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Post Cold War European Security Relations With Turkey And Greece

2273 words - 9 pages

Post Cold War European Security Relations With Turkey And GreeceTurkey as part of the European security systemDuring the Cold War, Turkey played a critical role as part of the barrier protecting the West from Soviet advance on the southeastern flank of the alliance, but even then the culture of NATO tended to "central frontism". This concentration on the problems of the Central Front failed to credit Turkey with the role it played in "locking up" 24 Soviet divisions which would otherwise have made an addition to the direct threat to Western Europe. On 27 September 1989, only weeks before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the then Turkish Prime Minister, Turgut Özal, addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe could appeal for a fundamental change of attitude to Turkish membership of the European Union, claiming that as Turkey had shared for forty years the burden of the defence of Europe against communism, it should share the benefits of European economic growth. In fact, everything that has happened since then has widened the gap between Western Europe and Turkey and reduced the perception in both Turkey and Western Europe that they are in the same security system.Whoever else has enjoyed a European "peace dividend" since 1989, it has not been Turkey. Indeed the post-Cold War developments have distanced Turkey from Western Europe in two different ways. The proposed enlargement of the Union to include the Central and Eastern European countries is argued for in part as a means of strengthening European security by including these countries in the Deutschian "security community" 1 which has been established among the members of the European Union. The ten candidate countries of Central and Eastern Europe have taken priority over Turkey in the queue for European Union membership, and that has inevitably distanced Turkey from Western Europe. It is not correct to blame European reticence concerning Turkish membership of the European Union on Greece, although the long running Greco-Turkish conflicts have meant that Turkey has not been perceived as part of the existing "security community" in Western Europe and this has been one factor leading Europeans to include Turkish problems in the "too difficult" basket.The second factor of divergence has been that, with the end of the Cold War, there has been a difference in appreciation between Western Europeans and Turks as to the nature of developments in Russia and the future of relations with it. This is in part a question of geopolitics: the end of the Cold War meant that the Red Army withdrew some thousand kilometres on the Central Front, and although with the break-up of the Soviet Union Russian armed forces are no longer on the physical borders of Turkey, they are still a good deal closer to Turkey than to Western Europe. In addition, Turkey's possible partners in Central Asia are still much more part of Russia's "near abroad" than are the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Even...

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