in the event of a Turkish intervention in Cyprus. Again because of  Turkey’s intervention in Cyprus based on its obligations  arising from an international agreement, US Congress adopted a resolution imposing military sanctions against Turkey and the US President of the time, Gerald Ford, did not veto this resolution.

American involvement in the Middle East has been the result of  flimsy worries of US Presidents rather than real cases as need. Afghanistan was a reaction to the terrible  terrorist attacks in the US on 9/11 in 2001 and was quite justified in the world public opinion, even though originally the US had supported Al Qaeda against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. In Iraq Saddam thought he would get away with his invasion of Kuwait. Many Americans thought US dominance in the Gulf should not be challenged and senior President Bush’s response was swift and successful. He did the right thing: after evacuating Kuwait of Saddam’s forces and putting out oil field fires US withdrew its forces. One cannot reasonably understand the motives of junior Present Bush to attack and invade Iraq. British intelligence services said Saddam was building nuclear weaspons. Instead of denying such attempt Saddam werbally insulted Senior Bush. Were these unconfirmed reports enough justification for the Second Iraq war? Furthermore, there was not a clear UN Resolution for military invasion of Iraq.  The war was conducted on how to find and punish Saddam in the absence of any nuclear facilities. The result was a divided Iraq and a Sunni-Shiite conflict, an Islamic Constitution that would worsen the internal situation in a multi ethnic and religiously divided Iraq. Soon religious fundementalises started the war in Syria together with other opposition forces to remove President Bashar Assad  and create an Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL). Many people thought that they would sweep away Esad quickly and outside support in terms of human power, Money and weapons poured into Syria. The war that ensued has been continuing for the past  5 years. Assad instead of being deposed enjoys the support of Russia which has traditionally had a naval base in Syria. Assad now seems to dominate in Western Syria and has under its rule all major Syrian towns. Russia has established two more military bases in Syria and is now a major power behind the Assad regime. Furthermore, Iran is also involved  with its military support for the Assad regime. With continued  ISIL terrorism, Turkey also entered into Syria to help destroy ISIL forces and push them away from the Turkish border. In this manner Turkey is fighting a regular war in Syria against ISIL and a war against ambushes and terrorist attacks of PKK in South Eastern Turkey, as well as with its extension in Syria.

Visits: 63

Turkish Stand on the Gulf Crisis, Middle East and Europe – TURGUT ÖZAL

Turkish Stand on the Gulf

Crisis, Middle East and

Europe (*)


Neither the European Community nor the Western European Union may reach their netural and logical boundaries without Turkish presence.


It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be with you  today in Paris. I wish to express my sincere thanks to President Robert Pontillon for inviting me to address one of Europe’s three most important international parliamentary plat­forms.

In his letter of invitation, President Pontillon indi­cated that, he and his colleagues were particularly impressed by the firmness of the Turkish stand throughout the Gulf Crisis and the War. He invited me to express my views on two sub­jects; first, on how to tackle the problem of establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East and second how I see the new configuration of Europe in a profoundly modified inter­national environment.

The Middle East has always been a region of con­flict. The Arab-Israeli problem which has come to surface in the balances among the parties has tipped to one side or the other during the period in between. This conflict has given rise to other negative developments and tensions in the region as well as in the world. Terrorism is the foremost among them.

Differences among the Arabs have added to the gravity of the situation in the region. These differences made it very difficult, if not possible to achieve the Arab unity desired by many.

On the eve of the Gulf Crisis there were several Arab groupings.

The small but rich Arab countries of the Gulf had established the Gulf Cooperation Council. On the other hand Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Yemen came together in the Arab Cooperation Council.The third group consisted of the Maghreb countries. I also have to mention other Arab countries like Sudan and Somalia which had varying relations with each Arab group. Among these countries there are also those with large populations, high population growth rates and low incomes. I don’t think I need to name them.

The Iran-Iraq War brought new dimensions to this state of affairs. This war had both positive and negative effects on inter-Arab relations. All Arabs did not act in unison during this war. For example we all know that Syria was not among the Arab states supporting Iraq. There were also some North African countries like Libya which chose to stay neutral.

This war had as consequence low oil prices. It also led to the allocation of a substantial part of the oil income to war expenditures of Iraq through the financial assistance of the Gulf countries to that country. I should also mention here that Iraq perceived this assistance as its own right.

The East-West rivalry in the region aggravated the differences among the Arab states and fuelled the arms race in the Middle East.

Inter-Arab differences together with the Arab-Israeli conflict and the East-West competition as well as the presence of extremist factions and the adversity between different sects led to a much more complicated picture of the region on the eve of the Gulf Crisis. Lebanon has been a model of such a picture since 1975. One could witness all the factors I have just mentioned in that country. The events in Lebanon could be the ominous forebearers of such a picture with much greater dimensions in the future.


It would be an understatement just to say that these are difficult problems to solve. In fact some of them have been aggravated by the Gulf War and even new ones have been created.However we beleive that in the aftermath of the Gulf crisis we have a historic opportunity to cover substatial grounds towards the solution of some of these problems and especially the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In this context I must mention the great prestige gained by the United States after the Gulf Crisis and the rap­prochement between the United States and Soviet Union with the end of the Cold War.On the other hand, at present, resis­tance from extremists and terrorists to efforts to solve the Mid­dle East conflict are not as strong as it used to be in the past.

One main problem area in this picture is the in­fluence that extremist religious elements have on the Israeli government. The fact that Secretary Baker finds a new settle­ment in the occupied territories at each visit he makes to Israel is a manifestation of that influence on the Israeli Government.

I believe that the presence of this influence of extremist religious elements on the Israeli Government is one of the most important barriers for Israel to live peacefully in the region.

Our policy regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict has always been clear, consistent and balanced. We recognise the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, including the right to es­tablish their own state. We also recognise the right of all states in the region, including Israel, to live within secure and recog­nised borders.

At this highly critical juncture of peace making in the Middle-East, maintaining the present momentum is of crucial importance. If such a settlement can not be reached within a reasonable time scale, the frustrations of the people of the region and especially of the Palestinians will increase the anti-western sentiments among the people of region. It may also create further complications for the moderate and conservative Arabs and add to the already substantial inter-Arab differences.

Israel is also in a position to make the most of the prestige it has gained during the Gulf Crisis. Saddam Hussein’s attacks against Israel by scud missiles; and the restraint shown by the Israeli Government against these attacks have strengthened the standing and the negotiating posotion of Is­rael. Israel should now determine how far it can go during the negotiations and should contribute to the solution of the prob­lem within those parameters. Otherwise it may confront greater problems in the future.

The Middle-East already has an enormous stockpile of military equipment. For a lasting peace in the region, we must move swiftly to devise arrangements to curb excessive arms sales to the Middle-East. Weapons of mass destruction need to be swept away from the region. The CFE arrangements might to some extent constitute an example for the area. Of course the entirely different conditions of the region need to be taken into consideration. Success in this area also depends on success towards a settlement of the region. Success in this area also depends on suc­cess towards a settlement of the Arap-lsraeli conflict.

I personally believe that the most important factor for the achievement of peace in the region is to develop a system that would increase economic interdependence and meaningful cooperation among countries of the Middle East.

The countries of the region can collectively open up their markets to one another and increase trade exchanges and tourism. They can together build and improve the in­frastructure in the Middle East. Part of the region’s oil revenues could be pooled in an economic cooperation fund to finance such projects.

Cooperation along these lines would create an at­mosphere of deeper understanding and enhanced good will. It

would also serve the well being of all the nations in the would help narrow the income gap between the richer and less wealthy. This would contribute to a relaxation of social tensions underlying political unrest.

I believe that the most important requirement of the Middle East for the years to come is water. The need of the countries of the region is now even more greater because of the pollution in the Gulf. In this respect I should remind you of my proposal of a multi-lateral venture for the purpose of build­ing a “peace-water pipeline” to deliver water from Turkish rivers, down to the Arabian peninsula. This pipeline would benefit all countries involved, in this context may I draw your attention to an initiative I have undertaken to convene an International Water Summit in Istanbul from 3 to 9 November 1991, to dis­cuss related problems.

The winds of democracy may be reaching the Mid­dle-East soon. We really see some signs to this effect.

Turkey is a drawbridge of Europe’s fortress of con­temporary civilisation and its gateway to the Middle East. As such we consider that democratisation ought to go hand in hand with efforts aimed at increasing economic interdepen­dence in the area. This is the only way to guarantee that the region keeps pace with the exigencies of a new global order based on peace, justice and progress. The achievement of democratisation in the Middle East should be regarded not only as a desirable goal for the region itself, but also as a component of Europe’s well being and peace of mind.

We cannot expect to have a democracy in the region with western standards at the initial phase, although each country may reach different stages in time.

Turkey, with its secular democracy and free market economy can constitute an example to the countries of the region in this respect.


Turkey together with Iran and Pakistan is on the way to giving a new life to the trilateral “Economic Cooperation Organisation”. The three countries have agreed to accord trade preferences to each other, to establish a joint investment bank and to cooperate on infrastructure projects. A summit is being planned for autumn of this year to seal these decisions. We are hoping that these developments might have some influence to encourage similar cooperation in the region.

We believe that the situation in Iraq is more serious than may be appreciated from the outside. Iraq has suffered a great and a humiliating defeat. The war has caused great damage on the country. The wound is yet fresh and warm and the pain is not so obvious. But as time passes the situation in Iraq might become worse. I believe there has also been great loss of life in Iraq during the war. As the prisoners of war return to their families and homes, the gravity of the situation will weigh on the people of Iraq. The civil war in that country has also created additional damage and loss of life. It has in­creased tensions between the regime and the people of Southern and Northern Iraq. It would not be correct to think that peace has finally come for the people of Iraq. A sparkle might lead to other tragedies in that country.

I believe that a quick political solution is required to bring an end to the sufferings in Iraq. Embargo by itself is not enough to provide this solution. It is up to the international community to come to grips with this problem. Otherwise the present problems might achieve new dimensions.

Now I want to outline my views on the develop­ments in Europe.I believe the most important development in Europe have been the ending of the Cold War and the enormous chan­ges in the Soviet Union, the collapse of communism in Europe, the unification of Germany and coming into power of democratic governments in the countries of East Europe.


On the other hand, the decision by the European Community to achieve a single market by end of 1992 is a very significant development for Europe. The attraction of the European Community for the non-member countries increase every passing day as the community draws closer to this ob­jective. There may be differences in the pace towards an inter­nal market in various sectors, but it is a fact that this objective will be achieved in the end and will be a significant building block in the new European architecture.

I would now like to go a little further into some of the developments I have just mentioned.

The lifting of the heavy hand of the Soviet Union over the countries of Central and Eastern Europe led to the revival of democratic currents in those countries, and to the collapse of old economic systems. As a result it brought them face to face with colossal new problems. There was a mistaken belief in those countries that with democracy, prosperity would be within easy reach. However the most important characteristic of a free market system is that it requires hard work for individuals as well as for nations to achieve prosperity.

The lifting of the Soviet pressure also affected the ethnic problems in the Balkans. These problems which were not much visible because of Soviet pressure came to surface. This has led to tensions between the countries of the Balkans and between different ethnic groups in almost every Balkan state. This sitiation might lead to new and greater complication if not handled with due care. Turkey is in a situation to play a positive role also in this respect. It has a great deal of ex­perience in the Balkans going back to the Ottoman period. It is a country of the region enjoying excellent relations with Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia and Hungary. It has problems only with Greece. I am not going to take up the reasons here. I should however mention that their solution will be much easier if the European Community does not become a party to these problems.

The Soviet Union itself, in some respects resemble the Balkans. Outside the Russians which constitute the core of the Union, there are Christian and Moslem-Turkic republics and scores of minorities in those republics. It is noteworthy that those which refuse to join the Union Treaty are only the Chris­tian Republics. This situation might give rise to difficulties to achieve a further rapprochement between Europe and the Soviet Union in future.

I believe that the process towards democratisation in the Soviet Union is irreversible. Therefore, the West should help the Soviet Union in this period of transition.

However, the real effort and sacrifice must come from the people of Soviet Union themselves. Turkish ex­perience in passing to a free market economy has verified this. We had to pool almost ninety percent of our resources to achieve this objective. The European Community did not pro­vide even the insignificant sum of 600 million Ecus foreseen by the fourth financial protocol. I believe, at this stage, the Soviet Union will mostly need support without political strings at­tached, and assistance for the education and training of people required to run a free market economy.

During the last few years substantial steps have been taken for the security of Europe. NATO has played a very important role in the ending of the Cold War. It is a well estab­lished and an efficient organisation. It is important to maintain this organisation and to make the necessary changes within the organisation in parallel with the developments in Europe and the world.

The challenges facing us in Western Europe are no less serious than those which confronted us forty-five years ago. To avoid the risks of failure, common sense urges us to envisage an interlocking network of relationships based on NATO, the CSCE, the European Community and other European institutions.


As far as NATO’s role in the future security architec­ture of the continent is concerned, Turkey supports the evolu­tion of a stronger European dimension. Such a development ought to reinforce the Atlantic Alliance and bring about a more equal distribution of leadership and responsibilities within it. In our opinion, if the EC nations decide to form an exclusive club, the new European architecture cannot benefit from the new prospects and meet new challenges. It would leave some European allies like Turkey and Norway, who are yet to join the Community, marginalized on the flanks. Hence, a European defence identity should be conceived as the “European Security Pillar” of NATO and in the manner endorsed at the London Summit in July last year.

The Atlantic Alliance, the CSCE and the European Community are three specific secular pillars of the continent, each will make its own contribution to the new European ar­chitecture. An important aspect of European cooperation will be in the framework of the European Community. Military\Security integration and Atlantic security cooperation should remain the job of NATO. In this context cooperation with and support of the United Statets is imperative for an Atlantic balance. We should refrain from attempts to reduce the United States’ presense in Europe. Western European Union ought to develop to become the European pillar of the Transatlantic system by embracing all the fourteen European members of the alliance.

Lastly I wish to make a few points that should cor­rect lingering misperceptions in the minds of some Europeans about Turkey’s role in the new configuration of the continent.This role can be properly assessed by taking due account of historic, geopolitical and economic factors.

Eastern Thrace and particularly Anatolia are exten­sions of the European continent. As such, the course of their history has always been inseparable from that of Europe. These were Alexander’s springboard towards world dominion. Rome stretched her power to the borders of Persia and to Mesopotamia across the Bosphorus and the Taurus Moun­tains. Taurus, Iconium and Ephesus served as stepping stones for the spread of the message of Christ into Greece and Rome. Islam followed the same path in reaching the peoples of the Balkans. For five centuries, Istanbul provided the home base from which the Ottomans, as successors of Byzantium, control­led Europe as far as Budapest.

Imperial Turkey was formally admitted to the “Con­cert European” in 1856. The entire history of the Ottoman reform movement consists of an unbroken chain of attempts to reorganize the state and the society on the European pattern.

Yet Turkey’s European vocation found a modern, concrete and absolute expression with Kemal Ataturk’s revolu­tionary achievements. The record of the Turkish Republic in all walks of life -from public and civil law, politics, economics, cul­tural and social orientation to military and defence matters- bears out the nation’s European credentials. In fact, the suc­cess of Turkey’s emergence as a modern and secular state bears witness to Turkey’s historic course oriented to Europe. The Turkish bid to join the Community and the Western European Union should be seen as the culmination of a process which lasted for centuries.

Throughout the last decade, Turkey registered a great success with regard to economic restructuring. A sound economy, capable of being integrated to the world economies, has thus emerged. The transformation was brought about in a democratic environment.

Turkey had no access to huge grants and extensive subsidies. We, nevertheless, managed to create a healthier economy that could produce consecutive current account surpluses until the Gulf Crisis. I should also mention here that the free market economy we now enjoy helped us overcome the adverse affects of the crisis with a minimum loss. We ser­viced our foreign debt repayments on schedule. Today, Turkey is in a position to extend credit lines to many countries. She has been able to achieve a sustained annual growth rate of not less than 6 % over the last decade. The Turkish Lira has be­come fully convertible and foreign exchange reserves have reached an all-time high level. Exports have more than quad­rupled. There are no restrictions pertaining to the foreign exchance regime and an effective stock-market is steadily expanding. Privatization is going on at full speed.

Turkish experience towards achieving a free market economy is being followed with great attention by the countries of the region. Indeed, Turkey, with most developed free market economy and a trained, experienced bureaucracy, has a lot to share with the countries of that part of the world. It could share its experiences in the liberalisation of trade and encourage free movement of people, capital and services.

This is also true for the Black Sea region and the Balkans. I have put forth the idea of a “Black Sea Economic Cooperation Zone”. This Zone would include, besides Turkey, the Soviet Union, Romania and Bulgaria. Six Soviet republics would also participate, these are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldavia, Russia and the Ukraine. We believe, proposed joint measures to liberalize trade in the Area and to cooperate in establishing the infrastructure necessary for facilitating trade among the participants. We are not aiming at a Black Sea Common Market. We only want to create a medium through which goods, capital, people and services can move more free­ly. During my visit to the Soviet Union, I saw that president Gor­bachev and the leaders of the republics were favorable to this idea.

The dramatic developments in the Gulf must always remind us of the breadth of the problems besetting the Muslim world and the dangers of the revival of an age-old conflict between Muslims and Christians. Power hungary people exploit even the smallest differences among nations and fractions to achieve their objectives. In the past, economic frustrations forced many people to seek ways of liberation. They resorted to communism and revolutionary methods. We now know that, those methods are not the cure.

The changes in Eastern Europe and Soviet Union have resulted in the revival of religion in these regions.

People believing in God build stronger societies. History confirms this. The important thing is that religion should not border on extremism. To prevent this, societies and in­dividuals need to be more tolerant towards each other. One should not forget that religions which believe in one God are based on same principles.

If we are to avoid the dark ages when religions were at war with each other, we must be very careful. In a world which is so much smaller today we cannot ignore the economic difficulties of others. We need better programmes of cooperation and assistance to other developing countries.

Today the Muslim population in the world is more than a billion. In the Soviet Union alone the Muslim population is nearing 80 million. The birth rate is high. No one can say from now the effect of a number of political problems that will be created if these people are to come under the influence of militant ideologies.

The Moslem populations world over, not only in the Middle East but in the Soviet Union as well, are in fact at the threshold of making historic decisions in their search for a viable alternative which would fundamentally determine their future.

The fact that Turkey is a secular Moslem country sharing western values enriches the Turkish Model with an added dimension. This dimension proves to the Middle Eastern nations, as well as to the Islamic world in general, that an Islamic country can evolve into a democratic and modern society on the western pattern. On the other hand it also con­stitutes a model to be emulated by the Eastern and Southern Soviet Republics.

Turkey applied to the European Community in 1987. The Commission rendered its opinion on Turkish membership in 1989 at a time of unprecedented mutation in Europe. These were the welcome changes which marked the end of the Cold War. The EC was seen as a pole of attraction by all Eastern European countries. However, today, we see that a lot of time is still needed for many of the East European Countries to come up to the standards of integration with the Community. Turkey is very near to those standards. It is in fact at a better position than some of the member states.

Turkey has also reached an economic standard above other Islamic countries. Turkish membership will make it possible for the EC to establish better relations with the Islamic world. There are those who believe that the EC is a Christian club. Such tendencies only contribute to polarisations in the world.

Turkey’s historic experience and knowledge of the Balkans, the Black Sea Region, West Asia as well as the Middle East and the excellent relations it enjoys with almost all the countries of these regions places Turkey at a unique position. Turkish membership in the European Community and the Western European Union would no doubt enrich these two or­ganisations and would contribute to the improvement of their political, cultural and economic ties with that part of the world.

Turkey will also serve as an engine of growth in an expanded Europe with her developing economy offering new market opportunities for Western European exporters. Enriched with Turkey’s young and dynamic workforce, Western European capital and enterprise would be in a position to tap the vast economic potential of Anatolia.

As far as the Western European Union is concerned, I would first underline one of the prioties of Turkish foreign policy, namely that of participating in all spheres of the European integration process.

We agree that efforts towards strengthening European role in the field of security and defence should be pursued with energy and vigour. Yet, it is our firm conviction that one cannot and should not create two different categories of European members within the same alliance; those who are within the EC and WEU, and trrose who are only within NATO. On the other hand Turkey should not be expected to accept only the responsibilities of the defence of the continent without parpicipating fully in the making of the new Europe.

I would like to sum up my message as follows: Turkey, as a persistent and unswerving adherent of the humanitarian values of Europe, is long overdue for political, economic, cultural recognition by her natural partners. Neither the Community nor the Western European Union may reach their natural and logical boundries without Turkish presence. She constitutes a European bridge to a far wider consensus between Europe and the Middle East. As such, she is a political asset for Western Europ.

All European nations have contributed to a rich and diverse European identity. Turkey, with all the civilizations that have enriched Anatolia and its people is one of the Mediter­ranean heirs to that very identity in equal share to her future EC and WEU partners. We claim that heritage.Turkey and Western European Union have common goals and common responsibilities to discharge. Therefore, no special consultative arrangement can be regarded as a per­manent substitute to Turkey’s eventual full membership in the Union.

With these thoughts in mind, I wish you every suc­cess in your future work.

(*)     President Turgut Özal’s address to the WEU Parliamentary Assembly in Paris on May 5,1991 was published in the fpi Quarterly “Foreign Policy” Vol. 16, Nos. 1-2



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İlter Türkmen

The political cohesion of the Alliance is a concept which goes beyond harmonization or concertation of foreign policy attitudes and initiatives. It is basically dependent on  the credibility of the deterrence, commitment to the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law which can only be materialized if all Allied countries have democra­tic system of government, the harmonization of the interests of mem­bers, the avoidance of prolonged conflict among partners and a dynamic pursuit of Alliance objectives.

(*)This paper was presented to the Turkish Atlantic Treaty Association Symposium on “NATO After Three Decades” in İstanbul on July 7, 1979

          Published in the fpi Quarterly “Foreign Policy” Vol.8, Nos. 1-2


Broadly speaking, the political cohesion of the Alliance is a concept which goes beyond harmonization or concertation of foreign policy attitudes and initiatives. It is basically dependent on the follo­wing elements: the credibility of the deterrence (nuclear strategic forces, theater nuclear forces, conventional forces), the commitment to the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rules of law which can only be materialized if all Allied countries have democra­tic system of government, the harmonization of the interests of mem­bers, the avoidance of prolonged conflict among partners and a dynamic pursuit of Alliance objectives.

  1. Under prevailing international conditions, the security of the members of NATO rests mainly on the balance between the Atlantic Alliance and the Warsaw Pact. Although this balance reflects primarily the equivalance between the strategic nuclear forces of the United States and the Soviet Union, it includes such other factors as the ratio between the conventional forces of the two sides, the degree of political solidarity among the members of the opposing Alliance systems and the implications of the gains or losses of either side in the ongoing political competition in various regions of the world. The process of detente, despite its tortuous course, can foster the objectives of the Alliance only if the members of the Alliance can preserve their cohesion and are able to act in a way which would not permit the exploitation of detente with the aim of undermining their security.

On the other hand, political strength of the Alliance is based on the fact that at present all its members have democratic regimes, sustained in many of them by strong social structures, efficient and pro­ductive economic systems and superior technological performance, that they can display flexibility and adaptability in the face of the profound transformation affecting the world as a whole, instead of being entrapped in misleading slogans and stale ideological app­roaches, It is only by making full use of these advantages that the Alliance can, not withstanding the difficulties it encounters, achive progress in its quest of ensuring peace and stability, promote app­ropriate measures of arms control and disarmament and conduct East-West relationship on a mutually beneficial basis.

  1. The view that the defensive shield of the Atlantic Alliance can be effective only to the degree that it is based on the political solidarity between member countries has dominated the evolution of NATO since the very beginning. With the fading away of the nuclear superiority for the West, the advent of the era of the equivalence between NATO and the Warsaw Pact strategic nuclear forces, and the consequent increase in the risks inherent in a decision to re­sort to nuclear arms, the need to maintain a high degree of political cohesion among Alliance members has acquired an even greater Importance. This has led to a strengthening of the mechanism of po­litical consultations and to the enlargement of the scope of con­sultations to cover world-wide developments, especially those which have or might have a bearing on the global military and political power balance. The management of the relations with the East, the need to gear the process of detente in a way which would not be detrimental to the collective and individual interests of member countries has been still another factor inciting Alliance members to ensure a certain degree of parallelism in their policies towards Eas­tern Europe.

4.With the beginning of the policy of “peaceful coexistence” which the Soviets have adopted after the death of Stalin with the purpose of pursuing competition with the West with all means short of war, a greater harmony of views between the members of the AtIantice had become essential. It is to cope with this challenge that the NATO Council had set up in 1956 a Committee of Three Foreign Ministers to recommend ways and means of strengthening inter allied non-military cooperation. This report exercised a deep influ­ence on political consultations, underlining that there cannot be unity in defence and disunity in political viewpoints, the Report stressed the importance of making political consultations a habit. The Report pointed out that “the essential thing is that on all occasions and in all circumstances, member governments, before acting or pronouncing, should “keep the interests and the requirements of the Alliance in mind.” It was further said that a member government should not, without adequate advance consultation, adopt firm po­licies or make major political pronouncements on matters which significantly affect the Alliance or any of its members, unless circums­tances make such prior consultations obviously and demonstrably impossible.

With the development of East-West relations and the advent of the era of detente, the need of intensive political consultations among allies was even better understood. Under conditions of de­tente, the assessment of Soviet policies and the study of possible changes in those policies, the evaluation of the reaction to action by the NATO Alliance are essentia! for the fulfillment of the tasks incumbent upon the Alliance both in the military and political fields. In 1967, the Harmel Report had emphasized the need to deepen and improve the practice of frank and timely consultations.

  1. Although the system of political consultations has gradually evolved, it has not of course reached the level of coordination of action. The instances of coordination continue to be rare and this is understandable. NATO is not a supranational organisation and was not intended to be one. The decisions are taken on common consent and in matters not directly related to the treaty area the
    Alliance cannot and should not go beyond the harmonization of positions as a maximum objective and to a full and timely discussion among equal partners when the subject matter concerns the policies of an individual member with implications for the Alliance.

In discussing the political cohesion of the Alliance, the main question is, therefore, to determine to what extent the present con­cepts, procedures and practices can contribute to the objective of harmonizing policies and of preventing Allies from taking lines of action working at cross-purposes or from embarking individually on policies not compatible with the justifiable interests of other partners.

  1. Looking back, we can point to many failures of the system consultation as well as to many instances in which the system functioned efficiently. The first important failure occured in 1956, when Great Britain and France decided to intervene against Egypt, following the nationalization of the Suez Canal without informing in advance their other allies, including the United States.

Other instances incompatible with the concept of consultations can be mentioned, in particular the contacts which proceeded the normalization of relations between China and the United States, the Nixon-Brezhnev Pact on the avoidance of nuclear war of 1973 and the nuclear alert called by Washington during the 1973 Middle East War.

Against those failures of consultation within the Alliance, one could ofcourse  enumerate examples of encouraging results, in particular within the field of direct alliance responsibility, such as NATO defence and relations between Western Europe, the United States and the Soviet Union, on which extensive and in most cases trustful consultations took place. These are the Strategic Arms Li­mitations talks, the preparation and follow-up of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Mutual Force Reduc­tion negotiations.

  1. How much the process of consultation is indispensable was revealed once again in connection with the SALT Agreement. Although consultations on this question have been numerous and quite detailed, some implications of the Treaty concerning, in particular, the verification aspect have not emerged until the last moment. Some decisions related to nuclear defense in Europe and which has a bearing at least for future SALT talks have been adopted without consultations.

SALT 2 has involved only the United States and the Soviet Union. But, SALT 3 will have direct implications for Europe, as it will deal with weapons of the gray area. Disarmament and arms control are subjects which will therefore be discussed in depth and more intensively by the Alliance. It is in those discussions that the close relationship between defense planning and arms control and disarmament will have to be weighed from the point of view of the security of the Alliance. The Council will have to assess whether it would be more advantageous for the Atlantic Alliance to devise defense programs based on the introduction of new technology or to seek arms control agreements imposing restrictions to both NATO and the Warsaw Pact in the field of new weapons systems.

  1. One subject which is perennially discussed in NATO Council meetings without producing even a modest degree of harmonization is certainly the Middle East. From the geographical point of view, it has always been erroneous to view the politics and defense of the Mediterranean as entering into the field of direct responsibility of the Alliance, but to consider problems relating to policies towards North Africa or the Middle East as extraneous issues. Political developments and defense issues in the basin of the Mediterranean cannot of course be studied without taking into account the situation in contiguous areas, North Africa and the Middle East. To what extent, the security of the Alliance and East-West relations are affected by the developments in the Middle East have been recon­firmed by the reaction to the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and the events in Iran. It might be presumptuous to say that more intensive consultations on the Middle East would have enabled the Allies to foresee with more perspicacity the crisis in Iran, but it could have perhaps injected more caution in the policies which pro­ceeded from the comfortable assumption that there was nothing to be feared with regard to the long-term stability of that country under the Shah’s regime .Similarly, not enough attention has been paid to Afghanistan and policies towards Pakistan have been, to say the least, erratic.

We have now in the Middle East a situation which offers a combination of hopeful and dreadful perspectives. The NATO countries need more than ever a correct assessment of the developments in this area and should be able to prevent individual policies incom­patible with each other or directed to achieve opposite objectives.

  1. Economic policies are inevitably an element of defense and diplomacy. But the structure of NATO as an organisation does not allow it to tackle economic problems. On the other hand, it is becoming more and more obvious that in the discussions taking place in international economic and financial organisations, political and defense factors are far from being taken into consideration. In the light of the oil crisis of 1973, and particularly of the new shortages appearing after the events of Iran, the NATO Council should be able to develop a practice which would enable it to include in its evaluation work economic factors and to urge governments to be, in their approaches to problems in international economic organisations more alert to the security and political implications of eco­nomic decisions.

The shortcomings of the Alliance in the economic and financial field have received a new attention recently because of the economic difficulties experienced by some NATO countries, in particular Turkey and Portugal. In such cases, the Alliance should be able to assess the need of likewise countries for economic assistance in the light of the burden they carry in the field of defense, to bear in mind the consequences which would ensue for the Alliance if economic constraints provoke dangerous political and social explosions and encourage and urge its members to give weight to all those considerations in their bilateral and multilateral economic and financial in their bilateral and multilateral economic and financial policies and actions.

  • In proceeding to consultations, larger and smaller members have different perspectives. The large countries would like, to a maximum extent, preserve their freedom of action, but at the same time secure compliance by smaller countries to their policies and initiatives. The smaller countries on the other hand would like to have a feeling of participation, an opportunity to express their views on matters which can have repercussions upon them. They seek to commit larger members to consultations in emergency situations. Of course, the roles might easily be reversed and there might be instances when smaller countries, for varying reasons, would like to evade a commitment to support certain policies and approaches.
  1. The cohesion of an alliance is not only influenced by the degree of political consultations and harmonization of policies it achieves, The visible signs of interdependence and mutual aid are equally important. Member countries experience from time to time political difficulties or economic hardships. Even if the Alliance cannot cope with these problems institutionally, the members of the Alliance should act towards this country in a spirit of partnership and so­lidarity.

In principle, countries which have united their efforts for collective defense and committed themselves to political cooperation should have no enduring conflict between them. Disputes which might erupt between Allies should be settled rapidly in a way which would not affect the political solidarity and the military effectiveness of the Alliance. But unfortunately, this is not always the case. If, therefore, a dispute occurs between member countries, those which are not involved in it have the great responsibility of maintaining a strict neutrality, while endevouring in a discreet way to encourage the parties to negotiations. Nothing can be more damaging for the alliance if countries depart from this rule and try to bring pressure upon one of the parties by resorting to methods detrimental to the purpose of the alliance,

  1. In assessing the contribution of political consultations to the cohesion of the alliance, we have to examine the impact of the fragmentation of the process of consultation. Indeed, the process of consultation suffers at present from a double fragmentation. The separate consultations going on among the member countries of the European Economic Community and the new trend of holding exclusive consultations among some prominent members of the alliance in summit meetings, the most recent examples of such meetings, being the Guadelupe summit.

As far as consultations between members of the EEC are concerned, two considerations should be underlined. Firstly, although there can be no objection to intimate consultations within the framework of EEC to fulfill the purposes of the Rome Treaty, it is significant that these consultations are much more wide ranging and in depth than the consultations taking place in NATO. It can be argued that this is understandable, since the EEC aims eventually at a political union. But even if this is so, one should remember that the political objectives of NATO in a board sense, ecompassing also collective defense and equilibrium, detente and stability in Europe, imply by their very nature the same degree of political interdependence and cohesion as the EEC. The second consideration is that the EEC consultations are distracting from the need to consult between NATO members. What happens very often is that, once the members of the Common Market have discussed an issue among themselves, the United States is consulting with one or some members of the EEC and the NATO process is forgotten. In most international organisations and forums, as well as in various capitals, consultations among representatives of NATO countries have ceased to be practiced. In some forums, consultations among NATO members take place after consultations within the EEC and tend, therefore, to duplicate them in a perfunctory manner.

The strengthening and further development of EEC is certainly in the interest of the North Atlantic Alliance as a whole. No NATO country, non-member of the EEC can therefore oppose the close links between members of the EEC and their desire to harmonize their positions prior to consultations among all NATO countries. But no useful purpose is served if this process is used in a way which erodes the substance of the process of consultations in NATO. In matters which come also under the purview of NATO con­sultations, it should be equally in the interest of EEC members to acquaint themselves thoroughly with the views of non-EEC NATO countries before reaching joint EEC positions. In such instances, EEC  countries  can  perhaps  have  some  preliminary  consultations, but postpone the formulation of  joint or coordinated positions until after an exchange of views has taken place in NATO. On the other hand, on questions which are more related to NATO than EEC, the process of consultations can be conducted directly within the NATO Alliance,

  1. The Guadelupe typ of exclusive summit meetings affect consultations both in NATO and the EEC. That the United States, France, the Federal Republic of Germany and the United Kingdom, by virtues of their political, military and economic power, have greater responsibility in the international arena cannot be disputed. Close bilateral contacts between Heads of Government of these countries and harmony between their policies can only enhance the influence and effectiveness of NATO. But an institutional pro­cess of consultations “a quatre” or “a cinq” is another matter. This is found to create misgivings among smaller members which are understandably opposed to the idea of a kind of directoire of big powers. Even if they are subsequently briefed extensively, those countries will feel that some aspects of restricted consultations have been withheld from them or that they have been denied the opportunity of presenting their views before important decisions af­fecting them individually and the Alliance as a whole have been taken. There is a strong case, therefore, for abandoning Guadelupe type summit meetings unless there is a compelling reason for holding them.
  2. In its fourth decade, the Alliance will continue to be indis­pensable for the security of its members, and as an instrument which enable them to achieve their common political purposes.

In a rapidly changing world, in order to fulfill its mission, the Alliance will need to display more dynamism, more adaptability and a greater political cohesion. The Alliance has so far successfully met several challenges. But under existing conditions and in view of prospective political changes, political cooperation is  bound to become increasingly important.

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The “Atlantic Community” is an expression of  the unity of destiny and the identity of interest between the United States, Canada and Europe brought forth by the Second World War. The frictions, which have been intensified from time to time, between some European powers and the United States may lead to conclusions contrary to this reality.

Muharrem Nuri Birgi

(*) Published in the fpi Quarterly “Foreign Policy” Vol.3, No. 4


One of the most important realities brought forth by the Second World War and its aftermath is that unity of destiny and the identity of interest between the United States, Canada and Europe constitute a lasting geo­political fact and precept. The term “Atlantic Community”  is, therefore, an expression of this reality.

A near-sighted look at the frictions, which have been intensified from time to time during recent years, between some European powers and the United States may lead to conclusions contrary to this reality. However, ninety per cent of these frictions result from endeavours made not to des­troy the Atlantic Community but to adapt it to various developing condi­tions. Yet, if errors accumulate, long-term aims shall have been sacrificed in favour of short-term appearances, and if the dangers are ignored, this process of adaptation may be replaced by explosions and divisions. Des­pite the strength of the logic ordained by geo-political realities, history contains many examples of deviations from the path of reality simply be­cause of lack of wisdom.

The concept of the Atlantic Community has in the North Atlantic Trea­ty Organization found its most comprehensive and effective legal and political expression and military organization.

Within its overall political balance, Turkey has secured the support and cooperation required both for its development and security by basing its place in the Atlantic Community on legal foundations, through its membership in the Council of Europe and associate membership in the Common Market on one hand and through its entry into NATO on the other. Yet, a number of developments are taking place both within Europe and in the relations between Europe and the United States. In the face of these developments what is the present position of Turkey and the state of the foundations on which it has based its policy?

The principal points of  these developments may be sketched as follows :


1 – The arrival, following the Second World War, at a point of maxi­mum solidarity and togetherness in the Atlantic Community within the fra­mework of NATO, from the military standpoint, and through the Marshall Plan, as well as a number of bilateral treaties, from the economic view­point.

2 -Then came a gradual attempt to show the cooperation with theUnited States and its military protection as an American domination over Europe, with the increasing frictions between the two shores of the At­lantic and the transformation of these frictions into a viscious circle through increasing economic and technological rivalries.

3The continuation of two divergent currents among the advanced European powers, one aiming at the realization of the United Europe and the other creating obstacles for this unity – due to economic rivalries and attempts at establishing political superiority – runnning parallel to, and in­teracting with the frictions and rivalries which I mentioned above.

For the Western powers, which had come out of the Second World War in a state of utter exhaustion, two vital necessities existed in all their gravity : to achieve an early economic recovery, and to reach the capa­bility of resisting an invasion by Soviet Russia, the danger of which had be­come imminent. While all these needs were secured by the United States through NATO, the Marshall Plan and several bilateral treaties, the pri­celess value of this tremendous protection and assistance of the United States could not but have psychologically crushing, and even in certain respects irritating, aspects. However, so long as a fear for life, and eco­nomic exhaustion dominated the picture, this aspect of the matter was hardly felt.

The unprecedented economic and technological development of Wes­tern Europe and the success of Soviet Russia in transforming the Cold War, which carried with it the danger of a real hot war at any moment, into a form of detente, pushed the fear for life into the background (in many circles it altogether disappeared), and economic and technological rivalry began between the United States and the advanced European pow­ers, which not only no longer needed American assistance, but had reached its level in many fields.

At the same time, a situation began to develop, of direct interest to Turkey. The attitude of highly advanced powers in Western Europe to­wards their developing European allies began to change. Time has shown that the principal factor leading the highly developed powers in Western Europe to firmly embrace their less developed allies within NATO, as far as possible under conditions of equality, was the fear for life created by the probability of an armed invasion by Soviet Russia. In actual fact, this danger of Soviet invasion has not at the present day been eliminated. But as I pointed out above, Soviet propaganda has, with an excellent knowledge of the weaknesses of the West, succeeded in wrapping the Cold War, which presented the danger of turning into hot war, with the cloak of detente. Today, no one can claim that any one of the NATO countries is facing the danger of becoming a victim of an armed Soviet invasion in a matter of days or months-and possibly years. Yet, the frightening scale of increase in Soviet arms, their establishment of naval superiority in all seas and their failure to end activities for creating division among the allies and particularly for separating Europe from America and for destroying every one of them from within, their failure to refuse to go beyond a certain point in both discussions for mutual arms reductions and for the estab­lishment of security and their anxiousness to maintain at such points mi­litary and political superiority to the other side-in other words to weaken the other party – should be considered as evidences to dissuade everyone from claiming that the danger of Soviet invasion is over. Particularly those countries geographically in critical locations are compelled not to over­look the possibility that this danger may, all of a sudden, turn again into an armed invasion.

However, at this moment, particularly in highly developed western countries, the existing detente is considered by the majority as an irre­vocable step towards peace. A large portion of those who are not so opti­mistic wish to believe that through untiring political pressure and leader­ship in setting a good example, and by establishing a political and psych­ological atmosphere of security, the arms may indeed be reduced some day; in other words, putting the cart before the horse, they wish to believe that instead of establishing security through a genuine disarmament, it would be easier to get the parties to drop their arms by creating an at­mosphere of security through a number of promises regarding the observ­ance of human rights, non-agression and friendship. In this miscalcula­tion of the existing dangers and over-optimism, much influence is due to the younger generations which have not gone through the chilling exper­iences of the Second World War and its immediate aftermath, and who listen to the story of those days as if they are listening to a dull lecture of a pedantic professor.

All these have contributed, in the developed western countries, to pushing matters of defense into the background, and bringing economic and technological problems to the foreground. The situation being as it is, the highly developed western powers have started to play the part of a sort  of  first-class  United  Europe among themselves,  throwing   aside or drawing in their wake those who happen to be less fortunate in economic development.

The countries which have made great progress in commerce, industry, economy and technology certainly have problems to discuss and resolve among themselves. In fact, within the Common Market there are countries like «the Nine» on one side, and other associate members like Turkey which are candidates for full membership – countries which through their own volition have agreed to become full members after a certain period of time. However, the Nine have expanded the nature of their communion. There is today an institutionalized Nine. Their ministers or prime ministers meet officially not only to discuss economic matters but also to resolve political and military problems and to determine a joint basis for discus­sions with the United States on political and military matters.

To express it nakedly, those members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (including Turkey) which are outside the Nine are now faced with the fait acompli that a number of questions are either presented to the NATO Council in an already well-defined manner as predetermined by the Nine, or these could be put into execution even without consulting NATO. We hear that the Nine inform their NATO allies which are not among the Nine of matters they have discussed if and when they consider it appropriate. There is no need to stress that this can never be accepted as satisfactory.

If in the course of relations between Europe and the United States – which I will deal with a little later – there is a necessity for a number of prior consultations and preparations among the Europeans – not to es­tablish a front against the United States but to enhance the existing cooperation – there is a Eurogroup within NATO formed for this purpose. This should provide a medium, and not a treaty within the treaty, for those European Allies who might wish to come together regularly to discuss the sharing of defense expenditures, manufacture of arms, etc., and naturally Americans and Canadians should be regularly kept informed. Why then have not the Nine considered this procedure adequate and why have they turned themselves into a separate institution? Here it becomes necessary to make an analysis of the French attitude.

France, even before de Gaulle, had considered itself as the leader of Europe. This claim has lead France to conflicts from time to time with Britain and Germany. Ever since de Gaulle’s advent to power, the French political scene has been dominated by the conviction that the prerequisite for establishing French supremacy in Europe was getting American hands off Europe. Even after de Gaulle’s death, in other words today, this con­tinues to be so. This policy, which exceeds the potential of France, has made its most evident effect felt within NATO. The well-known de Gaulle statements, could be summed up as follows : “The North Atlantic Treaty and its organization, NATO, are separate things. I am staying in the Treaty, but I am withdrawing from NATO, that is, from the military organization and integration of the Treaty.” France has advanced a unilateral theory which is extremely hard to defend logically and legally. Without with­drawing its hands completely from the NATO military organization, i.e. by mainting contact through a number of observers and through other for­mulas, France has established a “national strike force” including nuclear arms but having a limited practical value. In defense of its action France argued openly or by implication that the United States could not be trusted; therefore one had to rely on national forces and that Europe should have a nuclear force independent of the United States. In reality, however, the membership of France within the military organization of NATO was not at all an obstacle to France’s developing a nuclear strike force of its own. In fact, Great Britain has a nuclear force which is at least as big as that of France, but Great Britain has not left the NATO inte­gration. Moreover, while de Gaulle stated that Europe should have its own force he did not conceal that France would not agree to share its own nuclear force with other European countries.

My purpose is not to criticize the French policy but merely to state the reason why the «Nine» behave as if they have thrown NATO aside. Since, in order to reach a common position in a community, it is customary to reach an agreement on the basis of the maximum acceptable to the dissenting partner, the dominant view among the «Nine» has generally been that of France, which does not participate in the Eurogroup within NATO and which claims that since, where the United States is present its views weigh heavily, European issues should be discussed only in those parleys where the United States is not present. Recently a French paper, referring to the tightening of the rope by the French Foreign Minister al­most to the breaking point on every occasion, stated that this might lead France’s allies to get used to acting eventually without France. Considering the position of France within the West European community, this guess may not be one hundred per cent true, but in certain matters, one may think, it is not absolutely wrong either.

Looking at the present state of the «Nine», quarrelling on almost every economic issue, anxieties of superiority and egotism making themselves apparent in political matters, one might think that such a community should not be highly effective and could in any case hardly replace the NATO Council. This would be a shortsighted conclusion and should not  be an excuse for Turkey  to remain outside  the door of the  «Nine»  as far as political and military matters are concerned. Since Turkey is not yet a full member of the Common Market, it may not be possible for it to demand full participation in all meetings of the Nine. However, a sui generis practical solution can be found for its participation in discussions on such vital issues as defence, security, East-West relations, and the future of European unity. We are living in an age of empiricism and pragmatism; in politics a way out can always be found to every problem when there is a will. This problem, which is a simple one, should be no exception in this general atmosphere of pragmatism. Casting aside the doubts on the efficacy of the «Nine», there is a problem of principle : if we are a part of Europe and if we are a member of the Atlantic Community, all that this necessitates should be carried out. The problem is beyond being an issue of pride or prestige. It is a matter of serving the needs of our foreign policy and of our basic interests.

In saying this I fully realize that alongside what the «Nine» should do for us, we sould not forget that there are many things we also have to do. To become part of the community formed by the developed members of the Atlantic Community, which is the brain and main source of the present civilization where technology, industry, commerce and culture play an ex­tremely important role, requires an early approach to their level of devel­opment. Otherwise, there are bound to be differences between us, and the effects of these differences will be felt at the most unexpected moments. It is hard to say that the present development and progress of Turkey rep­resents the maximum of its potential. We have to mobilize, in a scientific and systematic manner, all our energy and means because the time is over for consoling ourselves by boasting of some results obtained here and there.

In this connection I wish to add my belief that considerations such as “does Turkey belong to the West or to the East? Turkey should choose one” refer not to the conditions of today but to those of the past centuries, because, with the elimination of sense of distance, comrnunication be­coming a matter of moments, and civilizations interacting with each other, the division of the world into parts such as Europe, Asia, etc. has almost become meaningless in many respects. Today even the most fanatical states accept modern technology and the way of living composed by it. The only way for us is the one followed by almost all the countries of the world: i.e. to attain a level of industry, trade and culture which allows everyone in the country to benefit from prosperity. We believe that the most abundant possibilities and methods for attaining this are to be found in the Atlantic Community, of which we are a part thanks to the opportun­ity created by our geo – political position. We have to make up for the time lost without delay.

I would like to pass over now to the relations between Europe and the United States.

There is still not a unified European position, attitude or voice. As I pointed out above there is a French position which is unique and which can even be described as anti-European unity in some respects. Even within Benelux (Belgium, Holland, and Luxemburg) sometimes different voices are heard. Although Germany and Great Britain have common points, they also differ in details.

Despite all these differences, in European countries – even including France in certain respects – and in the United States, there is a conviction that both sides depend on each other. !n the beginning of my article I stat­ed that the Atlantic Community was a constant geo-political reality re­vealed by the Second World War. This reality creates the hope that cer­tain frictions that now exist between the developed European powers and the United States have after all a ceiling; in other words, the rope may be tightened but it will not break. The fact that even France does not object to the stationing of American Military Forces in Europe and feels it ne­cessary to state its attachment to the North Atlantic Treaty might be considered as a sign of hope in that respect.

Immediately after the Second World War, a sort of balance was es­tablished between the worn-out Europe and the United States, a super­power which played the role of a protective parent – a relationship between the protector and the protected. Now what is involved between the enriched group of European powers claiming a personality and the United States is a balance of partnership. The difference between the two situations can be reduced if realism prevails over mutual sensitivity. Then a trouble – free transition from one to the other would become possible. Furthermore, its status of super power gives United States a position of su­periority vis-a-vis European powers, which are unable to unite and coor­dinate their energies, and the assessment of the measure of this superi­ority brings forth a number of highly delicate issues.

A review of the current points of friction would reveal that most of these are between the developed countries and the United States. In other words, these are not problems of direct concern to Turkey, but, without any doubt, in the long run these will a!so concern Turkey, or at least their effects will be felt by us.

It is remarkable that even the proposal made last year by Mr. Kissen-ger for a new Atlantic Declaration and for sharing the burden of NATO de­fenses, which interests Turkey highly, smells of the current frictions between the United States and developed countries, in fact, the idea of a new Atlantic Declaration aims at eliminating the poisonous effects of the current frictions by sharing the NATO defense burden with developed countries and treating NATO defense matters as a whole together with economic and monetary issues.

My purpose in pointing out some peculiarities of the situation is only to emphasize that due to our position, which is not in direct conflict with the United States, there would be very rare occasions on which we would find ourselves in a situation compelling us to take sides in the disputes between the two coasts of the Atlantic. By saying this I do not mean that we should stand aside. On the contrary, in many cases, particularly as regards the Kissinger proposal I mentioned above, we have always to be very active. There may even be a possibility for us to act as a mediator.

The frictions between some developed European powers or groups of powers should not lead us to a search of conscience by attempting to answer such questions as “whether we should prefer the United States to Europe or Europe to the United States”. The policy that suits Turkey’s in­terests best is the Atlantic policy, as a Europe without the United States or a United States without Europe will always represent for us a lame and crippled policy. Such a policy has two fields of application : one is NATO and the other our bilateral relations.

The policy which we have been following for many years now cannot be described otherwise. However, implementation of this policy has not been adequately fruitful due to a number of rather psychological comp­lexes on our part.

I wish to conclude my article by enumerating these complexes :

  • — We turn our backs to issues which are not or do not seem to be convenient to us; whereas we should be interested or should take part in a number of situations or issues which are inconvenient to us; their feared harmful effects can only be eliminated or alleviated in this manner, not by leaving the field free for others.
  • — From time to time we restrict or blunt our initiatives by asking such outdated and senseless questions as “East? or West?” as I men­tioned above.
  • — Both within NATO and within the field of our overall policy we are interested in a problem only if and when it has an aspect that would affect us in an immediate future, in many instances, with the resulting passivity we have practically made ourselves forgotten.
  • — In a number of cases we have turned our attention to an issue only after it has matured and become hard to change, and thus we have become constant complainers.

5 — Generally our policy remains at the «defensive» level; i.e., we have generally found it convenient to prevent ripening developments or state our objections and work on the initiatives of others without making counter proposals of our own for the solution of the problems at hand.

It is possible for us to keep in step with the tempo of Western dip­lomacy, which is in continuous development, through a number of confer­ences, proposals, counter proposals, and official as well as unofficial contacts and communications, because we have enough men to succeed in this type of work if used properly.

Visits: 315

35. Anniversary Issue – Cold War Years -Seyfi Taşhan

Cold War Years


Seyfi Taşhan

Foreign policy formation in the United States is not always determined solely by military exigencies and Turkish-U.S. relations are affected generally from other overriding variable factors. There are four dates which signify turning points in the Turkish-U.S. relations. A review of what has happened on those dates would indicate the ups and downs of the Turkish-U.S. relations.


 I believe there are four dates which signify turning points in the Turkish-U.S. relations. A review of what has happened on those dates would indicate the ups and downs of the Turkish-U.S. rela­tions and how statesmen of both countries have addressed them­selves to the issues.

The first significant date is January 18, 1927 when the United States Senate, by six votes short, rejected the Treaty of Lausanne under the pressure of strong Armenian and church opposition which prevailed under an atmosphere of partisan political struggle. The Treaty, which ran almost parallel to the other Lausanne Treaty signed between Turkey and her former enemies, sought to regula­rize Turkey’s diplomatic relations with the United States, ended ca­pitulations and brought most favored nation treatment principles. At that time the Turkish reaction was expressed by Kemal Atatürk. As quoted by Ambassador Joseph Grew Atatürk said there was no foundamental reason why the United States and Turkey should not exist in complete harmony. He could not understand, however. «how it was possible in a country where culture and civilization form the keynote of the social fabric of the nation, that a fanatical minority could impose its will on an enlightened majority.»

This Congressional attitude, however, did not prevent the estab­lishment of diplomatic relations, nor did it assume a permanent character of hostility on the part of the U.S. Congress, although anti-Turkish propaganda has continued on and off to blacken the Turkish image in the United States.

In the subsequent years it was possible to maintain mutually satisfactory relations because the basic objective of the United Sta­tes was confined to the protection of its traditional missionary, phi­lanthropic, cultural and economic interests in Turkey. Since U.S. was politically disinterested until the Second World War in the Middle East, there was no conflict of interest. During the same period United States was a good trade partner for Turkey’s traditional agri­cultural products. In the 1923-1941 the balance of trade between the two countries every year favored Turkey. From 1920s to 1939, the political non-involvement of the United States was a factor of great weight in determining the American role in the Turkish eco­nomic development. One interesting constant picture has been the nature of Turkish exports to the United States. Tobacco accounted for 73 % of Turkish exports to the United States in 1938 and in 1976 it accounted for almost  90 % of Turkey’s exports to the same country.

The United States was in the second place as the purchaser of Turkish goods, and seventh as an exporter to Turkey. Capital goods constituted fifty per cent of American exports. Outside one or two still-born attempts, U.S. capital Investments in Turkey, were negligible. The reasons given for this, lies more in the Turkish atti­tude towards foreign capital. The new republic, which was still under the shadows of the Ottoman capitulations, “tended to judge con­siderations of a national character from a political, rather than from an economical standpoint.” I believe this observation still maintains its validity.

In the international political scene there was not any major problem or conflict between the United States interests and those of Turkey. It might be worthwhile to mention, though, the United States attitude concerning the Turkish Straits. This attitude was initially formulated by President Wilson in his program for Peace of January 8 ,1918. In Point Twelve dealing with the Ottoman Empire he said in part: “… and the Dardanelles should be permanently ope­ned as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.” In early 1930s when Turkey be­came rather concerned with the security of the Straits due to the rise of the power of the Axis and informed the signatories of the Lausanne Treaty of its intention to revise the status, it also infor­med the United States. The United States then thought that it had no treaty right, direct or indirect with respect to the Straits Conven­tion or any concern with  the military and political aspects of the

problem. U.S. maintained this position until the end of the Second World War.

The United States attitude towards the Middle East and Turkey began to change somewhat during the Second World War. By the beginning of the War, Turkey had a clear idea of the intentions and ambitions of Stalin concerning both the Turkish Straits and the revival of Tsarist ambitions to reach “warm waters”. Turkey was also threatened by Mussolini and the expansionist danger of Nazi Germany. In order not to be dragged into the war from which Turkey had no chance of coming out intact and independent, Turkish leaders were forced to play the delicate policy of balance. On December 3, 1941 President Roosevelt extended “lend-lease” assistance to Turkey. In 1944 he declared that the United States had vital interests in the Middle East, although the British Government was held responsible for Allied actions in the area. The “lend-lease” was not made subject of an agreement between the two countries but during the War Turkey continued to receive American defense material and services. An agreement was signed only on February 23,1945 which stipulated that the aid would terminate at the end of the War, which was soon to come, and Turkey would be left only to whatever military aid she could get from Great Britain.

During the War, against Turkish worries about Russia, the U.S. interest was focused on the war with the Axis and Japan and a somewhat wishful-thinking prevailed about the Soviet Union. It is for this reason that the U.S. had a benevolent attitude at Yalta and Postdam towards Soviet requests concerning the Turkish Straits. Furthermore, the United States did not favor the entry of Turkey into active war against Germany. In 1944, the United States Chief of Staff indicated their approval in principle but warned that the United States should not be committed to military, naval or air support of any campaign in the Balkans. This was due to U.S. concentration on the Western Front.


The second date which marks another milestone in Turkish-U.S. relations is March 12, 1947 when President Truman announced his famous Doctrine in a joint sitting of the U.S. Congress. The proclamation of this Doctrine not only marked a change In U.S.- Turkish relations but in the global policies of the U.S. as well. I need not outline here at length the details of the developments that led to this change, but refer briefly to several points which culminated in the reassessment of the U.S. policies.

It was as far back as in 1940. Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov had proposed Germany as the Soviet price for collaboration with the Axis, a new regime for the Turkish Straits, with bases and provision of joint defense and had declared that the center of gravity of Soviet policy and interest lay in the area south of Baku and Batum. The Soviet policy did not change after the War.

During the Potsdam Conference, Soviet Union wanted to have the question of Straits and Soviet territorial demands on Turkey to be taken up directly between Turkey and the Soviet Union. While President Truman disagreed with the first, he agreed that the latter could be resolved between the two countries.

The change in the U.S. credulence in peaceful intentions of the Soviet Union did not come abruptly. First, change came in 1945 when the United States came close to Turkish view regarding the Russian demands on the Turkish Straits and in 1946, U.S. began to be interested in the territorial integrity of Turkey. On April 6, 1946 on the occasion of the Army Day, President Truman expressed U.S. interest in the Middle East area where he stressed no country had interests which could not be reconciled with those of other nations through the United Nations. The same day U.S. battleship Missouri was paying a visit to İstanbul. As early as in January 1946 President Truman was convinced that the Soviets intended to attack Turkey. Unless they were “faced with an iron fist and strong language, another war was in making.”

Soviet pressures on Turkey, which were conducted in keeping with Lenin’s famous teaching: “In a bayonet attack when you hit mush continue; when you hit rock withdraw,” did not disappear but res­cinded in the face of the resolute attitude of the Turkish Government and people, and the reaction of the United States and Great Britain. The change of attitude of the United States did not originate from Soviet menace on Turkey alone. The Soviets had probably overplay­ed their hands in the entire area. Greece was immersed in a civil war, where the Communists seemed determined to take over, and in Iran they were attempting to set up pro-Soviet regional governments. It was the regional character of the Soviet challenge that actually led to American action to defend Greece, Turkey and Iran.

For a white there was a division of opinion in the United States concerning military support to Turkey. Britain had expressed its de­cision to abondon their military aid to Turkey. George Kennan, one of President Truman’s major foreign policy advisors was of the op­inion that emphasis should have been placed on “firmness of dip­lomatic stance, not on military preparations.” His fear was that U.S. military aid might provoke Soviet aggression. However, the United States did in the end decide to come to provide military aid to Tur­key. Kennan suspected that “what had really happened was that the Pentagon had exploited a favorable set of circumstances in or­der to infiltrate a military aid program for Turkey in what was sup­posed to be primarily a political and economic program for Greece.”

Nevertheless, in his message to the U.S. Congress on March 12, 1947 President Truman was announcing his Doctrine by declaring that the United States was prepared to assist both Greece and Tur­key in defending their independence. If Greece fell under the cont­rol of an armed minority its effect on Turkey would be immediate and serious and confusion and disorder might well spread throughout the Middle East. For this purpose he asked an allocation of four hundred million dollars of aid to be spent for supporting the shat­tered economy of Greece and provide military aid both to Turkey and Greece. Deterrence against Soviet armed aggression had become one of the general goals of the United States foreign policy. Mars­hall Plan, Korean War, formation of NATO, CENTO and SEATO in the following years might be considered as concrete steps towards this foreign policy goal on which there seemed to be a general public consensus in the United States. As far as Turkey was concerned, Truman Doctrine did not have the effect of an alliance which the Turks felt was necessary for two basic reasons: First, the deterrence quality of the Turkish-U.S. military cooperation would be enhanced, and secondly, the volatility of the U.S. public opinion on matters con­cerning Turkey might once again play a trick and Turkey might have been abondoned. Therefore, Turkey looked on to NATO as an ins­trument that would secure alliance with the United Satetes. Di­sappointment was great when Turkey was left outside NATO when it was formed. The United States undertook only to “accord friendly and careful consideration to the security problem of the Turkish Republic.” European partners of NATO were also against the exten­sion of the Pact to include Turkey. The objections that are being ad­vanced today in some European countries against the inclusion of Turkey in the European Community were put forward between 1949 and 1951 against Turkey’s admission to NATO. These objections ranged from strategy to religion. However, Turkish participation In the Korean War and the skillful diplomacy that was followed culminated in the membership of both Turkey and Greece within NATO. Turkey looked towards NATO membership as establishing a defini­tely Western identity long cherished by Atatürk, considered U.S. al­liance as the greatest and best support for Turkey’s economic and security problems and in fact gave predominance to Allied interests which were considered as Turkish interests as well.

The Americans were given almost a free hand, with bi-lateral executive agreements, in making whatever defense and security arrengements they deemed necessary, including permission to build military bases and allow U-2 flights and station nuclear warheads. The Turkish mlitary forces were standardized on American patterns and the entirety of it were placed at the disposal of NATO. During that period Turkey and the United States cooperated for the conc­lusion of the Baghdad Pact, which became after Iraqi revolution, CENTO. Turkey tried, with the Balkan Pact to provide some security to Marshall Tito. It is admitted that while Turkey provided full sup­port to and laid emphasis on its relations with the United States, it ignored the sentiments and feelings of its neighbours, especially Arabs, and its action to organise a regional defense system under the Baghdad Pact became counter-productive with the extension of Soviet influence to the Arab World by-passing Turkey.

In the economic field, as from 1950, Turkey adopted the principles of liberal economy in the hope that integration with Western economies and the assistance to be provided by Turkey’s allies would enable her to achieve rapid economic development and inc­rease the welfare of the Turkish people who had long suffered eco­nomic deprivation.

While Turkey had obtained the military support and cooperation from the United States both in the form of Treaty guarantees and in actual fact, there was a difference of understanding and concept regarding the sense of alliance between Turks and Americans. As Ambassador Parker T. Hart points out “arkadaş”, the Turkish word for friend and ally, literally means “the one who walks behind you” i.e. to protect your back. «For twenty five years the attachment of the Turkist people to the United States was that of the “arkadaş”, affectionate, grateful and ready for sacrifices. Yet, the United States looked on the alliance with Turkey not in this sense but in the sense of cooperation with a basically alien country for limited purposes. This conceptual difference as well as inability of the Turks to meas­ure politics in terms of economy, created a number of difficulties. The United States was not prepared to underwrite the financial cost of a rapid development of Turkish economy. It was ready to provide whatever economic assistance it had to in order to keep Turkey away from economic collapse. In 1950’s Turkey’s attempts to bring American private capital in substantial quantities failed, and Turkey was led from one foreign exchange bottleneck to another. For vari­ous factors, the United States, instead of providing more assistance on a regular basis, pressured Turkey to reduce the rate of its eco­nomic development and change its priorities from more consumption to more exports and tourism. This basic attitude still continues to be a source of friction in the present decade.



The third date which is from the Turkish viewpoint a milestone and signify a change in the character of the Turkish-U.S. relations is June 4, 1964 when President Lyndon Johnson wrote to Pri­me Minister İnönü “…Furthermore, a military intervention in Cyprus by Turkey could lead to a direct involvement by the Soviet Union. I hope you will understand that your NATO Allies have not had the chance to consider whether they have an obligation to protect Turkey against the Soviet Union if Turkey takes a step which results in Soviet inter­vention without the full consent and understanding of its NATO allies.”

Only seven years ago when Soviet Union was extensively arming Syria, Turkey had taken certain defensive military measures along her frontiers. These measures had infuriated the Russians and in an interview on October 9, 1957 Mr. Kruschev had said that if a war broke out, Turkish resistance would not last even for one day. U.S. State Department has issued a statement the next day in which the U.S. Government had pledged itself that “if aggression took place against Turkey, U.S. would fulfill its obligations within NATO and aid Turkey with all its power.” Much had changed in the U.S. attitude.

Until the end of 1963 Turkey’s leaders had not only maintained their fullfledged and almost blind support of Western Alliance but at the same time had rendered service to U.S. interests in the region even though some of these interests had clashed with Turkey’s regional interests. Johnson’s letter, obviously written in haste, reflected a shift in the U.S. priorities and in assessment of threat resulting from Khruschev’s policy of “peaceful co-existence”, brought certain perplexities to Turkish minds on the very nature of its ties with the West and even on its own identitiy card. Questions began to be asked loudly in the Turkish public opinion whether Turkey had been placing too much reliance on Western and U.S. alliance, There is no doubt that President Johnson’s letter had initiated a chain of course corrections in the conduct of Turkish foreign policy, as well as certain new currents in Turkish domestic policies.

There are arguments that Johnson’s letter might have been given more emphasis than it really deserves. For some people, it is quite clear that on the question of Cyprus, the United States was bent to­wards supporting the Greek case, and Presidnet Johnson had cho­sen to blackmail Turkey to accept a de facto situation. On the other hand, the supporters of his action would claim that a Turkish-Greek conflict would in effect destroy the validity of the Atlantic Alliance in the region. Both arguments have certain justification. There is no doubt that there is a basic difference in the United States attitude towards Greece and Turkey. The existence and influence of the Greek community in the United States and intermingled economic interests, not to mention historical attitudes towards Greece, establish a special bond of relationship between Americans and the Greeks. This added dimension had been neglected by the Turkish public opinion since many years. Turkey and Greece were included together in the Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, NATO and even were made associate members of the European Economic Community and they were treated equally. As regards Cyprus, Turks had expected equal treatment, too. Until 1964 U.S. attitudes had been equitable. Turks were realizing that Western attachment to Greece was so dear that they might even put the position of Turkey into jeopardy.

Later on, I will take this subject once again within the frame­work of principles guiding the relations of Turkey and the United States.

The realization that both the United States and West European powers would not take concrete steps in resolving the Cyprus ques­tion in an equitable way, brought a shift in the conduct of Turkish foreign policy. By perceptible degrees Turkey abondoned its mono­lithic pro-U.S. and Western stance and entered into a phase of a multi-faceted policy. Turkey decided to respond favorably to Soviet overtures which had been continuing since Stalin’s death in 1953 for a rapprochment between the two countries. Turkey tried to improve its ties with the Third World countries, the Arab World and the Socia­list bloc. I would call the period after 1964 a phase of disengage­ment in Turkish-U.S. relations. While NATO adopted the flexible res­ponse strategy, the United States began its low profile policies. In the process of detente that actually began to encompass relations in Europe, the American debacle in Vietnam, the advent of EEC, China and Japan, the changes in weapons technology, the rise of Soviet naval power were factors that changed the international cli­mate and led to reassessment of international relations and strategic doctrines. In 1967 the renewed Cyprus crisis and the Vance mission partially satisfied Turkish objectives but these did not bring a solu­tion to the question which flared up once again in 1974. I distinctly remember talking to an American diplomat on the day President Nixon signed Moscow declarations which initiated detente process in 1972. He asked me, “Now, that U.S. and Soviet Union ended the Cold-War what will Turkey do?”

The last turning point I will mention is 1974. Not July and August 1974 when Turks landed and carried out two military operations in Cyprus, but December 18, 1974 when the United States Congress im­posed an arms embargo on Turkey effective from February 5, 1975. Once again clock had been turned back to 1927, The United States Congress under the influence of the Greek lobby had dealt a heavy blow on Turkish-U.S. relations. Atatürk’s incredulity in 1927 once again dominated Turkish minds. This time though, more effectively, because in 1927 there were no security relationships between Turkey and United States, and the two countries were not allies. In any event, the two situations had certain similarities. The Turkish reac­tion to the Congress’ action this time was more profound also for another reason. That is the pluralist nature of the Turkish society. This character had reduced the freedom of action of statesmen In Turkey in overcoming the harmful political implications of the em­bargo. Nevertheless, it was up to the statesmen of both countries to overcome the effects of the embargo motivated crisis in our re­lations. I would say they have succeeded by their sober and far-sighted actions and cooperation to eliminate substantially the crisis stage of our relationship, although it must be admitted that it will never be possible to return to the days of euphoria that prevailed during the fifties and early sixties.

By referring to four dates which marked substantial changes in the Turkish-U.S. relations I tried also to give a rough idea of the history of these relations during the past fifty years. To put it briefly, these relations turned from friendly relations between two distant countries, into a partnership and alliance which in turn became as George Harris termed it a “troubled alliance”. There is no dispute in both countries on the vital necessity of this alliance, but outside that, there seems to be many differences. It would be necessary therefore, to dwell  briefly on the nature of national aims and coin­cidence of interests, point out divergencies and try to explain inhe­rent and artificial influences that cause distortions in our relations.

In a Congressional document in mid-seventies the fundamental national security aims of the United States in the Mediterranean and the Middle East were explained on the basis of the following constants: General Goals: – Deter Soviet armed aggression against the United States, NATO, Europe and the Middle East-Project sufficient power to defend effectively if deterrence fails. Specific Goals: – Secure NATO’s south flank – Encourage stability in the Middle East – Support Israel – Maintain free world supply lines in the Mediterranean – Ensure continued access to Middle East oil.

From the United States point of view what is the roie of Turkey for the pursuit of U.S. national security objectives? Out of the de­bates complicated by lobby influences and public ignorance on de­tails what should be clear ideas are somewhat blurred from time to time. I would like to quote a few excerpts from a speech delivered by Vice President Mondale when he was a senator in 1974. Senator Mondale was speaking in the heat of the opium debate. Proposing a total economic and military embargo on Turkey, Senator Mondale invited the U.S. Administration to give reconsideration to the strategic situation : “Our relations with the Arab countries have markedly improved” he said. “We are no longer clinging to the Northern edge of the Eastern Mediterranean. We are homeporting naval vessels in Greece which enables us to offset the expansion in the Soviet Navy’s Mediterranean deployment. Our alliance in NATO has done nothing to curb the Soviet naval build up in the Mediterranean even though their life-line runs right through the Bosporus…. It is impor­tant to recognize that we cannot use our bases in Turkey except when Turkey is at war with the Soviet Union. Otherwise they are worthless. During the Arab-Israeli war of October 1973, the Turks permitted the Soviet Union to overfly Turkey to resupply the Arabs, but would not let us use our bases to refuel our reconnaissance aircraft. This example of favoritism to the Soviet Union provides a measure of how much our so called strategic position in Turkey Is worth. In the remote case of a conflict with the Soviet Union, our bases would be used to support the Turks. We apparently do not consider this threat imminent since a good portion of the U.S. air­craft in Turkey are based half of the time in Spain. We do not plan to mount strategic attacks on the Soviet Union from Turkey. In terms of overall strategic nuclear deterrence our bases there are obsolete. Their real utility is to deter local aggression against Turkey. The Turks are not doing us a favor by letting us have the bases. It is other way round. The alleged strategic value of Turkey should no longer control our decisions in this age of strategic missiles, intelligence satellites, detente with the Soviet Union and rapprochement with the Arabs. It is not worth the kind of bargain in which we give Turkey almost a quarter of a billion dollars in economic and military assis­tance.” On the question of opium, Senator Mondale and his collea­gues did not succeed but at the end of the same year they succee­ded to impose a military embargo on the occasion of Turkey’s in­tervention in Cyprus using more or less similar reasoning.

In the military terms, the value o! Turkey for the U.S. is evalua­ted in a different way by military circles. Prof. Albert Wohlstetter considers Turkey’s presence in NATO useful at least for the follo­wing reasons: Turkey’s participation in NATO sharply increases Soviet force requirements for Bulgarian or combined Bulgarian-So­viet attacks on Greece. Even if Turkish forces were less actively involved, they would tie down considerable strength in the Black Sea, Balkan and Caucasus fronts. This could be true so long as the Soviets could not be sure of Turkish neutrality. As regards NATO’s southern flank, he says, if flanks are neutralized by political or mili-tary action, an adversary can concentrate more massively against the center. The defense of the center cannot be separated from the flank. Referring to potential role of Turkey in the case of a U.S.-Soviet conflict in the Middle East, Professor Wohlstetter points out that if the Soviets can overfly Turkey at will, they can cut out in half the time needed to deploy forces by air to an objective near the Gulf. Roughly the same time is true for deployments to Lebanon and Israel. Regarding the military and intelligence bases in Turkey, Professor Wohlstetter says: “lt should be stressed that we should not regard it as a choice so to speak, between technology and Tur­key. Many advanced and continually improved technologies can be used to great advantage from facilities in Turkey.” Military circles also point out that Turkey’s presence in the Alliance, makes Russian supply lines to Middle East insecure.

From these two arguments which I tried to quote emerge some conclusions:

While there is some controversy regarding the continued value of Turkey to strategic interests of the United States, the primary cause of U.S. involvement is nevertheless a military one closely related to  U.S. security  objectives in the region, as well as those  of NATO.

The motives that lead the United States to support Turkey within the context of the global and regional U.S. objectives may thus be summarized as follows :

  • From the military point of view Turkey’s cooperation with the United States is essential for the defense of the South flank of NATO.
  • From the point of view of S. interests in the Middle East i.e. defense of Israel and access to oil routes, unlimited Soviet passage rights over Turkey must be prevented.
  • Since intelligence equipment and possibilities in Turkey are as yet needed for observing Soviet compiance with SALT ag­reements and for other military intelligence, Turkey represents another asset which the S. military establishment wishes to preserve.
  • Finally, Turkey’s place within the Alliance makes Soviet supply routes to client states in Africa and the Middle East

These are the principal U.S. military and security interests in Tur­key and others may be added by the experts. However, foreign policy formation in the United States is not always determined solely by military exigencies and Turkish-U.S. relations are affected generally from other overriding variable factors. These could be summarized as follows:

  1. a) Perception of Threat:

The euphoria of detente of late sixties and early seventies passed away with the post-Helsinki Russian attitudes and increasing Soviet mi­litary potential. But it is obvious that the Soviets are still upprepared to risk a major military confrontation with the West, even though they ore nearing supremacy in strategic and conventional weapons Short of direct and overt menace it is not possible to secure a con­sensus in the United States on political aspects of military require­ments especially under post-Vietnam conditions. In the case of Tur­key, political opinion differs widely; so much so that the anti-Turkish lobby even challenges the military value of Turkey for the Western alliance.


  1. b) Changes of Strategy :

In the global confrontation between the Soviet power and the West, new weapons, technological developments, political conside­rations, international climate have caused continuous changes in strategies of both the United States and the Soviet Union. As a consequence, Turkey’s role in the United States strategies also keep changing. I will not get into details of these changes because of the scope of this paper; but, let me suffice by mentioning the fact that the U.S. military thinking consider some Turkish military postures which were assets in the past no longer so, to the disappointment of Turks.

  1. c) Perception of Turkey and the Turks:

Again there is no common perception of Turkey and the Turks in the United States. For the people of the United States, Turks and their aspirations, character and culture are little known. Their image is continuously blackened by traditionally anti-Turkish forces which have ways of influencing U.S. public. In the absence of an effective Turkish lobby and propaganda in the United States and since the U.S. people do not consider Turkey as a «parent» country like the rest of Western Europe, the task of defending Turkey and Turkey’s image is generally left to the executive branch of the U.S. Govern­ment in the hope that they will be able to defend Turkey because U.S. needs Turkish alliance. However, as we have seen in the past U.S. executive branch may often be over-ridden under tense domes­tic political climate or when anti-Turkish lobbies may become effec­tive also in the executive branch.

  1. Another negative factor has been the absence of a thorough appreciation of Turkey’s non-military role and capabilities in the region. The fact that Turkey has maintained a democratic form of go­vernment, respecting human rights, with an active free enterprise system, devoted to its economic and social development and full of peaceful intentions for her neighbours have received little atten­tion in the United States, despite the fact that U.S. support of un­popular regimes in the world has led from one debacle to another.
  2. S. has shown a definitive interest in the economic deve­lopment of Turkey and has provided substantial assistance which I will refer later; but neither in the economic sense nor in the military sense policies recommended, the amount and quality of aid were adequate to meet actual requirements for rapid development. I am ready to admit that on this subject a great part of the blame falls on the Turks for not having followed rational economic policies.
  3. f) There has never been, in the U.S. public and for a certain period in the U.S. Administration, too, an appreciation of the cons­traints imposed on Turkish foreign and security policy by the history and geography of the region, and Turkey’s objectives which became time to time counter-productive in Turkey’s relations with her neigh­bours or caused resentment in the Turkish public opinion. Some of these constraints are still not appreciated by the S. public and when these are translated into political action, there is an uproar in the U.S.

Having referred to the advantages and the negative aspects of Turkish-U.S. relations from U.S. standpoints, I would tike to tackle these relations from a Turkish stand point. I must caution, however, that the assessment I will present may be considered controversial by other Turkish participants.

At the end of the World War II, Turkey was faced with the follo­wing situation : Soviets were threatening Turkey with their territo­rial and political claims; the country had come out of the war im­poverished, even hungry, although it had not actually fought; the Western type institutions which Atatürk had introduced into the country had begun to take roots; Turkey’s Western allies and the United States were the victors and they were destined to lead in reshaping the post-war world.The U.S. had committed itself under the Truman Doctrine  to support Turkey against the Soviet menace.

All these factors led the Turkish leaders to search for military and economic cooperation with the United States, which was very eager and with Western Europe, even though they were not so eager. Turkey was ready to make every sacrifice in order to achieve full admission into the Western camp and pay for this purpose wha­tever political price imposed on it, in the hope that thanks to assis­tance to be received such sacrifices would be more than compen­sated with rise of standard of living of the Turkish people and se­curity obtained. Turkey was also eager to turn its economy and political regime into Western patterns despite the reticense of the Turkish bureaucracy and historically rooted public opinion objec­tions. U.S. advisors were brought in and U.S. military and eco­nomic aid  was  made  available.  Turkish  Army  was  well  equipped and trained on American standards and it was integrated in the NATO military structure. Turkey was admitted to the Council of Europe and NATO as a strong partner. Turkey was looked on as a bastion of the West.

In the field of economy, however, Turkey was constrained by several priorities she felt politically necessary to follow : with the exception of a brief period in 1930’s and in 1950’s Turkish «etatism» was the dominant economic concept which worked against and li­mited the growth of the private sector. This conceptual difference between Turkey and the United States may be considered as the primary obstacle for further development of economic inter-depen­dence between Turkey and the United States. I do not intend to try to explain the causes of Turkish «etatlsm» which has remained so strong and even grown until now. But, its use or misuse has substantially reduced the participation of foreign capital in the development of Turkish economy. In any event, the Turks have al­ways maintained their suspicion and dislike for foreign capital.

Until mid-sixties there was a complacency in Turkey regarding Turkey’s alliance with the West and military and economic coope­ration with the United States. It was taken for granted that  Western aid would continue and the standard of living would keep rising in Turkey. This complacency and euphoria was so prevalent that Tur­key ignored Russian overtures, cast a benevolent eye to what little advantages Greeks were trying to secure in the Aegean and took a distant view of the Middle East crisis to the chagrin of the Arabs.

In 1963 Turkey had signed the Ankara Treaty which, if faithfully carried by everyone, would give Turkey the right to become a member of the European Economic Community in 1995.

U.S. economic aid to Turkey began to phase out as from 1965. The Johnson letter which I mentioned earlier cast serious doubt in the Turkish minds regarding the automatlcity of U.S. support and help in case of an aggression by the Soviet Union. The honeymoon period was over but our alliance had to go on basically for two reasons: The alliance still had an appreciable deterrance value; and Turkey was so much integrated with the West and relied so much on economic support of the West that a major shift of its fo­reign policy orientation was not feasible without traumatic domestic results nor such a change was desired by the Turkish public. The «multi-faceted» foreign policy pursued after 1965, by its nature, began to bring several new constraints into Turkish-US. relations in areas where objectives of Turkey and the U.S. did not coincide. Turkey began to respond to Soviet attempts to improve relations by signing a cultural agreement and by accepting Soviet credits in order to maintain its industrial development as a supplement to phasing-out Western credits. Turkey began to give political support to the Arab cause and prevented U.S. military bases In Turkey to be used for the support of Israel in an effort to improve its relations with the Arab world. While the developments during the decade that followed 1965 did not cause a major change of course in Turkey’s objectives, the trauma of the military embargo which was imposed in 1975 and the ensuing alienation from the West in terms of political perception, led to an «identity» crisis in Turkey which is still continuing. The political spectrum in Turkey is sharply di­vided in the assessment of Turkey’s place in the Western camp. While extremist parties are vehement on taking Turkey out of the West, the center parties, at least for public image purposes do not wish to appear as ardently pro-Western. Consequently, the follo­wing differences have become vocal in specific Turktsh-U.S. security and political objectives in the region.

Security – NATO’s Southern Flank : There seems to be an identity of view in both countries as to the validity of the purpose. However, there are various conceptual and practical differences between the two countries. Several of these differences can be summarized as follows :

  1. a) The defense of Turkey : In the Turkish view point forward defense in Turkey is the most efficient way of achieving the purpose of securing NATO’s southeast flank. This can be obtained by maintaining an all round modernized and highly capable Turkish armed forces which could act as a deterrent. The allies therefore are expected to provide the necessary weapons Turkey need and assist Turkey in developing its arms industry. Otherwise, Turkey’s contribution in this regards can be only in the measure its economy permits.

The Western support for Turkey in this regard has suffered a shock with the embargo and has been sparing ever since. This may have been caused by the U.S. political constraint to keep Turkish armed strength in par with if not inferior to those of Greece; to force Turks to a settlement with Greece on their dispute in Cyprus and the Aegean, and to their belief that an attack on Turkey is not the first item on the Soviet agenda.

  1. b) Ever since automatism of NATO’s support for Turkey has become problematical as a result of Johnson letter of 1964 and the military embargo which is an action not in conformity with alliance rules but hostile in character, Turkey looks on to NATO as a factor of balance to the evergrowing Soviet power. Only such a balance can preserve conditions needed for the development of detente. Consequently, this concept constrains Turkey in supporting actions (a) that may not be fully attributable directly to NATO interests, and (b) may be considered harmful and provocative for the Turkish policy of detente and cooperation with her neighbours.
  2. S. Policy in the Middle East: The declared U.S. policy objectives in the Middle East, i.e. support Israel, encourage stability and maintain access to Middle East oil are not entirely identical with those of Turkish objectives and unqualified Turkish support for these policies cause a number of problems for Turkey. Turkish policy in the Middle East since 1965 is based on political support to the Arab cause by insisting on the evacuation of all Israeli occupied Arab lands, recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians to set up their own state. Turkey does not want to become involved in problems among the Arab states, in their domestic issues. In order to ensure her oil supplies Turkey heavily relies on cooperation with Iraq and Libya. It is known that these two countries are the oppo­nents of US. policies in the Middle East. Today, the existence of Turkey’s diplomatic relations, even at a low-key level, with Israel is subject of criticism in the Arab world. As a result, if U.S. oil interests and support of Israel in the Middle East involve confrontation with the Arab states .such a development is bound to adversely affect Turkish-U.S. harmony.
  3. S. policy to supply free world supply lines in the Mediter­ranean is in confirmity with the Turkish interests also. However, there are several differences between Turks and Americans as to the role each must play. Turks feel that they must not rely solely on the 6th Fleet but they must also have a fairly strong open sea navy to carry out their missions while politically oriented U.S. stra­tegists tend to confine the Turkish Navy to coastal defense capa­bility. Furthermore, political thinking in U.S. differ on the role Cyprus has for keeping Turkish sealanes open. U.S. also seems indifferent to Turkish interests in the Aegean with specific reference for kee­ping Turkish supply lines open.


Before taking up the future perspectives of the U.S.-Turkish relations, I must briefly refer to Turkish-U.S. economic relations.

I believe economic relations between Turkey and the U.S. must be studied under three categories : “trade”, “economic aid” and “investments”.

Earlier in my paper I gave some figures concerning Turkey’s commercial relations with the United States during the period pre­ceding the Second World War. I now wish to refer to current trade pat­terns. The seventy percent of Turkey’s imports are formed by crude-oil and refined products (30 %), machinery (17 %) chemicals (16 %) and iron and steel products (9 %). On the other hand about 70 % of its exports are formed by cotton (17 %) hazel nuts (15 %), textiles (14 %), wheat and other cereals (11 %), tobacco (7 %), raisins (5 %). This traditional pattern of Turkey’s imports and exports finds ref­lection in Turkey’s trade with the United States. The United States received $191,410,000 dollars worth of Turkish products in 1976 which represents 9.8 % of Turkey’s total exports. This share drop­ped to 6.9% in 1977. 1978 estimate is 5 %. U.S. share in Turkey’s imports was 8.5 % in 1976, 8.7 % in 1977 and about 5.5 % In 1978. Turkey’s place in overall U.S. foreign trade is well under 1 %. The U.S. has the third place in Turkey’s imports and second place in exports.

There are significant difficulties in developing trade between U.S. and Turkey. Turkey is not in a position to provide industrial products in the quality and quantity required by the U.S. markets. Since U.S. is an agricultural producer, there are very few basic Turkish agricultural products in which U.S. is interested, chief among which is tobacco. The export of most of these products is also becoming object of competition with other suppliers. As regards U.S. industrial pro­ducts, the American prices are generally 20 to 30 % higher than European and Japanese competition. Therefore, the import of ca­pital equipment from the U.S. is more subject to provision of tied loans unless superior technology is involved. During the period when AID loans were available and Ex-Im Bank loans more readily available Turkish capital equipment imports from U.S. were higher.

In the period from 1946 to 1977 the United States provided Turkey with 2.7 billion dollars of economic assistance of which 1.2 billions were grants and 1.4 billion in credits. So far Turkey has repaid 648 million dollars of the credits. Furthermore, from counterpart funds U.S. enabled Turkey to utilize 1.5 billion Turkish liras for economic development until 1963, when grant aid was stopped. On the other hand, the United States provided Turkey with about 336 mil­lion dollars worth of Ex-Im Bank loans between 1946 and 1977.

In foreign capital investment in Turkey, the United States fo­reign capital invested in Turkey from 1954 to 1976 formed only 17.08 % of the total foreign capital amounting to only about 20 mil­lion dollars under the Encouragement of Foreign Investments Law. Therefore, the amount of U.S. capital in Turkey is rather insigni­ficant and falls far behind European investments in Turkey. In the smallness of U.S. investments in Turkey one may notice several points : first is that Turkey has never been an attractive place for foreign investments despite periodic attempts of Turkish govern­ments to improve the existing conditions and regulations. Secondly, Turklsh-U.S. relations have not been stable for a long period. Thir­dly, the vulnerability of Turkey in the international area have limited private U.S. capital  interest.

One last point, I would like to mention in this context, is the possibility of cooperation between Turkey and the U.S. for military production. There are several areas where existing Turkish facilities may provide excellent opportunity for replacing some Turkish mili­tary imports from the U.S. by local production with U.S. technolo­gical assistance. The economic implications of this cooperation will be  significant.



  • Currently the image of Turkey and the Turks is no so bright in the S. public opinion. This unfavorable image is created by a host of factors among which Greek lobby currently plays the biggest part and takes full advantage of the U.S. media.
  • Similarly, the image of the S. in the Turkish public opinion has also been damaged in the past decade and a half. The principal cause for this damage is the perception of U.S. support of Greece against Turkey. The leftist and pro-Isla­mic political forces in Turkey have been markedly critical of U.S. behaviour all over the world, and embargo and other U.S. acts have also influenced the attitude of center forces in Turkey towards the U.S.
  • S. interests in Turkey is basicaly security oriented and U.S. politicians, expect her in return for minimal economic and military aid to support changing U.S. policies and doctrines

uncoditionally, disregarding Turkey’s own constraints and policy    preferences. On the other hand, Turks expect the United States to provide full economic, military and political support for Turkey because of Turkey’s geopolitical position. In other words, there seems to be over-expectotions from Turkish-U.S. cooperation on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • It is obvious that in the formation of S. policies security considerations do not prove to be the primary factor once public opinion and the U.S. Congress becomes involved. In any event, security considerations and concepts are not static and subject to the degree of threat perceived. This perception, in turn, is basically a combination of military and political assessment. Under the influence of domestic political factors, potential threat is sometimes ignored or given low priority. This argument is valid both for Turkey and the U.S. In Turkey, security considerations still predominate, but they are now debated more than ever in Turkey’s history.
  • In view of the existence in the public opinions of both countries, of hostile influences which affect public policies when issues are presented to them, and since delicate se­curity relations must be maintained a heavy burden falls on the statesmen, and diplomats of both countries to keep the relations on their track. It is necessary to recall the spirit that guided the Turkish and S. statesmen in 1927 and to accept the role of quiet diplomacy.
  • While it is necessary to increase the Turkish public relations efforts in the S. it is also incumbent on U.S. administra­tion to assist Turkey which does not have an effective lobby in the U.S. For example, in 1930’s when Armenians in the United States wanted to prepare a film out of an anti-Tur­kish book, the U.S. Government could quietly pressure the film company to drop the idea. Today a “Midnight Express” is even awarded an Oscar.

Let me now turn to the future of our relations :

The most likely trend is the continuation of Turkey’s Western orientation  which may eventually guide the Turkish destiny and give their identity to Turkey of the coming decades.

The most likely trend is the continuation of Turkey’s Western orientation. This trend may succeed only if Turkey becomes part of the European Community. In such a case it will be possible to give a healthy character to U.S.-Turkish relations on a long term basis, and increase the dimensions of our relations with the West.

What would happen if Turkey ceases to become a member of Western camp?

Ambassador Parker Hart thinks that if and when the sipirit of NATO alliance is dead «Turkey gradually will turn leftward because only a regimented philosophy and discipline will be open to it. In the age of socialist polycentrism, it could decide to become a Yu­goslavia, seeking accomodation with the USSR and security by neutrality and strengthened Third World ties. It would be counting on the U.S. to recognize this that is far preferable to complete absorption into the Communist bloc.”

Dr. Scott Thompson of Tufts University, on the other hand, thinks that by the middle of 1980s Soviet Union might be able to take over Turkey by indirect means.

The third alternative discussed is that Turkey may be dragged into Islamic revivalism aligning itself with the Arab world.

I believe these observers are influenced by the tragedy of eco­nomic conditions and increasing political violence prevailing in Turkey. Although, both factors constitute bad omens for Turkey, the clock is not irreversibly advanced.

The greatest part of the Turkish people are determined to pre­serve their democratic and secular way of life and independence. If the United States and Western powers decide to show understan­ding for the assets that Turkey constitutes for Western interests and translate their understanding into political and material action by helping to ease Turkey’s economic and security problems, they will increase their own power in this region and at the same time will make it easier for Turkey to continue to share common values with them.


Mehmet GÖNLÜBOL, et al. Olaylarla Türk Dış Politikası. Cilt  I   (1919 1973) Ankara Universitesi Siyasal  Bilgiler Fakültesi Yayınları  No. 407.

Feridun  Cemal   ERKlN. Türk – Sovyet   İlişkileri ve  Boğazlar  Meselesi, Ankara, 1968

M.W. THORNBURG, et  al. Turkey,  An  Economic  Appraisal, Greenwood Press, New York ,1968

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Foreign   Economic  Trends  and   Their  Implications  for   the   United  States, TURKEY, U.S.  Department of Commerce.  March  1979

Roger   R.   TRUSK.   U.S.   Response   to   Turkish   Nationalism   and   Reform. 1914 – 1939

Metin  TAMKOC, The  Warrior  Diplomats,  University  of Utah  Press, Salt Lake City, 1976

Morton KODRRACKE, ”The Greek Lobby”, The New Republic,  April 29, 1978

Geerge S. HARRIS, “Troubled Alliance” AEI and Institute on War and Peace,  Washington, D.C.

Harry  N.  HOWARD, “The Bicentennial in  American-Turkish  Relations”,  Middle East Journal, Summer  1976

NATO, TURKEY and UNITED STATES INTERESTS, American Foreign Policy Institute, Washington D.C. 1978

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Visits: 226

NATO’s New Strategic Concept Conference June 2010, Ankara

Keynote Speech

H.E. Tacan İldem, Director General of International Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  1. E. Tacan Ildem:

Thank you Mr. President,

Excellencies distinguished guests to very important event and I would like to express my thanks and appreciations to President Seyfi Tashan of the Foreign Policy Institute in bringing about this meeting today. It is a timely one when the experts group at NATO has presented its Report on the Strategic Concept and when in all allied countries and also in partner countries the topic is being discussed publicly. I think for us to have such a debate is relevant and important. I would like to express my thanks to the Vice Rector as well. I know that Bilkent University is not only the venue for the institute but also contributing intellectually to the work undertaken. I had previously prepared some written remarks. But since this is a much closed society, dealing with such an important issue I thought that it would be better to express my thoughts on this topic dealing with certain items relevant to the strategic concept. If I make stride with the process at NATO during the Strasbourg- Kehl Summit Meeting of 2009, the Heads of State and Government decided to establish an expert group to make its contribution for the preparation of the Strategic Concept. The present Strategic Concept dates back to 1999 and I think time has come to reflect upon the developments that have taken place since then and to give a vision statement for the future. The Experts Group had already presented its report on 17th on May and when I talked with my successor our Permanent Representative to NATO yesterday he told me that they already had a way day being an informal discussion of any issue outside the headquarters with an informal environment provided by the Secretary General. So, they had very useful discussion yesterday and I am sure that they will continue to do so because what the Expert Group had done so for is to bring together all ideas, some of them perhaps out of the box ideas to be thought of in preparing the New Strategic Concept. And we would like to see the permanent Council to be fully involved in the process. On the half of, the capitals to feel sense of ownership if such an opportunity is given now. The text should be of course not too long for the public also to understand what such a vision will be for the future. But I think we should not exaggerate the brevity of the Strategic Concept by making certain analogy that it should be understood by Omaha Milkman because I don’t think that no matter how brief, concise it would be there won’t be an interest by certain segments of the society. But in any case public perceptions are extremely important and we have to eliminate the perceptions of the Cold War. The international scene has changed so has NATO and NATO is in a constant process of adaptation, adapting itself to the new security environment and of course such a Strategic Concept should set a clear guidance to the NATO military authorities. It is essential that there is no ambiguity in that sense. When we talk about NATO and its success so far we can claim that it has been a primary forum of consultation, transatlantic forum for consultation, it is a political organization with military means and Article four which enables any given ally to bring matters directly affecting its security defense and also the security interest of its allies. Article 4 is very crucial in that sense it enables allies to consult among themselves. The core function of alliance is still important and relevant. Article 5 is the bedrock of the alliance and I don’t think that the passage of time will erode its importance and meaning. When we look at the discussions that took place in 1980s and even the beginning of 1990s out of area was some sort of a sinful expression and everybody feared the consequences of embarking upon an endeavor which might be considered as out of area activity. When we look what NATO is doing right now most of its activities can be qualified as out of area. The ongoing operation, ISAF Operation in Afghanistan is a case a point and I must say that in the years to come NATO will continue to be active in such expeditionary operations. For us, the important thing is to have a balance between the core function of the alliance and the expeditionary operations. If we have maintained a success of NATO so far, it is thanks to our ability, capability, capacity to deal with the issues, contingencies related to the core functions to the alliance. Therefore, we can not neglect such areas which we qualified them to be in that category of activity. Such a balance can be struck not only rhetorically but also in practice, it should encompass planning activities and also allocation of resources.

Now, in this new strategic concept and when I say new strategic concept one should not expect a document to be prepared from the scratch. The existing Strategic Document will continue to be valid what we are going to do is to update the present text. And in updating the present strategic concept of course we need to take into account the developments. There have been changes in the international scene, that unknown phenomenon that we have to reflect in the new document, areas like energy security cyber defense or counter piracy, these were perhaps areas that we started to think about in the past but now more and more we have to focus on them. Terrorism will definitely be something that the strategic concept should reflect. If we remember that in 2001 after the terrorist attack in New York, Article 5 was evoked because of such terrorist activities, this will be one important area that we should be united to fight against it. Partnership is another important point that we need to enlarge our capacity. So far we have created a web of relationships with a number of countries and group of countries, EAPS, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council will continue to be a forum of political dialogue, discussion. In the coming months, what we may do in the light of the new strategic concept is to give some substance to do work of the EAPS with tailored arrangements, thematic cooperation models with flexible structures like 28+n. But, in any case we should not give up the existence of such a forum of discussion. Mediterranean dialogue, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative these are all very important tools for political dialogue and practical cooperation. When talking about partnerships there is one important player in the Euro-Atlantic scene, it is Russia and I think the alliance should engage with Russian Federation in a meaningful manner. I must say that NATO- Russia Council provides a very important forum for our engagement; it is not 28+ n forum it is a council compose a of 29 nations and we need to engage with Russia in all weather conditions. I recall that after Georgia crisis NATO-Russia council suspended its meetings at Ambassadorial level. At that time, I always found that to be a great mistake. We should have engaged of with Russia even more often at Ambassadorial level if it had been once a month we should have met four times a month, to deliver our messages at appropriate levels and to make them see what the sensitivities are and I think there is now a better understanding about the utility of the NRC. There are areas of mutual interest from counter terrorism to weapons of mass destruction, cooperation in Afghanistan; so we need to build on these areas so that our engagement will be mutually reinforcing and to the satisfaction of all.

What we have seen in the recent year is that in all operational theatres we can not achieve results only through military means. This brings me to the notion of comprehensive approach which will need to be reflected in the Strategic Concept. What I meant is that if we take Afghanistan as an example, we have the ISAF Operation and military operation there. But, in order to achieve success we need to bring different components; civilian military, good governance, reconstruction and development so that we see the ownership of the Afghan people and to see state structures functioning properly. And that is why we need to bring together the capabilities and capacities of different international organizations. When NATO has claimed to contribute to comprehensive approach we are sincere about that and we wish to engage with other international actors and organizations in a proper and profitable manner. We are genuine in our offer to have such cooperation with other organizations and that’s why in every operational theatre we can see NATO being engaged with the United Nations with the European Union and with all concerned organizations there. Now usually Turkey is being criticized that it is sort of an obstacle for making a progress in furthering cooperation between NATO and the European Union. I must say that such a statement will not be with the knowledge of what Turkey is trying to do and what Turkey has been contributing in operational field. First of all, Turkey since the inception of European Security and Defense Policy has been contributing to almost all operations and actions of the European Union. We are in Bosnia under the mandate of the Althea Operation and it is a EU-led Berlin plus military operation and we would soon be the first leading nation within Althea. In Kosovo Eulex mission we have 64 policemen and we wish to increase the number up to 150. And we, at the same time, wish to be properly involved in the planning decision shaping and execution phases of each an every mission and operation. If you ask me what we are satisfying with the level of involvement, my answer would not be positive unfortunately. NATO has been very open minded forward leaning towards its partners in involving them, in planning, decision shaping and execution of any operation- ISAF- KFOR. I must say that our allies who have been very vocal during the NATO discussions, were silent when it comes to the deliberations of to EU with respect to a better and proper involvement of the Non- EU allies within the CFDP of EU.

Lisbon Treaty, according to what I hear from my interlocutors in EU, will hopefully bring some possibilities in that direction. But when I read certain stipulations within the Lisbon Treaty and also the instruments provided by the union, I get more skeptical; because no matter what accumulated we have in our relationship with EU and one clear example is this implementation of the document, we see that according to Lisbon Treaty we are qualified to be a third country, a third state together with Russia, India, China or whichever country you may remember. And I think that there should be a difference between other partners of EU and Non-EU European allies. So, no matter what our membership process how it will continue and let us for the sake of assumption think that Turkey will remain out of the European Union forever, still Turkey will have the rights to be properly involved in ESDP because we are Non-EU European ally. Now, one critical question in the Strategic Concept would be the nuclear component of the alliance deterrents, as long as nuclear weapons do exist in the world and we very much support the vision of Obama, one day to have a world free of nuclear weapons. Still it will take time and until such time NATO will need to maintain its nuclear deterrence. I am sure that the debate on the finalization of Strategic Concept would require a focus on the nuclear dimension of the deterrence and I presume a balancing language will be added by incorporation of certain language with respect to arms control and disarmament. Missile defense will be another issue which will have to be with in the Strategic Concept. For nuclear weapons stationed in Europe sub strategic systems, I must say that the maintenance of Trans-Atlantic links, display of solidarity and also the principle of fair burden and risk sharing would be something we should not lose side of. The missile defense is an important issue and on that I have to highlight the principle of indivisibility of security and solidarity yet another principle in that context and we need to see all alliance territory to be fully covered with any missile defense architecture to be developed in the years ahead. Few points on Headquarters Reform because when I read the report and I think it is in front of you, the report of the Experts on Strategic Concept, there are two fundamental issues, one is military transformation and second is the reform of the headquarters and decision making process and of course one other issue is expanding our capacity in the partnership field. On Headquarters Reform all I can say is that we very much support various ideas to strengthen the ability of alliance to deliver things in a timely fashion and streamlining the Committees is one very good idea. But, we have to be very careful about it and we always have to review the process with lessons learned. As to the decision making process, consensus has always been in the heart of our work in the alliance. Sometimes, we may come across certain suggestions with the expectation that NATO can also follow the European Union by incorporating qualified majority rule to its working methodology. But, first of all, every organization has distinct future as it is not EU and second when people make such suggestions they fail to recognize the fact that even within the EU security and defense is one domain of activity that qualified majority voting rule is not applicable. So, at NATO, we may also come across suggestions that perhaps we should restrict the consensus rule only with the Council, Committees will discuss briefly what is before them and bringing it to the Council table. I do not think that it would be practical since we will be over, burdening the work of the Council and at the same time we will be losing expertise accumulated in the Committees. A few words on allocation of resources, because it is one particular area that we are facing more and more difficulty at NATO and the circumstances is not proper to increase the level of spending due to financial crisis that we are undergoing. But if the level of ambition of the alliance is determined by financial constrains then we will be losing one important and successful organization, like NATO because we will be focusing only in areas that financial capability could permit. So, the level of ambition has to be determined by the Strategic Concept but not by financial constrains. Strategic concept may eventually lead a discussion on command structure and I caution the audience that frequent change of command structure will lead to question mark as to the credibility of our system. These are some thoughts that I offer again I would like to thank you for organizing this meeting and I hope that it will produce very good exchange of views that will help us in having our ownership in the process.


Prof. Duygu Sezer: Thank you very much, first perhaps I should thank the organizers of the conference, this is a unique organization. This is a rare occasion for us from many perspectives especially because we all time are used to attend such conferences take part and we are active such conferences because they are used to be more of them during the Cold War years and in the early days of the passing away of the Cold War. But, it is quite rare that you are taking part in a conference which is exclusively dedicated to NATO issues which I believe it is very timely. Mr. Ambassador, you have given us a very informative overview, but I had not seen the report, I haven’t had a chance to look at in fact I am just seeing report today, this morning. And you touched on some critical points; I would not take up more of your time because it is very satisfactorily explained by you. There is one area which you may have talked about it but I may have missed it that is the enlargement process. I’ve read the small short paragraph on that report just now it. What do you say about this? Is this a repetition of the old because the 1991 again? This seems to be open-ended approach; it is a continuation of the open-ended approach. What do you think about it? Where do you stand? Where does Turkey stand on that question? Thank you very much.

  1. E. Tacan İldem: Thank you Professor, enlargement will continue to be an item in our agenda in the years to come, and Open Door policy will be the guiding principle for us. There is an unfinished business in the Balkans as you now, one country Macedonia was aspiring and still aspires to join NATO as a member. And in 2008 in Bucharest Summit meeting we were expected Macedonia to join NATO together with Albania and Croatia but it could not be possible. And we hope that the main issue will be resolved soon and we could welcome them without further delay. It would be a strategic mistake on the part of NATO, if we can not deal with this unfinished business properly. We were happy last April in Talen when the Ministers decided to invite Bosnia Herzegovina to Membership Action Plan. And we hope that in the fall of this year, their MAP cycle can start together with Montenegro without any delay. You are right we have to be open-minded and it is up to the nations who wish to join the alliance to strengthen its ties with NATO. We have certain procedures, there are countries that are in the partnerships for peace program, and there are countries which have cycles. Before membership is actual to prepare them we have the Membership Action Plan process. So, it is important that those countries who will join NATO can contribute to the security and defense of the alliance. So, it is not a charity business, but rather contribution of individual nations to the strength of NATO. Of course NATO provides an added capacity and security for them. But Open Door policy is valid and it will continue and I am sure that it will be reflected in the Strategic Concept.

The Ambassador of Netherlands: Thank you, I have two questions one is very short. The short will be what is your primary assessment of the Report? Second one is, you talked about Russia, I came from Moscow last year and what you mean is that it is very important to one way is trying to engage with Russia. Do you think there is special work of the achievement, because you are much nearer with Russia not only geographically but also with other issues as well?

  1. E. Tacan Ildem: Thank you Ambassador, yes indeed I had the privilege to work with both Secretary Generals and you are right to be proud to produce Secretary Generals from both countries. It is an important position guiding the work of the alliance, Shaffer and Rasmussen. It will be a guiding force in the period ahead of us and so far what he has done is a testament of this ability to guide us in that direction. We had read the Report and I must say that it is a very useful contribution to the deliberations that we are going to have. As we know, when the Strategic Concept work was embarked upon, the first was reflection period. We had seminars organized in different allied countries and even in one partner country as I remember one seminar I went in Helsinki so it shows again the forward leaning attitude of alliance towards the partners. We welcome the Report, it contains very useful ideas and we are happy to see the contributions of Ambassador Ümit Pamir who was among the experts and another qualification we give to individual in the group is Wiseman he contributed enormously to the work of group, of course without national affiliation. We endorse all these ideas but of course it is a huge document and I don’t think that it is concise with the aim of clarity and to be concise for the publics to read it. But nevertheless, the ideas that they have shared with us through this report will need to be taken into account discussed properly at all levels. And firstly, at the Permanent Council by our Ambassador, later on 14th of October the Secretary General intends to bring together Foreign and Defense ministers prior to the Lisbon Summit on 19th of November where our Heads of State and Government will endorse the Strategic Concept. So it is a welcome paper and we very much appreciate the work of the Experts Group. For Russia and I know how knowledgeable and experienced you are given your ten year as an Ambassador in Moscow. It is no doubt very important country and an important player in Euro-Atlantic security environment and we can not just ignore Russia but rather we need to engage them in a wise strategic manner. Turkey perhaps has certain experience to share with its allies; we respect and understand the sentiment of certain allied nations. It is not easy to deal with recent past when it comes to relations with Russia. So, we respect those sentiments but not necessarily agree with the course of action that we should take and Turkey together with some other allies try to have a vision for the engagement of Russia with a proper manner because at the end of the day we can not go for lowest common denominator, we should go beyond that and I am quite happy to see that almost all allies now are in full agreement in engaging with Russia. So there is no division among us and like any other allied country Turkey is also trying to influence the discussion with the experience that it had accumulated through its bilateral relations with Russia. I believe that we need to coordinate our views, but NATO-Russia Council should also reflect the structure being a forum of 29 nations not 28+1. Then the discussions will not be reflected of that spirit it, will be subjective to criticisms by our Russian partner so we have to avoid that. But on critical issues like the CFE I think we should have a uniform, united alliance position. It is fundamental that we not only coordinate but reach a decision, a position corresponding to all of our requirements.

Mustafa Kibaroglu: Mr. Ambassador, it is always a pleasure to listen to your remarks, just like today you set the stage in a very eloquent way. Especially with respect some research I am doing, it is about US nuclear weapons in Europe, as you also mentioned there is a paragraph in the document, I just want to refresh the minds of participants here, as long as the nuclear weapons exist, we should continue to maintain secure and reliable nuclear forces with widely shared responsibility for the deployment and operational support. Any change in this policy including in the geographical distribution of NATO nuclear deployments in Europe should be made as with other major decisions by the allies as a whole. But we all know that there is this letter dated February 2008 earlier this year Foreign Minister of Belgium, Germany, Luxemburg, the Netherland and Norway stated that they will come the initiative taken by President Obama to strive force substantial production of strategic arms and to move towards producing the role of the nuclear weapon and to seek peace and security in the world without nuclear weapons. We need to emphasize that there should be discussions towards the allies can do more closer to this political objective ensured three countries that are known to have US weapons in their territory, Belgium, The Netherland, and Germany want to sent this weapons back. So, what is NATO’s reaction to this terror, if these countries somehow or NATO as a whole takes a decision or approve their desire to sent them back? What is Turkey’s reaction to this, could you please explain?

  1. E. Tacan Ildem: Thank you very much, Professor Kibaroglu is always very much focused on this particular issue and I very much appreciate his work, he will definitely contribute this meeting. If I may respond to your question, it is true that these five nations express their expectations to see reductions in the number of nuclear weapons; they are for arms control and disarmament which we will fully support. We share as I mentioned earlier, the vision of President Obama to have a world free of nuclear weapons. And as the Report says until such time we need to preserve nuclear deterrence with safe and secure system. I have to remind that in Talen during the Foreign Ministers’ meeting, NATO for the first time has discussed this issue in deep. And one clear message came out of that meeting and it is also reflected in this Report that not a single nation will be implement unilaterally; this is a very powerful statement in itself. So, there may be a genuine interest and desire to see some those sub strategic systems withdrawal to individual nations like Belgium, The Netherland and Germany. In fact, German coalition government had incorporated in the coalition protocol clear stipulations with respect to the withdrawal of these systems. Nevertheless, after Talen we see that there is a unity among allies and we have to remember that Nuclear Posture Review of the US is another element in this point that with all decisions to be made together. There is a clear reference to the fact that even the US will not make decisions unilaterally. I can not of course speak on the behalf of the Netherlands, since we have there, the ambassador of that country. Nevertheless, I can only give as an idea how this statement is reflective in the policies and rhetoric of individual states. For instance, during the NPT review conference that I attended in New York, there was a paragraph with respect to the elimination of the sub strategic systems in Europe and that reference was deleted with the very forceful intervention of the Dutch delegation. So, it shows that even if there is a desire as a long term objective to see this system eliminated from our inventories until such time all allies are united to stick to the nuclear deterrence that it provides. A speculative question that you put Turkey’s reaction would be. The only thing I can refer to that is my earlier statement that among the guiding principles there is one which fair risk and burden sharing, so if three allies say no then I will put the question to you whether it will be fair risk a burden sharing to keep those systems in a nation’s soil.

Question: Thank you, I have just one remark and 2 questions. The remark is that I am really impressed by the level of bola between parties position with varied aspect Strategic Concept will touch upon in Italy’s position, I will be talking about further but it is really impressive. My two questions regard initial briefly mentioned with CFE treaty that NATO members should follow common position. I would like to know of Turkey would be ready to support ratification of the amended treaty regardless of the fact that Russian troops in Chechnya. Second question regards that NATO’s role outside the Euro-Atlantic in particular in the Middle East I would just wonder whether Turkey would be ready in NATO for a role in the Middle East for instance as a peace-keeping capacity in the Middle East conflict?

Question: My question is about Russia- NATO relationship. When I looked at the Eeport, there is one thing that I personally share and I think the Europeans people share of the sentiments, I would be critical of is this over emphasis on finding a balance between Article 4 and 5 without being clear on how to implement them. I am sure everybody agrees that assurance of the allies in area in dynamic engagement outside is a good thing but how Europe actually go around doing it, I don’t think even NATO as I talked to them including Jamie have an idea perhaps pushing some more troops in area. But we are talking about fundamental disagreement as to what constitutes an Article 5 operation. In terms to engage Russia, Report actually says the Medvedev Treaty on European security should not be as a basis of engagement because it undermines NATO. But moderate Russian views actually tell us the opposite view; the Treaty could be a basis of dialogue and engagement although it does not provide all the answers. It could be a basis for seriously engaging with Russia beyond NATO-Russia council structure which at the moment only deals with rather massive, boring technical issues; it does not really look at the wider strategic issues. On that basis, I think there is a European and American disagreement and I would really like to know where Turkey stands on that, how do you view the Treaty as a basis of engagement that Medvedev has proposed.

Reşat Arım: You mentioned the adaptation of NATO to the international developments. We know that the international developments affect the international system. We see that international system is still evolving. So, do you think that we can say the same thing for NATO, which it is evolving according to the situation in the international system?

  1. E. Taycan Ildem: Thank you very much, these are very important questions and the time constraints make my job rather difficult more than a challenging one. First on CFE, we have to remember that we have decided not to go to our parliaments for the ratification of CFE because we were waiting Istanbul Commitments to be fulfilled and now we have yet another difficulty with developments in Georgia, the political implication that it brought about. We accepted the Parallel Action Plan developed within the alliance at this crucial juncture we would like to see allies to agree on a unified alliance position in how to proceed from now on in engaging Russia, because Russians as you know more than 12 half years ago they have suspended implementing the CFE Treaty and now we should not feel the necessity to rush in a hasty decision just for the sake of engaging Russia, if we are not united on a position in how to deal with CFE. We very much appreciate the work undertaken by Ambassador Newland the new Special Representative for CFE but we have to be realistic and we have to see that CFE Treaty is a legally binding document and it would be difficult for us to bring together legally binding and political commitments in a meaningful manner to accommodate the Russian side. So, going for the ratification of the adapted CFE will not be something realistic given the fact that the United States insists that it is not possible to see this adapted CFE ratified by the Congress given the situation in Georgia. So, putting this aside we have to reflect upon new ways how to proceed but we should not lose the instruments that we had created, the CFE is something vital to maintain as an instrument. And I don’t think that we can reach something better than CFE and legally binding that nature of it is quite important not to lose. Now regarding your question on a possible role of NATO to have a peace keeping mission in the Middle East, first of course there has to be a peace there, so that we have a peace keeping role. But, in reaching that point we need to intensify our political dialogue and practical cooperation with Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative countries in such a way not only in the political and practical cooperation terms but also in public diplomacy dimension. There are still misperceptions as to what NATO stands for and we have to eliminate certain concerns or certain cliché ideas about NATO on the minds of those countries in the region. And I can remember one interesting development when I was sitting on the Council at NATO we had Ambassador Amro Musa the Secretary General of Arab League. He came to meet with the Council and his remarks were quite an eye opener, he told us that he would never have thought of coming to NATO to speak with NATO ambassadors on the Council. The reason he came was that he saw that NATO had changed it did not represent what NATO used to be during the Cold War years. So, if the Secretary General of Arab League could engage with NATO in such a fashion; it can give us hope that with the proper public diplomacy efforts we can eliminate an important segment of concerns and NATO can well participate in any peace keeping effort. And we may at the same time recall that the NATO training mission in Iraq is one clear example that in such geographies NATO can deliver, and it is quite possible that when we finally see Middle East peace established NATO can be one organization to contribute.

Now, with respect to the portions of the Report pertaining to Article 4 and Article 5 again as I said earlier Article 4 provides allied countries to have a consultation on issues related to their security and defense. It is a very important mechanism that we can engage in a dialogue among ourselves. For Article 5, I don’t think that we should prescribe which situations warrant the evoking of Article 5. There has always been flexibility we should not introduce a rigid system of what is applicable, what is not applicable, this requires the discussion among allies and Article 4 will provide that. But, at the end of the day take for instance 2001 and for the first time in its history NATO evoked Article 5 because of the attacks in New York. So, if NATO embarks upon an exercise from now on what will fall into the category of the Article 5 then we will be losing the beauty of its flexibility and I rather find it difficult for us to go through that part. With respect to Medvedev proposals, it is not only the Medvedev proposals which to me were containing very important ideas but the formulation of what we called Medvedev proposals in the form of two agreement treaties: one for European security, the other for NATO-Russia Council, to me is not as sophisticated as the ideas formulated under the title of Medvedev proposals and we may even qualify them to be less than what it was and not too sophisticated in nature those instruments. And I have to emphasis that Russia is insisting on legally binding commitments when it comes to its own concerns but when it comes to concerns of some allied nations then it can easily go for political statements or commitments. And I think we need to be very careful about that careful process is progressing, NATO-Russia Council will of course discuss the agreement that Russia has proposed. But we don’t have Medvedev proposals as such imply because what we have seen in the wordings of these two treaties are not reflected of what Medvedev proposals intended to have initially.

For your question Ambassador, I can in all fairness say that NATO is transforming itself constantly. In early 1990s after the dismemberment of the Soviet Union fall of the communism and Warsaw Pact it was the first major transformation. Transformation is a key word guiding the work of the alliance and it will continue, we can not sustain the success of NATO without transformation and even for the fact that there is allied comment transformation in Norfolk is a clear indication that we are focusing in a very pragmatic manner and the ACT in Norfolk is instrumental to generate ideas like a think tank if I may qualify that way giving us perspectives for the future and it is extremely useful to see a number of possible contingencies and how the alliance can react to such evolving situations. So our motive is transformation and we will continue to do that and this Report in fact highlights the importance of transformation in that sense.

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Turkey and European Army Yüksel Söylemez – 20 March 2001

Turkey and European Army

Yüksel Söylemez – 20 March 2001

Will there be an European Army tomorrow or the day after? Can it be functional without Turkish involvement? Can Turkey be left out of the process? And the question of what may the consequences be must be asked for a careful assessment.

European Security and Defence Arrangements (ESDI) are undergoing a transformation of historic proportions. The predominant trends in Europe indicate a dangerous direction of a Europe inevitably de-coupled from the USA. A future Europe, independent in its security and independent in defence from across the Atlantic. The unconvincing rhetoric by some European leaders intends to assure us that this is all about strengthening NATO and the Transatlantik link. But in reality the ESDI project on the table aims to transfer many of the features of NATO over to the EU. It will be interesting to see how the Bush administration will wake up and respond to ESDI process, in the aftermath of the Clinton approach of “laissez faire, laissez passer” attitude towards ESDI.

As to how this project will effect Europe, it seems that institutional separatism has reached a critical stage and we are surely at a crossroads. In case various national and institutional interests are not converged, we will be faced with an exclusive arrangement which is about to be created. Then the question is, will such a exclusive arrangement be workable? Will it be effective?

Let us not for a moment forget, that NATO and EU share the common strategic interests and face the same challenges. However, the tendency to exclusivity is unfortunately there. There are those in Europe who advocate the creation of an independent system. This will be de-coupling from NATO and this will lead to a serious rift amongst allies, which is self defeating.

Turkey is deeply concerned because of its geographic location, because of her close proximity to the existing and potential crisis areas. Consequently what is formulated for the security of Europe and the arrangements made in that respect are of great importance for Turkey. It is no exaggeration to state that Turkey’s vital security interests are at stake in ESDI project.

We the European allies are in the same boat. This boat is destined for the enhancement and defence of European security. But unfortunately our repeated appeals and serious warnings have fallen on deaf ears. The ESDI/CESDP process has serious implications for the entire Alliance. This process should enhance the security of all Allies. In this regard the NATO Washington summit decisions must be upheld. These decisions stipulated that all European allies should be able to participate in this process.
Is it conceivable that in a non-military crises management, no role is foreseen for non-EU member allies like Turkey, Norway, Poland, Czech Republic etc?

This may be a “ sui generis” situation. If this is the case, a “sui generis” solution must be found. Such a “sui generis” solution was the case in the Western European Union, which was workable and satisfactory. The redundant WEU was buried to prepare the birth to a baby European Army.
Turkey’s relationship with leading EU countries like Germany and France is based on strategic partnership. To exclude Turkey from European crises management situations defeats all strategic and political logic.

What Turkey demands and quite rightly is to be treated fairly and in an equitable manner concerning the developing process ESDI/CESDP.

If the EU persists in hiding behind institutional pretexts and excludes an ally like Turkey from the process, then the new arrangements vis-à-vis European Security may inevitable have undesirable side-effects. It is for European leaders to decide if it is in their interest to leave Turkey in or out of these new arrangements. This will be a political call that will either way have very significant repercussions for the future of Europe, its security and defence.

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