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Will the West Lose Turkey?

Ms. Zeyno Baran of the Hudson Institute asks in the Wall Street Journal:
Will Turkey Abandon NATO?

Will Turkey side with the United States, its NATO ally, and let more U.S. military ships into the Black Sea to assist Georgia? Or will it choose Russia? A Turkish refusal would seriously impair American efforts to support the beleaguered Caucasus republic. Ever since Turkey joined NATO in 1952, it has hoped to never have to make a choice between the alliance and its Russian neighbor to the North. Yet that is precisely the decision before Ankara. If Turkey does not allow the ships through, it will essentially be taking Russia's side. (...)

The Turkish mantra goes something like this: "the U.S. wants to expand NATO into the Black Sea -- and as in Iraq, this will create a mess in our neighborhood, leaving us to deal with the consequences once America eventually pulls out. After all, if Russia is agitated, it won't be the Americans that will have to deal with them."

Erkan Saka, a Ph.D candidate at Rice University, blogs about Turkey's "'all-track' diplomacy:

After the visit of Iran's leader, now there comes the mini African Summit and a notorious African leader, Bashir comes to Turkey second time in less than a year. As part of a grand plan, these risky visits might work but they are just too risky. The plan is to create independent good, powerful and profitable relations with neigbours. The plan is very innovative.

The German Marshall Fund's annual Transatlantic Trends survey covers Turkish opinions on the United States and the European Union quite extensively. Last year they concluded:

TURKEY MOVING TOWARD ISOLATION, PESSIMISTIC ABOUT EU CHANCES
Continuing its cooling since 2004, Turkish "warmth" toward the United States (on a 100-point "thermometer" scale) declined from 28 degrees in 2004 and 20 in 2006 to 11 in 2007, and toward the European Union from 52 degrees in 2004 and 45 in 2006 to 26 in 2007.  Turkish warmth toward Iran, which had risen last year, fell from 43 degrees to 30, and Turkey is the cooler toward China (28 degrees) and Russia (21 degrees) than is any other surveyed country. The percentage of Turkish respondents who view EU membership as a good thing remains the largest group (40%) but continued to decline - a drop of 14 percentage points from last year (54%) and 33 points lower than in 2004 (73%). The largest percentage of Europeans (EU11) continue to feel it would be neither good nor bad (42%). When asked how likely it is that Turkey will join the European Union, 56% of Europeans (EU11) felt it is likely that Turkey will join, compared with only 26% of Turkish respondents who agreed.

Next week the German Marshall Fund will present this year's survey conclusions. I wonder what they will say about Turkey and all the other transatlantic issues.

 

My opinion: I am optimistic and believe that Turkey will stay committed to NATO and to Western values in general, but we shall not take this for granted. 

I think that both the EU and the United States have not treated Turkey with the respect the country deserves due to its geostrategic position, size and role within NATO. Turkey was important to the United States and Europe during the Cold War and is even more crucial today.

I think Turkey should be allowed to join the European Union, if it continues the necessary reforms.

 

What do you think?

In which direction do you see Turkey going?

How important is Turkey for the EU and the United States?

How would you describe your country's relationship with Turkey?

 

Related posts in the Atlantic Review:

Does Turkey See the United States or Europe as a More Reliable Partner?

 

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Marie Claude on :

if it continues the necessary reforms. that'is the question wether we 'll have to deal with an islamist ruled country or not so far for me, no they just have to return to he 1970 rules, when they had no veils, no shariah laws... that would be a good start

Zyme on :

They are just too far away from central European societies to allow them in. In virtually any regard of their society, there are problems lingering too big to neglect. Also the current balance of power in the EU would be shaken, something France and Germany will not permit. And let's not forget the main reason why Britain supports Turkey: Not to help them, but to slow EU integration speed down. Nobody would benefit from the joining - apart from the Turkish national and individual budget of course. All the leverage the big EU countries gained above the Eastern European new members would not work here - as much of the legal EU influence has already been implemented into Turkish law. There is little to gain from an official member status - but a lot to lose. Right now it may be rather easy to distinguish genuine European citizens from potential islamist terrorists. With Turkish citizens being allowed to move freely throughout the EU realm, this advantage is lost as well. Most importantly I oppose their joining for the same reason the British want them in - they would tremendously slow down any effort to increase European integration. Thus, they should make the best of being an associated country / second class member.

Anonymous on :

Zyme, I am on the same wave, absolutely also the Brits and their Alliee put us in "mess" with their insistance to get the former eastern republics into EU "The trouble is that while the “old” Europeans left past enmities at the door when they joined the EU – that was the whole point of joining – too many of the “new” Europeans saw the EU, like Nato, as a means of pursuing old quarrels from a new position of strength. Recent recriminations in “new” Europe about who did what under communism demonstrate how much is still not resolved. For these countries, the prospect of a new Cold War is ever-present quite simply because, for them, the old Cold War is not yet at an end" http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/mary-dejevsky/mary-dejevsky-the-destructive-prejudices-of-europes-new-members-915625.html

Don S on :

"The trouble is that while the “old” Europeans left past enmities at the door when they joined the EU – that was the whole point of joining – too many of the “new” Europeans saw the EU, like Nato, as a means of pursuing old quarrels from a new position of strength." Did the 'old' Europeans do that, though? I recall a certin European head of state who vetod the UK entering the EC during the 60's. Chap named DeGaulle. Do you suppose he might have been pursuing an - old quarrel? Perchance? The foundation of the EC/EU was founded upon the abandonment of one very old quarrel, the one between France and Germany. But that quarrel was buried under two organisations, not one. The EC and ....NATO. NATO came first and was apparently an absolute precondition for the EC to form, according to books I have read. France insisted upon it. It wss a great thing that France and Germany made peace, a history-changing event. But France and Germany weren't the only parents of the EC, NATO was another parent - and that meant the US. Nor did it mean the end of pettiness, as DeGaulle showed.

Fuchur on :

[i]Right now it may be rather easy to distinguish genuine European citizens from potential islamist terrorists. With Turkish citizens being allowed to move freely throughout the EU realm, this advantage is lost as well.[/i] That is without question the most idiotic remark I've read in a long time.

Zyme on :

I knew that at least one notorious do-gooder had to be offended :D So how is opening our borders for the Turkish people allowing us to help ourselves in defending against islamism?

Fuchur on :

Nice attempt to move the goalposts, but I'm not in the mood for kindergarten discussions.

Zyme on :

Too bad, I so expected you to take part in such!

Marie Claude on :

I am anonimous

Anonymous on :

Not anymore!

Anonymous on :

bahah woahh

joe on :

Joerg Examples of the US not treating Turkey with respect?

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

First of all, I did not say that the US has not treated Turkey with respect. I have said (or at least tried to say) that there has not been enough respect considering Turkey's importance. Do you know what I mean? This is not semantics. Since you asked for examples: I am thinking of the failed US attempts to get access to Iraq in 2003. US diplomacy towards Ankara was not the best. Besides, I am wondering whether George W Bush has ever visited Turkey... Rice, Powell and even Clinton and Albright did not visit Turkey very often, I believe. Would you mind looking up the number of visits? Considering Turkey's geostrategic position, you would think that European and US leaders would come by more often... Don't you agree?

Pat Patterson on :

Pres. Bush made at least one state visit in June of 2004 for a NATO meeting. One minor quibble, the Turkish Parliament never rejected a bill allowing US forces to off load and then transit by land to Turkey's border with Iraq. But due to a parliamentary maneuver the three times the bill was read it was with no quorum and thus no vote was taken. The Turks feared a complete collpase of Iraq and didn't want to have any of their own fingerprints on the result. The Turks seemed at the time to be thumbing their noses at the US but it was done discreetly and without any real attempt to appear confrontational. And they were within the military cooperation pacts with the US that dated back to 1978 which were essentially bilateral and not really with NATO. In the meantime Turkey has forged several regional trade pacts and free trade areas with not only its Turkic speaking neighbors but several countries ranging from Israel to Egypt. Turkey's main concern now are negotiations with some of the EU nations, notably Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, for a free trade area which would include the US through some back door agreements dating back to the Cold War. There are still bills dating from the first Bush administration and the Clinton administration for trade pacts, not covering only specific items, that more resemble free trade areas. These bills, often because of interest group pressure, never got out of committee. Though I normally agree with Pamela I think that Turkey will covertly still rely on the US and NATO to a lesser extent and continue its goals of either isolating Russia from the Eastern Mediterranean and completely turning the Turkic nations along Russia's southern flank in Asia. Plus they seem very serious as they have told the Russians to not try running the Dardanelles as they did with the Kutsenov a few years ago and that they have given the US to send ships through on non-NATO missions.

Andrew Z on :

I agree with you Joerg. All you have to do is look at a map to realize how crucial Turkey is in geopolitics. I am baffled why President Bush would not hail this democratic, secular country whose population is a majority of Muslims whenever possible. But to be fair to the United States, perhaps too many diplomatic visits would hurt the leaders of Turkey by creating the perception of a close relationship. Both the EU and US need to learn Turkish before the Turkish learn Russian.

Marie Claude on :

that's not goin to happen http://www.turkishweekly.net/comments.php?id=2973 seems Turkey has more to loose in conflicts in the black sea aeras, she doesn't want to be cut from her turkish ties in Asia

Pamela on :

I find this topic very confusing. With Russia threatening the region, one might think Turkey would want the shelter of NATO and the EU. Yet, the manifest impotence of both in the face of Russia's occupation of Georgia certainly cannot give Turkey much confidence in either. Hmmm. Anybody got any info on the energy picture in Turkey - pipelines, trade with Russia, etc.? That may be more of a determining factor than anything else. Off to look myself, but pretty busy today.

Pamela on :

Well, that was easier than I thought. There's a lot out there. http://www.eoearth.org/article/Energy_profile_of_Turkey --------------------- Turkey lacks significant domestic energy resources. However, its location makes the country an important energy transit country, with the Bosporus Straits, through which Caspian oil passes en route to European markets; the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline, the first transnational pipeline that transports Caspian oil without crossing Russian soil; and Turkey’s port of Ceyhan, which is the primary terminal through which Iraq’s northern oil exports pass (for more information, please see the Caspian Sea Brief , the Bosporus Oil Transport Chokepoint Brief , and the Iraq Country Analysis Brief ). In addition, Turkey’s relatively large population and growing economy have made the country a significant regional energy consumer in its own right. --------------- more at the link - here's another - a 13 page PDF file from Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Turkey's energy strategy - still reading http://www.econturk.org/Turkisheconomy/energy_turkey.pdf

Pamela on :

That Turkish Foreign Ministry paper was intriguing. It seems Turkey wants to be a transport hub for supplying energy to the EU. All well and good - but where is it going to get the stuff? Well, one of the places seems to be 'the Greater Caspian Region' - whatever that is. Well, here is what it is and it doesn't look good. http://www.caucasus.dk/publication8.htm ---------------- The potential economic gain and the strategic importance of the Caspian Region and Central Asia cause the interest of outside powers, whether they are neighboring or not. Indeed, the great game of the 19th century between Russia and the United Kingdom over the control of Central Asia seems to reappear over oil at the turn of the 20th century. This time, however, the United States appears as the chief contender to Russia’s interests, with Iran and Turkey in secondary roles. These four external powers have similar and competing interests, that is access to and control of the region’s oil and gas, but their means are not equal. The United States has a disadvantage because of remoteness and hence needs a partner for the transit of the oil. Russia and Iran have an advantage because of proximity, adjacent markets and easy transit. Turkey is at a disadvantage because of costly and potentially vulnerable transit routes. Furthermore, Armenia, a traditional ally of Russia and Iran, is in a key position representing a potential threat to both Azerbaijan and Turkish oil interests. So far, the United States has chosen Turkey as a partner, but this is hardly sufficient, as Russia or Iran or an alliance of the two could upset any Turkish transit route. Hence investment in new pipeline systems may not be sufficient to secure outlets and the free flow of oil and gas. This enhances the economic risk for the oil investors. In addition, the regimes in place in the Caspian Region and Central Asia are all potentially unstable. ------------------ Potentially unstable? Ya think? Turkey votes with Russia is my guess.

Pat Patterson on :

As of today the Turks have let the USS Whitney, the flagship of the 6th Fleet, pass through the Dardanelles and join the small flotilla that was centered around the newer Burke-class destroyer, the USS McFaull. The Whitney unloaded enough supples to feed 3,000 people plus a water purification plant that can run as long as power is available in Poti. Which means that either the Russians backed down on some of their threats or are simply recognizing that the Black Sea is no longer a Russian lake. One reporter on BBCRadio claimed that there were no Russian ships anywhere on the coast of Georgia but then how many reporters would recognize one nation's ships at a glance. On the 21st of last month the Turks also let pass through the straits a three ship fleet, with the brand new and heavily armed Spanish destroyer the SPS Juan de Bourbon plus a frigate each from Germany and Poland to conduct training exercises and war games with Romania and Bulgaria. It appears that in spite of some prickly attitudes between Europe and Turkey that Turkey remains firmly in the NATO orbit in regards to Russia. Especially since the popular image has the Turks aloof from the fighting in Iraq yet they have allowed the US, as needed, to increases flights in and out of Incirlik by a factor of four. Not NATO for sure but as far as the Turks seem to be acting the US and NATO are synonymous.

Pat Patterson on :

That Spanish lead flotilla was part of NATO. I don't think I made that very clear originally. The Turks are allowing both NATO and the US to enter the Black Sea and seem to be very well aware of the consequences.

Marie Claude on :

"Did the 'old' Europeans do that, though? I recall a certin European head of state who vetod the UK entering the EC during the 60's. Chap named DeGaulle. Do you suppose he might have been pursuing an - old quarrel? Perchance?" yeah, do ya know why he vetoed UK ???? Im goin to tell ya : BECAUSE he knew that letting UK into EU, that was letting enter the trojan horse for dependance on the US policies, wasn't he right ???? He wanted an union based on patries and independance. Also during WWII he used to know well the perfid Albion and what she was aiming to. Though Churchill and him had friendly relations and admired each anothers, but at the signature Churchill wasn't in office anymore. "The foundation of the EC/EU was founded upon the abandonment of one very old quarrel, the one between France and Germany. But that quarrel was buried under two organisations, not one. The EC and ....NATO. NATO came first and was apparently an absolute precondition for the EC to form, according to books I have read. France insisted upon it." http://bibliotheque.sciences-po.fr/produits/bibliographies/ensemble_1957/chronologie.htm Nato has nuthin to do in the post alliance of the 6 that was based on economical agendas "NATO was another parent - and that meant the US. Nor did it mean the end of pettiness, as DeGaulle showed." De Gaulle precisely left the Nato administration for manifesting his discontentment of seing that he still had to obbey to an anglo-saxon direction that tried to make of France an US protectorat after the war. you admire de Gaulle, I believe, at least it's what you said, then, you should know that he place the independance of France above any other concept. That is also why he initiated our nuclear programm, energy and military. There wasn't any pettiness, just that you got upset about his impertinence since 1967

Daniel Antal on :

Turkey has applied for EEC, EC and EU membership decades ago. I think to indecisiveness of the European Union makes it less and less possible to the Turkish elite to maintain this strategic goal. You cannot follow an aim that remained beyond reach for a generation. I think the real issue is not if Turkey will side with the US instead of the EU - I hope that the EU and US will remain allies in the long run - but what if Turkey will find an alliance with Russia or Iran?

Marie Claude on :

It seems not likely to happen, Turkey is the intermediaire between Israel and Syria in the current negociations Might be she'll become a proheminent country in the ME, therefore a concurrent to Iran

Don S on :

"what if Turkey will find an alliance with Russia" I would not blame them at all. There are days I wish the US would form an alliance with Russia!

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