Turkey--Facing a New Millennium: Coping with Intertwined Conflicts

Turkey--Facing a New Millennium: Coping with Intertwined Conflicts

Turkey--Facing a New Millennium: Coping with Intertwined Conflicts

Turkey--Facing a New Millennium: Coping with Intertwined Conflicts

Synopsis

Turkey's involvement in the Gulf War in 1991 paved the way for the country's acceptance into the European Union. This book traces that process and looks at Turkey's foreign policy in the 1990s, considering the repercussions of the fall of communism. It focuses on Turkey's strategic importance that resulted from the waning of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the skillful way in which Turkey avoided becoming embroiled in the ethnic upheavals in Central Asia, the Balkans and the Middle East, and the development of a continued policy of closer integration into the European and western worlds.

Excerpt

It has been said that Turkey’s participation in the Korean War in the 1950s bought it the entrance ticket into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Forty years later, in 1991, Turkey participated in the Gulf War. Not a single Turkish soldier crossed the Iraqi-Turkish border, yet the six or so Turkish divisions that were deployed along the border drew off Iraqi forces from the Kuwaiti battlefield. This was meant by Turkey’s late President, Torgut Ozal, to pave the way towards his country’s accession into the European Union (EU). Was there any connection between the 1991 war in the Gulf and the December 1999 EU Helsinki decision to invite Turkey to negotiate its entrance into the Union? Perhaps not a direct one, but one cannot fail to see that the 1990s were marked by crossroads, developments, events, etc., which linked the two dates, perhaps even led to the December 1999 decision. This study will attempt to analyze these years.

The 1990s were successful years as regards Ankara’s foreign relations. Turkey manifested its ability to withstand the repercussions of the fall of communism, to stop the temporary devaluation in its strategic importance that resulted from the waning of the cold war and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to avoid becoming embroiled in the ethnic upheavals in Central Asia, the Balkans and the Middle East, to prevent an eruption of yet another cycle in Cyprus and in the Aegean Sea, etc. Turkey managed also to develop close relations with its ethnically related Asian Turkic peoples, seemingly without becoming sidetracked from its declared hopes of becoming integrated into the European and Western worlds. Similarly, Turkey’s first politically Muslim Prime Minister, Necmettin Erbakan, did not Islamize its foreign policy, nor did he bring excessive Muslim policies to bear on its domestic affairs.

The 1990s were also successful for Turkey internally, although here the results are clearly more mixed. The Kurdish revolt has been curbed, the Turkish economy has achieved some important gains, secular-religious disagreements have not worsened, and wider circles –; hitherto not a party to the decisionmaking procedures in Turkey –; have taken part in municipal, national and political processes. Democracy in Turkey has successfully coped with various political and constitutional crises, the observing of human and civil rights by the authorities has improved and features of civil society have become stronger. True, changes and improvements are still needed, the economy gravely faltered towards the end of the decade and further respect of human rights must continue, yet many achievements are clearly discernible, some are indeed outstanding.

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