Turkey’s NATO membership hits the headlines once again

Published 05.11.2014 01:50
Updated 05.11.2014 09:23

In parallel with the situation in Syria becoming more complicated in the past two years, Turkey's foreign policy and regional politics have been put under the microscope. The Gezi Park protests that were reported by international media outlets on the grounds of the arguments of a bunch of opponents of then Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have influenced negatively and narrowed the point of view of their readers of the Turkish government. The anti-government propaganda of the Gülen Movement, which is known as the parallel structure in Turkey, and with their coup attempt on Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, 2013, has clinched this negative perception. Ankara has been walking a rocky road dealing with illegal attempts to make a free and legitimately elected government fall on the inside, and on the other side Turkey stood against the Egyptian military coup and the oppression of anti-coup protestors as well as the Bashar Assad regime's massacres of civilians in Syria and Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip. The international system's negligence and recklessness regarding the humanitarian crises throughout the region could not drive Turkey into a corner. In fact, Ankara has frequently criticized the system itself and the Western countries that are the main backers of the system in question. These all together have turned Turkey into a target - its original and self-reliant approach to regional matters have given the circles, especially the ones favoring the international system's current form and principles, the hump. Correspondingly, Turkey's NATO membership has occasionally become a debate topic.

Following Washington's decision to act against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Syria, the international system has tried to put Ankara's feet to the fire to join the anti-ISIS coalition without questioning the contingency of the action plan under the pretense of the crisis in Kobani. Ankara has been concerned about the ongoing situation in the rest of Syria as well as Kobani. Ignoring the rest of Syria and the humanitarian crisis throughout the country that has been spilling over its borders is taking the easy way out and it will not solve the problem as a result, according to Ankara.

Still Turkey's Parliament passed a resolution to allow a possible military intervention in Iraq and Syria, to let foreign troops use Turkish bases and to conduct operations to fight ISIS. While Ankara has been maintaining negotiations with its partners on the action plan, its NATO membership has been brought to the agenda once again. Recently, several circles have criticized Turkey's position with regard to the Syrian crisis end with arguments intimidating its NATO membership. A number of articles that argue Turkey is not a reliable ally and suggesting that NATO should get rid of Turkey have been published.

But in the meantime, a wide range of pieces have been written in Turkey criticizing NATO's prioritizing the West's security matters and ignoring the ones in Turkey. As a matter of fact, Turkish people mostly have negative opinions of NATO. It is widely accepted that core NATO members were behind the coups in Turkish history. According to most of the Turkish public, NATO membership binds Turkey's independence and abilities, that is why it should be gotten rid of. Besides, some NATO public diplomacy analysts have warned that the trend in Turkey is worrying and a new communication strategy to promote NATO in Turkey is needed. If only a few obsessed Erdoğan opponents are taken seriously and not the Turkish public, the gap between Turkish people and the pact will broaden. Unless NATO members pay more attention to threats against Turkey and stop favoring the current lame system, they will lose Turkish people entirely.

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