INTERVIEW WITH PROF. LUIS TOME – Future of NATO: Significant Insights from 2021 Meeting of NATO Ministries of Foreign Affairs

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Interview with Professor Luis Tome

Future of NATO: Significant Insights from 2021 Meeting of NATO Ministries of Foreign Affairs


Dr Rahman Dag : Before asking questions, I would kindly like you to evaluate the last meeting of the NATO Ministries of Foreign Affairs and its statement. Is there anything that attracts your attention most?

Luis Tome: First of all, it is crucial to consider the context in which this meeting took place: the first visit to Europe by a senior official of the Biden Administration, Secretary of State A. Blinken; after the publication of the US “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance”; and after A. Blinken himself had visited Japan and South Korea and met the Chinese counterpart in Alaska. Therefore, since it’s clear that the priority region for US foreign and security policy remains the Asia-Pacific, it was important for the Biden Administration to give a strong political signal to its European Allies of renewed American commitment to NATO and European security. This meeting also took place at a time of rising tensions in international politics, particularly between the US and the China-Russia axis, but also between the European Union and China. Another factor in marking this meeting are the wounds in transatlantic relations coming from the time of the Trump Administration as also other tensions between the European NATO countries. In this context, it was crucial that this meeting of NATO Ministries of Foreign Affairs conveyed to the world that the Atlantic Alliance is Back, as President Biden had stated, and an image of NATO cohesion. And I think that is exactly what the final statement that came out of the meeting does. It underlines the relevance of Article 5 and, therefore, the unambiguous commitment of the US to NATO’s central collective defence clause – a crucial guarantee for the European Allies. It is also relevant that the statement emphasises the sharing of democratic values, that NATO guarantees the protection of our values, and it is an essential pillar of the rules-based international order. The reference to Russia’s aggressive actions, while there is no mention to China, is equally significant. Finally, I also highlight the fact that, according to the statement, NATO will continue to adapt, namely by strengthening its political dimension. Strangely, the statement says nothing about what was one of the main results of the meeting: the maintenance of American forces in Afghanistan beyond 1 May this year and the continuation of the NATO mission – remembering that there are now a higher number of other Allied troops in Afghanistan than American.

Question: Current international politics have been emphasising the economic burden of NATO’s expenditure. The main concern in this issue is that the US has been paying for European Security for a half-century, and within these years, the European countries economically and politically flourished but still want the US to cover a major share of the Alliance. First of all, do you think that this concern has a point?

Luis Tome: This is an old recurrent question, and every American administration since the end of the Cold War has insisted on burdensharing. However, it is wrong to look at the issue from a purely economic perspective, or that only Europeans have economic benefits and while Americans pay for European and international security. What really matters is the strengthening of the European pillar for the benefit of the Transatlantic Alliance as a whole and a better balance with the American pillar. It is very important that the European Allies assume greater responsibilities and a greater share of costs in NATO. Otherwise, there may be excessive European dependence on the US and thus an undesirable transformation of the Alliance into a pure American protectorate over Europe, or into a mere instrument of US foreign and security policy. An excessive capabilities gap could also lead to interoperability problems among Allied forces. Or make NATO irrelevant to the United States. On the other hand, among the European Allies, namely among the countries which are also members of the EU, there are many redundancies and useless duplications. Just as there are in Europe-NATO, in general, excessive shares in personnel costs and the maintenance of certain physical and bureaucratic infrastructure, leaving less room in defence budgets for research and development compared to the US. So, there are several other problems and dilemmas to be solved in Europe beyond the simple increase of defence budgets and cost-sharing in NATO. This is also why I have some reservations about blind targets set in terms of percentages, such as the commitment established in NATO of a minimum of 2% of GDP on total defence spending. The main objective must be that the European Allies develop and possess better military capabilities, not simply to spend more for the sake of spending. And this capacity-building should be done on the basis of an assessment of the threats and their capabilities, priority investment needs according to identified gaps, force packages, planning and programming of capabilities, missions and operations, etc., combining national circumstances and specificities with the priorities, doctrines, policies and strategies defined by NATO as a whole. Rather than spending more, what matters is to spend wisely. I also add three other aspects. First, it is paradoxical that Washington insists on “burden-sharing” while opposing Europe’s “strategic autonomy” – the reinforcement of European military capabilities can hardly be dissociated from an increase in European ambitions and responsibilities. Second, NATO’s main problem is not military capabilities but cohesion and  political articulation. Finally, in the face of many risks and threats (from terrorism to organised crime, pandemics, fragile states, emerging and disruptive technologies or cyber threats), the military is not the exclusive or even the main security instrument. Therefore, Euro-Atlantic security and the security of all Allies is not promoted only by increasing military budgets and capabilities.

Question: In association with the previous question, what would you say if somebody argues that European countries are reluctant to increase their defence budget sparing for NATO because the European countries do not unanimously support American policies, especially in Afghanistan, and the US has been instrumentalising NATO for its world politics and dominance?

Luis Tome: That does not make any sense. The NATO Allies have different security perceptions, priorities and strategic cultures. Moreover, NATO members are democratic countries, and therefore governments have to be sensitive to their electorates and public opinions. States define their defence budgets for a variety of reasons, but primarily according to their view of the security context and national interest. No country fails to increase its defence budget because it disagrees with the policies and strategies of its Allies. On the contrary, it even tends to increase its military spending in situations where it loses confidence in its Allies and/or perceives that its security and defence depends more on itself. A cause-effect relationship cannot be established, but interestingly, defence budgets have been increasing in Europe-NATO for seven consecutive years – that is, including during the period of the Trump Administration when disagreements between the US and its European allies escalated.

Question: In recent years, the US has been militarily investing in Poland under the name of NATO, while the EU has been in doubt of American endowment to the European security against Russia. If these phrases or comments sound true to you, would you agree with the idea that American and European perceptions of security threat level are gradually differentiated?

Luis Tome: Yes, indeed. With the end of the Soviet Union, the “common enemy” that gave rise to NATO and the anti-USSR containment strategy disappeared. Therefore, since the end of the Cold War, it has been more problematic to justify NATO’s raison d’étre and to define priority threats assumed equally by all Allies and establish common and coherent policies and strategies. Transatlantic divergences have been building up not only over Russia but also over terrorism, the “rogue states” or the “axis of evil”, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, etc. The problem is that different perceptions of security and priority threats also add up between European countries. East European Allies regard Russia as their biggest threat, while Southern NATO members are mainly worried about the spill-over effects from instability and conflict in the Middle East and Africa, such as terrorism, organised international crime or irregular migration. And as we have seen in recent years, differences between NATO Allies have widened from Syria to Libya,  from the Eastern Mediterranean to nuclear Iran, from the Sahel region to Afghanistan. China is also emerging as another potential focus of major transatlantic and intra-European controversy and disagreement. Hence, it is crucial to strengthen the political dimension of the Atlantic Alliance for cooperation and articulation among NATO countries and with external partners.

Question: Since the end of the cold war, NATO has operated outside of NATO territories despite being constituted as a defence alliance and started with Eastern Europe to Afghanistan and Libya. These interventions are legitimised with the concept of humanitarian intervention or preventive wars. It is argued that the world has been experiencing the same conditions in Syria as there is a humanitarian reason, and the Syrian regime causes mobilisation of armed terrorist groups from all ranges and source of irregular immigration that turning European borders upside down. Under these circumstances, why do you think that NATO is still not acting offensively to end the humanitarian crisis and make regime change? Is it just because of Russian military involvement in the Syrian crisis before the US or NATO?

Luis Tome: The question is understandable, but the cases are quite different in their circumstances. There is conflict, violent repression and humanitarian tragedy in Syria, just as there is unfortunately in many other places – and we may also ask why NATO does not intervene in Yemen, Venezuela or Myanmar. Well, neither NATO nor any country or international organisation can intervene militarily in all places or in the same way. Of course, when NATO intervenes militarily and invokes certain principles such as the “right of humanitarian intervention” or R2P in one place and not in others, one may question the reasons or interests behind this “selection”. But there are many reasons and explanations. One obvious explanation is that NATO’s decisions require consensus – which obviously does not exist with regard to Syria. In other cases, it is a question of power and common sense: for example, would it be reasonable for NATO to make an intervention against Russia over Chechnya or against China over Xinjiang, similar to the one it made against Serbia over Kosovo? Obviously not. Moreover, an intervention may be appropriate in one place and be totally unsuitable in another – so careful consideration is needed to avoid aggravating the security situation rather than helping to resolve it. The reality is that each case varies according to its specific circumstances. This is why, for example, even in Libya, NATO intervened in 2011 but has not intervened in the Libyan “second civil war” that broke out in 2014. Regarding Syria, there are many reasons why NATO does not intervene as it did in Afghanistan or Libya, but this difference is not related to Russia’s military intervention. Moreover, it should be remembered that before the Russian intervention in Syria at the end of 2015, the US and several NATO countries were already bombing positions of jihadist groups in Syria and had special forces operating in Syrian territory as part of the international coalition against ISIS. And that even before that, in 2013, President Obama  wanted to bomb forces of the Bashar al-Assad regime and that the US Congress prevented him from doing so for fear that this would precisely favour jihadist groups. The point is that a NATO intervention in Syria similar to the one it carried out in Libya in 2011 would be completely counterproductive and inappropriate. Such a consensus in NATO would be impossible, primarily because of the very different the US and Turkey, and also several other European powers, view their interests and threats in Syria. The complex Syrian geopolitical chess explains that not even the UN has a peace enforcement mission nor a mandate for another international organisation to act, unlike what happened in Afghanistan (where NATO-led ISAF under a UN mandate) or in Libya (where NATO answered the United Nations’ call to the international community to protect the Libyan people). Therefore, it is not Russia but the specific Syrian cocktail and the disagreements within the Atlantic Alliance that explain NATO’s nonintervention in Syria.

Question: It is no secret anymore that there are several disagreements among NATO members. The US is against Germany’s agreement to buy gas from Russia via a new pipeline. Turkey and Greece are in a tense disagreement in the Aegean Sea regarding East Mediterranean energy resources. Eastern European countries want the deployment of missiles, but western European countries are against it. Not to mention disagreement on the financial burden of NATO. Do you really think that NATO could survive from all these potentially conflictual issues?

Luis Tome: NATO was, is and always will be what its members make of it. NATO’s long history shows an unusual capacity to overcome crises and disagreements. But past success is no guarantee of future success. The current divergences are many and quite deep, and NATO has in recent years entered a real existential crisis. It will survive if the major Allied countries are predisposed to overcome divergences and commit themselves to the transatlantic Alliance. At the end of the day, if certain tensions are not overcome or aggravated, NATO may survive the exit or expulsion of some of its current members, but it would never survive without the US. So if Donald Trump had been re-elected, it is likely that we would be discussing the end of NATO. With the Biden Administration, the transatlantic Alliance is in a much better position to repair damage and resolve certain differences. On the other hand, NATO’s adaptive capacity is the reason for its success and longevity. And in the face of a geopolitical, geostrategic and security context that has changed rapidly and dramatically, it is vital to readapt NATO so that it remains effective and relevant for the security and defence of its members, above all, by strengthening its political dimension.

Question: As you know, most of the NATO members are also members of the European Union, and the EU has its own agenda of or at least thinking about European Army separate from the NATO as a part of its defence and security policy. What are your projections on this matter?

Luis Tome: In theory, the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and the EU’s capabilities are complementary to NATO, strengthening the European pillar of the transatlantic alliance. For obvious reasons, starting with its current 21 common member states, the EU is NATO’s main strategic partner and vice versa. But despite the NATO-EU agreements and mutual cooperation, there are several dilemmas that need to be acknowledged and addressed. The CSDP makes the EU a more complete international player, but also more autonomous – of course, autonomous from the US and NATO, which displeases Washington. At times, there seems to be more competition than complementarity, and certain dilemmas are likely to intensify as the range of missions both want to undertake widens: the EU aspiring to undertake higher-intensity missions and operations, and NATO launching certain types of lower-intensity operations. Another dilemma concerns the balance between NATO and the EU for the 21 common countries, including the provision of means (always scarce) for missions and operations of both organisations. Conversely, some problems are magnified by the non-coincidence of membership between NATO-Europe and the European Union, especially Turkey. Meanwhile, Brexit has created a new geopolitical framework in Europe, with huge repercussions on the EU, transatlantic relations and NATO. The EU no longer has one of the two Permanent Members of the UNSC and holder of nuclear weapons (alongside France), which implies new balances within the EU – the former European “G3” gave way to the “G2”, with greater prominence of the Germany-France axis. With the UK out, the EU is left without the strongest defender of the “Atlantic” vision and NATO-EU complementarity, which favours the EU’s tendency to “strategic autonomy”. And there are now seven European countries that are members of NATO and not of the EU, with Turkey and now also the UK as two big powers in this situation – raising new issues in NATO-EU cooperation and EU access to NATO assets and capabilities for its “autonomous” missions. In addition, there are disputes and disagreements between the EU and the UK, as we have seen over trade issues, financial services, the Irish border or the export/import of anti-COVID-19 vaccines. The dilemmas are many, and NATO and the EU have to be skilful and pragmatic to overcome the disagreements. But I am relatively optimistic! NATO and the EU have been cooperating side by side in crisis management, capability development and political consultations, as well as in providing support to their common partners in the East and South. Concerted NATO-EU effort is needed to build trust and make fuller use of existing arrangements and identified areas of cooperation.

Question: Rising rightist or leftist populist political groups in Europe and the US indicate that they would be quite influential in their own national politics in the near future. Do you think that this could complicate NATO’s stance regarding democracy and freedom?

Luis Tome: Of course it can. The spread of nationalism, populism, authoritarianism and extremisms threatens the liberal international order and the security environment. And if national egoisms, populisms,  autocratic tendencies and “illiberal democracies” flourish in NATO member countries, as is already happening, then it makes it very complicated for the transatlantic Alliance to be the bulwark for the defence and promotion of freedom, democracy and liberal order. Fortunately, there seems to be a sense of urgency within NATO today to put democratic values back at the heart of the transatlantic Alliance’s action. But we must recognise that the virus of nationalism and populism is difficult to fight even within NATO countries.

Question: There are too many significant points to cover in an interview, but as a closing question, I would like to have your comments on an issue that is the most important one regarding NATO’s future.

Luis Tome: The decisive factor for the evolution and future of NATO is the strengthening of its political dimension, namely dialogue, articulation, cooperation and political cohesion among Allied countries. Organisations are what their members make of them, and NATO is no exception. NATO is a military alliance, but it is also the main political forum of the transatlantic community of shared values and interests. Without political cohesion among Allies, powerful deterrent and defence capabilities have less value. Without constructive political dialogue, differences between member countries cannot be overcome or minimised. Without political cooperation, it is not possible to formulate common and coherent strategies. Without political articulation, the transatlantic Alliance will face many difficulties in projecting security and stability in its periphery, whether to the East or to the South; effectively confronting the many risks and threats; managing crises and conflicts; establishing fruitful partnerships with external partners; or dealing with major rivals such as Russia and China. Without political cohesion, it will not be possible for NATO to make the necessary re-adaptation to a geopolitical and security context in great transformation. Nor to be the pillar of democracy and liberal order that the Allies want and preach NATO to be. NATO’s military dimension remains robust, but the Alliance’s political dimension and political role are undervalued and underused. NATO’s future success depends on the ability of the Allies to leverage the political dimension of the transatlantic alliance.

Visits: 392

İstikşafi Görüşmeler Başlarken Yunanistan’ın Siyasi Görünümü ve Silahlanma Çabaları

2019 ve 2020’de Atina ile Ankara arasında gerilime sebep olan sorunların araştırılarak çözüm
bulunmasına yönelik istikşafi (exploratory) görüşmeler bugün (25 Ocak 2021) İstanbul’da
başlayacaktır. Her iki tarafında bu konuda kendine özgü argümanları olduğu ve bunlardan ödün
vermekten uzak duracakları değerlendirilmektedir. Umarız bu konudaki girişimler NATO üyesi olan
her iki taraf arasındaki siyasi ve askeri gerilimi azaltmada etkin bir rol oynar.
Yunanistan ile Türkiye arasında gerek Ege Denizi ve gerekse Doğu Akdeniz’de neredeyse kemikleşmiş
olan muhtelif sorunlar her an bir çatışma zemini olmaya devam etmektedir. Her iki tarafta meseleyi
barışçı yollarla çözme niyetinde olduklarını ifade etseler de kendi argümanlarından taviz vermek
niyetinde olmadıklarını gösteren bir tutum sergilemekten geri durmamaktadır.
Son olarak, 2021’in ilk günlerinde Yunanistan’ın batıda İyon Denizi’nde kıta sahanlığını 12 mile
çıkartma kararı ve bunu Ege Denizi’nde de yapmaya hakkı olduğunu ileri sürmesi, görüşmeler
öncesiAtina’nın yaklaşımı hakkında bir ip ucu olabilecektir.
Ankara ile olan müzakere ve siyasi ilişkilerinde Atina aşağıda belirtilen üç önemli faktörün kendisine
avantaj sağlayacağını değerlendirebilir;
Birincisi, Yunanistan’ınAvrupa birliği üyesi olmasıdır. Her ne kadar,Ekim 2020’de yapılan toplantıda
Yunanistan ve Fransa’nın Ankara’ya yaptırım kararı alması için yaptıkları baskılara boyun eğmese de
A.B. Mart ayı toplantısında konuyu yeniden ele alacaktır. Hem Fransa’nın hem de Atina’nın
yaptıtımlar konusunda baskısının devam edeceği ve Almanya’nın bu durumda kilit rol oynayacağı
söylenebilir. Bu durumda, Türkiye’nin gerek Cumhurbaşkanı ve gerekse Dışişleri Bakanı tarafından
uzattığı zeytin dalı ne kadar güvenli olarak ele alınacaktır, bekleyip göreceğiz. Bütün her şeye rağmen,
Yunanistan’ın AB üyesi ve arkasında üye ülkelerin az veya çok desteğine sahip olması, Atina için
Ankara’ya karşı avantajlı bir konum yaratmakta olduğu değerlendirilmelidir.
İkinci olarak, Doğu Akdeniz’le ilgili olarak, “düşmanımın düşmanı dostumdur” ilkesinden hareketle
Atina’nın İsrail, Birleşik Arap Emirlikleri (BAE), Mısır, Suudi Arabistan ile gerçekleştirdikleri anlaşmalar
ve ittifak Atina tarafından önemli bir yaklaşım olarak ele alınmaktadır. Özellikle, İsrail’in BAE ve Suudi
Arabistan ve Katar’la olan anlaşmaları Atina’nın bu iş birliğini pekiştiren bir görünüm arz etmektedir.
Yunanistan Türkiye karşıtı ittifak ilişkisiyle Ankara’yı Doğu Akdeniz’de kuşatarak hareket sahasını
kısıtlayabildiğini ve siyasi olarak bloke edebileceğini değerlendirmektedir.
Üçüncü faktör ise, Atina’nın silahlanma çabalarına hız vermesidir. Yunanistan’ın 2009 yılında 7,88
milyar Euro olan savunma harcamaları kısıtlamalardan dolayı 2018 yılında 3,75 milyar Euro’ya
düşmüş ve 2020 yılında ise %45 artışla 5,5 milyar Euro olarak gerçekleşmiştir. 2021 başında
Yunanistan Fransa’dan 18 adet Rafale savaş uçağı alımı için 2,5 milyar Euro ‘lük bir anlaşma yapmıştır.
Bu taarruz uçaklarının 3.700 km. olan menzili F-16 menzilinden dört kat, Mirage uçaklarının
menzilinden iki kat fazla olup, Türkiye’nin her yerine ulaşabilecek yetenektedir. İlk partinin
programdan altı ay önce, Mayıs ayında teslimi için baskı yapması ve pilotları eğitim için Fransa’ya
göndermesi silahlanmaya verdiği önemi göstermesi açısından dikkate değerdir. Ayrıca, dört adet yeni
firkateyn alma ve mevcut dört adedi de modernleştirme girişiminde bulunması Atina’nın havada ve
denizde etkinliğini attırma niyet ve maksadı üzerinde ciddi emareler sunmaktadır. Bunun yanısıra,
Yunan Silahlı Kuvvetleri’nde 15 bin yeni kadronun açılması ve elinde mevcut 85 F-16’nın
modernleştirilmesi önemli bir gelişme olarak görülmelidir.
Atina’nın bir taraftan Ankara ile görüşmeleri A.B. ve ABD’ne karşı bir iyi niyet göstergesi olarak
sürdürürken, diğer taraftan yukarıda belirttiğimiz avantajlarını öne alarak Türkiye ile uzlaşmaz tutumunu sürdürmeye devam edeceği değerlendirilmektedir. Bu nedenle, Ankara’nın siyasi olarak
elini güçlendirmesi gerekmektedir. Bu ise, A.B. ve özellikle Almanya ile ilişkileri yine rayına oturtmak,
İsrail, Mısır ve Suudi Arabistan ile ilişkileri olumlu yolda geliştirmek ve ABD’nin yeni yönetimi ile
işbirliğini arttırarak bölgede etkinliğini sürdürecek siyasi güce sahip olmasından geçtiği
değerlendirilmektedir. Bu Yunanistan’ın saldırı amaçlı askeri bir provokasyona girişmesini önleme
açısından da önemli bir girişim olacaktır.


Prof.Dr.Serdar Erdurmaz

Visits: 492

Peeling Turkey Away from Russia’s Embrace: A Transatlantic Interest

From a European and transatlantic standpoint, it is as troubling as it is counter-intuitive: a de facto partnership has developed between Russia and Turkey, surrounding Europe. Paradoxical as it may be, the trend is now clear and represents a thorn in the side of European and transatlantic interests.

The paradox lies in the fact that Turkey and Russia are historic rivals. From the Ottoman-Russian wars to Turkey’s NATO membership as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism, the Turkish-Russian relationship has never been easy. The post-Cold War period is no exception, nearing outright military confrontation only five years ago, when a Turkish F-16 jet shot down a Russian aircraft near the Turkish-Syrian border.

Taken together, there is no region in and around Europe where Turkey and Russia see eye to eye. Be it in Central Asia where Moscow has stymied Ankara’s pan-Turkic dreams; in the Balkans where the two have taken different sides during war and peacetime alike; be it in North Africa and the Middle East where they have stood at loggerheads in the clash over political Islam; or in the Caucasus where Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan has mirrored Russia’s religious affinity and security bond with Armenia, Ankara and Moscow are rarely, if ever, on the same page.

Yet the pattern is clear: in every open conflict, Turkey and Russia have managed to find an entente that is as uneasy as it is real. In Syria, the clash could have tipped into outright confrontation, but after the near miss in 2015, Moscow and Ankara walked back from the brink, notably with the launch of the Astana process in which both have been deeply involved. Tensions have heated up again from time to time. With the prospect of Bashar al-Assad’s onslaught on Idlib in 2019, Turkey called Russia’s foul, but eventually the Turkish-Russian understanding held. In northeastern Syria too, where Turkey intervened militarily against the Syrian Kurds in 2016 and again in 2019, Moscow could have prevented Turkey’s offensive given its anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) footprint on the Syrian airspace, but chose not to.

In Libya, Turkey and Russia have rallied for opposite sides of the civil war. Notably, Russia, with its Wagner mercenaries, provided crucial backing to Khalifa Haftar’s military offensive against the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. Weighing in alongside the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and France, the Wagner group’s stepping into the Libyan quagmire almost tipped the scales, with Haftar’s advance towards Tripoli becoming ever closer in early 2020.

When the GNA risked falling, Ankara stepped in, providing military backing to a government the international community had spared no words in backing while doing precious little in practice. Turkey’s military intervention flipped military fortunes and created that mutually hurting stalemate that brought the parties to an uneasy ceasefire in the summer of 2020. Turkey remains deeply involved militarily in Libya, and Russia’s military presence in the east, from being a “nice but not necessary” tool to deploy, is now entrenched. Notwithstanding the ongoing political dialogue process, Libya risks partitioning militarily along the Sirte-Jufra line, with both Turkish and Russian presence consolidating in the country.

The resumption of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan after twenty-six years of unstable ceasefire around Nagorno Karakakh and its adjacent regions became the third potential Turkish-Russian flashpoint that never was. When Azerbaijan kick-started the war to recapture the territories lost to Armenia in the 1992-94 war, much of the international media spotlight turned to Ankara.

Turkey, in fact, was the only external power that did not call for a ceasefire, but rather egged Baku on in its military campaign. There was much talk of Turkey’s drones and Syrian jihadis, the role of which was likely overplayed, but nonetheless significant. For its part, Russia activated itself to broker a ceasefire. While repeatedly stepping in to mediate humanitarian ceasefires, it implicitly allowed the war to rage on for six long weeks, in which Azerbaijan gradually recaptured much of the seven regions surrounding Nagorno Karabakh. It was only when Azerbaijani forces made inroads into Karabakh itself, that Moscow blew the whistle.

The peace deal brokered by Moscow was an all-out win for Russia, as well as Azerbaijan. Along the line of contact in Nagorno Karabakh and the Lachin corridor, a contingent of almost 2000 Russian troops are being deployed for the first time since the end of the Cold War. This gives Russia not only unprecedented leverage over the constitutional fate of Nagorno Karabakh, but also over domestic politics in Azerbaijan and above all Armenia. However, to a lesser extent Turkey gained too. Ankara for the first time won the possibility of sending observers to the region, and, most significantly, with the reopening of a direct connection between Azerbaijan and its exclave Nakhichevan, Turkey obtained direct access to Azerbaijan proper and the Caspian Sea.

In each of these conflicts, Turkey, a NATO ally and, at least theoretically, an EU candidate country, has pursued incontrovertibly its national and often nationalistic interests. It has done so in ways that have certainly not coincided with those of the European Union or of the United States. However, it would be mistaken to argue that Turkey’s interests have been diametrically opposed to those of the West.

In Syria, Turkey’s assault on the Syrian Kurds generated a Western outcry – in words rather than deeds – while its ambiguity towards and support for different incarnations of the Islamist opposition to the Syrian regime sowed mistrust, notably at the height of the ISIS threat in the Middle East, Europe and the world. However, Turkey, unlike Russia and Iran, and alongside the West, has been a sworn enemy of the Syrian regime, ever since the protests degenerated into civil war in late 2011. In the reconstruction and refugee return phase of the Syrian conflict, the EU and Turkey will grapple with similar policy challenges.

In Libya too, Turkey has clearly pursued its interests and is now consolidating its military, political and economic presence in the country. In Libya, Turkey is there to stay. Yet there too, Western and Turkish interests are not totally incompatible. Ankara stepped into the war to prevent the fall of Sarraj’s GNA that Europe and the US also backed in theory. Both Turkey and the EU have an interest in the stabilization of Libya and the prevention of its de facto partition into two blocks.

Finally, in Nagorno Karabakh, Turkey has certainly sung from a different hymn sheet from the Western cry for an immediate ceasefire. However, no European country nor the US has ever objected to Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. Furthermore, Turkey’s inclusion amongst the observers in Nagorno Karabakh should be looked upon with favour by Europeans in a context in which the OSCE Minsk Group has been sadly outmaneuvered and Russia would otherwise monopolize the show.

Notwithstanding the fact that divisions between Turkey and Russia are infinitely more tangible and acute than those between Turkey and the West, relations between Turkey and Russia are consolidating into a de facto partnership, while those between Turkey and the West are edging towards sanctions. Why?

The easy part of the answer lies in domestic politics in Russia and Turkey. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has long abandoned even the narrative of democracy, heralding itself as one of the leaders of a post-liberal world. The Russian President has used foreign policy to gain strategic edge over the West, and stoke nationalism at home, distracting public attention from domestic woes. Turkish President Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan has taken Putin’s cue, and over the last year, has regained some domestic political traction after the Justice and Development Party’s electoral annus horribilis in 2019.

By intervening militarily in Libya, escalating tensions in the East Mediterranean and reentering the Caucasus, Erdoğan has done what many, if not most, Turks would read as a welcome reassertion of national interests redressing past wrongs. In doing so, Erdoğan has distracted public opinion from his ailing domestic economy. In other words, Russia and Turkey’s leaders pursue similar tactics: they “get each other” and that understanding instils a degree of reciprocal respect even when interests diverge.

There is certainly truth is this explanation, which is the one most commonly heard in the West. However, it is also a convenient truth for the West to put forth, leaving in the shadow another, complementary, but far more uncomfortable reality.

Another explanation is that Russia and Turkey have found pragmatic ententes because they have had to do so. They are both deeply engaged in each of these conflicts in a way in which Europeans and Americans are just not. Turkey and Russia are far more prone to intervene militarily in conflicts than Europeans always were and Americans are becoming.

More broadly, be it in Syria, Libya or the Caucasus, the US and the EU have abdicated much of their responsibilities and shied away from risk. In the vacuum, Russia, Turkey and other regional players, have stepped in, learning to come to terms with one another. The US, for its part, can retort with good reason that this is not the part of the world where it will do the heavy lifting. We should expect that in different forms and manners, this will continue to be the tune played by the Biden administration.

Europeans instead have only themselves to blame. It is may well be too late for Syria and probably also for the Caucasus. However, when it comes to Libya, Europeans should do much more. Germany has invested significantly in the Berlin process, and diplomacy is certainly a key piece of the peacebuilding puzzle. But unless Europeans take greater risks to consolidate peace on the ground in Libya – and not simply at sea – they will continue to be passive by-standers of the de facto external control of the country by Turkey and Russia. As Libya’s political dialogue unfolds, Europeans should engage far more actively in peacebuilding, with greater readiness to be present on the ground.

While taking greater risk and responsibility, Europeans should think through a strategy that makes due distinction between Turkey and Russia, avoiding further entrenchment of the unnatural partnership between the two, from which Europeans and Americans can only lose. In particular, we should not be blinded by the commonalities we see between Putin’s Russia and Erdoğan’s Turkey domestically, and become better able to distinguish between their foreign policy behaviour.

On foreign policy, Russian and Turkish positions and ambitions differ in important ways. Beyond annexing Crimea and upending the European security architecture, Putin’s Russia vies for leadership of a sovereignist world. In no way does it see itself as part of the West, and is often scathing of the alleged ineffectiveness, cowardice, arrogance and moral bankruptcy of Western liberal democracies. Russia has acted to the direct detriment of Western democracies by interfering in electoral processes, spreading disinformation and allegedly engaging in cyber-attacks. We should of course “selectively engage” with Russia, but with eyes wide open as to the context in which our engagement takes place.

Turkey, for all its faults, not only is and remains a NATO ally, but continues to express an interest in closer relations with the European Union, beginning with a modernized customs union. Ankara’s sincerity would need to be verified, but to do so it is the Union that must make the first move. Likewise, the EU and the US should actively seek opportunities to work with Turkey on foreign policy questions on which interests do not fundamentally diverge. With Syria and Nagorno Karabakh further away from Western reach, Libya would be the place to start. The space for manoeuvre, here too, is shrinking fast. As Libya’s political dialogue unfolds, time will be of the essence.

All this does not imply that the EU and the US should stay put and refrain from using the stick with Turkey as the case may warrant. Be it over the S400 debacle with NATO or Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the threat of restrictive measures will remain on the table. Less still does it mean that the EU and the US should drop the ball on Turkey’s democratic backsliding. With an administration in Washington that will once again take genuine interest in democracy, human rights, rule of law, a renewed transatlantic focus on Turkey’s domestic dynamics is imperative.

However, in addressing whether, when and how to react to Turkey’s foreign policy moves, Europe and the US should factor in the broader strategic context in which we operate. The purpose of our actions should be to peel Ankara away from Moscow, rather than push it deeper in its embrace.

* Nathalie Tocci is Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) and Honorary Professor at the University of Tübingen.

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Western states, principally the Unites States and the EU, are concerned about the escalation
of dispute in the Eastern Mediterranean.The persistent and uncompromising attitude of Turkey has been challenging Greece and the EU in political terms.In 2020, Eastern Mediterranean is like a bomb ready to explode due to the competition of possession of the offshore energy resources and transportation routes.The European Union has been seeking diplomatic solutions to resolve the maritime jurisdiction dispute in order to alleviate the tension by the arbitration of Germany and Josep Borrell the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.NATO, on the other hand, has been following the process passively.Uncompromising actions of Turkey and Greece complicate the prevention of a possible future conflict and the resolution of the issues through dialogue and negotiations.
In the recent years, domestic and cross-border operations carried out against PKK terrorist organization, military achievements in Syria and Libya have increased the self-confidence of Turkey.In the context of the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey conducts its foreign policy with ”Mavi Vatan” doctrine (the doctrine specifies the national borders in the seas and national rights and stakes inside that borders).Self-sufficiency on energy by utilization of the resources in the East Med is one of the major objectives of Turkey.It is a fact that significant percentage of Turkey’s imports is on energy.As Turkey awares of this fact, Ankara states that the government will go to any extreme to take this burden off from the country’s shoulders.In the last five years, Turkey has established close relations with Iran and Russia due to the civil war in Syria and made S-400 deal with Russia.In addition, it used the refugees as a trump card against the European Union.Those actions were not supported neither by NATO nor the EU and have changed the perspective of the Western alliance negatively on Turkey.
Greece, exclusively in the recent years, has been following harmonious politics with the EU and taking more active role in alliances.Besides NATO and the EU, Greece has significantly promoted its relations with the countries in the region such as Egypt, Israel and the UAE.Moreover, Greek army conducted joint military exercises with the USA, the UAE, France and Italy.This rich and enviable support that Greece has on this level since the First World War has strengthened the state’s military and political reputation both in the region and international scene.
Nowadays, instead of peaceful talks, Turkey and Greece increased their military exercises and naval capacities in areas where they have declared as their own Exclusive Economic Zone.The problematical events such as the ongoing seismic explorations of Turkey, the collision of Turkish and Greek vessels and the confrontation of fighter aircrafts have made the solution of the dispute even more difficult.Also the opposition of French and Turkish policies about Libya and East Med and the ascended escalation between Turkey and France in the Mediterranean in June have brought Paris and Athens closer.In the disputed maritime zones, the possession of drilling rights and energy research licence of Total the French energy company has led France to stand against Turkey.
The chancellor Angela Merkel requested the president Erdoğan to temporarily suspension of the military and research activities for the peaceful settlement of the dispute.Ankara, in line with its calls for a fair and amicable resolution, fulfilled this request of Germany and suspended the Navtex declaration in July.While the talks were continuing, Greece signed an EEZ agreement with Egypt and Ankara was perceived this aciton as misuse of good offices.This move of Athens has frustrated the parties on the table.As an interesting fact, the United States dominant power of the last century has not been playing an active role to offer a solution in that issue.Washington has been closely monitoring the process in the region, however, neither the US nor NATO has taken a firm action to reduce the tension between two substantial allies.
To conclude, Germany’s efforts to gather the sides around the table have failed.In a different perspective, both Greek and Turkish policymakers think that stakes compromised may cause negative public reactions in domestic policies.Thus, the possibility of negotiation in near future seems unrealistic.By the end of August, Athens deployed troops to the Megisti Island approximately two kilometers away from Turkish mainland.Ankara, on the other hand, has decreased the level of engagement down to the warship captains in the East Mediterranean.Mutual provocations and assertive statements of both sides give the impression that a war risk is possible.A war which may break out between the parties can cause deterioration of relations and cooperation in NATO and between Turkey and Greece and the EU.The pandemic will worsen Greek and Turkish economies already in bad shape.Also, a possible war can cause deeper wounds in both economies and economical development may take more time.Therefore, NATO and the EU should find efficient and peaceful formulas to key this problem immediately and an amicable atmosphere should be created in the Eastern Mediterranean through diplomacy.

This article is written by Eren Çetin

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Avoiding a new Cold War between the US and China

By Jeffrey A. Bader

With the November presidential election looming, many China watchers are focused on what the outcome could mean for relations between Washington and Beijing. That question is no doubt a crucial one. At the same time, many trends in that all-important relationship are of course longer-term than one presidential administration. What are the long-term prospects for U.S.-China relations at this stage?

The differences between the United States and China on political, economic, ideological, technological, and security issues are real. They can and must be managed through dialogue, but we can’t pretend that we simply have a communications problem. Both sides know better. The basic framework for the relationship going forward is likely to be strategic competition, with cooperation in discrete areas, hopefully covering many subjects. There could instead be strategic rivalry, which would be more adversarial and require cool heads to manage disputes. Or the relationship could degenerate into a cold war, which would be in the interest of neither the United States nor China.

A U.S.-China cold war would not be like the U.S.-Soviet one, which was largely military and ideological. A cold war would begin with radical decoupling and disengagement, which regrettably we are already seeing. It would descend and expand from there. It would fracture the international community on issues on which there should otherwise be widespread cooperation. It would build walls between economies, scientists, scholars, and ordinary people. It would likely foment ethnic stereotyping, discrimination, and hatred. It would prevent two great civilizations from benefiting from each other’s strengths and contributions. It would exacerbate an arms race that would crowd out domestic priorities. Above all, it would increase the risk of military conflict, even if neither side desires it.

How do we avoid such an outcome? There are fundamental questions the U.S. and China will need to answer.

For the United States: Is it willing to accept a peer competitor, particularly one with a different political system and ideology? In principle, the answer should be yes, but there is an action/reaction mechanism in U.S. politics. An administration that fully accepts China as a peer inevitably will have to endure and beat back harsh attacks from a nationalist opposition. So it will require long-term steadiness, not a one-off decision. The United States can sustain such a view if China accommodates to the traditional stabilizing role of the United States in East Asia rather than seeking to undermine it.
For China: Can it comfortably integrate and assimilate into a rules-based international order created and historically dominated by the United States, and characterized by certain norms, such as on trade, protection of intellectual property rights, privacy, digital freedoms, rule of law, due process, transparency, law of the sea, and human rights? (I would add that it is essential that the U.S. failure to show traditional respect for the rules-based international system over the last several years must be corrected, as well.)

Can China adjust to these norms, or will it simply demand that its national system be respected? Can China find ways to ensure that its activities in international affairs are consistent with these norms, or at least do not undercut them, while maintaining its own political, economic, and social system?

A lesson of the past few years is that, in a globalized world, it is difficult for the international system to function well if there is a large gap in attitudes and practices among major countries regarding these norms.

China made the fundamental decision 40 years ago to join the international system, from which it has derived great benefits and to which it has made important contributions. But the world’s accommodation of China’s unorthodox practices when it was a relatively minor player is a different matter entirely. Today, China has become a dominant actor. China, along with the United States, is now an elephant in the canoe. The elephants have to be careful, or they can swamp the canoe and everyone in it.

For understandable historical reasons, China is especially fierce in safeguarding its sovereignty and asserting the sovereignty of nations and non-interference as the foundational principles of international norms. No more than the United States can China be expected to renounce that position. But China will need to do more than invoke its sovereignty under Westphalian principles if it is to be a leader in the international system and enjoy its full benefits. The country has not yet completed the journey it began in 1978 toward full integration into the international rules-based system. For example, it needs to accept the full obligations of developed countries in the World Trade Organization, open its internet and level the information technology sector playing field for foreign participation on a reciprocal basis, and provide complete transparency to the World Health Organization and international health experts.

It will need to lead by example. It will be hard for China to make such changes. The United States can provide an example, and serve its own interests, by showing that it intends to adhere to the rules-based system that it played the key role in creating.

This article is taken from

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The old transatlantic relationship ain’t coming back

This article written by Paul Taylor

Even if Joe Biden replaces Donald Trump as US president, Europe will have to learn to carry its share of the burden.

With those four words, uttered at the 2019 Munich Security Conference, Joe Biden warmed the hearts of Europeans despairing at the erratic, indifferent and at times openly hostile foreign policy of U.S. President Donald Trump.

But even if the Democratic presidential contender wins the election (an increasingly likely “if” should Biden prove able to maintain his advantage in the polls), it’ll take more than warm feelings to get the transatlantic relationship back on track.

With or without a reliable partner in the White House, the European Union and Europe’s leading powers will have to learn to live in a world in which Washington may still be the ultimate guarantor of the Continent’s security, but won’t have the bandwidth to fix all the region’s many problems. And in which they will be required to do more to prove the utility of the transatlantic partnership.

Like Trump, Biden will expect Europe and NATO to carry more of the security burden in the Middle East.

“We can’t just wait till Biden arrives. We need to have a plan,” says David O’Sullivan, who was the EU’s ambassador to Washington until last year. “What’s our offer? The United States is our indispensable partner for the foreseeable future. It is in our interest to bolster American leadership rather than undermine it. What price are we prepared to pay to achieve a balanced agenda?”

In his speech in Munich, Biden called for a reform of NATO to meet threats unique to the 21st century and promised “serious coordination and consensus-building.” In recent speeches and articles, he has vowed to return on “day one” of his presidency to the Paris accord on fighting climate change and to the World Health Organization. He has also pledged to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal torn up by Trump if Tehran resumes full compliance, and to reaffirm unequivocally NATO’s mutual defense clause.
All that will be welcome news to European policymakers looking to rebuild one of the most successful partnerships in history and respond to global challenges alongside the U.S., instead of reacting defensively to pre-dawn Twitter storms from the irascible tweeter-in-chief.

But while a Democratic administration in Washington can be expected to consult allies more, be more active diplomatically and be more supportive of international institutions, a Biden presidency will not mark a return to the post-World War II era in which Europe could afford to live comfortably under the American umbrella.
Gerard Araud, a former French ambassador to Washington, argues that Trump’s nationalist isolationism is not an aberration. On the contrary, he says it is deeply rooted in historic U.S. suspicion of foreign entanglements. And whoever ends up in the White House in 2021, there will be no return to liberal interventionism or to global American hegemony.

“Trump is following in the footsteps of [former U.S. President Barack] Obama, who understood the exhaustion of the American people with overseas involvements,” Araud wrote in his book “Diplomatic Passport,” published late last year.

“Style matters, and [Trump’s] approach is brutal, unilateral and non-cooperative, but the common thread of a relative disengagement from the international scene is probably irreversible.”
Would a Biden administration be more willing to step in if Turkey used force to press its continental shelf claims in the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean? If Lebanon descended into civil strife and famine after the Beirut port catastrophe, prompting a flood of refugees? If the proxy war in Libya pitting the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia against Turkey and Qatar escalated? Or if Russia intervened in Belarus to crush protests following a disputed election?

Washington’s strategic pivot toward East Asia and away from Europe and the Middle East, which began under Obama, entails a permanent redeployment of military power and economic focus in response to China’s accelerating ascent as the main challenger to U.S. global dominance.

Like Trump, Biden will expect Europe and NATO to carry more of the security burden in the Middle East. European governments might be more inclined to help if U.S. policy on Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reverted from Trump’s unilateral pursuit of regime change in Tehran and of a peace deal overwhelmingly slanted toward Israel. But whether the Europeans have the means or the political will to tackle any of these challenges is highly doubtful.

The real litmus test of U.S.-European cooperation under a Biden administration is likely to come over China, on which the Europeans are far from united among themselves but are eager to avoid being dragged into a new Cold War by Trump.

Tony Blinken, one of Biden’s senior foreign policy advisers, says how to handle Beijing is the most important question a Democratic president would face.

“There’s no more important relationship in the world than U.S.-China. We have to work together to get it right,” he told a recent Chatham House videoconference. A Biden administration would approach it by working with allies and “showing up in institutions instead of going AWOL.”

Given this new reality, it will take more than hope or wishful thinking, which abound in the corridors of Brussels, to put the transatlantic partnership back in gear. In short, Europe needs to stop treating the U.S. as a protective Big Brother it can always count on to scare away the neighborhood bullies — and more like an equal in a partnership in which both sides carry the burden.

If Biden makes good on his day-one promises, Europeans should be ready to respond with “deliverables” of their own, to borrow the ghastly bureaucratic terminology.

A more self-confident Europe should offer a President Biden a grown-up partnership, but not subservience.

They should offer to work with Washington to reform the World Trade Organization and renew transatlantic trade talks with new flexibility on agriculture and aerospace subsidies if Washington scraps punitive tariffs on EU goods.

European countries, including France, should agree to hold off on implementing digital taxes if the U.S. reengages in a good faith negotiation of corporate taxation principles at the OECD with a fixed deadline. They should also step up their common defense efforts to complement NATO with a stronger European pillar, and get firmer with China by insisting on investment reciprocity and the protection of critical infrastructure and technology.

The EU should also suggest a permanent transatlantic consultative forum on sensitive issues of technology transfer and investment — open to partners such as Canada, Japan and Australia.

In exchange, it should seek a U.S. commitment to forgo the kind of extraterritorial secondary sanctions used by the Trump administration that weaponize the dollar’s dominance of the international payments system to penalize foreign companies accused of breaching U.S. national sanctions against Iran or other targeted countries.

It is not certain that Biden would be willing or able to end this constant irritant in transatlantic ties, which is often spearheaded by Congress. But EU governments should make clear that this is a condition for good faith cooperation among allies in addressing the strategic challenge of China and others.

A more self-confident Europe should offer a President Biden a grown-up partnership, but not subservience. In a dangerous and uncertain world, rebuilding transatlantic ties after Trump’s wrecking spree must be the foundation for the post-COVID recovery, which is the top priority on both sides of the Atlantic.

This article taken from

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How NATO Can Avoid a Strategic Decoupling in the Eastern Mediterranean

Since an extraordinary naval standoff occurred between French and Turkish warships in the Eastern Mediterranean in early June, Paris and Ankara have been trading increasingly sharp verbal blows over their respective actions in implementing the UN arms embargo on Libya. While this may appear to be just another moment of friction between NATO allies, particularly with Turkey, it is not. This incident represents a more deep-seated strategic dilemma for NATO as well as an increasingly stark divide between the European Union and Turkey.

This strategic dilemma is rooted in Turkey’s new regional foreign and security policy, based in part on its “Blue Homeland” doctrine. The implementation of this doctrine has caused a series of serious incidents that have been observed by Turkey’s allies but fleetingly, if rarely, addressed. Encountering little resistance, Turkey believes its actions to be largely accepted (as some are, such as limiting Russian influence). But the totality of Turkey’s policies and actions have now reached a point of dangerous escalation, which could substantially challenge the coherence of NATO’s collective defense posture in the Mediterranean and weaken its political cohesion. Turkey’s actions threaten to hinder vital NATO-EU cooperation in the region as well.

To avoid this, allies should approach the growing instability in the Mediterranean through an integrative policy that seeks to deescalate tensions and define, with Ankara, common interests by identifying some agreed principles to guide regional behavior. If Turkey is unwilling to join such an initiative, greater transatlantic tensions lie ahead.

Turkey’s Blue Homeland Ambitions
Turkey’s Blue Homeland Doctrine has its origins in a plan drawn up by Turkish admiral Cem Gurdeniz in 2006. It sets out an ambitious goal to underline and expand, through assertive diplomacy and military means, Turkey’s influence in the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas while enabling access to energy and other economic resources. President Erdogan adopted it in 2015 as an integral part of a national strategy of “forward defense” in the context of his sustained drive to assert Turkish independence in all aspects of foreign policy to include influence in its surrounding regions.

Manifestations of the doctrine were on full display during the February 2019 Mavi Vatan (Blue Homeland) exercise, which was the largest combat exercise since the establishment of the Turkish Navy and was conducted simultaneously in the Aegean, Black, and Eastern Mediterranean Seas. The Turkish government-controlled media described the exercise as a “war rehearsal.” Another example has been Turkey’s assertive energy claims around the disputed Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In February 2018, Turkey sent naval vessels to stop an Italian drilling vessel on its way to drill for gas off Cyprus’ coast. Then in the spring of 2019, Ankara sent ships into Cypriot waters, escorted by the Turkish navy, to conduct its own drilling activities. European Union member states unanimously denounced those “illegal actions,” expressed their support for Cyprus by restricting EU pre-accession aid to Turkey, and suspended negotiations of an air transport agreement. Israel also encountered Turkey’s naval activism when its oceanographic ship, Bat Galim, operating in Cypriot waters in cooperation with Nicosia, was forced out by Turkish warships. Regional tensions reached a new high in November 2019 when Turkey signed an agreement with Libya’s Government of National Accord. The agreement defines a maritime border between the two countries in the Mediterranean Sea and permits Turkey to defend Libya’s maritime interests (which extend to six nautical miles from Crete) as well as allowing for joint extraction of energy resources in the Mediterranean.

To date, Turkey has met little resistance from either the European Union, NATO, or the United States in response to its actions, with the exception of harsh words and limited sanctions. Some EU parliamentarians have denounced Ankara’s “gunboat diplomacy,” and EU high representative Borrell released a declaration stating that EU countries are “growing increasingly concerned about the recent escalations from Turkey.” EU foreign affairs ministers convened on July 13, asking Ankara to provide “clarifications” on its actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya, and Syria and asking High Representative Borrell to provide options to reinforce the sanctions imposed on Turkey for its gas and oil drilling activities in Cyprus’ EEZ. Secretary of State Pompeo has called Turkey’s illegal drilling in Cypriot waters “unacceptable,” yet this is unlikely to be followed by concrete action given that the Trump administration has not yet imposed legally mandated sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

This lack of a holistic and united transatlantic response to Turkey’s naval actions has emboldened Ankara to take further actions, particularly at a time when Erdogan seeks to project independent power abroad and heighten nationalistic sentiment at home to distract the Turkish population from great economic difficulties. The restoration of Hagia Sophia as a mosque is a powerful example of this policy in action coupled with its military interventions in Libya and Syria. Absent international resolution of the Cypriot and Libyan disputes (which are on the cusp of bringing in other powers, such as Egypt and Israel), President Erdogan has (rightly) concluded that Turkey has more to gain by its unilateral use of hard power and reaching its own diplomatic agreements that suits its needs rather than through broader diplomatic engagement and dialogue.

Escalating Tensions with Allies
As Turkey secures its regional interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, it sets itself on a collision course with official EU and NATO operations, which undermines broader regional and international stability. The first major collision occurred in April 2020 when the European Union launched Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI to implement the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya. Despite a lack of policy unity over Libya, EU countries agreed on a common objective: the importance of preventing further military escalation by taking joint action to enforce the UN embargo. Turkey denounced IRINI as taking one-sided approach to the embargo that focuses only on constraining the Government of National Accord, which Turkey supports. The U.S. State Department seems to agree. Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker sided with the Turkish interpretation, questioning whether the EU mission was “serious,” because it only focused on interdicting Turkish materiel and not preventing Russian military equipment from reaching Libya.

On June 10 2020, Operation IRINI unsuccessfully tried to investigate a Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship, escorted by Turkish warships and headed toward Libya. The Turkish ships prevented the Greek navy from inspecting the vessel, claiming the cargo was “medical equipment.” Tensions further escalated that same day when the French Navy ship Le Courbet, operating in the Eastern Mediterranean in the framework of NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian, a maritime security operation launched by NATO in 2016 to support maritime situation awareness, counterterrorism, and security capacity building, tried to inspect the same civilian cargo ship. But the Turkish escort intervened again, leading this time to a more aggressive and dangerous incident. According to the French government, Turkish warships turned their fire-control radars on the French warship (the preliminary phase before launching a weapon on a target) and pointed guns at the warship to dissuade any attempts at inspecting the cargo. Ankara rejected these claims, calling them “groundless,” and instead accused the French ship of conducting a “high-speed and dangerous maneuver.” Speaking to reporters in Paris this week, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said the United States was “very sympathetic with France” in its dispute with Turkey, and “NATO allies shouldn’t be turning fire control radars on one another.” At France’s request, NATO has launched a formal investigation into the incident, but the results of the investigation have not been released publicly.

The Risk of a Mediterranean Strategic Decoupling
Since the incident, tensions between Turkey and France have escalated as both presidents have used very strong rhetoric against the other. Although it might be tempting to hope that tensions will fade, they are likely to escalate again and have major implications for the European Union, NATO, and the rule of law.

First, tensions have now reached a level where they risk significantly impacting NATO. Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 system against the wishes of the United States and its NATO allies, its unilateral military interventions into Syria against Kurdish forces, its frequent military interventions into northern Iraq (its most recent air and ground operation was in mid-June), its violations of Iran (and likely Venezuela) sanctions, its continued probing of Greek airspace, and its recent veto over important NATO plans for the defense of NATO’s eastern flank (which was suddenly lifted days after the naval incident) leads one to conclude that Turkey is increasingly pursuing its national interests over NATO’s collective defense interests. The decision by the United States and other F-35 program partners to remove Turkey from the program (although it continues to contribute to the supply chain) will diminish NATO defenses in general as well as its readiness, interoperability, and effectiveness of NATO’s air defense capabilities. Likewise, the announcement of France’s withdrawal of its forces from NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian following the naval incident with Turkey reduces much-needed naval capabilities in the Eastern Mediterranean for both the European Union and NATO to jointly enforce the UN arms embargo in Libya.

NATO has always struggled to articulate and deploy forces to protect and defend its southern flank and has devoted too little strategic attention to the Mediterranean over the last few years while powers such as Russia have consistently reinforced their military presence. With a dramatic increase in conflict as well as migration challenges, NATO and the European Union need to be an effective and unified presence in the Mediterranean despite disagreements with Turkey. The European Union relies on NATO intelligence and other support to execute many of its missions, so a diminished NATO also diminishes the European Union.

Absent more focus on the Mediterranean, Ankara and Southern European NATO members may conclude that the alliance has become, de facto, exclusively focused on its eastern flank. These members may see to protect and pursue their own interests in the region as well, modeling Turkey’s behavior of ad hoc arrangements, new regional alignments, and reversible bilateral understandings, thus creating even greater regional instability.

Second, these tensions reveal troubling divergences between Turkey and the European Union. From the EU perspective, Ankara’s aggressive pursuit of energy interests, disregard for the rule of law within Turkey (which should concern NATO as well), and use of migrants to pressure the European Union and destabilize the European neighborhood are at odds with EU values and interests. In the case of Cyprus, the European Union cannot be an unbiased actor. It supports its member state Cyprus and its ability to advance its economic interests within its EEZ according to international law, as the European Union would with any country elsewhere in the world. And while Turkey is free to pursue its national interests at the expense of collective European interests, its actions move it away from a more constructive partnership or strengthened economic ties with the European Union. And a more problematic EU-Turkey relationship further complicates conflict resolution efforts in the Western Balkans, Ukraine, and the Caucasus.

Eastern Mediterranean Principles
The preamble of NATO’s Charter states that its members pledge to “promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area.” All NATO allies, including Turkey, need to promote stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. A first step would be to create an agreed set of principles to include: (1) ensure that all regional partners reap the benefits of energy exploration in the region, with a path toward equitable sharing of energy revenues acting as a confidence-building measure toward restarting the Cyprus peace process; (2) contain Russian influence and presence in the region; (3) ensure NATO’s freedom of action from the Black Sea through to the Mediterranean; (4) work toward regional stability in the Middle East and North Africa region, including counterterrorism efforts; (5) uphold international legal norms and UN resolutions, such as the UN arms embargo on Libya and efforts to reach a cease-fire, as well as countries’ territorial or maritime integrity (regardless of existing disputes); and (6) redouble efforts to avoid future maritime incidents in the Eastern Mediterranean between NATO allies by establishing new procedures.

Stronger U.S. political and security involvement in the region will help strengthen NATO’s resolve in the Eastern Mediterranean, be a bulwark against Russia’s growing military presence, and better balance tensions between France and Turkey. The European Union (and France in particular) will need to identify pragmatic ways to engage with Turkey on a range of issues and not simply denounce its actions. As Turkey’s economic situation deteriorates, greater economic opportunities, such as expanding the EU bilateral trade relationship with Turkey or increasing U.S. foreign direct investment, might encourage Ankara to participate in the development of a regional framework of principles. Unfortunately, these relationships have grown very fragile as tensions have risen, and Turkey’s unilateral actions have significantly destabilized the region. Hopefully, refocusing on a set of agreed principles and incentivizing progress can restore NATO unity and restore focus on protecting its southern flank.

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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: 596

Notable Events of April 2019

Notable Events of April 2019

Local Elections of Turkey

The local elections held on 31st of March led to several conclusions and procedures. AKP, the party in power did not significantly decreased its votes but it can be considered the loser of the elections as they lost two main cities namely İstanbul and Ankara to the opposition party CHP. For the first time in 20 years CHP has increased its votes significantly and won the elections in several major cities. AKP won most of the municipalities in the central and eastern Turkey and CHP won most of the coastal cities together with the capital Ankara. The statistics indicates that higher income regions voted for CHP and lower income regions voted for AKP.

At the election night the main information supplier for the media has stopped giving the results for over 10 hours. In the mean time AKP candidate declared that he has won the election of Istanbul and became the mayor of Istanbul. However, that proved to be wrong in the following day and it has been understood that the candidate of CHP has won the elections by approximately 20.000 votes. Such a margin was very small for a city which has more than 8 million voters so AKP has used all means to change that situation. That led to endless recounting of votes and a great stress at the society as Istanbul is without doubt the most important city of Turkey and AKP benefitted from the power of the city for the last 25 years. Following 20 days of recounting the votes the candidate of CHP has officially been declared as the mayor of Istanbul.


S400 Conflict With USA

Turkey is traditionally a country who buys weapons from the western world and pays a substantial percentage of its budget to do that. That means a lot of money and all the weapon seller countries follow Turkey carefully. US is the main supplier of all types of weapons to Turkey. However recent developments, heavy conditions of US for using the weapons, lots of embargo threats and the price of defense missiles directed Turkey to Russia to buy S400 missiles. That was very good for the relations between Russia and Turkey but that affected US-Turkey relations very negatively. During April several high level US officials reflected their positions against this dealing and some of them threatened Turkey for possible economic embargos. Turkey have understood the seriousness of the situation and continuing its efforts to solve that S400 crisis. President Erdoğan, Minister of Economy Albayrak and Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu contacted with Trump and other officials multiple times.

It seems that in order not to attract more attentions Turkey will suspend the delivery of the missiles and shall have more time to find a mutual solution. US implies that deploying those missiles may cause Turkey its NATO membership. Time will show if Turkey shall take a new direction towards east or shall stay at the NATO alliance.


Economic Package of Berat Albayrak

Since the first day in his office Minister of Economy Berat Albayrak has been criticized heavily as he does not have a sound background for such a title and his mere success is the fact that he is the son-in-law of President Erdoğan. Critics have been proved right as Turkey went a very severe economic crisis in the autumn of 2018. Foreign currencies nearly doubled, which means the purchasing power of Turkish Lira decreased to half and interest rates sky rocketed to 25% annually. During that time Minister Albayrak was always positive and telling that things would be good soon, but that did not happen as the economy of Turkey is still seriously in a crisis and the unemployment levels are at record highs. To overcome that crisis Albayrak has opened a new economic package during April but it was not containing specific measures, mainly they were showing the directions of the economy. That new package did not directly affect the markets. The same week he went to US to present the package to the international experts of economy, he also met with Trump in his office. But the results were very disappointing, at Financial Times and several other publications he has been criticized very badly, the main point was that he told nothing noteworthy and told nothing to solve the problems of Turkey. It will be the benefit of Turkey if international experts are wrong.


Sudan – Dictator Omer Al Bashir Has Been Arrested

In Sudan 30 years of Omer al Bashir’s dictatorship has finally came to an end. During his time Sudan became a country of fear, oppression and internal wars. The freedom of press was nonexistent, there were torture houses and an entire generation grew up in terror and fear. He also committed several war crimes and humanity crimes. He was transferred to Kober prison, a maximum-security prison notorious for holding political prisoners during his 30-year dictatorship and millions of dollars have been found in his residence.

Sudan’s military has said that it would prosecute Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), but would not extradite him. The military, which has dissolved the government, has said it would remain in power for up to two years, despite large street protests against their rule. It seems that people of Sudan are now hopeful for the future. Time will show if the new regime shall bring back the democracy or shall create a new dictator in Sudan.


Sri Lanka Bombing Events

In April, On Easter Sunday, suicide bombers killed at least 253 people and injured some 500 at churches and top-end hotels across Sri Lanka. There were foreigners among the victims but most of them were Sri Lankans. The attacks have been held in coordination and 6 bombings have been realized at the same time by suicide killers. As the target was mainly the churches and high end hotels it was easy to identify the attackers and Sri Lankan authorities believe that the attacks have been held by a local islamist group called as National Thowheed Jamat (NTJ). Sri Lankan police has taken severe measurements to prevent possible upcoming attacks and identified the suicide bombers as belonging to middle to high class families.

Sunday’s attacks were the worst ever against Sri Lanka’s small Christian minority, who make up just 7% of the 21 million population. Theravada Buddhism is Sri Lanka’s biggest religion, accounting for about 70% of the population. Hindus and Muslims make up around 12% and 10% of the population respectively.


US Military Aids to YPG

Although not official YPG is the extension of the terrorist group PKK which fights with Turkey for more than 30 years to establish an independent Kurdish Federation on mostly Turkey’s soil. Turkey has lost tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers during those fights. YPG appeared as a handy tool which US used extensively during the conflict in Syria. As things relatively better in Syria, ISIS has been almost removed and peace is slowly coming to the Syrian land, YPG is becoming one of the main figures at the area. US continued to send military aids to YPG in April, as they have declared their intentions to leave the Syria soon and it is obvious that they want to use YPG as their subcontractors at the region. However with all the right reasons Turkey heavily objects to this situation and the relation between Turkey and US is very tense for that matter. As the region is very problematic and parties to this conflict change sides easily, it is very difficult to predict the future of the region and the future of US-YPG relations.

Visits: 325

NATO Ballistic Missile Defence Systems and Turkey

NATO Ballistic Missile Defence Systems and Turkey

Dr. Ali Serdar Erdurmaz[1]



In the summit declaration issued on April 4, 2009, all NATO Heads of State and Government reaffirmed the conclusions of the Bucharest Summit, that “ballistic missile proliferation poses an increasing threat to Allies forces, territory, and populations. Missile defence forms part of a broader response to counter this threat.”

The intelligence community assesses that the threat from Iran’s short- and medium-range ballistic missiles is developing more rapidly than previously projected, while the threat of potential Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capabilities has been slower to develop than previously estimated.  In the near term, the greatest missile threats from Iran will be to countries in the Middle East and in Europe.

On 17 September 2009, President Obama has approved a phased, adaptive approach for missile defence in Europe.  The “Phased, Adaptive Approach” for Missile Defence in Europe has four phases, three layers and emphasizes three important pillars; US National Missile Defence Systems, The Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence of NATO and the national missile defence systems of member nations. If any threat attempts to launch a missile at a NATO ally, it will face the consequences of its actions not from one country but from all NATO members. According to this program Turkey is going to undertake an important role however she has not have her own missile defence system capabilities.

Expectations from Turkey for the U.S. and NATO’s integrated missile defence system may be in the form of contributions in the first two layers. The program is primarily designed to increase protection against medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic missiles but, to intercept those missiles as soon as possible after they’ve been launched in boost and ascent phase. For that reason, Turkey has a vital importance due to its geographical position within the context of the potential threat.

Turkey announced that it was out of the question for it to oppose security measures the North Atlantic Treaty Organization considers necessary, apparently ruling out any move to block a missile shield the U.S. is proposing within the Alliance. Turkey laid out three principles on which as a NATO member, it would base its approach to the missile shield.

In this article, studying NATO Missile Defence System (MDS) requirements from Turkey and examining Turkey’s position on this system will be put forward. And it will be bring before the resolutions to overcome the shortages of Turkish National Missile Defence requirements within NATO MDS.

Key words: NATO Ballistic Missile Defence System and Turkey, Missile shield and Turkey, ballistic missile defence, boost phase, ascent phase.



NATO’s New Strategic Concept, fundamentals of which were set by 12 wise men in Lisbon in November 2010, has been approved. NATO’s requirement for ballistic missile defense is

considered essential due to Iranian ballistic missile threat put forward within this concept. Although Turkey stated before approval of the Concept that it would not welcome explicit mention of threat and had it accepted, point of origin of the system architecture in NATO missile defense system, which is described as “missile shield”, is considered to be evaluation of Iran as the main threat. On the other hand, Iran rejects this situation and reacts to Turkey.

The fact that Turkey would play a leading and important role in multi-level and multiple-stage structure to be put it into effect in NATO Missile Defense System, in other words “Missile Shield” project, was mentioned by USA officials and led to fierce discussions among Turkish people. In this context, it is a prevailing idea among Turkish people that Turkey has very favorable relationships with Iran and there is no threat at this stage, therefore any missile defense facility to be established under the umbrella of NATO will lead to tense relationships with Iran. On the other hand, it is stated that systems planned to be established aim at protection of Israel, and are against Iranian threat. In this regard, it is argued that the purpose is to pull Turkey into an undesired environment.

Responsibility to be assumed by Turkey, which is a NATO member, within the scope of new strategic concept constitutes a small, but important part of an integrated system. In parallel with that, it is a reasonable approach to state that it does not pose a potential threat for Iran or any other country in the region as the entire system has a defensive and passive structure. It is considered beneficial to determine the architectural structure which NATO system is built on and expectations from Turkey within the scope of this project in order to evaluate correctness of the argument that the system will support Israel.

This paper aims at examining architectural project of NATO Missile System and revealing the role planned to be assigned to Turkey. In addition, this paper analyzes national facilities and capabilities of Turkey against a possible ballistic missile threat, evaluates what kind of a part Turkey should take within NATO system, and attempts to reveal possible solutions.

USA’s National Missile Defense System Program Works

Launched by Ronald Reagan, one of USA Presidents, around 25 years ago, USA National Missile Defense System is tried to be sustained and developed through a new program introduced today. As is known, Missile Defense System (Missile Shield) is a passive surface-to-air defense system, which works by striking aircraft and missiles or exploding nearby them. Causing damage on the territory of enemy states by means of these missiles is against its concept of use.

The USA builds and develops national missile shield program on its own mainland, and pursues a policy of deepening and extending it through other continents across the world according to sources of ballistic missile threats. To this end, it has adopted the way of making technological cooperation agreements with various countries in order to extend and integrate missile defense system. The purpose is to destroy any launched missile on its flight path as early as possible before arriving on mainland of the USA. It is necessary to establish a global early warning and tracking radar system network in order to protect lands of the USA against intercontinental ballistic missile attacks and to use missile batteries effectively. It is planned to install these kinds of infrastructure facilities and capabilities through integration with NATO (Kibaroglu, Fall 2000).

In this context, the USA made individual agreements with Australia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Japan and England for joint working in the matter of technology research and development on missile defense with regard to “Missile Defense Program” it prepared for National Missile Defense (NMD) budget studies in accordance with the purpose of developing its own national missile defense. In addition, countries that have missile defense programs and are concerned with this matter are as follows: The Netherlands, France, Poland, India, Russia, UAE, Israel, South Korea, Germany, Ukraine, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Romania. In this scope, NATO is regarded to be a country that is in progress of developing its own system architecture works. Turkey is not separately mentioned among above-mentioned countries. It is thought that Turkey has not signed the said agreement with the USA because it desires to take a part in NATO organization (The Missile Defense Program”, 2009-2010 , S.22, , 2009-2010)

Apart from that, the 19th page of the Program makes mention of a 20-year tight cooperation of the USA with Israel in regard to missile defense system. It is stated that this cooperation has been improved more with Arrow systems that can work jointly with the USA missile defense systems. It is pointed out that this relationship has been combined with joint short-range David’s Sling weapon system and upper-tier initiative (The Missile Defense Program”, 2009-2010 , S.22, , 2009-2010)

As it can be understood from the USA’s national missile defense configuration program, USA aims at forming a gradual defense network that can allow destruction of a missile launched from whichever part of the World before reaching its own mainland by pursuing the goal of both making its own national missile defense system integrated through cooperation with countries which are not NATO members and including the entire world in its coverage area through providing unity in NATO. In parallel with that, countries included in cooperation will be defended, too.

As is known, renewal of START Treaty with Russia expiring in December 2010 was brought to agenda with start of Barack Obama as new President of the USA. However, future of START treaty was endangered by Russia’s objection to systems planned to be deployed in the Czech Republic and Poland within the scope of national missile defense of the USA.  Thus, President Obama instructed to work on alternative solutions. At the end of efforts made in parallel with that, practice named “Phased Adaptive Approach” aimed at missile defense of the continent of Europe, which was approved by President Obama on 17 September 2009, was put into practice (, 2009) (O’Reilly, October 2009). According to the new document approved, this approach is regarded as a proved and cost-effective solution to contribute to providing the security against ballistic missile threat of Iran.

How is Missile Defense System Considered within the Framework of New NATO Concept?

It is accepted by NATO that member countries of NATO, which is the most important tie of the USA with transatlantic Europe, should be integrated and designed in accordance with the system structure of the USA in order for these countries to be integrated into missile shield. In parallel with that, it was needed to integrate “Phased Adaptive Approach” suggested by the USA President Obama into NATO structure in order for lands of Europe and NATO member countries to be protected. Otherwise, serious difficulties would be encountered in implementation of the four stages determined.

NATO started works on this program following Prague Summit held in November 2002. Conducted feasibility studies were approved in NATO’s Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) in April 2006 (Components of Policy, Missile Defence for the protection of NATO, territory, 2009). By this means, political and military requirements of NATO regarding missile defense started to be supported technically. It is stated that NATO presidents and prime ministers approved at Bucharest Summit on 4 April 2008 that increasing ballistic missiles posed an incremental threat to allied forces, lands and people. Accordingly, it is expressed that missile defense will be a comprehensive response to threat. As part of this response, future contributions of the USA to this configuration will constitute a concrete input to efforts of NATO allies (North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Bucharest Summit Declaration, md 37, 2008). At this NATO Summit, it was determined that USA missile defense systems deployed in Europe would contribute to defense of alliance. In this regard, it was accepted for this ability to be an integrated part of future comprehensive missile defense architecture of NATO. At the same summit, issue of cooperation with Russia on this matter came to the forefront, and encouragement of Russia in this regard was discussed.

At 2009 Strasbourg/Kehl Summit, alliance members assigned various units of NATO to prepare a comprehensive report to be negotiated at Lisbon Summit to be held in 2010. In conclusion, NATO missile defense architecture suggested after a host of works and efforts was accepted together with NATO’s New Strategic Concept brought to the agenda at Lisbon Summit.

NATO is still developing its own Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) program. This program will be integrated with NATO command and control systems and the communication network that is currently in use after it is updated and relevant tests related to it are carried out. It will also have a complete coverage against tactical ballistic missiles having a range of up to 3000 km.

As much as it is understood from works performed within NATO, missile defense system architecture, which is projected to be installed within the body of NATO, will be fundamentally built upon the mechanism developed by the USA. Establishment and reinforcement of the defense will be ensured by moving Aegis anti-missiles deployed at sea, which make up fundamental of the National Missile Defense System of the USA, to seas surrounding the country subjected to threat in a time of crisis (Phased Adaptive Approach, SASC Testimony On New Missile Defense Strategy, 2009) ( (Status Of Implementing The Phased Adaptive Approach To Missile Defense In Europe, 2010).

As we have tried to explain above, fundamentals of NATO’s Missile Defense System consist of three elements: The national missile defense system of the USA; national missile defense systems of NATO member countries; and Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) program to be built up through contribution of NATO member countries, which would constitute an environment to integrate the said systems with one another.

It is stated that a system within this configuration will not need 10 interceptors deployed on land in Poland, and big fixed radar facilities to be established in the Czech Republic. Accordingly, this plan was given up. It was stated that USA would contribute to interceptors deployed on land in Alaska and California through systems established at the fourth phase.

It is suggested in threat evaluations that short- and medium-range ballistic missile threat of Iran progresses more rapidly than predictions while inter-continental missile threat develops more slowly than predictions. Based on these evaluations, it is thought that main threat to originate from Iran will be towards USA alliance in Europe and Middle East in particular as well as its other components there.

Architecture of systems projected to be put into practice in the 2011s is made up of incremental advanced Missile-3 (SM-3) standard ballistic missile interceptors deployed at sea and on land and sensor radar systems deployed in Europe and backward as of the closest country with a potential threat. The USA considers that while it protects its own mainland against long-range ballistic missile threat with this kind of a phased approach, it will also be able to take measures against missile threat to be posed against the continent of Europe in the near future.

According to definition made by Lieutenant General Patrick J. O’Reilly, USA Missile Defense Agency Director, in Atlantic Council Missile Defense Conference on 12 October 2010 (Parrish, 2010) and plan approved by USA President Barack Obama in 2009; it was planned to structure missile defense of Europe as three-layered and under four stages against short, medium and intermediate range missiles and intercontinental range missiles.

The said four stages are as follows:

The first stage will continue until 2012. It will include deployment of tried and proven missile systems and sensors, which are based on systems called Aegis (Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense) (Brad, 2005)deployed at sea that are still available in accordance with USA’s National Missile Defense (NMD) Program, at seas closest to threat.

The second stage includes deployment of advanced systems deployed at sea and on land, which are still at the stage of development and test, against short and medium range missile attacks in the period from 2012 to 2015.

In the third stage, sea and shore defense system will step in against intermediate range missiles between 2015 and 2018. It is planned to structure this system in the continent of Europe.

The fourth stage from 2018 to 2020 will include early sensing and warning ability against medium and intermediate range missiles as well as protection against intercontinental ballistic missiles. Counter structuring on USA mainland is within the scope of this stage.

Lt. Gen. O’Reilly states that this configuration was basically aimed at ensuring protection against medium and intermediate range missiles with a range of 1000 – 5,500 km that fly in the outer space. A launched ballistic missile will be able to be destroyed in three layers by defense systems including sensors, radars and missiles deployed on lands, at seas and in the outer space.

It was stated that this would enable simultaneous tracking of hundreds of missiles and launch of 50 missiles at a time. According to the program, the launched missile will be blocked as early as possible at the boost and ascent phase following launch of the missile. Thus, advanced mobile systems should be deployed at appropriate times and places. If this is not possible, the launched ballistic missile will be struck in its flight pattern by means of systems deployed in high level and low level. Radars and computers to detect, track and destroy all kinds of missiles from medium range to international range missiles will be in tandem with Aegis ballistic missile defense system deployed on surface platform in USA.

It constitutes fundamental of the USA-NATO defense system to deploy systems designed in this pattern in hundreds of units to cover all NATO countries.

The first layer is the phase in which missile is launched and ascends to reach the necessary speed (Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, 2009, ) (Boost-Phase Intercept, 2012). This phase takes nearly 3-5 minutes for long-range missiles, and 1-2 minutes for short-range missiles (Boost Phase). In this phase, missile reaches over 1000 m. per seconds from a speed of zero. Missile is biggest in size and volume in this phase. Accordingly, it is in the simplest condition to be detected and struck.

The second layer refers to the phase in which missile reaches adequate speed, goes up to outer space from atmosphere after a range of 300 km., and reaches an average speed of 1300 m. per seconds (Mid-course phase).  It flies for approximately 25-30 minutes in this phase ( Midcourse Defense). In this phase, the missile will be struck via platforms deployed in the outer space or by means of various long-range missile defense systems on its flight path in the continent of Europe.

The terminal or descent phase includes 1 to 5 minute phase in which it enters into atmosphere from outer space again and performs the final approach to target ( About 33 Minutes Protecting America in the New Missile Age). In this phase, it will be necessary to destroy ballistic missile, which is on its way to target, through intervention of target country defense systems having systems like patriot. Turkey seems to have a vital importance in terms of taking necessary measures in the first phase of this four-stage three-layered system.

It is emphasized that joint actions should be taken in tandem with Russia in this stage in order for Russia not to perceive the configuration as a threat against itself (Kibaroglu, Fall 2000).   In this context, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO, visited Moscow at the beginning of November 2010, and continued his pursuit of cooperation for Lisbon Summit (Secretary General in Moscow to prepare the Summit, 2010). As much as it is understood, Russia was ready for negotiation with NATO and the USA in regard to cooperation on this matter. This means that it would be possible to reach a positive result on this matter at the end of negotiations (Russia Seeks Further Dialogue on NATO Antimissile Plan, 2010). NATO-Russia Council has launched cooperative works on theatre missile defense, and is making comprehensive analyses regarding this cooperation (Missile defence cooperation with Russia, 2012). But it seems there are some problems that could not be solved so far because Russia would not participate in Chicago Summit on 21-22 May 2010  (Pifer, 2012) (Russia Offers Pyramid Radar for Missile Defense, 2012)

What Kind of an Approach Does Turkey Have Concerning Ballistic Missile Defense System? (Champion, Nov 01, 2010)

In the 2010s, for Turkey, there was no potential ballistic missile threat to appear in the near future thanks to “zero problem” policy Turkey implemented in its immediate surroundings. However, it is considered necessary to hold oneself in readiness against a potential threat likely to arise in the future because of capability of surrounding countries and Iran in particular to manufacture ballistic missile.

From the very beginning, Turkey has never had a positive approach towards attempts to cooperate with Turkey in accordance with the above-mentioned USA missile defense system program. Turkey thinks that it is more suitable to solve this issue within the framework of NATO obligations, and expressly states that it has gained importance for missile defense systems to be compatible with NATO Defense Concept. As a matter of fact, giving an interview to Defense News on 29 May 2001, a Turkish diplomat stated, “we support missile defense system of Americans providing that they include NATO countries within coverage area”.

Here, the important point is that Turkey does not have its own national missile defense system and overtly prefers to stay within the scope of NATO without showing any will to be included in this system together with the USA.

In fact, at the end of threat evaluations Turkey made on surrounding countries, it has perceived ballistic missiles as a threat, and felt the necessity for having systems against this threat. Accordingly, it has started procurement activities in order to have such systems.

For the first time in April, 2007, Turkey decided to initiate a tender for LORAMIDS (Long Range Air and Missile Defense System) conducted by Undersecretariat of Defense Industry through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) credit system. An offer was requested from Russia and China for procurement. However, since neither company gave an offer, Turkey extended bidding period from 1 December 2008 to 15 January 2009. The reason for presentation of no offer from either country was stated as desire of these countries for procurement to be through single source via inter-governmental negotiation instead of tender purchase. It is stated that Turkish companies such as Roketsan, Aselsan, Havelsan, Ayesas, FNSS, Gate and MilSoft showed an interest in joint production of Long Range Defense system. It is projected for Turkish companies to join the tender with a consortium to be formed. In this regard, tender contains the requirement for certain missile parts to be manufactured by domestic companies like Aselsan, Havelsan and Roketsan through technology transfer (Undersecretariat of Defense Industry)

In January 2006, Russia submitted an offer to Turkey in the matter of joint production of S-300 missiles (Demir, 23-01-2006). Upon this development, a technical committee from Turkey visited Russia and made an examination in the factory. It was stated that Russia brought new generation S-400 missile defense system to the table as an offer in addition to S-300s. Apparently, although only Russia leaned towards joint production at the beginning, the USA had to show flexibility later on as China displayed willingness on this matter, too. Therefore, while Russia was regarded as a serious rival against the USA, tender came to a blocking point as a result of intervention of China and did not reach a positive conclusion as neither Russia nor China gave an offer. It is known that China and Turkish engineers have been jointly working in the matter of missile development since 2002, and they have developed Yıldırım and Jaguar missiles.

It was learnt from news appearing on media in February 2010 that the USA government planned to sell Turkey a Patriot PAC 3 missile defense system amounting to 7.8 billion dollars. This attempt of the USA is regarded to be deriving from its effort to get ahead of Russia and China. Having a broad repercussion in the media, this news brought forward threat perceptions in the surroundings, and caused a debate among people concerning whether it was necessary to purchase this system (Amerika’dan Türkiye’ye 7.8 milyar dolarlık Patriot bataryası satma hazırlığı (USA preparing to sell Turkey Patriot battery of 7.8 billion dollars), 13 September 2009), (Bu füzeyi almamız şart mı? (Do we really have to purchase this missile?, 15 September 2009)

During his visit to Turkey in February 2008, Robert Gates, American Secretary of Defense, argued just at the missile systems procurement stage that missiles to be purchased should be integrated with NATO, implicitly referring to the USA and, at best, Israel missiles. Turkey went into the effort of expanding its room for negotiation among choices within NATO inventory by including French-Italian joint production missiles into these choices.

As is seen, Turkey has reached a conclusion by making an evaluation on potential threats to be addressed to it in the following decades, and made a decision in the matter of establishment of a countrywide missile defense system. However, since it does not have an affordable cost, the issue of adopting an individual behavior seems to have been suspended. Another reason may be good political relations Turkey has with surrounding countries, which causes Turkey not to go into an investment of such a high cost for now. In this case, the second option seems to be to bear the reducing cost through integration into this system within the body of NATO.

Turkey’s Approach

Ahmet Davutoğlu, The Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated that three principles played an important role in approach of Turkey as a NATO member country to ballistic missile defense system installation within the scope of NATO’s New Concept, which was negotiated and accepted in Lisbon in November 2010 (Füze Kalkanında Üç İlke (Three Principles in Missile Shield), 2010).

“The issue in question…NATO missile defense system. These kinds of systems are based on deterrence, and aimed at preventing wars, but not causing wars. That is to say, it should be regarded as a process making existence of missiles in the parties meaningless. It should not mean producing more missiles. Turkey cannot oppose to these kinds of measures. This is because; this is a security organization, which does planning concerning security risks likely to occur. This is a very natural reaction. Ballistic missiles are a threat in the world. There is also nuclear threat and terrorist threat in the world. Certain discussions are carried out and technical preparations are made within NATO on this matter. Turkey is part of this process, and actively participates in these discussions.” Davutoğlu pointed out that geography of Turkey and the relations it promoted made Turkey a highly important actor. He defined the principles as follows:

  • The first principle: Defense systems can be developed within NATO by considering security risks. It is even part of task of NATO as a security organization, and Turkey takes part in this process(Füze Kalkanında Üç İlke (Three Principles in Missile Shield), 2010)
  • The second principle: This defense system of NATO should surround all countries, and be planned in accordance with needs of member countries alone.
  • The third principle: Turkey does not have any perception of threat from surrounding countries. It believes in accuracy of the policies it has followed towards neighboring countries up to now. Turkey thinks plans of NATO should also follow this pattern.

To put the possibility of fulfillment of these principles of Turkey under scope, we can make the following evaluations:

Nothing contrary to main purpose of NATO is seen in our approach associated with the first principle. As a military organization based on security of member countries, NATO makes all kinds of threat evaluations within the framework of its strategic concept, and makes predictions concerning what kinds of measures should be taken against the said threats, also establishes and develops measures by operating necessary approval mechanisms. As a NATO member country, Turkey has the same rights entitled to other countries within these mechanisms. Accordingly, Turkey makes a decision in accordance with its national interests and by using its free will on this matter as on all kinds of matters brought to the agenda of NATO. As much as it is understood from above-mentioned statements of Ahmet Davutoğlu, The Minister of Foreign Affairs, it does not seem possible for Turkey to oppose to this action. However, Turkey has certain hesitations, and has tried to reveal these hesitations in the second and third principles.

Issues mentioned in the second principle have two important aspects. The first aspect is that this defense system of NATO should surround all countries. Davutoğlu described this principle as follows: “When this kind of a security structure is built up, no country should be disregarded pursuant to indivisibility of security principle of NATO. Security of all member countries should be taken into consideration and only NATO territory should be covered. What we mean is that: it is not possible to accept a defense perception in which certain regions of Turkey are excluded. And the entire country should be included. It should include the entire territory of all NATO member countries”.

Two separate points are focused on in this statement. The first sentences imply that if this system is to be installed, it should not be structured only through installment in Turkey in order to meet the threat at the furthest point as in deployment of tactical nuclear weapons during Cold War period (NATO Türkiye’deki nükleer silahları sahiplenmedi (NATO did not appropriate nuclear weapons in Turkey, 2009)[2], but include establishment of necessary systems also in other NATO countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Poland (US confirms operation of NATO radar system in Turkey, 2012) ( BMD for the protection of NATO European territory, populations and forces , 2012). As is known, the Czech Republic, Poland and Bulgaria, which were willing for this kind of a configuration, had to give up due to pressure of Russia. Turkey does not want to become the only country that protects NATO from the far point in the face of this kind of an objection. As a matter of fact, since the fundamental of system is integration of national missile shields of countries within NATO, it is thought that the purpose in this regard can be accomplished.

Another issue stems from the fact that, as stated by Lt. Gen. O’Reilly, four-phase missile defense system to be established for protection of NATO members fundamentally aims at providing a medium and intermediate range ballistic missile defense, which closely concerns Turkey. This means that defense against short-range ballistic missiles stays in the background. In this case, certain problems may be experienced in preventing short-range ballistic missiles that may threaten Turkey, which means that not the entire territory of Turkey will be covered. All configurations of this system should be functional against ballistic missile threat of all sorts of ranges, and Turkey should have a say on this matter. In other words, all kinds of systems to be deployed in Turkey and its surrounding should ensure security in the entire territory of Turkey against short and medium range ballistic missiles (Zanotti, 2011). It is thought that the demand for providing missile defense over the entire territory of Turkey can be technically met. This is because; it is thought that this weakness could be automatically eliminated through intervention at the boost phase of a launched medium and short-range missile, as it is tried to be explained above. The important thing is deployment of early warning radars and interceptors in amounts required by an operation at appropriate locations. Requirements on this matter may impose additional financial burdens on both Turkey and NATO.

At start-up phase of four-phase approach, early warning radar systems have been placed in Kürecik area of Turkey (US confirms operation of NATO radar system in Turkey, 2012). The said radar is a system with a highly advanced ability and with a range of 2300 km. With placement of this radar in Kürecik, not only Iran but also Caucasus and Russia will be kept under observation (Altaylı, 24 March 2012). Thanks to the radar in Kürecik, location capacity and route of the launched missile will be determined, and the prevention system that is closest to threat will be warned. Therefore, it is stated that Kürecik location is highly important for NATO Missile Defense System. It was emphasized that rejection of it would create as much reaction as rejection of The March 1 Memorandum (Altaylı, 24 March 2012). The system will be integrated through completion with interceptors capable of moving, which are placed on ship platform belonging to the USA (Collina, October 2011)[3]. The fundamental of this structure is the tendency of a crisis to uprise between a threatening country and NATO or a NATO member country.  In case of an uprising crisis, the said missiles will be able to be transferred via ships to locations at seas surrounding Turkey where they would meet missiles in the most effective way. Naturally, appearing at the Black Sea may come to the forefront on this matter, and conditions of Montreux Convention[4] may face us as a problem. Even if the consent of Russia is obtained, results of a possible violation of the convention will have to be discussed. It will be quite complicated to clearly determine what kind of a say Turkey will have on the installed systems in such a case.

Additionally, it is considered beneficial that interceptors are located in the region closest to threat. It is fundamental that launched ballistic missiles are destroyed while they are ascending in the territory of the country that has launched them. Otherwise, it is regarded very likely that if they are destroyed late over Turkey, destroyed ballistic missile waste and warhead will fall on the mainland of Turkey, explode there and bring about serious damages.

There is a reaction period of maximum five minutes in order for a launched ballistic missile to be destroyed at boost phase. Therefore, prevention systems should be deployed at maximum 1000 km. distance to threatening ballistic missile bases. Considering that minimum speed of a launched ballistic missile is 1000 m/sec following launch of it, it will take minimum 60 km. per minute, which means that it will cover a range of 300 km. in five minutes after which it will continue its flight path by going up to outer space from the atmosphere. Therefore, geographical position of Turkey seems to be highly important considering the threat indicated. From now on, deployment in Bulgaria and Romania will come to the forefront. It is likely that this purpose will be tried to be accomplished through missile defense systems of the countries, on which they will also a have a say within NATO configuration, as I have explained above.

It is thought that the expression given in the second section of the second principle, “the said systems should be planned only in accordance with needs of member countries. They can take into account some of non-NATO factors, but they can consider non-NATO factors as a security risk, and main focus is only the security of member countries.”  has a deep meaning. Since USA’s own national missile defense system has been integrated with Israel’s national ballistic missile defense system for 20 years, as indicated in the 2009-2010 budget program, Israel’s national defense system will be automatically integrated into NATO system, which is based on the USA’s national missile defense system, indirectly (Parrish, 2010). As is known, Turkey stated its hesitation about share of information held within the scope of NATO with countries that are not NATO members. However, since transfer of this information via the USA’s own national missile defense (NMD) system is covered by a bilateral agreement, it will be tried to be left out of the scope of NATO. Accordingly, desire of Turkey on this matter will be able to be satisfied.

The point indicated in the third principle, “Turkey does not have any perception of threat from surrounding countries.” is regarded as a hesitation that should be taken into consideration in terms of incompatibility with pro-active “zero problem policy” that Turkey tries to follow in its relations with its surrounding countries and in the Middle East in particular (Davutoglu, Turkey’s Zero-Problems Foreign Policy, 2010 20 May).  In fact, upon suggestion that the USA brings Iran forward for missile defense system and even the name of Iran is used in some documents, A. Davutoğlu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said, “What matters for us is NATO documents, and how it takes place within NATO’s defense concept”. With this statement, it was tried to be emphasized that there could be a difference between NATO’s description of threat and the USA’s threat evaluations. As a matter of fact, suggestion of Turkey was accepted, express mention of name of threat in NATO documents was given up.

What is Expected from Turkey within the Framework of NATO’s Missile Defense Concept?

Expectation of the USA and NATO from Turkey concerning integrated missile defense system can be a contribution covering the below-mentioned two layers.

Firstly, although system was basically designed against medium and intermediate range missiles as stated by Lt. Gen O’Reilly above (O’Reilly, October 2009) , it seems to be the best and most effective approach to strike a launched missile at boost and ascent phase regardless of the range of it. Upon examination of the USA’s National Defense Missile Defense (NMD) System, it is seen that the system design is basically built upon destruction of ballistic missiles at midcourse, in other words, during their flight in the outer space, and if this fails, at terminal, that is descent phase (National Missile Defense, 2011) (The Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), 2011). In this case, it can be thought that NMD system is in a need concerning destruction of ballistic missiles at boost and ascent phase. Although the USA was aware of this problem and made individual attempts in 2008 and 2009 in this regard, Turkey did not welcome this suggestion.  Upon that, the USA started to negotiate with Bulgaria and Romania (Sonia Kanikova, 2010). However, during his visit to the USA in July, Bulgarian Minister of Defense stated, “We will fulfill the pecuniary liability on us as a NATO member country. However, our country is not available for placement of missile shield radar equipment technologically, geographically and physically.” (Bulgaristan, Füze kalkanına müsait değiliz (Bulgaria: We are not available for missile shield), 2010). This statement is thought to derive from opposition of Russia (Russia Objects to U.S. Fielding Missile Defenses Close to Border, , 2010). In this case, Turkey becomes the most suitable country against potential threats both politically and geographically. Within this scope, Turkey will be able to provide an ability for USA national missile defense and NATO via configurations to be installed on it.

  • This facility will also constitute a layer that provides first-stage defense for NATO member European countries that face medium-range ballistic missile threat within the concept of NATO’s missile defense concept. If prevention of missiles fails at this phase, interceptors at midcourse layer deployed in various NATO countries in the continent of Europe will be able to step in.
  • Additionally, will the systems to be established in our country under the roof of NATO introduce an ability that can provide defense against missiles that are possessed by enemy countries regarded as a potential threat and aim at territory of our country? Will it be possible to take territory of Turkey under security under the roof of NATO? The main issue is that.

At which part of NATO Missile Defense System is Turkey in?

Technical information related to current missile defense systems should be taken into consideration in order to answer this difficult question. All examinations made by the USA include the approach of how “intercontinental ballistic missile- ICBM” attacks against its own mainland can be prevented. It is tried to configure framework of the system so as to remove all kinds of risks via an architecture aimed at destruction of the threatening ballistic threat at the furthest point at boost phase. This configuration builds up a defense system in the continent of Europe against the potential threat by including NATO countries on one hand, and enables prevention of missiles approaching to it at midcourse phase through deployment of system components in the continent of Europe.

In his description of NATO Missile Defense System, Lt. Gen. Patrick J. O’Reilly, Director of USA Missile Defense Agency stated that this configuration was basically designed aimed at protection against medium and intermediate range missiles with a range of 1000 – 5,500 that fly through the outer space. Here, no measure is mentioned to be taken against short-range ballistic missiles. It seems doubtful whether the system will be effective against missiles with a range of up to 1500 km. This means that the area from the east of Turkey to Ankara will not be included in the coverage area of this system. It is very likely that this situation constitutes the base of persistence of government during negotiations that “the system to be established should cover the entire territory of Turkey”.

According to evaluations, Turkey is charged with the mission of playing a technical role in two important topics because of closeness of Turkey to threat.

  • Firstly, Turkey will constitute a base for establishment of facilities aimed at destruction of launched ICBM and medium range missiles at the boost phase,
  • Secondly, Turkey will constitute the first ring of radar chain aimed at tracking the enemy missile that fails to be destroyed at boost phase along the midcourse, and transfer information about the ballistic missile to other rings of the chain as early as possible in order for this information to be evaluated and for missile to be tracked and destroyed.

 Inclusion of Turkey at boost phase: The following conclusions were reached in technical examinations carried out by independent examination groups of the USA between 2004 and 2009 (David K. Barton, 5 October 2004):

  • Boost phase is very short for ICBM. It is 3 minutes for solid-fuel missiles, and 4 minutes for liquid-fuel missiles. The said durations are shorter for medium range ballistic missiles. They seem to be less than one minute for short-range missiles. It takes more than 45-60 seconds for interceptors to make calculations necessary for sensing and shooting a launched missile, and to determine flight direction of the enemy missile. The process of deciding to launch interceptors should also be added to this duration. What is meant by deciding to launch is not making a decision to press the button, but issuing an automatic command to firing unit by making technical calculations based on computer software and communication network such as stand-off range of system, height and the number of points where it can strike the launched missile. Therefore, just one shoot can be addressed to enemy missile. This shoot is either via more than one interceptor in the form of salvo or through just one missile. There is no chance to repeat the operation if the launched missile is missed.
  • Anti-rockets should be at a particular distance to enemy missile. This distance is 400 -1000 km. for interceptors deployed on land or at sea. A launched anti-rocket must cover a range of minimum 500 km in order to reach adequate striking velocity.
  • According to evaluations, it does not seem very possible to destroy solid-fuel Sejil missiles of Iran at boost phase(David K. Barton, 5 October 2004). The probability is very low for liquid-fuel ballistic missiles.
  • If a launched ballistic missile is struck at boost phase, it is not possible for it to break into pieces and fall down freely due to high speed it has. A ballistic missile consists of various rocket sections containing fuel to ensure necessary range and a warhead containing necessary nuclear, biological, chemical or classical ammunition. The section with depleted fuel breaks with missile body. A ballistic missile that is struck by an interceptor through hit to kill or explosion nearby is likely to continue to fly due to high speed it has, and starts to descend at a shorter range and/or by deviating from its path. In this case, it is very likely that it will cause damage in the area it falls on if warhead cannot be destroyed. Since it is not possible to destroy warhead of the enemy missile with today’s technologies, it cannot be predicted where and how the struck missile will cause damage. It is possible that a missile struck over the sky of Turkey hits territory of Turkey and warhead of it explodes on territory of Turkey.
  • Apart from that, while boost phase defense seems to be possible against countries such as North Korea that have a narrow mainland, it cannot be effective against countries such as Iran, China and Russia.
  • As a more effective alternative for boost phase defense, Air Born Interceptors (ABI) of maximum 1500 kg weight carrying 40-50 kg. explosives are suggested. In this regard, tests conducted with the 747 aircraft modified by the USA came to be successful. In case of a crisis, these aircraft are required to hang in the air on the basis of 24 hours and to wait at an average distance of 500 km to possible firing point.
  • Experts think that advanced SM-3 missile systems included in the USA’s national missile defense system today are not suitable for use against short-range ballistic missiles and for boost phase prevention.


According to evaluations made above, architecture of NATO Missile Defense System to be installed through current technology does not allow destruction of any ballistic missile at boost phase. Therefore, the system should be supported with interceptors loaded on aircraft and unmanned air vehicles. In addition, since ICBM, long and medium range missiles struck at this phase cannot be destroyed, it is possible that they cause damage on the territory of Turkey due to shortened range they have. This weakness seems to be valid for all kinds of missiles struck at boost phase or midcourse phase.

Placing radars in Turkey, and keeping interceptors on ship platforms at the back:

According to NATO plan, firstly, early warning and tracking radars were placed at Kürecik location in Turkey in 2011. According to initial planning, (Felgenhauer, 2010) (America’s reconfigured anti-missile shield still irks Russia, 2010)[5] interceptors may be deployed in Bulgaria and Romania or on ship platforms at Mediterranean or Blank Sea within the scope of AEGIS system. Turkey will be able to get boost phase information belonging to launched medium, long range or ICBM missiles, and provide necessary information for threatening missile to be destroyed at midcourse phase. As a radar base, Turkey will host facilities undertaking the task of providing necessary information and taking measures against missiles to be addressed to the USA and the continent of Europe. In this case, the contribution of the system to Turkey is, at best, providing defense against missiles moving at a range over 1500 km and threatening Istanbul region. In other words, it will not be effective against Shabab 3 missiles (with a range of 1200 km) including Ankara within its coverage area (The next salvo, America’s reconfigured anti-missile shield still irks Russia , Feb 18th 2010)[6]. We already stated that it could not be effective against short-range missiles.

As much as it is understood, there is no configuration to secure Turkey in the current situation of the architecture of NATO Missile Defense System, which Turkey is forced to participate in. It is considered essential for this weakness to be removed within the scope of The Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) which is being developed by NATO.

What Should Turkey Do?

Turkey needs to install necessary missile defense system to provide its own security against short and medium range ballistic missiles. How will Turkey do that? There are countries making necessary attempts in this regard. The best example is Israel. Then comes Saudi Arabia. This is because they have the same geographical position as Turkey. In other words, they are under the threat of short and medium range ballistic missiles, too. Israel has developed airborne interceptors against short-range ballistic missiles. In this particular, the USA carried out necessary tests on modified Boeing 747 aircraft (Boost-Phase Intercept, 2012). Another solution is the defense via interceptors mounted to unmanned air vehicles during the crisis. Israel constituted its own national system by integrating Arrow missiles it developed with SM-3 systems included in the USA’s national missile defense system through mutual agreement with the USA. Based on the example of Israel, Turkey should look for ways to realize the missile defense system to protect its own territory through cooperation with the USA within the scope of The Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) program to be established within the body of NATO. Systems similar to Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system of the USA should be established, additionally, missiles loaded on aircraft and unmanned air vehicles should be developed and integrated. As much as it is understood, Turkey noticed this weakness of it and started efforts for developing its own national systems against short and medium range ballistic missiles under the leadership of Aselsan and Roketsan. It can be stated that, thanks to the experience they gained in Pedestal Mounted Stinger project, Turkish defense engineers have necessary national experience on the infrastructure belonging to configurations requiring advanced technology such as command, control and computer software related to early warning and detection technology.

It can be said that it is not a reasonable approach to build up this structure outside the framework of NATO, and a separate cooperation would bring about high costs both politically and economically.

Conclusion and Evaluation

During his visit to Turkey in September 2010, Michael Mullen, USA Full Admiral, stated that possible position of Turkey within the scope of planning of missile shield to be established against threats from threatening countries such as Iran towards South Europe was tried to be determined through negotiations within NATO. He said, “The membership of NATO believes that having a missile defense architecture is a very important capability that needs to be put in place and evolve over time, and there have been discussions with several members of NATO to include Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania in terms of parts of this” (US military chief urges Turkey to help deter nuclear Iran , 2010).

Turkey is a NATO country. Turkey accepted that it should act in accordance with principles and the fifth article (The North Atlantic Treaty, Article 5, 1949): “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them”. Turkey feels compelled to fulfill its part within the scope of measures to be taken against all kinds of potential threats within the framework of Collective Security indicated within New Strategic Concept. As it is tried to be explained above, Turkey has already a suspended desire for configuration. It is seen that radar deployed in Kürecik does not have any benefit to Turkey apart from early warning and tracking data for its own missile defense. It is considered essential for Turkey to establish its own national missile defense system against short and medium range ballistic missile attacks. In this context, it would be a reasonable solution for Turkey to establish its own national missile defense system and include it within NATO’s system integration.



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[1] Hasan Kalyoncu University, Department of Political Sciences and International Relations.

[2]  It is known that these weapons are deployed in Turkey, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Italy.

[3] Tom Z. Collina, “System will be completed after assignation of  USS Monterey ship at Mediterranean along with Standard Missile -3 IA anti-missiles”.

[4]Montreux Convention (20 July1936) Article 20.

In time of war, Turkey being belligerent, the provisions of Articles 10 to 18 shall not be applicable; the passage of warships shall be left entire y to the discretion of the Turkish Government.

Article 21.Should Turkey consider herself to be threatened with imminent danger of war she shall have the right to apply the provisions of Article 20 of the present Convention.

[5] The Economist, “Russia has an objection on this matter. However, it is stated that SM-3 (Standart Missile-3) interceptors planned to be deployed are effective only against medium range ballistic missiles, and they will not have any effect on international missiles of Russia”.

[6] The Economist, It is obviously expressed in this article of Economist that a small part of Turkey would stay out of the coverage area. slide_5

Visits: 110



     A   CONSPECTUS[i] 


Seyfi Taşhan


          This essay will attempt to analyze Turkish-American relations from the onset of the Cold War and how various leaders and international conjunctures have led to fluctuations in this relationship



During the Cold War,   US played the role of leadership for the Western nations with dignity and even magnanimously. With the exception of few small incidents US leadership was unchallenged and US was able to both defend its own interests while supporting those of her allies who did not squabble about their own problems that appeared to be not so important in relation to the perceived security threats and considerations.

Eventually, the combined efforts of the Western nations and the military-economic competition between the two blocs led to the downfall of the Soviet Union. As Fukuyama (1989) had prophesized, the final victory of liberal democracies over communism, the age of American unipolarity had come about. This unique period in world history has brought along some problems.


America and her allies no longer had a mutually perceived threat and there was little incentive for America’s allies to cooperate with US on the same level as before. The ideological vacuum left by the collapse of communism was replaced, chiefly, by religious fundamentalism and nationalism. While the former led to a consolidation of American unilateralist policy and thus increased resentment towards US, the latter proved to be a security challenge and became another basis of resentment of America.

This essay will attempt to analyze Turkish-American relations from the onset of the Cold War and how various leaders and international conjunctures have led to fluctuations in this relationship. We will conclude that security concerns and potential threats are vitally important in this relationship; so much so that the effects of other factors and events can be subordinated. In this light, we may observe that Turkish-American relations were best when their mutual threat perceptions were high and low when both countries felt secure. It is just like the principle of nations not having permanent allies or enemies, merely permanent interests – or as Lord Palmerston once said about British foreign policy, “We have no eternal allies or permanent enemies”, and, “our interests are eternal and we have a duty to follow them.”[1] So, in this particular case, security concerns were the dominant factor.

Early Configurations

The nuclear race began at a time when the relations between the two superpowers were beginning to deteriorate. The second half of the 20th century did not witness wars of global scale, fought between great power states. However, conflict was ever present and the ideological conflict manifested itself as proxy wars between the allies of USA and USSR; as the subordination of small states to the two superpowers; and as small scale wars in newly created states. Turkey and US have had some degree of contact before this era but these were limited in scale and scope; usually minor trade arrangements and missionary activities.

Bearing in mind the vivid experiences of the First World War, Turkey’s decision making elite were not enthusiastic about the prospects of participating in another major power war.[2] Under the strict guidance of İsmet İnönü, Turkey managed to steer clear of the Second World War and managed to retain decent relations with all the belligerents. There were some issues that needed to be addressed though. Namely, what would Turkey’s role be in the post-war world order? More importantly, what could Turkey do to secure itself against an ever growing Soviet bloc? The Soviet Union and Turkey had excellent relations after World War I, with the former providing weapons and money to Turkey in the War of Independence. Yet for historical reasons and the apparent expansionistic tendencies of USSR, especially with regards to a prevailing suspicion that Russia had always wanted to reach warm waters, Turkey saw USSR as a security threat. The logical course of action was to become a member of the Western camp. For this end, Turkey declared war on Germany after the Yalta Conference to be a part of the United Nations and would later become a part of the Council of Europe and NATO.

Turkey’s fears were confirmed in 1945 after a meeting between the Foreign Ministers of USSR Molotov and Ambassador of Turkey  Selim Sarper.[3] It transpired that the Soviets indeed wanted a revision of the Montreaux Straits Convention and possible territorial rearrangements regarding Turkey’s Eastern borders.[4] In the backdrop, Great Britain was on the verge of bankruptcy and announced in 1947 that it could no longer provide assistance to Turkey and Greece. US took up Britain’s mantle and under the Truman Doctrine, dated March 12th 1947, Turkey and Greece were offered money as military-economic assistance. This aid given as help to “nations fighting against authoritarian regimes” was to be the first of many to be offered by US. Indeed, the Marshall Plan that began in 1948 amounted to some USD 13 billion and given to 16 European countries, which Turkey benefited from. This aid can be interpreted as the resurrection of Wilsonian principles with a distinct military flavor that promoted a practical form of collective security in the form of first bilateral and, later, multilateral alliances. The same year, Stalin was becoming increasingly frustrated with the new developments and West Berlin was soon cut off from the rest of the world. In this first major crisis of the Cold War, US and its allies kept the city alive with airlifts. This first act of hostility by USSR made it necessary for the foundation of a collective security organization, NATO.


The Democratic Party Years

In the meantime, there was pressure outside and within Turkey for a transition to a more democratic system. İsmet İnönü was able to retain power in the controversial 1946 elections but, finally, Turkey had its first proper elections in 1950 with the Democratic Party (DP) winning in a landslide victory. The same year, Celal Bayar, the head of the Democratic Party, became the 3rd President of Turkey. Unlike his predecessor, Celal Bayar did not want Turkish-American relations to be limited to security issues; he wanted to expand the scope of this relationship.

Celal Bayar’s decision to send Turkish troops under UN auspices to participate in the war against North Korea was principally aimed at reaffirming Turkey’s solidarity and alliance with the United States. As expected his act was greatly appreciated, and became the most effective instrument to prove Turkey’s dependability as a prospective member of NATO, quelling all objections of European powers. Consequently, Turkey’s image was greatly enhanced in the West; it was soon seen as the bastion of West against the Soviet Union – an image as a “projector of  Western power”.[5] Thus Turkey, along with Greece, became a member of NATO in 1952.

This episode was led to a close cooperation between Turkey and the United States in areas of defense and economy so much so that in the beginning of 1954 when the then Turkish President Celal Bayar paid a state visit to the United States at the invitation of President Eisenhower, he was given a ticker-tape parade in New York, worthy of only war heroes, and Greek and Armenian diasporas rushed to publicize and welcome this visit in contradiction to their current hostile attitudes and actions towards Turkey.

Many US military bases and systems were established in Turkey and there were strong and long lasting bonds established between the military of the two countries. Yet the relations, even in the heydays of the alliance, were not spotless. George Harris has summarized these trouble spots in his book,”The Troubled Alliance”.

Nevertheless, the impact of the high threat perception of Turkey from the Soviet Union and its strong allegiance to its Western Alliance and particularly its leader the United States had a monopolizing effect on Turkish foreign policy. Turkey did all in its power to conform to the interests of its major Ally even to the negligence of its own regional political interests (Algiers, recognition of Israel). This relationship was characterized as a patron-client relationship as Turkey, as part of the alliance and as a major security dependence on US, followed a policy that would conform to that of the United States in areas where Turkey’s national interest was not in contrast with that of the United States. This trend in Turkish foreign policy dominated the 1950s.

In this respect, Turkey, United States and Great Britain carried out a plan conceived by US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles to contain the advance of the Soviet Union in to warm waters of the Mediterranean and of the Indian Ocean. Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan formed the Baghdad Pact. Unfortunately, piece by piece, this pact became impotent as Iraq withdrew after the Ba’athist revolution in 1963. At this point the Baghdad Pact became CENTO (Central Treaty Organization). After the Iranian Revolution, it ceased to exist. However, the economic branch of CENTO, which was transformed into the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD), which later changed its name and enlarged its membership to cover some Caucasian and other Central Asian Countries and assumed the name of ECO (Economic Cooperation Organizations).



The situation somewhat changed in 1960s because of two incidents where US respect and commitment to Turkey’s security became a subject of debate in Turkey. The Cuban Missile Crisis and the removal of the Jupiter Missiles that were placed in Turkey, without consultation with Turkey and as a reward to Soviet Union in return for the conciliation in Cuba. This was considered as Turkey’s security being expendable. The second incident was the nature of the threat that came from President Lyndon B. Johnson, contained in his letter, that was aimed at thwarting Turkey’s possible intervention in Cyprus to protect the Turkish community from the assaults of Cypriot Greeks.  This letter showed that Turkey was not only expendable for US interests but also to protect the interests of Greek lobbies in US.[6] This also led Turkey and Soviet Union to establish improved economic and trade relations.[7] In fact, in 1967, Soviet Union extended assistance for the construction of a major refinery, aluminum plant, iron and steel plant and glassworks in Turkey.

Greece and Cyprus had become an important negative factor in Turkish-US political relations. However, this did not have any significant impact on security cooperation between the two countries. In fact, this cooperation was particularly enhanced following the Prague Spring events and the Brezhnev Doctrine[8] that increased threat perception in Europe, United States and Turkey. Incidentally, this event also facilitated Turkey’s progress from preparatory phase to transition phase, in Turkey’s association process with the EEC.

The turn of the decade began with both blocs realizing the futility of maintaining mutual annihilation threats and there was a strong search for increasing dialogue prospects. The Nixon visit to Moscow in 1972 and resulting agreements between two bloc leaders had profound effects in intra-bloc relations in the Western camp, as imminent threat perceptions were reduced to possible threat perceptions.[9] As a result of this change, Greek and Armenian lobbies began to exert increasing anti-Turkish pressure in US government and Congress circles. The Opium Crisis led to hues and cries in US Congress for imposing economic and military embargoes on Turkey. This campaign was led by such distinguished senators as Richard Mondale, who later became Vice-President, and Armenian and Greek origin senators like Pashayan, Dukakis and Sarbanes. Even though they failed in their first attempt they were to succeed a year later because of the Turkish military intervention in Cyprus in 1974.[10] At this time the US executive was suffering from the Watergate scandal and was not in a position to block the Congress action.

The embargo continued for several years and was finally lifted in 1978 following major campaign by US security and strategy experts who believed that the most appropriate military bases were in Turkey to defend US interests in case of an attack on the Gulf.[11] Moreover, this preceded the religious revolution in Iran. This revolt that brought down a trusted ally of the United States, the Shah of Iran, to flee his country once again changed the US attitude towards Turkey as the second most trusted ally in South-East Europe and the Middle East – the first being Israel.

The Özal Era

Mr. Turgut Özal, who had become the economic Tsar of Turkey in 1980 under Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel, kept his position under the military rule that began in September 1980. Eventually, he formed a political party and won the 1983 elections to carry out an unprecedented economic reform program. He was also very active in introducing a multi-directional foreign policy for Turkey.

All through his Premiership and Presidency he not only succeeded in maintaining excellent relations with the United States, but he liberalized Turkish foreign trade and established good relations with Turkey’s neighbors, including Israel. He wanted to make Turkey an irrevocable partner of the European Union; he tried to promote respect to human rights in Turkey by accepting the right of Turkish citizens to bring their complaints of the Turkish government to the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. He created the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and cooperated with the United States during the First Gulf War, even though Turkey did not take part in the war. Turkey cooperated, again with the United States to preserve the security of the No-Flight-Zone in Northern Iraq and actively mediated between two major Iraqi Kurdish groups in order to prevent them from fighting each other, even by maintaining a military contingent in Northern Iraq for this purpose. Özal carried Turkish foreign policy from Cold War paradigms to political and economic pluralism that characterized the Post-Cold War era.


Post-Cold War Pluralism and the Difficulties Faced by US-Turkey

The demise of the Soviet Union towards the end of the 1980s created or reactivated the independence of many states in the wide Eurasian region controlled by the Soviet Union. Turkey extended immediate recognition to all of these former Soviet Republics and established diplomatic relations with most of them. In the provision of economic and political support to these new countries Turkey and US had many common interests. Turkey did its best to integrate the Turkish speaking NIS countries in the international system and PfP program of NATO. In this respect Turkey and US had the same mind set as to what was to be done. Turkey became an ardent supporter for the enlargement of NATO as well.

In this section of this article an attempt will be made to analyze comparative policy aims and interests of the United States and Turkey on global and regional issues and their chances of cooperation.

Global issues

In the post Cold War era the United States, sometimes together with and sometimes separately from Western Europe began a policy that would firmly establish the dominant position of US in the unipolar world. Russia had been so weakened that it could hardly cope with even a Chechen revolt. China had just begun its development efforts and was no threat to anyone. It was this period when a French foreign minister (Hubert Védrine) could dub the United States as ‘the hyper-power of the world’[12] The consciousness of its global power may be one of the factors that led the United States with or without the help of its allies, and some times in competition with them, take charge of the problems of the word so long as their solution helped US interests. The America of today is acting increasingly independent of other countries. Some acts of US unilateralism range from the refusing to take part in the Kyoto Protocol, to the controversial invasion and occupation of Iraq.


US conservatives thought that in this Post Cold War era they should pursue to encourage human rights and democracy on a global scale beginning particularly with the Middle East. The European countries also follow a similar policy in their neighborhood through enlargement, in this case, in Eastern Europe; and encouraging the countries of the Mediterranean through an economic program (MEDA). US policy considered a new doctrine for the larger Middle East area and two conferences have been held in Rabat and Oman, aimed at encouraging democracy and economic cooperation. However, American and European soft-pedal policies did not yield any significant results.

For most of the Middle East countries the real problem lied in the Arab-Israeli conflict. These attempts of Europe and the United States did not bring any results; the principle reason being US was squeezed between its unconditional support for Israel and its desire to promote peace and democracy in the Middle East. In this area, politically, what Europe could do went, in reality, no further than the Venice Declaration of 1980, giving support to the legitimate rights of Palestinians. The disappearance of the Soviet Union from the Middle East scene and the failure of the United States to bring about peace and security in that wider Middle East led to problems. These, when coupled with policy errors[13], encouraged the rise and spread of hard-line Islamism, greatly encouraged by such fundamentalist countries as Saudi Arabia and Iran.

In the backdrop of all these developments, it became very difficult to combine democracy with the spread of Islam. Free and fair elections that are sine qua non of democracies tended to bring to power Islamist political parties – in many instances, these parties were active fundamentalists. This led the Neo-Cons of the United States to encourage a moral “mild” Islam that could enable the coexistence of democracy and Islam. Therefore, the G8 Group became the instrument to encourage dialogue for peace and democracy among religions. Even though almost all Islamic countries choose to talk about reform of their societies, very little actual progress was achieved.


Iraq and Iran

The revolution in Iran came as a shock to the world because it represented the rise of Islam in its crudest form under a dictatorship of clergymen. This form of Islam defied Western value system and encouraged Islamic revolution in other parts of the world. Coupled with anti-western sentiments rising from Arab-Israeli dispute, the Iranian propaganda found a fertile ground. In order to counter this Iranian ideological threat that could also endanger US energy interests in the Gulf, US chose to encourage nationalist but mostly secular Ba’athist leader of Saddam in his attempts to destroy Iranian Shiism, which was also a threat for the security of Iraq and other Gulf countries. In the Iran-Iraq War, US could not take sides officially, and the war that lasted a long time ended in a stalemate; exhausting the energies of both belligerents. The Iraqi leader, in order to recuperate his lost prestige, chose to invade oil-rich Kuwait. That was too much for the United States because this time Saddam had become a threat to US interests in the Gulf and no one knew where Saddam’s expansionism would stop. This led to the First Gulf War that saved Kuwait but left an embittered Saddam in power.

Neo-conservationism and the Middle East:

The legitimization of US foreign policy is based on a triad concept consisting of supporting democracy, human rights and economic liberalism, even though in many instances these principles have remained only rhetorical where they contradict US interests. As we have seen earlier, US leaders have championed this ideology both at the end of the First and the Second World Wars and have remained part of the US declaratory policies. Until the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon by Al-Qaide terrorists who had made themselves a base in Afghanistan with their Taliban friends, US attempts to promote democracy and human rights were limited as US was constrained by a soft power policy described by Joseph Nye[14]. Yet, the terrorist aggression committed within US territories and the support given by NATO and the Security Council, empowered US to invade Afghanistan. This invasion also heralded the implementation of the Neo-con policies that also involved in imposing reforms and democracies also by use of force on countries whose regimes constituted a threat to international peace. This is a very complicated process. The invasion of Afghanistan was followed by plans to topple Saddam Husseyn in Iraq that demonstrated open hostility towards the United States and together with Iran he could endanger both the security of flow of oil from the Gulf and the security of Israel.

The 2003 war against Iraq was quickly won and Iraq was invaded. But what was not expected was the rise of terror in Afghanistan and Iraq and the chaos particularly in Iraq that could not be remedied by the United States. War against Taliban continues at the time of writing of this article particularly in the South mountainous regions of Afghanistan, while law and order is still to be established in Iraq and no one knows what is in store for the future of Iraq. But it is obvious that the chances of re-establishing a united Iraq are weakening day by day. Contradictions between democratic norms foreseen in the constitutional instruments and the existing traditions and belief systems as well as societal structures, the Neo-con strategies have suffered a failure in both countries. In the United States the Defense Department leaders and Administrators in Iraq have paid the price.

US policy to the region gives the impression that US have eventually realized that it would be nigh impossible to bring peaceful international and domestic law and order in the Middle East before the Arab-Israeli conflict is resolved. And insistence on democratic reforms should be subordinated to mellowing Islamic fundamentalism. The greater Middle East Project initiated by G8 group of nations and EU’s neighborhood policies aim at both creating inter-cultural and inter-religion contacts and dialogues constitute a soft pedaling of  reform demands from Middle East countries. Furthermore, US while ardently backing Israel seem to be giving higher priority for an early solution of the Palestine problem and supporting the activities of the Quartet.

This policy makes Iran which is deploying strenuous efforts to develop its own nuclear and missile capabilities and the zeal of its President defying and threatening US and Israel, number one preoccupation of the United States in the Middle East. It is absolutely clear that US, EU and UN desire Iran to reassure the world that its nuclear activities are really peaceful and it would open itself up to international inspections. For the time being soft sanctions are being imposed on Iran to obtain this objective, but it is not clear how long it will take for Iran to respond positively to these pleas and what would be the response of US and Israel if all these pressures do not give a result.

The US policy has witnessed three important shifts during the last Republican Administration under President George W. Bush. In the course of the first years we see a soft power mode entailing good relations with Russia and China and advocating democracy and globalization for the whole world. In the second phase after the 9/11 we witness a belligerent foreign policy evolved and advised by neo-cons. The third period consisting of the Administration’s distancing itself from neo-con policies as they have led US from one failure to another. US now tries to mend ties with Europe and its allies and even under these conditions of severe nuclear challenges by North Korea and Iran it seems to seek international cooperation, dialogue and sanctions acceptable to UN Security Council.

US-Turkish relations in recent decades

Until US invasion of Iraq, Turkish-US relations were at their best. US supported Turkey’s accession to the European Union and in early 2000s, when Turkey fell in to an economic crisis, US supported the reform of the Turkish economy in cooperation with IMF and encouraged social and political reforms in Turkey.

The preparations for the invasion of Iraq created a rift in US-Turkish relations whose effects continued for a long time. US wanted to station troops in Turkey and open a second front by moving into Iraq from Turkey. Remembering how Turkey was left alone when 300,000 Iraqi Kurds sought refuge in Turkey after the First Gulf War and nobody came to Turkey’s assistance, there was a general reluctance not to get involved this time in an adventure in Iraq. Furthermore US was unwilling to protect Turkish interests in Iraq by not promising the integrity of the state of Iraq after the invasion and protect the Turkish minority in that country from pressures by Arabs and Kurds. Low-level negotiations turned into “horse-trading” as coined during a meeting with President Bush. The Turkish Parliament did not approve the project of a second front through Turkey  against the US assumption that Turkey would, anyway, play the game with the United States.[15] This development, coupled with the post-invasion failure of US to stabilize Iraq, created much ill-feeling in the United States towards Turkey. In fact Donald Rumsfeld placed the blame of US failure on Turkey’s lack of cooperation.[16] This in return created an anti-American sentiment in Turkish public opinion, accusing America of disregarding Turkey’s interests in Iraq. However the statesmen of both countries have done their best not to reflect this public opinion phenomenon of hostile feelings in their cooperative relations. US and Turkey worked together to bring Caspian energy resources to the Mediterranean through Turkey. They also worked together within the G8 sponsored “Greater Middle East Project” and Turkey assumed a role-model of a state combining democratic reform in an Islamic country, even though this role is firmly rejected by a section of public opinion and civil society who consider Turkey to be a secular state.

The last phase of the Bush administration after a period of more than four years of dilly-dallying, US has finally shown a greater understanding of Turkey’s positions and interests vis-à-vis Iraq. With the intelligence help from US, the Turkish army conducts air and ground operations against PKK terrorists based in Northern Iraq and has discarded the original plans of dividing Iraq into three states and insist on its future unity. US still supports Turkey’s membership in the European Union and is very happy with Turkey’s cooperation for peace-keeping efforts in problem regions ranging from the Balkans to Afghanistan and even further.


Looking at the history of Turkish-US relations there is no monotony. There have always been frictions, mostly under the influence of anti-Turkish lobbies and their annual attempts to get some anti-Turkish resolutions from the US Congress. However, because of the coincidence of a majority of the basic interests of the two countries in the wide region where Turkey and US are involved in economic, social, political and even military projects and cooperation. These interests always dominate the points of friction resulting from erroneous policies of leaderships of both countries as well as the impact of anti-Turkish lobbies and anti-American propaganda.



Hale, William. Turkish Foreign Policy: 1774-2000. London: Frank CASS Publishers, 2000.

Colton, Kramer, and R.R. Palmer. A History of the Modern World. New York: McGraw Hill Companies, 2007.

International Herald Tribune, “To Paris, U.S. Looks Like a ‘Hyperpower’,” February 5, 1999.

Kissinger, Henry. Diplomacy. London: Simon & Schuster Ltd, 1995.

Lesser, Ian. Beyond Suspicion, Rethinking US-Turkish Relation. Washington DC: Woodrow Wilson School for International Studies, 2007.

Nye, Joseph. “The Benefits of Soft Power”. Harvard Business School Archives, 2004,

Oran, Baskın, ed., Türk Dış Politikası Vol. I. Istanbul: Iletişim Yayınları, 2001.

Shanker, Thom. “Rumsfeld Faults Turkey for Barring Use of Its Land in ’03 to Open Northern Front in Iraq”, The New York Times, 21 March, 2005.


      (*) Based on a presentation made at the Panel organized by the Foreign Policy Institute on “Turkish Foreign Policy Responding to Changes in  International Conditions” at the 8 th METU Conference on International Relations on June 19 th, 2009

[1] Kissinger, Henry. Diplomacy (London: Simon & Schuster Ltd, 1995), p. 96.

[2] William Hale, Turkish Foreign Policy: 1774-2000 (London: Frank CASS Publishers, 2000), 79.

[3] Baskın Oran, ed. Türk D ış Politikası Vol. 1. (Istanbul: İletisim Yayınları, 2001),  472-473

[4] Ibid.

[5] Lesser, Ian. Beyond Suspicion, Rethinking US-Turkish Relation (Washington DC: Woodrow Wilson School for International Studies, 2007), 20.


[6] See: Baskın Oran, ed. Türk Dış Politikası Vol. 1. (İstanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2001),  685-689.

[7] William Hale, Turkish Foreign Policy: 1774-2000 (London: Frank CASS Publishers, 2000), 150-151

[8] Joel Colton, Lloyd Kramer, and R.R. Palmer. A History of the Modern World. (New York: McGraw Hill Companies, 2007), 1008. Note: Basically, the Soviet Union had the right to intervene in any Communist country in the name of the proletarian internationalism to protect socialism against internal or external enemies. Quite basically, an excuse to send in tanks.

[9] See: Seyfi  Taşhan, Foreign Policy-Dış Politika Vol., pp 68-80, “Thoughts on Co-Existence and President Nixon’s Visit to Peking and Moscow, 1972

[10] William Hale, Turkish Foreign Policy: 1774-2000 (London: Frank CASS Publishers, 2000), 160.

[11] Ibid, 161.

[12] International Herald Tribune, “To Paris, U.S. Looks Like a ‘Hyperpower’,” February 5, 1999.

[13] The notable error by the United States was the pursuit of the Green-Belt Project by which militant groups in Middle East countries would be armed and radicalized in order to create a buffer zone of Islamic countries in the Southern borders of the Soviet Union.

[14] Nye, Joseph. “The Benefits of Soft Power”. Harvard Business School Archives, 2004, (accessed June 7, 2008).


[15] Probably as a residual reflex inherited from the Cold War period when Turkey was perceived as a client state.

[16] Thom Shanker. “Rumsfeld Faults Turkey for Barring Use of Its Land in ’03 to Open Northern Front in Iraq”, The New York Times, 21 March, 2005.


Visits: 252

The End of the Cold War and Changes in Turkish Foreign Policy Behaviour – KEMAL KİRİŞÇİ

The End of the Cold War and

Changes in Turkish Foreign Policy Behaviour (*)

                                                       KEMAL KİRİŞÇİ

Turkey has responded  to this challenge  by introducing foreign policies that are considerably more activist and assertive,compared to the past.



The end of the Cold War has brought about major changes in international politics. The most easily recognizable change has been in the structure of the international political order. The center of activity in the previous order had been Europe, where the two oppos­ing ideological blocs faced each other armed with nuclear weapons. These nuclear weapons and the priorities of the leading two superpow­ers ensured a considerable degree of stability in the international poli­tics of East-West relations. However, this order has been completely overturned with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the col­lapse of communism. The ex-Eastern Bloc has been thrown into a pe­riod of rapid political transformation accompanied with an unprec­edented degree of instability. This situation has profoundly affected Turkish foreign policy behavior.

During most of the Cold War period Turkey remained in the back waters of international politics. Turkey, throughout this period, was a staunch ally of the Western Bloc. Basically, the parameters of its foreign policy behavior were determined by the strategic exigencies of its lead­ing NATO allies. The only few times that Turkey made it to the fore­front of international politics was usually in the context of crises in its relations with Greece or Cyprus. Yet, since the end of the Cold War, Turkey suddenly appears to have been propelled to the forefront of internatioal politics.


This new situation has manifested itself in a number of ways. First, Turkey’s subdued and passive foreign policy behavior has been replaced by an assertive one producing an impact upon the course of interna­tional political developments. A case in point would be Turkey’s active role in the formulation, adoption and the implementation of sanctions against Iraq after the latter’s invasion of Kuwait. Similarly the Turkish government’s ability to avoid direct involvement in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, coupled with its ability in getting various Euro­pean international political actors to condemn Armenian attempts to change frontiers by force are examples of Turkey’s active involvement in international diplomacy.

Similar activist Turkish foreign policy behaviour has manifested itself in respect to the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Turkish gov­ernment has advocated strong measures against Serbia and the Serbian militias. In the face of the daily destruction inflicted on Sarajevo, the Turkish government has been very active in raising the issue not only with major Western political leaders but also in variety of fora rang­ing from the Islamic Conference Organization (ICO) to the Confer­ence on Security and Cooperation (CSCE). At these forums, the Turk­ish government has expressed its readiness to contribute troops to any international intervention force that would be formed. This has been the first time that Turkey was openly declaring its willingness to join an international force since 1950 when Turkey participated in the United Nations military force in Korea.

Secondly, for a brief period at the end of the Cold War, it seemed that Turkey’s strategic significance had diminished. Shortly after that a new Western consensus developed over Turkey’s increased importance in ­the search and eventual establishment of a stable order in the region. (1) This recognition is probably best demonstrated by the growing num­ber of diplomats and statesmen paying visits to Turkey. Ankara, for these leaders, has become a center for a wide range of diplomatic ac­tivities. The most significant of these visits obviously were those of Presi­dent George Bush in July 1991 and President Mitterrand in April 1992 The last time an American and a French President had visited Turkey was in 1952 and 1968, respectively.

Likewise, Turkish officials have been travelling to different politi­cal centers of the world. The Turkish Prime Minister, Süleyman Demirel who had a reputation during his past terms of office in the 1960s and 1970s for having never travelled abroad has already attended numerous meetings and paid official visits to a large number of countries includ­ing the United States and Russia. On the other hand, the Turkish For­eign Minister has already gained the reputation of Evliya Çelebi, the Turkish equivalent of Marco Polo, after having broken a record by cov­ering 100.000 kms. in just over half a year in Office. (2) This already makes him the most travelled Foreign Minister in Turkey. Just these visits in themselves are evidence of the fury of diplomatic activities in which Turkey has been involved during the first half of 1992.

Thirdly, there seems to be some consensus that this time Turkey’s importance for the West is not only because of its geo-strategic value but also because Turkey is seen as a suitable example or reference point for those countries that are emerging from the disintegration of the Soviet Union after the collapse of communism. (3) This is to some extent the result of a recognition that Turkey has covered a consider­able distance in liberalizing its economy and also has been improving its conditions for democracy since the early 1980s. (4) One manifesta­tion of the recognition of the economic policies of Turkey has been the support mustered for the Black Sea Economic-Cooperation Scheme (BSECS) from the neighboring countries. Similarly, there seems to be an expectation that Turkey should play an active role in encouraging Central Asian republics to follow its example. As expressed succinctly in the following sentence:

“Turkey’s chief value is to be an example to the region around it – a living demonstration of the proposition that a Muslim country can become a prosperous democracy, a full member of the modern world”.(5)

These developments have been reflected in a Turkish foreign policy behavior that is fundamentally different from the one during the Cold War. This article will examine in greater detail the nature of this change in Turkish foreign policy behavior. The article is divided into four sections. The first section will give a brief review of the essence of Turkish foreign policy during the Cold War. In the following section some of the more conspicuous manifestations of the changes in Turk­ish foreign policy behavior will be analyzed. It will be argued that the changes in Turkish foreign policy outputs are products of basically two processes.  One process aims at making an active contribution to the search and achievement of a stable order in a region covering an area ranging from Central Europe to the borders of China in Asia.   This,Turkish officials believe, is the only way to enhance Turkish security. The other process, which can best be seen as a short term derivative of the first one, aims at the management of a series of volatile political conflicts. This is done to prevent Turkey from being directly drawn into these conflicts in a manner that could undermine or disrupt the first process. The concluding section will argue that in spite of major changes in Turkish foreign policy behavior, there is a conspicuous con­tinuity in Turkish foreign policy goals. These goals primarily aim at ensuring the territorial integrity and unity of Turkey; the prevention of any interference with the regime’s efforts to realize and consolidate a secular-democratic domestic political order and lastly to develop a mar­ket oriented economy,

Turkish Foreign Policy and the Cold War

Turkey during the Second World War remained neutral and did not directly contribute to the efforts of the Allies to defeat Germany. The eventual Turkish Declaration of War against Germany, was a sym­bolic act aimed at becoming a founding member of the United Na­tions. (6) This decision must also be considered in the light of the then growing Turkish concerns about Soviet behavior towards Turkey. The demands put forward by Stalin included the granting of territorial con­cessions in Eastern Anatolia and along the Straits to the Soviet Union. This situation exacerbated Turkish fears of Soviet intentions. (7) These fears constituted the fundamental motive behind the Turkish foreign policy goal of seeking a security arrangement which would ensure its territorial integrity and neutralize Soviet demands. For Turkey the Cold War had started earlier than with the Western Allies. Turkey played a verv active role in attempts to define Soviet Union as an expansionist power. (8) This active diplomacy played an important role in the US recogni­tion of Turkish fears and the dispatch of the warship Missouri in April 1946. This symbolic act was then followed by the introduction of the substantive Truman Doctrine aimed at boosting Greek and Turkish de­fence capabilities accompanied with clear US commitment to support the security of these two countries.

By the time the Truman Doctrine was introduced there was general consensus in the West that the Soviet Union was indeed expansion­ist and that the Cold War had started. This manifested itself in Western efforts to form a military alliance against a possible Soviet aggression. The period between 1947 and 1952 was characterized by Turkish efforts aimed at persuading particularly the United States and Britain to admit Turkey in such an alliance. These efforts included political decisions which led Turkey, to be the first Muslim country in the region to recog­nize Israel and then send a brigade to fight the North Koreans on the side of the United Nations. This was, probably, the only occasion dur­ing the Cold War when Turkish foreign policy behavior took such a visible and active-form at the global political level. Furthermore, this behavior did enable Turkey to become a member of NATO in 1952.

Right throughout the 1950s Turkish foreign policy seemed very narrowly defined to include just defence and military related issues. The only exceptions to this was the part of Turkish foreign policy that dealt with the conflict in Cyprus and the European integration process. Even then, it is possible to argue that Turkish involvement in the pro­cess that culminated in the independence of Cyprus was considerably affected by defence and Cold War related issues. On the other hand, in Europe, Turkish foreign policy centered around efforts to participate in the European integration process. In this respect Turkey joined the Council of Europe in 1949 and then in 1963 signed an association agree­ment with the EEC. These too can mostly be seen as efforts to ensure a place for Turkey within not just military but also Western political insti­tutions. (9)

The period between the early days of the Cold War and early 1960s is frequently referred to as the tight bipolar era. An era, according to Kaplan, characterized by the dominance of super powers, in this case the United States and the Soviet Union, of international politics. Kaplan also argues that in such an international political order there is very little room of maneuver for small countries. This is essentially because the two Super Powers dominate the politics within each bloc they lead.(10) Hence, it is not surprising to find that Turkish foreign policy be­havior did not seem to go beyond the parameters set by the politics of the Cold War. The only time that it was active was in the very early years of the Cold War when the new order had not yet consolidated itself. However, the transition from a tight bipolar order to a loose bipolar one did precipitate some changes in Turkish foreign policy behavior.

Kaplan defines a loose bipolar international political order as one in which the Super Powers lose, to some extent, their monopoly over their respective blocs as well as over international political outcomes. This is primarily because the cohesion within each bloc diminishes un­derlining the absolute authority that Super Powers enjoy. This was par­ticularly evident in the case of the Western alliance as the leadership role of the US was challenged by France and growing economic inter­dependence made it increasingly difficult for the United States to be able to mobilize resources that once had enabled her to affect interna­tional political outcomes unilaterally. Furthermore, a loose bipolar or­der is also characterized by the emergence of a third center of interna­tional political activity able to operate, to some degree, independently of the two Super Powers. The Non-Aligned Movement with its own mem­bership and political agenda came to challenge a world political order dominated by the Super Powers and the East-West conflict.

It is during the period of transition from the tight bipolar to the loose bipolar order around early 1960s that we see a limited change in Turkish foreign policy behavior. While during the 1950s Turkey had remained an unquestioning ally of the US and NATO, two events in the early 1960s precipitated a search for a foreign policy approach that would be less dependent on the US and NATO. Turkish foreign policy makers perceived the manner in which the Cuban missile crisis was re-solved as an example of how a Super Power, when the need arose, could overlook the concerns and interests of a small ally. The decision to remove Jupiter missiles from Turkey, even though it had been taken independently of the Cuban missile crisis, was seen as the outcome of a bargain between the two opposing Super Powers with little regard to Turkey’s security concerns. This, immediately, precipitated a debate in Turkey which seriously questioned the wisdom of a foreign policy that relied too much on United States goodwill for ensuring Turkish secu-rity. (11)

The second event occurred in June 1964 and is frequently referred to as the “Johnson letter” incident. The then Turkish government had been deeply offended and struck by the blunt way in which the United States had failed to appreciate the Turkish concern for the security of the Turkish community on Cyprus. The conflict on the island had escalated to a level where the Turkish government felt that it may have to mount a military intervention to protect the Turkish community there. Such an intervention was preempted by a letter sent to the Turkish Prime Minister, İsmet İnönü, from the American President, Lyndon Johnson, which threatened sanctions if Turkey resorted to military means for re­solving the conflict. The letter also reminded the Turkish government that American weapons in use by the Turkish military could only be used for NATO related operations.

The combined effect of these events had three consequences on Turkish foreign policy behavior. First, Turkey broke away from its tradi­tional foreign policy of cool relations with the Soviet Union in favor of a rapproachement.(12) Second, Turkey revised its security policy, espe­cially in respect to weapon procurement programmes, in a manner that eventually made it possible for Turkey to militarily intervene in Cyprus.(13) Third, Turkey recognized that it had failed to develop relations with the emerging Third World and particularly the Nonaligned Move­ment. This became particularly important because of the ability of Cyprus government to mobilize support for its cause among the non-aligned nations. In this context Turkey tried to expand its bilateral diplomatic relations with the Third World, especially with Arab and Is­lamic countries.(14) In 1969, Turkey joined the Islamic Conference Or­ganization primarily with the hope of bringing the cause of the Cypriot Turks to the attention of the membership.

It did not seem that these changes in Turkish foreign policy be­havior achieved its objectives fully. In 1974 in response to the bi-com-munal violence in Cyprus, aggravated by a coup d’etat mounted against the Cypriot government, Turkey militarily intervened separating the island into two zones. It is quite possible that had it not been for the “Johnson letter” Turkey may not have developed a capability to mount such a military operation. However, with regard to Turkey’s desire to cultivate the support of the Third World, not much was achieved. The Third World, including most of the Islamic countries, refrained from lending any political support to the Turkish position. For the Third World, Turkey was a member of the Western bloc and in their eyes this military intervention only served Western interests in spite of the fact that Turkey faced an American arms embargo until 1978.

On the other hand, better relations with the Soviet Union did gradually contribute to increased trade and political interactions. How­ever, this did not in any fundamental way alter Turkey’s pro-Western foreign and security policies.

At the end of the 1970s, three major developments affected Turkish foreign policy behavior. These were the coming to power of a theo­cratic regime in Iran based on islamic fundamentalism, the Soviet inva­sion of Afghanistan and the out break of war between Iran and Iraq. Particularly, the first and the last developments had a profound impact on Turkish foreign policy while the second one reinforced Turkey’s de­termination to remain committed to the Western alliance. It was the challenges mounted by the new Iranian regime to the secular nature of Turkish politics and the war waging along its southern border that led the Turkish foreign policy makers to search for new approaches. These challenges surfaced at a time when Turkey was itself going through near economic and political upheavals that culminated in a military inter­vention in September 1980.

The foreign policy that finally emerged was one that aimed at maintaining a balance in Turkey’s relations with Iran and Iraq. Both regimes were perceived as threatening to Turkey. However, these two countries’ dependence on Turkey as a transit country was utilized to expand Turkish exports to both countries and to make sure that nei­ther government threatened Turkish security in an outright manner. At the same time the realization that Turkey was perceived by particularly oil rich Arab countries “as a country that could balance the influence of Iran and Iraq in the region” enabled Turkey to expand its economic and political relations with these countries as well. In 1980 Turkey low­ered the level of its diplomatic relations with Israel while allowing PLO to maintain an office in Ankara.(15) Between 1979 and 1981 exports to the region increased twofold to constitute 44 percent of Turkey’s overall exports.(16)

It can be argued that these developments did bring a new dimen­sion to Turkish foreign policy. For the first time since the Second World War, Turkish foreign policy with its economic, political and security as­pects expanded to an area outside Europe. It is paradoxical that this should have happened at a time when the Cold War intensified because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the arms race between the two superpowers. A combination of factors contributed to the depar­ture from the traditional monotrack foreign policy. Economic factors such as the rise in oil prices and Turkey’s need to find export markets did have a substantial impact on the change of policy. (17) However, as important these factors may have been in influencing Turkish foreign policy behaviour, the role of the increased value of Turkey for the coun­tries of the Middle East, in particular oil rich Arab countries, must be taken into consideration as well. During the 1950s and 1960s Turkey’s prowestern image had mostly been offensive to the Arab countries of the Middle East. (18) The emergence of a revisionist regime in Iran, determined to export its revolution to the neighbouring countries had suddenly exposed the vulnerability of particularly the oil rich Arab coun­tries. Turkey, as a member of a powerful military alliance; and as the only country in the region that seemed to have the capability to ensure a balance between Iran and Iraq, became increasingly valuable in the region. These countries felt that better relations with Turkey would enhance their security.

A similar attitude to Turkey’s role in the Middle East was adopted by the West and particularly by the United States. There were two chal­lenges to the interests of the West, one from the Soviet Union and the ofher from Iran’s radicalism. Both challenges were fundamentally threat­ening to the established order in the region. Turkey, the tried and reli­able ally of the West, saw its importance being upgraded under these circumstances.(20) Now, Turkey’s function was not just to be a military obstacle in the way of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies pro­tecting Western strategic and economic interests; but also to fulfill a similar task in the Middle East against any challenge to the status-quo. To some extent it was this increased importance of Turkey that contrib­uted to the unusually muted Western criticisms of the interruption of Turkish democracy by the military between 1980 and 1983. (21) This was in some contrast to the suspension of the Greek membership to the Council of Europe, following the military coup d’etat in 1967.

Hence, the change in Turkish foreign policy behavior was to a large extent a product of the increased value of Turkey for the oil-rich Arab countries and the West rather than the outcome of Turkish initi­ated policies. If anything, Turkish foreign policy makers remained as cautious and as conservative as ever. They were highly reluctant to get involved in anything that went beyond Turkey’s commitments to NATO. They opposed involvement in US efforts to improve its capability of projecting militant power into the Gulf area in case of a crisis. Turkish officials disassociated themselves from the idea of supporting a Rapid Deployment Force, an “out of area” task for NATO as simply too radical and risky. (22) However, increased economic and military cooperation with the West, but particularly the United States was welcomed as long as it did not necessitate active involvement in the politics and security of the Middle East.

Shortly, Turkish foreign policy throughout the period starting from the early 1950s to the early 1980s remained primarily of a reactive kind. Once Turkey succeeded in getting itself accepted as a member of the Western alliance its foreign policy very quickly slipped to the back wa­ters of international politics. In other words, once the post world war order consolidated itself, Turkish foreign policy remained a function of it and failed to initiate any policies that had an independent and last­ing effect on international political outcomes. The only exception to this was in Cyprus where Turkey followed a policy which unilaterally created a new status quo. However this status quo, although it failed to receive any international legitimacy and support,  served Turkish na­tional interests as defined by the policy-makers.

The period from roughly the arrival of Gorbachev to power and the disintegration of the Soviet Union can be regarded as the period during which certain forces and processes which were kept under control till then were unleashed and in turn they ended the Cold War and the accompanying international order. In this respect, the early signs of a changing Turkish foreign policy behavior began to appear with the onset of this transition period.

Visits: 341

Turkey’s Military Doctrine – NECİP TORUMTAY

Turkey‘s Military Doctrine (*)



In order to make a major contribution to the building of security in the present environment of rapid change the military men should   first  evaluate the situation free of conventional approaches and prejudices, and then  analyse the ways and means for adding the concept of defense  more global dimensions. Turkey, on account of its responsibilities within the Alliance and also the Alliance’s defence strategy and the present circumstances in its periphery, allocated a reasonable level of manpower and funds in keeping with her defence oriented security policy.

          At the outset, I would like to express my conviction that this historic initiative, which brings together the highest military representatives of all CSCE countries, is a major step towards the establishment of continuous, tension-free and lasting peace in Europe.

The significance of this forum, at which 35 CSCE countries will discuss all aspects of their understanding of the concepts of defense and offensive action, is evident.

To bring this historic forum to a most successful conclusion for all the participants, as well as to understand and eliminate the differences regarding the existing concepts, intentions and capabilities, it is a prerequisite that the participants should adopt an open and earnest approach to remove the misperceptions of their counterparts.rather than trying to influence each other’s public opinions.

In order to make a major contribution to the building of security in the present environment of rapid change, what befalls upon us, the military men, is  first to evaluate the situation free of conventional approaches and prejudices, and then to analyse the ways and means for adding the concept of defense  more global dimensions in the future.

Lesson Drawn From History and Basic Principles:


The historical, geographical and political factors as well as the national objectives thereof are the basic determinants of any country’s policy.


Invariably, the lessons drawn from the developments in the period of Ottoman Empire’s disintegration, and from the events subsequent to the founding of the Republic, particularly the ones after the Second World War, have all played an important role in the formulation of Turkey’s current security policy. Most naturally, my country’s security policy is also inspired by future oriented considerations.

Moreover, geographically speaking, Turkey lies at the cross roads of three continents, borders a region with divergent political, economic, cultural and religious structures. It is a next door neighbour with one of the superpowers. Unavoidably, Turkey’s security policy is affected by all these particularities.

In the 20th century, Turkey has made its national choises in this context towards modernization, social and economic development and a democratic way of life.

Turkey has all along been aware of the fact that these objectives can be attained only by living in peace. It is this very approach which was embraced by all of the Turkish governments in the republican era and which has found its expression in the famous dictum “Peace at home, Peace in the world” laid down by Atatürk at the foundation of the Turkish Republic.

Following the First World War, Turkey has overcome the threat of disintegration thanks to the resolve of the Turkish people which initiated the national independence movement in May 1919 and carried it to the final victory in 1922. This victory was only possible through full dedication by all Turks.

The Lausanne Treaty of 1923, has established the balance in her region and consequently Turkey entered into the period of the longest lasting peace ever in her history.


In short, the foundation of the national state brought along radical changes also in Turkey’s security policy. Since then the primary objective has been the preservation and protection of the independence and the territorial and national integrity of the republic and all its rights emanating from international law and treaties.

Turkey strives to maintain its economic and social development in peace and freedom.

Realism, refraining from adventures and peace orientation are the basic principles to which Turkey firmly adheres. Nevertheless, Turkey regards the protection of her national borders as the primary duty. Also it does not covet any part of other country’s territories.

Turkey has all along attributed importance to the maintenance of sufficient military force to deter a potential aggression, and to inter­national cooperation for defensive arrangements, her membership in the Balkan and Sadabad Pacts of the interwar era attests to it.

In keeping with its wish to live in peace, respect to the principles of independence and territorial integrity, non-intervention in internal affairs, and cooperation based on mutual interest, Turkey aims at main­taining good relations with all countries and especially with the countries which have common borders with Turkey.

Yet, Soviet Union’s refusal to renew the Treaty of Friendship. Neutrality and Non-Aggression of 1925, the tension caused by demands on the Turkish Straits and territorial claims from Eastern Anatolia immediately after the W.W.II and the ensuing defense requirements impelled Turkey to look for new arrangements for its security apart from neutrality. This quest has ended in 1952 when Turkey joined NATO. This choice also reflects my country’s European vocation.

As the strategy of both Turkey and NATO is defense oriented, this cooperation is based on realistic foundations of common objectives, values and interests.


Turkey wishes that the international relations which are variable in long term be shaped as far as possible by dialogue and mutual consent of those concerned. She regards the principle of pacta sund servanda as essential. She wishes that the existing international problems be resolved through negotiation and in accordance with the principle of equity. Nevertheless, she is steadfast in considering as an inalienable duty to protect all of her rights emanating from international law and treaties.

The military doctrine of such a policy shaped by these principles and objectives could only be defensive.

The lessons drawn from history, her geographical position and her choice of democratic regime as well as future oriented considera­tions add up to the formulation of Turkey’s security policy along the following lines:

The first objective is to preserve and protect the independence and the unity of the nation, the indivisibility of the country and the republic. The second objective is to contribute to the lessening of international tension, and to just and lasting peace and in freedom. The third aim is to prevent with credible deterrence the threat to use or use of force. Last, but not the least, to benefit from collective security systems.

Factors Affecting Turkey’s Security Policy:

In the collective security system to which she belongs Turkey is a flank country that does not enjoy uninterrupted geographic link with Central Europe.

Turkey controls the crucial Turkish straits which form the sole passageway between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The defense of the Straits are vital for Turkey.


Turkey borders two Warsaw Pact countries, namely, Bulgaria to the west and the Soviet Union to the east. Turkey is geographically positioned as a forward area; in case of an armed conflict two separate theaters of war in the East and in the West would be formed.

The Turkish Straits are under the potential threat of land forces through the Thrace, the amphibious forces from the Black Sea, as well as of airborne operations. The defence of the Straits lacks strategic depth.

The Soviet Union is a superpower and the Warsaw Pact still holds its superiority in conventional forces vis-a-vis NATO.

Adjacent to a politically volatile and unstable region in the South and in the East, Turkey is exposed to the spill-over effects of the regional conflicts. It has to take into account also the military strengths and capabilities of non-participating countries in the region.

Turkey’s infrastructure is not suitable for rapid force deploy­ments or transfers from one region to another:

In view of the factors I have just enumerated, Turkey could not sustain her security all by herself under the existing conditions in a general war. Thus NATO has become an integral part of Turkey’s security policy.

Turkey’s defence oriented security policy is in full harmony with the NATO Alliance’s defence oriented collective security policy. The common objective is to preserve peace in freedom. In order to attain this objective, we are always in favor of utilizing the available political means. In this regard, we believe that sufficient military strength and ability needs to be maintained to prevent war and to provide for effective defence.

We support the Alliance’s strategy of deterrence to prevent the threat or use of force. We are also in favor of comprehensive and constructive dialogue including arms control and disarmament efforts.


In the event of an armed attack, Turkey will defend to the end her interests, restore territorial integrity and do its utmost to terminate the war as soon as possible.

As a front line country, Turkey is also within the reach of the mass destruction arms of neighbouring Warsaw Pact countries. She contributes to the maintenance of NATO’s credible deterrence, and has adopted its strategy of forward defence and flexible response.

Turkey aims to set up and maintain a force level and structure, based on mobilisation, with enough capability to enforce the aforemen­tioned policy and strategy within a collective security policy.

What Turkey aims to have and maintain, taking into account also the reinforcements from the Alliance, is minimum force for credible deterrence and asssured defence. Such a force will have peacetime and wartime capabilities. In peace, it will contribute to the deterrence by the Alliance.

In war, it will have the capability to defend the territory and to stop the aggressor at the frontier, reinforcing its peacetime forces for mobilization. It will also gain the capability of counter attack and re-establishing the territorial integrity with the reinforcements from the Alliance.

In the formation of the force structure, maximum efficiency with minimum force is taken as the basic criterion.

The existing force structure and strength of Turkey, when com­pared with the Warsaw Pact forces in he region, fall far behind, either in quantitative or in qualitative terms or both in certain cases. Our aim is to reach parity at lower levels.

Turkey has deployed her in-place forces at three separate fronts, namely, the Thrace and the Straits front, the Eastern Anatolia front and the South-Eastern Anatolia front.


The defence of the Turkish Straits is vital for both Turkey and the Alliance. Therefore, given the lack of strategic depth, Turkey has to maintain in Thrace a level of force which would be able to defend the region against attacks coming from land, amphibious and airborne units far superior in strength and structure.

Separate armies are earmarked for the defence of Eastern Anatolia and Southeastern Anatolia.

The forces at all three fronts are of a strength and structure, based on mobilization, to defend their respective fronts and hold the aggressor for a limited period of time. Even after having mobilized all of her forces, Turkey would still need in all three fronts the Alliance’s land, naval, and air force requirements for consistent defence and reinstitution of territorial integrity.

Depending on the duration of the war, Turkey’s need for resupply would gradually increase.

Under these circumstances, the following three elements are important for Turkey’s defence in a general war:

l.Reception facilities for the reinforcements and the related infrastructure,

2.Timely arrival of the reinforcements to their designated deployment areas,

3.Uninterrupted flow of supply.

Therefore keeping safe and open the sea lines of communication is vitally important for continuous flow of reinforcements, logistical support and resupplies.

Let me summarize our views as follows:

  • The NATO Alliance constitutes an integral factor of our

security policy.

  • Our main objective is the preservation of peace in freedom and prevention of war.
  • Deterrence is the main element for prevention of war.
  • The continuing importance of nuclear weapons in maintain­ing deterrence cannot be denied.
  • Turkey will not be the first to attack.
  • Turkey will protect her rights emanating from international law and treaties.
  • In case of an aggression, the territory will be defended and in case of loss of territory, territorial integrity will be restituted.

Turkey has adopted NATO’s strategy of forward defence and flexible response:

Turkey, taking also into account the Alliance’s contribution, aims for a force posture based on mobilization sufficient for credible deter­rence and assured defence.

Turkey relies on the reinforcements and the logistical support of the Alliance.

The present forces will have the strength and the structure to defend the territory and hold the aggressor for a certain period of time, and at the same time, the capability to launch a counter offensive to recover lost territory and to reinsure territorial integrity with the support of allied reinforcement.

It is imperative that the sea lines or communication are kept safe and open.

Turkey’s limited economic and industrial capacity and her limited resources render it necessary that the internal and external resources be utilized in the most rational manner.


Turkey wishes and makes every effort to develop with all of her neighbours good relations based on mutual benefits. Considerable developments have been achieved in good neighbourly relations with the Soviet Union and other East European countries in all fields and economic domain.

Turkey, on account of its responsibilities within the Alliance and also the Alliance’s defence strategy and the present circumstances in its periphery, allocated a reasonable level of manpower and funds in keeping with her defence oriented security policy.

It is evident that there is a close relationship between the defence effort and economic and technological development level. The negative effect of economic constraints are felt in Turkey more than in many other countries. If we have to make comparisons, the most reliable indicators can be derived from the percentage of GNP devoted to and the per capita expenditure allocated for defence as well as the size of a country, population, fronts to be defended, the civilian infrastructure and the like. Related data would reveal that my country’s defence effort is readily comparable to that of her neighbours. Although our experts will expand on this point together with other technical issues, under relevant agenda items, I would like to say that 1989 defence expenditures of Turkey were 3.8% of the GNP when compared with her neighbours, this percentage is the lowest in the region.

Turkey believes that the enhancement of mutual security and confidence in Europe depends on decreasing the probability of confron­tation and increasing stability. The CSCE process with all its aspects and the new European order it forsees, in our view, constitutes the main driving power of such an endeavour. Consequently, she wholeheartedly supports the arms control and disarmament negotiations. Bringing the Warsaw Pact’s conventional forces in certain categories down to parity with NATO forces will be the first indication of increased stability in Europe. Turkey considers this verifiability of the result of the CFE Treaty to be the most important factor in increasing stability in Europe.Turkey believes that increased security through lower force levels aimed at the CFE negotiations can only be realized with a viable verification regime.

Increasing security and stability in Europe depends as much on confidence and security building measures as it does on arms reductions. Transparency has become the key factor in increasing security and stability both in the CFE and CSBM negotiations.

Another important factor in increasing security and stability in Europe is the political intentions.

No matter how peace-oriented the political intentions may be, it will not be possible to talk about a lasting environment of security and stability in Europe as long as these intentions are not reflected on military posture and structure. If we are to adopt a defensive military doctrine, our political intentions should be transposed on military pos­tures and structure. However, we must not accept as stabilising an idea whereby countries with inferior defence capabilities are left as they are while the superiority of others is consolidated.


When the points I have just mentioned will be realized, Turkey,parallel with the confidence and stability in her region and in line with the new threat assessment, plans to reduce her armed forces and to make necessary changes in her force structure.

We believe that the ongoing CFE and the CSBM negotiations in Vienna will contribute to security and stability, and that these negotia­tions will bear fruit in 1990 with the conclusion of a CFE Treaty.


(*)Statement by General Necip Torumtay at the CBSM MilitaryDoctrine Seminar, Vienna, 19 January 1990

Published in the fpi Quarterly “Foreign Policy”, Vol 15, Nos. 1-2


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