Ms. Zeyno Baran of the Hudson Institute asks in the Wall Street Journal:
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?
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