NATO before the summit: how much does Turkish friendship cost?
That Turkey is the main hurdle for developing more successful Common Security and Defence Policy in the EU there is no doubt. Neither there is about whether it is a committed NATO member and a strong European and US ally at the gate of the Middle East. Until Now.
Last week Ahmet Davutoglu , Turkey’s foreign minister said “We do not see any threat from any of our neighbouring countries, whether it is Iran, Russia, Syria or others,”. The context was NATO’s plan to take up the US project for anti-missile shield and make it a priority on its summit on 19 November in Lisbon.
I read on EU observer that according to unnamed US officials quoted by the Daily Telegraph, the missile defence deal is being seen as an “acid test” of Turkey’s commitment to the transatlantic security alliance. But it could well be a very useful weapon for Turkey to blackmail the US and the European partners. And the country has a good century-old record in doing so, as well as very good diplomacy.
If Turkey is in such a good relation with its neighbours, Iraq, Iran, Armenia ,etc perhaps it can take care of its own security better than NATO can? Or in other words if Turkey does not want an anti-missile shield that would potentially prevent an attack from Iran, then it can stay outside it. Why not? They are in very good relations. I bet many other countries will be in better relations with Iran after it develops a nuclear bomb. Then it will be a little late to do anything though.
Resurgent Turkey is playing its cards very smart but it really makes it hard for the allies to bring their strategic priorities in the 21st century. After the US spent years in convincing Russia that the ABM shield is not directed toward her, now Turkey turned out to be the major obstacle. And all this, having in mind that the plan is to locate a radar on its territory with Bulgaria another possible option. Interceptors are envisaged to be stationed in Poland and Romania.
Whether this plan will become reality, we will see soon, but the internal bargaining in NATO will surely win concessions for Turkey on a number of issues, possibly the first of them being a deputy Secretary General. (Rumour has it that this was the agreed price for Turkey’s support to the Prime Minister who did not apologise for the Mohammad cartoons.)
Once again, a good lesson for Europe to consider for the membership negotiation process with Turkey. What could membership of such a big and powerful country may mean for EU’s policies and the relative bargaining position in the Council?