Turkeys Relations With Nato

Essay add: 30-03-2016, 11:20   /   Views: 5


Analysis of the literature indicates that there is a large literature on Turkey's approach towards the EU- NATO. This paper analyzes the evolution of the European security startegy from the mid 1990s until present and, Turkey's approach about this strategy.

In the first section, the evolution of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and cooperation with NATO will be analyzed. In the second section, the institutional structure of EU's security initiatives with 1991 Maastricht Treaty will be analyzed. In the third section section, the situation of Turkey within this structure will analyzed together withTurkey's attitudes, particularly its desire to participate in European security mechanism as well as EU's response is analyzed.

Turkey has supported from the beginning the development of the European Security and Defense Policy. This also was held a place in demands of Turkey's active support to EU peace operations with its declaration of willigness to contribute to EU with both civilian and military assets and capabilities.

Turkey, as a European Ally in NATO, made significant contributions for protecting peace and stability in Europe during the Cold War, and subsequently supported the development of European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) within NATO, as well as the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) of the EU. In that line, Turkey's efforts were based on the its rights and status in the Western European Union (WEU). In 1999 Cologne Summit, after the duties of WEU were transformed to the EU and its function was lost, problems began for Turkey. Its concerns were related with exclusion from EU's security and defense mechanism and loss of its right of voice in security matters caused Turkey to create difficulties for EU and used its right for veto in NATO in order to prevent ESDP to become an autonomous formation apart from NATO. Then problems were solved by two sides and Turkey has participated in almost all operations made by the EU under the Berlin plus arrangements or autonomously.

This paper argues that Turkey's negative behaviours caused difficulties between two organizations that make impossible for EU to have assured access to NATO planning capabilities since it was agreed to transform a huge part of WEU's duties to EU; and it was also agreed to merge WEU with EU with 1999 Cologne Summit. Along with Turkey's willingness to make contributions for EU's peace operations after the problem was solved, will be our other contribution for this work.

In essence, Turkey believes that resolution for contemporary threats requires coherence and cooperation. Developing close relationship among the milestone of the European security system and the Trans-Atlantic security system is necessary for an integrated European security architecture. A common strategic viewpoint between the EU and NATO is needed for overcoming future diffuculties on security matters.

I. The Evolution of Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)  in Europe

European countries were doubtful if the disaster of World War I and World War II would happen again or not from the beginning of the European Movement, launched at The Hague in 1948. Because of that reason, there has been a strong desire demonstrated by countries to have their own foreign policy and their own military and defense institutions.

In addition, the establishment of NATO in 1949 had created a discomfort situation among Western European countries and caused European powers to compose a new security and defense system for themselves apart from NATO.

Therefore, following the Schuman Plan in 1950, which was the first step towards Western European integration and after that it became the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, the efforts began for establishing the European Defense Community.Also, increase of the impacts of Cold War brought the needs to explore the possibility to be able to rearm Western Germany and include it into Western Alliance.

Later the Pleven Plan came in 1950 for a united Western European Army with German contingents which were considered as French alternative to the inclusion of German units within NATO.

The Pleven Plan was the first document for the proposal of European Defense Community, but the UK refused to become involved. Finally, the French National Assembly refused to ratify European Defense Community project, and then the failure of this project in 1954 lead to the fall of European Political Community as well. In its place, the Western Union Organization of 1948 was brought up to date and transformed into Western European Union which served as an important means for Germany's rearmament and its parallel entry into NATO.

In 1950s, Western European states were engaged in restablishing their nations by taking measures to ensure their security against Soviet Union, and removing the dynamics which can lead to future conflicts among Western Bloc. Especially France and Britain tried to find the way for Germany to be taken under control. Providing of a ground to establish security among Westerners and to be able to take Germany under control, were two major goals because of which France suggested Germany that the production of coal and steel, which was used in arm industry and war, should be taken under control.

Following the acceptance of this suggestion by Germany, The Treaty of European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which formed the base of European Union, was signed in 1951.In addition, The Treaty of European Atomic Energy was made in 1957 only to use atomic energy as a source of energy for peaceful goals.

These early efforts were for establishing a European military organization, thus the following demands were presented by European countries: European states wanted to increase the speed of integration including a defense element and at the same they recognize for many purposes the necessity of US-led alliance. These demands sometimes created tension among alliances.

Until 1973, WEU provided the ground for coorperation between European countries and supported for the membership of Federal Germany to the NATO. Security issues were also held by WEU in that term, and until 1984, WEU worked in harmony with the NATO. By the signing of the Rome Treaty in 1984, WEU began to act more actively, carrying on some mission such as involvement in crisis' areas outside the Europe. The idea of composing a new European Common Security and Defense Policy emerged at that time for reducing its dependency to the USA in security matters. In 1984 Rome Treaty, member states made a declaration in accordance to which WEU was considered as an organization responsible for European security beside the NATO.

In addition, European powers presented the idea of “Common Foreign Security and Defense Policy” for the first time with European Single Act in 1987. Together with Maastricht Treaty in 1991, the creation of Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) has also become one of the important objectives of EU.

In the Cold War period, Europe had not the necessary capacity to provide its own security, and the US as a member of NATO had provided security for Europe .Thus during Cold War period, security demands were met with the NATO and the WEU. With the collapse of Soviet Union, international system became unstable. As a result, within NATO structure, European powers began to think about composing a European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI).

II. Evolution of European Security initiatives with 1991 Maastricht Treaty

Turkey has been a member of the NATO since 1952, an associate member of the WEU since 1992 and associate member of the EU since 1963. Treaty of Maastricht in 1991 created the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)  for the framework of common defense policy. The CFSP aimed retaining peace and strengthening international peace. In order to do this; European Union decided to develop its own military capabilities.

With 1991 Maastricht Treaty, European community's political interests suggested the development of European Security Identity (ESDI), and the enhancement of the role of the WEU for European security. And WEU tried to be integrated into European Union for creating a common defense platform in the future.

The WEU was also defined as a part of EU in defense matters and used for strengthening the European pillar of the NATO that was clarified in Petersberg Declaration of June 1992.  It was also agreed to establish an army unit within.In addition, WEU's mission was redefined under the Petersburg Declaration that suggested WEU's goal was to pursue ‘soft security' missions like peacemaking, humanitarian aid with defining the way of crisis management and involvement.

Within that progress, developing relations between the WEU-NATO-EU affected European security debates especially after 1996 meeting of NATO's foreign ministers with the development of Combined Joint Task Force idea. In addition; Petersberg missions and NATO's new structure provided a new political and military guidance to NATO after 1997. After that, the Alliance adopted a main document, that was named after Berlin Communique, on the development of ESDI and NATO-WEU relationship. The Berlin communique introduced the notion of NATO assets in support of European defense operations led by WEU, and support by NATO for defense planning in the WEU framework.

Participation of the WEU's associate members in the EU decision-making process for EU-led Petersberg operations became a problem with 1997 Amsterdam Treaty because the Petersberg tasks were moved into the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) for the framework of EU. In that context, due to its geographical and political position in the EU, Turkey's associate membership status within the WEU, as well as its participation in operations conducting by EU became important.

Before Bosnian War and Kosova Crisis occur, EU had always thought about its own security and defense system apart from NATO. But these crises changed their thoughts. The relationship between the EU and the WEU was strengthened and it increased the EU's responsibility for peacekeeping and humanitarian issues by coorperating with Petersberg tasks.

Until 1998, the ESDI was the main theme of NATO, and as a key figure in European security. In 1998 Saint Malo Summit, France and UK decided to increase EU's defense role and wanted WEU to be as an independent institution and could make autonomous actions by using autonomous European forces because of failure in Kosova crisis. Thus St Malo Declaration showed their demand for the first time to try to develop its own military capabilities outside the NATO.

With 1999 Cologne and Helsinki Summits, the EU introduced its involvement in the crises areas without getting any helping from NATO and also ‘European Military Forces” was composed. Thus the EU could intervene into the crises area and European Council advanced the Common Security and Defense Policy with emphasizing on its autonomous capacity for taking decisions while launching EU-led military operations in response to international crises. On the other hand, if it is needed, EU could use the NATO assests in any of its operations according to 1999 Washington Summit. In addition to Helsinki Summit's decisions, WEU's Petersberg missions have been integrated into EU to provide security and maintain international peace.

Helsinki Summit of December 1999 became a turning point in EU-Turkey relations, regarding EU's security. European Council took a decision that avoided Turkey's entry to EU's enlargement process in contrast it accepted Turkey's eligibility for membership. At behind that reason, there was perception about decreasing of the military threat after Cold War period and Turkey was not seen as “European” any more. 

After an intergovernmental conference of EU ministers was held in March 1997, there was a desire to support the fusion of WEU with EU; however Britain and many other member states refused it.In Cologne Summit in 1999, the resistance of oppositions who were against the closure of WEU was broken, it was agreed to transform a huge part of WEU's duties to EU; and it was also agreed to merge WEU with EU. As a result, the duties of WEU were transformed to the EU and its function was lost. Thus, following the Cologne and Helsinki Summits, the term “ESDI” was replaced by “ESDP”.

In 1996 Berlin Summit, the European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI) was accepted as the European pillar of the Alliance, and was repeated in 1999 Washington Summit again. As a result, NATO would support the development of the ESDI within the alliance by making avaliable its assets and capabilities to the WEU, and the creation of Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTF) enabled the WEU to use NATO forces as it was defined in EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy. At the Washington Summit, Heads of State and Government also decided to develop the “Berlin-Plus” arrangements.

In 2000, Feira Summit made arrangements for allowing non-EU NATO members and other countries, that were EU accession candidates, in order to contribute to the EU military crises management. In that sense, Turkey's coorperation with EU became an essential task.

According to that arrangement, the EU would address the participation of non-EU NATO members and other countries that were candidates for the EU accession before deciding on a military option. If they wish to do so, the non-EU NATO members would participate in operations.

In 2001 Laeken Summit, they decided to compose a ‘European Army' because the EU member states did not have a standing army. Europe's need for new military technologies was realized because they were dependent to US in operational mean. American presence in Europe and NATO's position as the leading defense organization in Europe were the serious issues.Thus direct relations between NATO and the EU began in January 2001 for NATO-EU strategic partnership.

III. Turkey's position within the EU and the NATO

Throughout the Cold War, NATO was represented as the main stone of Western identity. But, in the post cold war era, European Union was shown as being a part of West. In that sense, EU membership and involvement its security and defense structure was vital for Turkey to create its Western identity. At the same time, European Union have sought to use Turkey as a military-security tool because of its importance in operational senses.

After NATO members composed ESDI in 1996, they declared that EU could make military operations by WEU with using NATO's assets and capabilities when NATO did not wish to participate in these operations. That was called by also “Combined Joint Task Force”. In that time, Turkey's participation for these operations was essential.

On the other hand, membership and associate partnership in WEU were introduced in order to involve non-EU members through security matters. The non-EU NATO members such as Turkey, Iceland and Norway became associate members of WEU in 1992, and they affected the decision making process. Turkey could participate in all WEU's decisions making procedures and make suggestions. But in 1998 St Malo Summit, the EU declared the idea of creating their own autonomous military forces and capabilities. After Kosovo war, American leadership within NATO and EU's desperation forced EU to compose such a formation. Then with 1999 Cologne Summit, the EU created European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). While European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI) was under the framework of NATO, ESDP was determined as an institution of EU. In 1999 Helsinki Summit, ESDP's military capacity, that was planned for the future, was introduced.

In addition, NATO's Washington Summit in 1999 introduced New Strategic Concept. Within that new strategy, the idea of developing ESDP within NATO structure, introduced firstly in 1996 Berlin Summit, was re-empasized.

With the new concept of NATO; its response forces, the situation of Turkey in the NATO structure, Turkey's veto right and its effects in the process of European Union's operations were debated for a long time. Turkey concerned about the probability of its exclusion from European Union and, as a related issue, opposed Berlin Plus Agreement in 2004.

The status of associate membership and the position of Turkey in WEU went through a positive way from the beginning until 1999. From 1999 onward, developments in the EU dominated the agenda and changed the perceptions of the WEU member states about the role of the WEU. According to the document on associate membership of the WEU, Turkey would participate in all the meetings of the WEU Council, of its working groups with subsidiary bodies; also take part, on the same basis as full members, in WEU military operations to which they committed forces; be connected to member states' telecommunications system; and contribute to the organization's budget.

Turkey's position in WEU had three dimensions. First of all, the arrangements in the WEU provided Turkey, as an associate member, with de facto full membership. Secondly, these arrangements were based on the primacy of the Alliance, and it gave Turkey, as an ally, a privileged access to decision-making procedures. Finally the EU membership has had a limited effect on the status of members in the WEU. These three conclusions were important for understanding how Turkey perceived the EU's initiatives on the ESDP.

With 2000 Nice Summit, WEU was finally endorsed through EU. At that time, problems began for Turkey.Because Turkey had been an active player in European security and the WEU was an important organization for Turkey's existence for security matters after cold war era. With this context, Turkey had tried to develop its  “associate membership” status in the WEU. 

And now, Turkey could not draw benefit from its rights within WEU. So Turkey reacted to that situation, and used its right for veto in NATO in order to prevent ESDP to become an autonomous formation apart from NATO.

So, Turkey emphasized on NATO decision in 1999 which introduced members of NATO could intervene the situation in which EU wants to use NATO's assests and capabilities. Because EU could use these assets only if NATO members agree on it by unanimity. In addition, EU's involvementin any military operation was possible only in the situation where NATO does not want to involve. In another word, first voice was belonging to NATO for intervention in any crises.

From 1999 until 2002, Turkey had problems with EU in terms of participation into ESDP mechanism. In 2001, Ankara document was signed between Turkey, the UK and the US for defining the modalities of participation of non-EU NATO countries in ESDP, and in 2001 Laeken Summit, the EU realized that they had to work in harmony with NATO but developed its own capabilities while bringing NATO's support for its assests and capabilities. From that time, Turkey's importance was realized. Turkey was the only associate member to establish Customs Union with the EU without having full membership status, and the EU has tried to bring it into new decision making process.

In 2002, NATO and the EU made an arrangement and declared that Turkey could participate in military operations made by EU, using NATO assets and capabilities,  if Turkey wishes. In addition, Turkey could participate into military operations that are made by EU's own military capabilities, if EU invites.

According to these arrangements, Turkey would not prevent EU's access to NATO's assests and capabilities but this accession would be depend upon all NATO member's decisions with unanimity.

On the other hand, the most important framework for the EU- NATO relations was Berlin Plus Agreement that was signed in 17 March 2003 and was a milestone in the relations of two organisations.  This framework of relations had built upon NATO's Washington Summit in 1999 and the decisions of the European Council in December 2000 as well as the EU-NATO joint declaration of 16 December 2002.In 2002 at Brussels European Summit endorsed 2001 Ankara document with some changes and it became “Nice Implementation Document” that opened the way for NATO-EU joint declaration of December 2002 for establishing of strategic partnership. EU-NATO joint declaration of 2002 had stated the EU assured access to NATO's planning capabilities for its own military operations and repeated the political principles of the strategic partnership with effective mutual consultation on the basis of equality for the decision-making process of the European Union and NATO with respecting for the interests of EU and NATO members states, along with principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

The EU has established a close relationship in which the non-EU NATO members, including Turkey, are involved for EU-led operations. This partnership was also about ensuring efficient crisis management and working together in order to set the best possible response to crises. For this purpose, the EU and the NATO agreed on mutual crisis advisory arrangements that are suitable for an efficient and rapid decision-making in each organisation in any possible crisis.

These arrengements also included EU access to NATO planning, NATO European command options, use of NATO assets, and capabilities. It also conducted the access of Europeans to the Alliance's command and planning when it has not appealed for national means.
Consequently, the EU could utilise NATO resources to conduct its operations.

In that point, Turkey's sensibility was considered by EU. In military operations that will be made by EU's own assets, if these operations are close to Turkey and related directly with Turkey's security interests, they would consult to Turkey.

On the other hand, in 2004, EU emphasized on civilian responses with introducing “Head Line Goal 2010”. This plan predicted composing Civilian Response Teams and Battle Groups until 2010 for EU's military intervention in the small scales.

In addition, European Gendarmerie Force (EUROGENDFOR) was composed in 2004 under the leadership of France, Spain, Italy, Holland and Portugal. Thus EU had its three military forces that were named after Civilian Response teams, Battle Groups, and European Gendarmerie Force as operational means.

After September 11 attacks, NATO composed NATO Immediate Response Forces that can react quickly against terrorist attacks. In that sense, NATO and EU have been acting separately in the operational means.

For the first time, the EU involved a military operation within ESDP toward Macedonia in 2003 in order to provide its peacekeeping mission there. Then EU again involved Bosnia-Herzegovina crisis with EUFOR in 2004. Despite the fact that its duties are restricted under Petersberg Declaration, EU involved providing peacekeeping missions in the crises areas.

With Lisbon treaty in 2009, peace building became the essential point for EU. In that sense, use of political, diplomatic, humanitarian, crisis response, economic and trade cooperation and civilian-military crisis management tools became EU's mediation assests.

For military missions, they tried to strengthen their efforts on capabilities as well as mutual collaboration. Past experiences also showed that they need more capabilities such as strategic airlift, helicopters, space assets and maritime control mechanisms.

In these sense, the EU needs Turkey's operational capacity. Turkey has a great importance for EU security because of its situation in NATO and its military capacity along with its geostrategical situation.

From Turkey's perspective, existence of Turkey's decisions about military operations within Petersberg Tasks is important because most crisis' areas that affect European security are situated around Turkey. Thus Turkey was not only a member of NATO but also an actor that can affect the balance of European security matters.

Turkey also has a great modern and well-educated army along side its well-trained structure that can affect the route of EU military operations. Beside, Turkey has experience on low-intensity conflicts in its region. For that reasons, EU needs Turkey in operational means.

In addition, Turkey's geostrategical position enable it to make strategic foreign policy decisions in its region. Turkey's involvement through Balkan peninsula, Black Sea, Russia, South Caucacus, Central Asia, Arab-Israeli Conflicts, Iraq, Iran and Middle East was derived from its geographical position. This multi involvement through these region also is an advantage for EU, and the reason for their demands to include Turkey in EU's security mechanisms.

IV. Turkey's Contribution to EU-led Peace Operations

Turkey has affected NATO-EU relations in a positive way with signing a set of frameworks for coorperation. Letting the EU use of NATO assets, Turkey firstly helped for Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict, after Kosovo and Afghanistan conflicts.Since 2006, there is a framework for Turkey's participation in EU-led crisis management operations provided by a bilateral agreement between the EU and Turkey which is introduced in Article 37 of Treaty on European Union.

Turkey helped the EU in seven missions including ongoing peacekeeping operation conducted under the ‘Berlin plus' arrangements like EUFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina.Also Turkey joined the European Union's military operation in Macedonia (Concordia) while it has participated in the European Union Police Mission in Macedonia (EUPOL Proxima),and is continuing to contribute to EUPM, the EU-led police mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Moreover, through its participation in UN-led operations such as UNIFIL in Lebanon, ISAF in Afghanistan, and the counter-piracy naval Combined Task Force 151 in the Gulf of Aden, Turkey isalso working side by side with EU Member States, and in support of parallel EU-led operations such as Operation Atalanta.


After dissolution of Soviet Union, the balance of power changed. With that development, states began to recompose their security and defense policies. These new formations also caused the instutitions of Western Alliance to reshape themselves.

NATO also was one of them and it had a transformation period after 1990s. With instutitional reforms, NATO refreshed itself. But Balkan crises showed that EU needs NATO in operational senses and needs for NATO to continue its leader position in crises areas.

On the another hand, EU tried to compose a military formation with an autonomous army apart from NATO from Maastricht Treaty in 1993.In that sense, EU tried to make some arrangements but realized that its dependence on NATO. With Kosovo disaster, EU again realized that they had to create a security and defense formation apart from NATO. And 1998 St Malo Summit became the main stone of their idea. By time, it was seen that NATO controlled EU strategies on these matters in operational means.

On the other hand, the issue of non-EU NATO members is a problem between two organizations. Turkey had a great importance in that problem. Turkey is important for the policies of both two institutions. Turkey's situation in NATO, its military capacity and its geostrategical location made Turkey such as an important actor for them.

So Turkey has a special position in the issue of EU-NATO military-security cooperation. Turkey's behavior caused difficulties between two organizations that make it possible for EU to have assured access to NATO planning capabilities. Turkey's acquisition of the rights due to its associated membership status in the WEU became a problem. With Turkey's involvement, ESDP mechanism can be locked and it means NATO's dominance in security matters.

In that sense, Turkey has an institutional role in the Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy. Its significant military capabilities and geographical position determines Turkey's strategic importance for the EU in post Cold War era. In short, Turkey's inclusion into EU system brings some benefits for the Union's foreign and security policies through Turkey's capabilities and its ties with the regions around it.  On the other hand, its exclusion would be risky because of Turkey's ability to influence EU military operations and decisions with its rights veto in NATO Council.

Article name: Turkeys Relations With Nato essay, research paper, dissertation