Turkey which claim to be regional power need effective air defence system because it has threats or potential threats from its Middle East neighbors and Greece in the Aegean Sea. So, Turkey had to purchase the air defence system from outsite because it isn’t able to produce its national system in short time. In this context, Turkey’s choice of buy S-400 missiles from Russia was correct policy! First, it is important measure to show Turkish independent foreing policy as a NATO member. Turkey is one of the most important state in NATO which have high military contribution after the US. The alliance between NATO and Turkey had mutually interests since the past and The US – Turkey relations developed under NATO alliance because Turkey was important strategicly for Pentagon which has high capacity to influence government. Turkey was side with the US through NATO in the bipolar world system. Turkey completed almost all duties and responsibilities in NATO but didn’t seen same reflects from the US and Europe. Contrary, situantions from the past like the Johnson Letter, arms embargo, and putting sack over Turkish soldier’s head in demonstrated that attiude the US to the Turkey. Recently, the US support to YPG/PYD/PKK in Syria which are terrorist organizations as enemy of Turkey, was against “alliance”. In this conditions, is only Turkey’s decision to buy S-400 missiles against NATO? No!
In the security perspective NATO’s project of “Missile Shield” is flop for the Turkey. The goal of “Missile Shield” is protect member countries of NATO and Turkey’s role was fundamental geographically to attain the goal. Air Defence System of NATO which place on Turkish territory to protect to the Western countries but it hasn’t capability to defend all Turkish territory because of geographical position of Turkey. Turkey still had not an effective air defence system after despite have a “Missile Shield” in its own territory. That is one of the remarks of NATO’s insufficient responsibilities toward the Turkey. Later on, Turkey’s pursuit of Air Defence System maintained and Turkish political and security elites wanted to fulfill the need in NATO. The US and the Europe didn’t respond Turkey’s demand of purchasing to “Patriot Missiles” and “Eurosam Systems”. Under that conditions Turkey’s move to Russia for S-400 missiles is meaningful. NATO obliged Turkey to buy missiles outside from the alliance. Also Turkey firstly tried to buy air defence missiles in NATO and then applied to China and lastly turned to Russia. It express that Turkey’s foremost goal is to have an effective Air Defence System rather than a political shift. Also Turkey exhibited its determination and it was a strong foreing policy stance with its relatively limited capability. However, it is not mean “Turkey should turn its face to Russia, China or Iran.” Some academics, analysts or journalist defends that statement and also Turkish public opinion. It would be a nightmare scenario. The reason that the NATO is still the most powerful military organization in the world and if Turkey withdraw from NATO will lose partial power of militarily, technology and its deterrence capacity. Also Turkey and The US have long time relationships under NATO and the pursuit of new alliances or strategic partnership would be a unclear adventure for Turkey because China is in the economic competition and Russia is in the politic and military rivalry with the US. Lastly, Iran is already enemy of the US. Within this scope, a possible shift from NATO to other side would affect negatively Turkey’s economic and political affairs. It is not hard to predict when base on today’s currency rates and some political conflicts among Turkey and Europe. Aslo there is no clear desire from mentioned states to cooperation with Turkey as a alliance or partnership so the notion of withdraw from NATO is no a realistic in the circumstances.
On the other hand security is the top matter in the international arena and especially for Turkey where is in the hot region and any security flaw can damage its national interets. Turkey and Greece have some interets in the Aegean Sea and Greece has plans and intolarable desires which may violate Turkey’s interets and independence. The situation of alliance in NATO limits Greece and Turkey’s act in Aegean and provide a relative stability. That two countries could have tension in the Aegean Sea without NATO membership of Turkey and hence NATO could be against Turkey according to its collective self-defense principle. Another issue in Aegean and Mediterranean is Cyprus. If Turkey exit from NATO the Greek Populated Southern Cyprus would be member of NATO as a whole Cyprus and that issue would create new problems with South Cyprus, Greece and consequently with NATO. Do Turkey prefer become enemy with NATO which is most powerful military organization in the world? The answer is absolutely no!
Another thing is Turkey’s perspective on western foreing policy beliefs after the republic. In this sense the membership of NATO accord traditional foreing policy principle of Turkey. The Turkey turned its face to West from the beginings and membership of NATO shows that Turkey still has a place in the West and should protect that. A shift from NATO can damage Turkish democracy and some Western values and increase to authoritarianism in the state administration. So Turkey should be in NATO but should follow its own sovereign foreign policy in the direction of national interests. In this context, the Turkey’s decision of purchasing S-400 missiles from Russia is a well step. Aslo Turkey should use to Russia as a balancer actor against NATO within the bounds of possibility and thus it can increase its influence in NATO. Turkey should protect its alliances but if we think to short history of Turkey-NATO relations, Turkey should not compromise anymore.
Egehan Çimen / TESA Siyaset Masası Araştırmacı Yazarı
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