I. Turkey’s Perspectives and Policies on Security Issues
1. Security is closely related to the concept of self-defense which is of a three-fold nature: ensuring the survival of the population; protecting territorial integrity and preserving the basic identity of a nation, as shaped by political, economic, social and cultural traits. National security and collective security are the two main interrelated pillars of the general concept of security. In an era defined by globalization, the current security environment has further strengthened this linkage and confirmed that security is truly indivisible.
As a response to today’s evolving security challenges, the international community needs to revise constantly its methods to use.
Preparing the ground for the establishment of a secure and peaceful environment to promote international security, stability as well as sustainable development and human progress still consists the general objectives to reach. In this regard, safeguarding territorial integrity; contributing to collective defense and crisis management operations (such as peacekeeping, humanitarian operations and police missions); preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means and supporting disarmament are among the factors need to be considered carefully.
On the other hand, combating asymmetric threats, such as terrorism, organized crime, disruption of the flow of vital resources, uncontrolled mass movement of people as a consequence of armed conflicts, and cyber war risks have turned into threats that require implementation of joint efforts to provide international security in the 21st century. In this regard, factors such as acceleration of cooperation on a global scale and development of a security perspective based on partnership, dialogue and “soft power” gain prominence in the new international security architecture. As a result, Turkey is trying to mobilize its assets in efficient manner to counter these challenges in its near region but also in wider geography.
Some of these risks and threats are not necessarily of military nature. Moreover, security can no longer be achieved solely through military means and policies. Since the definition of security has broadened as such, so should our approach in dealing with these threats. We need to be able to employ a broader combination of military, economic, social and political policies in a better coordination to confront contemporary security challenges. In other words, we need to employ a “comprehensive approach” to encounter today’s security threats.
2. Established in 1923, following a costly war of independence against the occupying powers, the security of the Republic of Turkey has been dictated by two main elements: geography and longstanding ties with the neighboring countries. These two determinants make Turkey a key regional security player in the Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions and beyond. In the last couple of years, Turkey has also demonstrated its capacity to act as a global actor beyond these regions.
2.1. In line with this global perspective, Turkish foreign policy has been built on the key elements such as cooperation and partnership, and respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. Therefore, establishing and maintaining friendly relations with other countries; promoting regional and international cooperation through bilateral and multilateral schemes; resolving conflicts through peaceful means and enhancing regional and international peace, stability and prosperity are the guiding principles of Turkish foreign policy.
2.2. In the interwar period, between 1923-1939, Turkey actively promoted cooperation schemes with her neighbors and other friendly countries. Similarly, she also contributed to regional security cooperation efforts at multilateral level by initiating the establishment of the Balkan Entente of 1934 with Greece, Romania and Yugoslavia, as well as the Sadabad Pact of 1937 with Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.
3. In the aftermath of the Second World War, Turkey made the historic choice of siding with the free world and the Western Bloc. This policy was led Turkey to become member of NATO on 18 February 1952. Since then, NATO has been the cornerstone of Turkey's defense and security policy. During the Cold War, Turkey remained a staunch member of NATO in a volatile region bordering the Eastern Bloc. She made a substantial contribution to the security and defense of the Alliance in general and of Western Europe in particular by guarding the Alliance’s southern flank. Having the longest border with the former Soviet Union, Turkey was responsible for defending one-third of the Alliance's land frontiers against the Warsaw Pact. For a country with limited resources, this came at the expense of great sacrifices. Meanwhile, Turkey also endeavored to help decrease tensions between the Eastern and Western blocs.
4.While remaining committed to the security of the Alliance, Turkey also continued her traditional security policies based on the promotion of cooperation in her adjacent regions. In this context, Turkey initiated security cooperation both in the Balkans and the Middle East. The Balkan Pact of 1954 with Greece and Yugoslavia and the Baghdad Pact of 1955 with Britain, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan were the concrete results of initiatives aimed at the consolidation of security in these regions.
5. In addition, through her strong support for NATO and its concept of collective defense, Turkey contributed to bringing the East-West confrontation to a peaceful end. Following the Cold War, Turkey, like other members of the international community, began to adapt herself to the new security environment. The significance of NATO, however, remained a constant in Turkish foreign, defense and security policy.
5.1. In the last twenty years, globalization and technological revolution started to serve not only for positive developments but also for hostile initiatives which negative impacts gained trans-boundary aspects that threaten international security. In this environment where the awareness of global risks and challenges has raised, synergy and joint efforts have become more vital components for encountering these threats. This new approach also became prominent in the new Strategic Concept of NATO.
6. Turkey, as a founding member of the UN, member of NATO and all European leading institutions, and a negotiating country with the EU for full membership, has pursued a proactive foreign policy to develop friendship and cooperation in its region and beyond.