II. Turkey's and NATO’s views on current issues of the Alliance

Turkey and NATO

Turkey has been a staunch Ally of NATO and considers the Alliance as the linchpin of the Transatlantic ties and Euro-Atlantic security. NATO is known as the most successful defense alliance in the history. The new Strategic Concept that was approved by all Allies at the Lisbon Summit held in November 2010 proves once again the high capacity of the Alliance to adopt itself to evolving conditions. Turkey is a member of NATO since 1952 and we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of this membership in 2012. Moreover, the Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, the founding document of NATO, that refers to collective defense constitutes a valuable security guarantee for Turkey as well as for other Allies. NATO as a unique forum for Euro-Atlantic security provides Turkey an opportunity to put forward her views and expectations vis-a-vis international security issues and to have a strong impact on transatlantic initiatives.

On the other hand, Turkey is a valuable asset for NATO. Turkey assumed the responsibility to protect southeastern border of the Alliance during Cold War period. As a result of her proactive foreign policy and contributions provided to crisis management and peace-keeping missions, Turkey’s role within NATO constantly increased since the end of the Cold War. With its predominantly Muslim population, Turkey constitutes a valuable asset with its “hard” and “soft power” capacity for geographies where the Alliance carries out operations. The comprehensive contributions that Turkey provides to NATO’s missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Afghanistan have showed her will to mobilize her capacity to this end.

Turkey’s membership to NATO is an integral part of her global identity. Turkey keeps on contributing to NATO’s missions and operations in a comprehensive and active way in the scope of the importance that NATO and Turkey present for each other. Turkey maintains its position within NATO by protecting its national interests as well as supporting the solidarity within the Alliance.

Turkey mobilizes its “soft power” by means of using its deep historical ties with populations and countries in the wide geography where NATO acts. This matches up with the action plan of NATO defined in the new Strategic Concept that was approved at 2010 Lisbon Summit. In this document, “partnership based on cooperation” has become one of the fundamental tasks of the Alliance. “The partnership based on cooperation”, in fact, constitutes one of the main principles of Turkish foreign policy since decades. Thanks to the proactive foreign policy that has been speeded up in the last years, Turkey has turned into one of the most powerful states in terms of its potential on this area.

Turkey proceeds to take part in missions and operations on collective defense and crisis management operations and missions within NATO. Her strong army (together with her increased civilian means and capabilities) enables Turkey to contribute more to the NATO’s efforts to provide international security. In this regard, Turkey offers its civilian and military capabilities to Afghanistan and it has introduced the most comprehensive foreign aid program of its history to this country. This underlines the priority it gives to Afghanistan while showing its capacity and will to take part in collective efforts of the Alliance.

1. NATO’s Transformation

Turkey, a staunch Ally of NATO, considers the Alliance as the cornerstone for security of Euro-Atlantic region of which she is an integral part.

In the post-Cold War era, military threats of conventional nature have diminished to a considerable extent. Yet, on the other hand, non-traditional, asymmetric security risks and threats, such as terrorism, regional instabilities, separatist and ethnic nationalism, fundamentalism, organized crime, drug and human trafficking, mass migration, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means and cyber-terror have dominated the strategic landscape. Today terrorism constitutes one of the gravest challenges to international community as well as to NATO itself.

While the nature of risks and threats, as well as the methods needed to counter them have changed, the core objective, and indeed main function of the Alliance, namely collective defense, remains unaltered. In this context, NATO keeps its indispensable nature as the primary forum for transatlantic cooperation. The Alliance is the organization of first choice in supporting and developing security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region.

In recognition of the need to adapt itself to post Cold war realities, NATO has for some time been undergoing a comprehensive transformation process. The basic elements of this process were reflected in the Strategic Concepts of 1991, 1999 and lastly in the new Strategic Concept of 2010. This is a process of both internal and external adaptation. On one hand, NATO undergoes its forces through a comprehensive modernization process to preserve its collective defense and crisis response capabilities. On the other hand, the Alliance with the perception of “security based on cooperation” reinforces its present political and military partnership mechanisms and also frames new ones to develop its “soft power” capacity. The Partnership for Peace Program, Mediterranean Dialogue, NATO-Russia Council and NATO-Ukraine Commission, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, relations with Contact Countries and comprehensive dialogue and cooperation built with Afghanistan and Pakistan are concrete examples to demonstrate NATO’s determination to this end. Furthermore, NATO’s open door policy and its collaboration with other international organizations such as the UN, OSCE and the EU prevail as important elements on this area.

The internal reform of the Alliance to gain more effective capability, structure and working methods is also remarkable. With respect to fundamental principles and goals of NATO, all Allies recognize change and transformation as two processes that should constantly continue within the Alliance. New command and control structures, reforms of/within the NATO Agencies, initiatives to reinforce military capabilities, revision of crisis response processes of the Alliance, developments to render the working methods of NATO Headquarter more effective, activation of financial mechanisms of the Alliance constitute main elements of the integral transformation process. Turkey is a strong advocate of these efforts and has been an active contributor to all strands of transformation.

Transformation on defense area is also a continuing process within the Alliance. In this context, development of capability to encounter potential crises in a efficient and rapid way presents the main elements of transformation efforts within NATO. Indeed, the Alliance needs deployable and functional forces. One of the efforts to this end is to preserve the efficiency of the NATO Response Force (NRF) that was established with the decision taken by all Allies in 2002 as a response force to potential crises. Since its establishment, Turkey provides comprehensive contributions to NRF. Furthermore, Turkey broadly contributes to the NATO Force Structure by establishing a High Readiness Force Headquarter (NRDC-T) in Istanbul. NRDC-T is among the six Graduated Readiness Force (GRF) HQ’s within NATO. Turkey also hosts the Air Component Command Headquarters in Izmir as well as the Center of Excellence on Defence Against Terrorism in Ankara. Following preparations, as a result of the efforts on the revision of NATO Command Structure, Turkey is expected to maintain hosting one of the Headquarters of the Alliance.

2. Enlargement Process:

NATO’s “open door policy” is based upon Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, which states that membership is open to any “European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area”. Since 1949, NATO’s membership has increased from 12 to 28 countries through six rounds of enlargement. NATO’s new Strategic Concept, adopted at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, reaffirmed the Allies’ commitment to keep NATO’s door remains open to any European country in a position to undertake the commitments and obligations of membership, and contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area.

In accordance with Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, Turkey supports the idea that NATO’s door should remain open to European democracies willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership. In this regard, Turkey welcomed the accession of Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia to NATO as of 29 March 2004, which constitutes the largest-ever enlargement of the Alliance and believes that it will further contribute to the consolidation of security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region. Albania and Croatia, which were invited to join NATO at the Bucharest Summit in April 2008, formally became members when the accession process was completed on 1 April 2009. Accession of these new members is also instrumental in achieving our common goal of a free and united Europe.

The Republic of Macedonia has, like Albania and Croatia, been participating in the Membership Action Plan (MAP) for a number of years to prepare for possible membership. Turkey believes that membership of the Republic of Macedonia to the Alliance is of great importance for the maintenance of peace and stability in the Balkans and it should become a full member as soon as possible, since it has been acknowledged that it has fulfilled the necessary criteria for membership.

Turkey also welcomes the decision taken at Foreign Ministers Meeting on 3-4 December 2009 to invite Montenegro to join the Membership Action Plan (MAP). Montenegro has made substantial progress in reform, and continues to contribute actively to security in the region. In October 2010 it submitted its first Annual National Programme within the Membership Action Plan framework.

Turkey believes that the integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) into Euro-Atlantic structures is vital for sustainable stability not only in this country, but in Southeast Europe. The decision taken at NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting in Tallin in 2010 on inviting BiH to join the Membership Action Plan (MAP) is an important step in this direction. Moreover, Turkey believes that, we should adopt our approach to the realities on the ground. Hence, we are of the opinion that initiation of BiH’s MAP process has become a matter of urgency. We should then, as NATO and as Allies, help BiH to solve the property issue during its MAP cycle. As a reflection of our support, Turkish Embassy in Sarajevo has assumed the NATO Contact Point Embassy responsibility for the period of 2011-2012, as of last January.

3. Partnership Relations:

In line with the principle of indivisibility of Euro-Atlantic security, Turkey actively supports and participates in the Partnership mechanisms of the Alliance. Turkey believes that the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), since its establishment in 1997, has proven its value as a practical tool in enhancing relations, dialogue and co-operation between NATO and Partner countries as well as among Partners themselves. The Partnership for Peace (PfP) Program launched in 1994 has helped Partner countries cooperate with NATO in political and military matters through increased interoperability. Turkey believes that the PfP, while maintaining its basic principles such as the “indivisibility of security”, “self-differentiation”, “inclusiveness”, “transparency” and “open-endedness”, should remain dynamic and flexible in order to adapt to new challenges.

Turkey welcomed the Prague decision to upgrade cooperation with the EAPC/PfP countries. The idea of introducing issue-specific and result-oriented mechanisms for practical cooperation involving Allies and interested Partners, such as Partnership Action Plan has been an important roadmap for the future of partnership relations. The Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism (PAP-T), which was approved during the Prague Summit in November 2002, was the first example of issue-specific cooperation between the Allies and Partners. This mechanism was reviewed before the NATO Istanbul Summit of 28-29 June 2004, with the aim of invigorating its implementation. In addition, the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) is another manifestation of the Alliance’s determination to support Partner countries in their reform efforts.

At the 2004 NATO Istanbul Summit, the Alliance decided to take a number of steps to further consolidate the Euro-Atlantic Partnership. A document endorsed by Heads of State and Government regarding the refocusing and renewal of Partnership relations highlighted the enhancement of dialogue and practical cooperation, the promotion of democratic values and defence reform as priority areas in NATO’s relations with Partners. In addition, it was decided to put special focus on engaging with Partners in the strategically important regions of the Caucasus and Central Asia. In this context, NATO has agreed on improved liaison arrangements, including the assignment as the Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia of liaison officers for the two regions.

At the 2010 Lisbon Summit, the Allies declared their intent to develop a more efficient and flexible partnership policy by opening all cooperative activities and exercises to the partners, developing flexible formats to discuss security challenges and by better engaging with the partners across the globe. The new Strategic Concept, adopted at the summit, also offers partners around the globe “more political engagement with the Alliance, and a substantial role in shaping the NATO-led operations to which they contribute.”

Pursuant to the new Strategic Concept and the Lisbon tasking, “the Berlin Package” has been endorsed by NATO Foreign Ministers on 14-15 April 2011 in Berlin. This package consists of three guiding documents, namely “New Partnership Policy”, “Improving the Management of Partnerships (Toolbox)” and “Political-Military Framework (PMF) for NATO-led PfP operations”. The new policy, based on “the Berlin Package”, prioritises strengthened consultations and substance-driven cooperation with partners. Turkey believes that this new policy, making engagement with partners more efficient, more pragmatic and more flexible, will be instrumental in further developing our partnerships.

In addition to its formal partnerships, NATO also cooperates with a range of countries which are not part of these structures. Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand, which share similar strategic concerns and key Alliance values, are referred to as “Contact Countries” or “global partners”. Some of these countries are troop contributors to NATO-led operations or contribute to these operations in other ways. In case of Afghanistan, Australia and New Zealand contribute troops to ISAF Operation, whereas Japan funds various development projects without being involved militarily.

As a manifestation of its support to NATO's Partnership policies, Turkey assumes the role of NATO Contact Point Embassy in Pakistan and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Turkey also supports the establishment of further contacts and increased cooperation by NATO with third countries outside the Euro-Atlantic area (Contact Countries), as appropriate, and on a case-by-case basis. In support of Partnership activities, the Turkish PfP Training Centre (BIOEM), established in Ankara on 29 June 1998, conducts courses and seminars with the goal of providing strategic and tactical training and education to the military and civilian personnel of Partner countries in accordance with NATO/PfP overall concepts, general principles and interoperability objectives. The Turkish PfP Training Centre is open to all Partners as well as the Mediterranean Dialogue and ICI countries. For up-to-date information and statistics on the Turkish PfP Training Centre please see www.bioem.tsk.tr/

4. Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative

North Atlantic Council initiated Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) in 1994. It currently involves seven non-NATO countries of the Mediterranean region: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. MD is open to countries in the Mediterranean area and directly involved in Mediterranean-related processes.

The Dialogue reflects the Alliance’s view that security in Europe is closely linked to security and stability in the Mediterranean. It is an integral part of NATO's adaptation to the post-Cold War security environment, as well as an important component of the Alliance’s policy of outreach and cooperation. In line with this firm belief and being a Mediterranean country itself, Turkey strongly supports NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue. Main objectives of the MD are to contribute to regional security and stability and to achieve a better mutual understanding between NATO and the MD countries.

The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), which was launched at 2004 NATO Istanbul Summit, constitutes the institutional framework for the relations between NATO and the four Gulf countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates). We are pleased to see that Saudi Arabia and Oman have also shown interest to the ICI. This initiative is not only aimed at enhancing interoperability among NATO and the Gulf Countries, but also further strengthening security and stability in the Middle East. Terrorism, energy security, piracy, trafficking in small arms and light weapons and proliferation of nuclear weapons are the main areas of common interests between the ICI countries and NATO.

5. NATO-Russia Relations:

NATO-Russia relations constitute an important dimension of Euro-Atlantic security. In a complex and rapidly changing security environment, NATO and Russia need each other more than ever and their partnership means a lot not only for Euro-Atlantic region, but beyond. Therefore, further development and diversification of relations between NATO and Russia is of great importance.

After the end of the Cold War, NATO has initiated dialogue with Russian Federation with the objective of contributing to the creation of a common space of peace, security and stability in Euro-Atlantic region. In this regard, the Permanent Joint Council (PJC) which was created by 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act has paved the way for establishment of stability and cooperation in NATO-Russia relations. As a result of NATO’s intervention in Kosovo, Russian Federation suspended the cooperation under Permanent Joint Council (PJC).

In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, which underscore the need for concerted international action to respond to common threats, the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) was established to replace the PJC at Rome summit in 2002.

The 28 Allies and Russia work together as equal partners in the NATO-Russia Council (NRC). NRC is an important forum which remains available at all times for direct exchange of views on issues of mutual interest, such as Afghanistan, fight against terrorism, counter-piracy, missile defense, counter-narcotics and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The NATO-Russia Relations which were strained following the Russia’s military action in Georgia in early August 2008 has revived with the decision to resume formal ministerial-level meetings and practical cooperation in December 2009.

In the New Strategic Concept and Summit Declaration, adopted at the 2010 Lizbon Summit held on 20 November 2010, NRC leaders reiterated the importance of NATO-Russia dialogue and partnership and emphasized the objective of cooperation towards a true strategic partnership. “The Joint Review of 21st Century Common Security Challenges” endorsed at the NRC Lisbon Summit serves as a roadmap for diversifying and deepening the cooperation. Moreover, Theatre Missile Defense Cooperation was started for the development of a comprehensive Joint Analysis of the future framework. The allied leaders agreed on broadened transit arrangements through Russian territory for non-lethal ISAF goods in Afghanistan, moved to expand the counter-narcotics training and decided to task a development of an NRC Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund in 2011.

The NRC has convened at the ministerial level on 15 April 2011 in Berlin, on the sidelines of the NATO Foreign Ministers’ informal meeting. The issues high on the NRC agenda such as missile defense, terrorism, Afghanistan, and developments in Libya and North Africa were taken up at the meeting. NRC Ministers also decided to initiate the NRC Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund and approved an updated NRC Action Plan on Terrorism.

Turkey believes that constructive, cooperative and institutional relations between NATO and Russia are an essential component of peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. In view of the above, Turkey fully supports the activities of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC). Key areas of cooperation include the fight against terrorism, defense reform, military-to-military cooperation, counter-narcotics training of Afghan and Central Asian personnel, theatre missile defense/missile defense, crisis management, non-proliferation, airspace management, civil emergency planning, scientific cooperation and environmental security. Another area of cooperation on the agenda of NRC is the counter-narcotics training of personnel from Afghanistan and Central Asian countries. In this context, the Turkish International Academy against Drugs and Organized Crime (TADOC) organizes the training programmes.

6. NATO-Ukraine Relations:

Ukraine is the first of the Commonwealth of Independent States to join the Partnership for Peace in 1994. The 1997 Charter on a Distinctive Partnership set out principles and arrangements for the further development of NATO-Ukraine relations establishing the NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC). The NUC is an essential forum which provides opportunity for direct exchange of views on practical cooperation and issues of mutual interest, such as fight against terrorism, counter-piracy, cyber-defense and counter-narcotics.

In April 2005, the Allies and Ukraine launched an Intensified Dialogue on Ukraine’s aspirations to NATO membership and its reform process. In December 2008, NATO foreign ministers agreed to enhance opportunities for assisting Ukraine in its efforts to meet membership requirements, making use of the existing framework of the NUC and the development of an Annual National Programme (ANP). In this regard, NATO remains committed to assisting Ukraine for the implementation of reforms through the Annual National Plan (ANP). Ukraine has also proved to be an important contributor to Euro-Atlantic security in the framework of NATO-led operations.

The relations with NATO are high on the agenda of Ukraine, but the membership to the Alliance is a sensitive matter both for public opinion and political circles. In 2010, the newly elected government issued a law about internal and external affairs which forms the basis of the “non-bloc” status of the country. In accordance with this new policy, the new Ukrainian government decided to continue present operation with NATO within the framework of ANP to the extent that it contributes to the country’s own interest and Euro-Atlantic security, but takes Alliance membership for the country off the agenda.

Allied leaders meeting at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010 stated their respect for Ukraine’s policy of “non-bloc” status and welcomed the Ukrainian government’s commitment to pursue fully Ukraine’s Distinctive Partnership with NATO making use of the existing framework of the NUC. They also recalled that NATO’s door remains open to Ukraine and expressed their support for the ongoing reform process.

Turkey believes that the enhancement of cooperation between NATO and Ukraine will strengthen the security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region. Therefore, Turkey supports Ukraine’s efforts towards integrating with the Euro-Atlantic structures and developing closer relations with NATO. In this regard, Turkey attaches great importance to Ukraine’s ongoing reform efforts, particularly in the defense and security sectors, and respects Ukrainian government’s policy to remain as a “non-blocked” nation.