Turkey’s Relations with Greece: Motives and Interests

  • Heinz Kramer


To talk about motives and interests of a country’s foreign policy is, to a large extent, an exercise in speculation. This is due to the highly imprecise meaning of the two concepts, which are characterised by a lack of a clear, commonly accepted and operational definition. Nevertheless, ‘interest’ or ‘national interest’ is a prominent concept in the analysis of international relations or foreign policy.1 I will refrain, here, from another exercise in adding a further definition or categorisation to the already existing ones. Instead, I will content myself with a rough ‘working definition’ for the purpose of this presentation. If, in the following, I speak of ‘motives’ this is in the meaning of basic factors which guide the foreign policy behaviour, whereas ‘interests’ are more or less synonymous with ‘goals’. And, as both imply also non-material, psychologic factors or issues, it is also evident that sometimes (or even more than sometimes) the distinction between ‘motives’ and ‘interests’ is far from clear and in many cases arguable. But despite these obvious conceptual weaknesses, this may be one possible way to get a better understanding of the background of Turkey’s foreign policy towards Greece.


Foreign Policy Security Policy National Interest National Integrity Territorial Integrity 
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    See, for instance, the article ‘National Interest’ by J. N. Rosenau, International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, vol. 11, pp. 34–40 or J. Rochester, ‘The Paradigm Debate in International Relations and its Implications for Foreign Policy Making: Toward a Redefinition of the “National Interest”’, Western Political Quarterly, vol. 31, no. 1 (1978), pp. 48–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    This has been very clearly demonstrated by the Turkish behaviour towards the Greek minority in Istanbul during the 1955 riots, the extradition of Greek citizens living in Turkey in 1964, which was accompanied by the famous Kararname Decree, and with respect to the fate of the Greek inhabitants of the islands of Imroz and Tenedos. In all cases the Turkish government did nothing against the ill-treatment of Turkish citizens of Greek origin but instead contributed to the development of situations that led to the exodus of the majority of the Greek population. For the 1955 events, see H. Bagci, Die türkische Au en politik während der Regierungszeit Menderes von 1950 bis 1960 (Bonn: doctoral dissertation, 1988) pp. 190–4Google Scholar
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    This has been analysed for the Greece-Turkey-United States triangle by Th. Couloumbis, The United States, Greece and Turkey: The Troubled Triangle (New York: Praeger, 1983).Google Scholar
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    The role of the ‘Greek factor’ in the context of Turkey’s application for EC membership is elaborated in more detail in H. Kramer, ‘The Greek-Turkish Dispute and its Implication for an Eventual Turkish Accession to the EC’, in Future Relations Between Turkey and the European Community, special supplement to ‘Türkische Wirtschaftswelt’ (Munich) vol. 4 (April 1988) no. 4, pp. 11–17 and H. Kramer, Die Europäische Gemeinschaft und die Türkei: Entwicklung, Probleme und Perspektiven einer schwierigen Partnerschaft (Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlag, 1988) pp. 265–281.Google Scholar

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© Dimitri Constas 1991

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  • Heinz Kramer

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