TURKEY: A RISING REGIONAL POWER?
RELATIONS WITH EUROPE AND THE MIDDLE EAST

Pia C. Wood
Old Dominion University
Preliminary Curriculum Unit

In 1998 Turkey faces both old and new challenges in its international relations particularly in light of developments stemming from the end of the cold war. From World War II to 1990, Turkey considered its major security threat to be the Soviet Union and its most important alliance to be NATO and the United States. But this geopolitical environment is changing rapidly. The emergence of newly independent states in Central Asia (formerly part of the Soviet Union) with a Turkic and Islamic heritage has created a new area of interest for Turkish foreign policy. To the south the Middle East remains a region of instability and conflict with important implications for Turkey. Even Turkey’s long-standing relations with the West, particularly Europe and the United States, are undergoing transition. Turkey, "a frontline state faced with multiple fronts", is striving to create a foreign policy that will be able to deal successfully with a range of security and economic challenges.

I will concentrate on Turkey’s international relations with a specific focus on Europe and the Middle East. The objective is to analyze the political, security, and economic dimensions of Turkey’s present relations with Europe and the Middle East and predict future possible trends.

Content

I. Historical Overview of Relations between Turkey, Europe and the Middle East
    The Ottoman Empire to World War II
    The Cold War - Preeminance of the Security Relationship - NATO

II. European Union - Turkish Relations - Post Cold War
    Security Issues- Member of NATO and WEU
    Economic - Customs Union but denied Full Membership in EU
    Human Rights - Kurdish Question

III. Bilateral Relations with European Nations
    Germany - Turkish Workers in Germany
    Greece - Conflict over Cyprus and other Territorial Disputes

IV. Relations with Middle East Nations
    Syria - Conflict over Water and the Southeast Anatolia Project and Syrian support for the PKK
    Israel - Turkey’s new ally
    Iran - Potential Strategic Rival
    Iraq - PKK in northern Iraq

 

PRELIMINARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Historical Overview of Relations between Turkey, Europe and the Middle East

Ahmad, Feroz. The Making of Modern Turkey. Routledge, 1993.

Gocek, Fatma Muge. East Encounters West: France and the Ottoman Empire in the Eighteenth Century. New York, 1987.

Heller, Mark. British Policy towards the Ottoman Empire 1908-1914. London, 1983.

Helmreich. Paul C. From Paris to Sevres: the Partition of the Ottoman Empire at the Peace Conference of 1919-20. Columbus, 1974.

Issawi, Charles (ed.) The Economic History of Turkey 1800-1914. Chicago, 1980

Karpat, Kemal et al. Turkey’s Foreign Policy in Transition, 1950-1974. Leiden, 1975.

Kent, Marian (ed.) The Great Powers and the End of the Ottoman Empire. London, 1984.

Kuniholm, Bruce R. The Origins of the Cold War in the Near East: Great Power Conflict and Diplomacy in Iran, Turkey, and Greece, Princeton, 1994.

Abadan-Unat, Nermin. Turkish Workers in Europe, 1960-1975: A Socio-Economic Appraisal. Leiden, 1976.

Shaw, Standford J. History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Vols. I and II. Cambridge, 1977.

Trumpener, Ulrich. Germany and the Ottoman Empire 1914-1918. Princeton, NJ, 1968.

Vali, Ferenc. Bridge Across the Bosporus: The Foreign Policy of Turkey. Johns Hopkins, 1971.

 

European Union - Turkish Relations - Post Cold War

Balkir and Alan M. Williams. (eds) Turkey and Europe. Pinter, 1993.

Barchard, David. Turkey and the West. London, 1985.

Dumont, Paul and Francois Georgeon (eds.) La Turquie au seuil de l’Europe. Paris, 1991.

Heper, Metin et al. (eds) Turkey and the West: Changing Political and Cultural Identities. London, 1993.

Karpat, Kemal. (ed.) .Turkey’s Foreign Policy: Recent Developments. University of Wisconsin Press, 1996.

Okyar, Osman and Okan H. Adtan, (eds). Economic Relations between Turkey and the EEC. Andara, 1978.

Ozal, Turgut. La Turquie en Europe. Paris, 1988.

Robbins, Philip. "More Apparent than Real? The Impact of the Kurdish Issue on Euro- Turkish Relations," in Robert Olson, (ed.) The Kurdish Nationalist Movement in the 1990's: Its Impact on Turkey and the Middle East. University of Kentucky Press, 1996.

 

Bilateral Relations with European Nations

Bahceli, Tozun. Greek-Turkish Relations since 1955. Boulder, Colorado, 1988.

Constas, Dimitri (ed.) The Greek-Turkish conflict in the 1990's: Domestic and External Influences. London, 1991.

Rist, Ray C. "Migration and Marginality: Guestworkers in Germany and France", Daedalus 108, no. 2, 1979.

Schiller, Gunther. Reducing Emigration Pressure in Turkey: Analysis and Suggestions for External Aid. Geneva: ILO, 1992.

Sen, Faruk. Problems and Integration Constraints of Turkish Migrants in the Federal Republic of Germany. Geneva: ILO, 1989.

Stearns, Monteagle. Entangled Allies: US Policy Toward Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus. New York, 1992.

Zentrum fur Turkeistudien. Migration Movements from Turkey to the European Community, Essen, 1993.

 

Relations with Middle East Nations

Barkey, Henri J. (ed.) Turkey’s Role in the Middle East. Washington DC: US Institute of Peace, 1996.

Bolukbase, Suha. "Ankara, Damascus, Baghdad, and the Regionalization of Turkey’s Kurdish Secessionism." Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. 14, Summer 1991.

____________. "Turkey Challenges Iraq and Syria: The Euphrates Dispute." Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 16, Summer 1993.

____________. "Turkey Copes with Revolutionary Iran." Journal of Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 13, Fall/Winter 1989.

Couloumbis, Theodore (ed.) The Foreign Policies of the European Union’s Mediterranean States and Applicant Countries in the 1990's: A Comparative Analysis. London, 1997.

Dodd, Clement H. (ed.) Turkish Foreign Policy: New Prospects, Eothen Press, 1992.

Eisenstadt, Michael, "Turkish-Israeli Military Cooperation: An Assessment." The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, "PolicyWatch," no. 262, Washington, June 1997.

Robins, Philip. Turkey and the Middle East. London, 1991.

Rubenstein, Alvin Z and Oles M. Smolansky. (eds.) Regional Power Rivalries in the New Eurasia. New York, 1995.

 

PRELIMINARY NOTES

Turkish Relations with Greece, Syria, Israel, and Iran

As a well-known Turkish diplomat stated in 1996 "...Turkey is besieged by a veritable ring of evil." This evaluation was based on events and conflicts with Greece, Syria, and Iran.

The rivalry between Greece and Turkey is based on a long history of conflict. Today, the areas of conflict center first and foremost on Cyprus but also includes Greek western Thrace, the Aegean Sea, the continental shelf, the delimitation of airspace, the fortification of Greek islands.

In 1974, the Turkish army landed on Cyprus and the island was divided. Today the southern 2/3 of the island is the Republic of Cyprus and recognized internationally while the northern 1/3 is the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was proclaimed in 1983 but only recognized by Turkey. Despite all efforts (included US efforts in Spring 1998), there is no settlement of the issue. It appears that Turkey and Denktash (Turkish Cypriot leader) have taken the attitude that the "current solution is the solution itself" (defacto partition) Therefore, any negotiations must be based on a two-state formula which would grant the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus equal status with the Republic of Cyprus. This is not acceptable to the Greek Cypriots and the EU, the UN, and the US still support the reunification of the island in a bicommunal, bizonal federation.

Most recently, tensions increased when the Republic of Cyprus took delivery of a military airfield and there will soon be Russian S-300 ground-to-air missiles deployed to protect the airfield. Turkey stated that it "will continue to take necessary measures against threat to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Turkish military has threatened to "take out" the missiles when they are deployed.

The other disputes include:

1) 200,000 Muslims, mostly ethnic Turks, in Greek Thrace and the small Greek Orthodox populations of Istanbul and the Turkish islands of Gokceada and Bozcaada

2) Greek forces on islands close to the Turkish coast in the eastern Aegean which the Turks argue is an illegal remilitarization banned by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne while Greece argues that the right to self defense over-rides any treaty

3) the delimitation of territorial waters. Greece says it can extend the limits from 6 to 12 miles which Turkey has said will be a cause for war. This would in effect give Greece control over most of the Aegean Sea.

4) Greece says all its islands have a right to their continental shelf which would give Greece control over most of the Aegan seabed. Turkey disagrees and claims the continental shelf east of a line bisecting the Aegean.

5) Greece says its air space extends 10 miles beyond the coastline while Turkey’s argues that it does not go beyond 6 miles.

Turkey and the Arab World

Interestingly, there are sharp differences between Turkey and the Arab world (despite Turkey being a Muslim country) in international relations. Turkey is strongly linked to the West while many Arab states during the Cold War looked to the Soviet Union. The Arabs most often support Greece over Cyprus because Turkey recognized Israel. Nevertheless, there are tremendous economic opportunities for Turkey with the Arab world and there is some debate in Turkey over the relative value of Turkish ties to the West versus ties to the Islamic world.

During the 1990's Greece and Syria have moved closer together in part because Syria also has conflicts with Turkey. The three major disputes are 1) Syria still has claims on the Hatay province annexed by Turkey in 1939 but never recognized by Syria 2) Syria is against Turkey’s construction of dams on the Euphrates River (part of the Southeast Anatolia Project) which it claims has sharply reduced its water supply 3) In response, Syria has begun to help the Kurdish rebels (PKK) against Turkey. The Syrian government has allowed the PKK to operate from Syrian territory and for years they have had operational and training bases in the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

The war between Turkey and PKK has moved to Northern Iraq where two other Kurdish groups (KDP and PUK) were encouraged by the Allies (US) after the Gulf War. The Turkish army has chosen a strategy of pursuit into Iraq and have launched two major offensives and now have allied with the KDP. There are now Turkish forces permanently stationed inside Iraqi territory. Turkey, however, benefits when Iraq controls its Kurds because more autonomy in Iraq gives rise to greater demands by Kurds for autonomy in Turkey.

With Greece, Syria, and Iraq against Turkey, the Turkish government decided to take steps to redress the balance of power by approaching Israel. Turkey has always been ambivalent about Israel since it recognized it in 1949. They have security concerns in common as they both distrust radical forces in the region and throughout the decades there has been intelligence exchanges. In 1996, two agreements were signed which called for cooperation between air and naval forces. Turkey then has been able to get arms and technology from Israel that it cannot get from the US or Europe because of its human rights problems and its conflict with Greece. Israel has also agreed to cooperate in the fight "against terrorism." On the other hand, there are costs for Turkey as it would like to have support from the developing world against Greece over Cyprus. To some extent, Turkey’s economic relations with the Arabs will be influenced by its relationship with Israel, particularly if the peace process continues to stagnate. Turkey has long supported a Palestinian state.

There is a long-standing rivalry between Iran and Turkey based largely on the contest between secular republicanism and Islamic revolution. They provide safe havens for the other’s opposition groups and the struggle is being waged in Iraq and Azerbaijan. Both Iran and Turkey are supporting certain Kurdish groups in northern Iraq in order to consolidate their positions. Also Turkish nationalism in Azerbaijan threatens Iran because 1/3 of Iran’s 65 million people are Azeri Turks and Azerbaijan officials have said that Northern Iran is really part of Southern Azerbaijan. Iran has countered by supporting the Armenians in their fight against Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Turkey and the European Union

Relations with the EU are governed by the Association Agreement of 1964 (Ankara Agreement). This was supplanted by the Additional Protocol in 1972 which is the oldest Association Agreement that the EU has made and in 1995, a customs union agreement was signed.

In 1987, Turkey formally presented its application for full membership in the EU and it was rejected by the 12. In 1997, the EU (Germany) also made it clear that the time was still not ripe for Turkey to join. The Turkish prime minister accused Chancellor Kohl of deliberately sabotaging Turkey’s application to the EU and Turkey then refused to attend the European Conference held in London in April 1998 for states who are negotiating to join the EU in the future. Turkey is convinced that the denial of its membership is based on religious discrimination - Europe does not want to allow a Muslim country into the Union.

There are several reasons that the EU has not admitted Turkey.

1) Greece would have to agree because all decisions on new members must be agreed to unanimously and until the Cyprus issue is solved, Greece will use its veto power. (Greece even vetos EU aid packages to Turkey)

2) problems of trade liberalization exist because there are still highly protected industries such as automobiles and pharmaceuticals. There will be some difficulties in adaptation for Turkish industries which means there is political pressure not to liberalize.

3) problems in Turkish agriculture - Turkey will have to apply market regulations and price policy which will be difficult.

4) Human Rights issues and the Kurdish question. Particularly in the 1980's, the European public, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe have been critical of Turkey’s record on human rights.

German-Turkish Bilateral Relations

The relations between Germany and Turkey have also encountered difficulties. Germany is Turkey’s largest trading partner and there are 1.5 million Turkish workers in Germany. German public opinion has been the most sensitive when it comes to Turkey’s human rights record and particularly the Kurdish problem. Turkey has been very critical of Germany’s tolerant attitude toward the Kurdish political organizations in Germany. Turkey has been particularly frustrated that Germany has not helped its application for membership to the EU. But Germany does not want to remove the restrictions on Turkish labor because it does not want additional Turkish workers. Turkey, on the other hand, does not want Germany to reduce the number of Turkish guest workers because they send back large amounts of money and the Turkish workers abroad seem to be more inclined toward fundamentalism. The rise in xenophobia and racism in Germany has not helped matters.

 Objectives and Questions

1. Trace the historical roots of the present day border disputes between Turkey and its neighbors. Which border conflicts appear to be the most serious and what are the prospects for their settlement? Under International Law, what rules govern border disputes and how have they been applied in the case of Turkey?

2. Trace the historical roots of the Cyprus conflict. How likely is it that the disagreement over Cyprus will turn into a major confrontation between Turkey and Greece? What are some potential scenarios or terms to settle the issue? Compare and contrast the Cyprus conflict with other conflicts such as Northern Ireland, etc.

3. Turkey has long been firmly attached to the West and has aspirations to join the EU? How will the latest rejection for membership influence the EU-Turkish relationship? To what degree is the Turkish economy and its democratic status compatible with EU standards and what problems remain? Compare the relationship between the EU and Turkey with relations between the EU and other associated states.

4. Many argue that the Kurdish problem is the most important problem facing Turkey. Do you agree or disagee? Why? What strategies have the Turks followed in the past towards the Kurds and what potential scenarios can be envisaged for the future? Compare the Turkish treatment of its Kurds to the treatment of minorities in other countries?

5. With the Soviet Union no longer a real threat to Turkey, Turkish foreign policy is shifting its focus to Central Asia and the Middle East. Will it continue to be firmly attached to the West and Europe and what should European/US policy be toward Turkey?

6. Trace the evolution of the history of Turkish immigration into Germany. How have the latest revisions in German law affected the Turkish population in Germany and what are some of the potential troublespots in the relation? Compare Germany’s nationality laws with those of other countries such as France and the United States.

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