The Evolving Strategic Significance of Turkey’s Relationship with NATO
The Soviet threat to Turkey and NATO was of overriding importance to both during most of the Cold War. Because the geopolitical significance of Turkey in confronting this threat was instrumental in its evolving relationship with NATO, the main focus of this paper will be on the reciprocal relationship between the West’s concern with Turkey’s strategic importance and Turkey’s concern with its security at four critical junctures: 1) immediately after World War II, when the West saw Turkey as critical to the defense of the Middle East; 2) when Turkey was admitted to NATO, and its role in the defense of Europe was seen as even more important than its role in the defense of the Middle East; 3) during talk of a second Cold War in the early 1980’s, when regional instabilities raised Turkey’s strategic importance to new heights; and, finally, 4) in the post-Cold War era, when Europe’s rejection of Turkey’s membership in the European Union caused Turkey to question the reciprocal nature of its relationship with the West, and, coupled with new geopolitical circumstances that underscored Turkey’s strategic importance not just in the Balkans and the Middle East, but also in Central Asia, contributed to Turkey’s more independent, activist posture regarding threats to its security.
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