A NEW CENTO NEEDED

26/11/2016



Given the near hinterland and the near future of Turkey, many questions pose themselves. It is difficult to say that one of them is more significant than another. But it is certain that these questions become on burden on the country' agenda. Moreover, they will keep on being so. For example, it is difficult to state that there is a realistic or a defined frame on the bilateral ground in the Turkish-US relations, even though the tension which occurred in the first level of the last Gulf war was overcome in the bilateral relations of both countries. In spite of the fact that the two countries have a complete agreement on some issues, there is another fact which indicates that there is a conflict in the national interests. However, there is a significant detail here: The growing allergy in Turkey against the US is related to George W. Bush, not the US itself. In other words, the Turkish public opinion which is coined as "anti-American" indeed is the same sentiment of half of the people in the US. A similar case occurs in the Turkey-European Union relations, even maybe more so. The point that the accession negotiations has reached and the union' view on Turkey are not promising. Moreover, it is obvious that the process works against Turkey. The rising piety and nationalism poison the bilateral atmosphere. Europe is covered by the extremist right as a tsunami. Now that it seems "normal" what would be seen as "abnormal" in Europe. Having overthrown Haider in Austria for being a fascist, Europe now follows the path of Merkel and Sarkozy. The Turkey-EU relations, due to EU preference, move on a religious and racial centered ground. European Union' imposition of "privileged partnership" and "who will leave the table first" goes on, annoying many people all the way. For Turkey, the Cyprus issue is on critical grounds. In regard to the issue, Turkey has recently taken all the possible steps. Nevertheless, Southern Cyprus continues its effort to return to the conditions on the island of the pre-1974 era. If there is no dynamic transformation, the plight on the island will go on. Also the Aegean Sea issues may pop up in line with the Cyprus and EU issues even though they are currently not on the first page of the agenda. As a result, the Greece' all strategy in regards to Turkey is "to attract Turkey to European Union and force Turkey to surround itself without any concession at Greece' expense." As it is well-known, the Armenian issue is not possible to solve neither in the frame of law nor in frame of politics. At this time, Turkey has better and higher quality relations with Iran and Syria. Conversely, the two countries have very shaky relations with the US. This makes it difficult to make any projection for future. That is why, the atmosphere which is brought by the appear-to-be-healthy-and-persisting relations in Ankara' effort toward Damascus and Tehran may be suppressed in the near future. Along with this, the developments in Iraq and the rising approaches in regard to the issue prove that Iraq is going to pose the greatest problem. As for Turkey the stability of the Balkans, if not directly felt in a close range, is a critical issue as well, because Kosovo' independence –which is nowadays nothing but a matter of formality—will shake up all territories related to Turkey, and ahead of them is the Balkans. Given these circumstances, it can be said that the Turkish foreign policy is in dire need of a new breathing pipe. However, we should not ignore a fact: it should move to strengthen its current position and support its long-running preference, instead of developing "alternative relations to its relations with European Union and the US" or finding "a choice to its position in the modern world." As a matter of fact, we need to see that with exception of some extreme matters the European Union and the US are in full harmony although these two power centers are presented as contradictory or even conflicting choices to the Turkish public opinion. Turkey is a country which needs to continue to harmonize and contact its national processes in economy, politics, and security with the regional and global process. Turkey also needs to establish a sphere of regional stability, increasing the quality and quantity of the multi-national regional cooperation projects. In this frame, the 15 year old organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) has a significant position. In BSEC there are 12 member plus 12 observer countries. Having a total of 400 million populations, the Black Sea has a growing importance due to its position being on the energy production routes. The region' geopolitical codes may be altered if the regional resources go down to the Mediterranean Sea while bypassing Turkey, especially with the Burgaz-Dedeagac crude petroleum pipeline. Moreover, besides reducing the significance of the Turkish straits, the project has impacts on the prospective project to build a pipeline between Russia and Sumsun. The pipeline is supposed to be connected to Baku-Cayhan, which Russia sees as an assault on "its security system." In the next phase, having been tired of its efforts in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the US may turn to itself with the conformity of being the only super power. No doubt, such a situation will not result in Venezuela, Iran, and Libya being a threat to Washington. In search of an exit strategy from the crisis regions, after a continuous and effective existence in the said areas, the US may find a mechanism which will not put its and Israel' security in the Middle East at risk. As a matter of fact, the US' main necessity is not to move beyond the security of its bases and petroleum basins. For the US China has a higher priority, considering the insurgence in Iraq and the remaining of the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is too early to claim that Latin America becomes a source of concern for the US, but it is necessary for the US, while keeping up its routine in the Middle East, to define Beijing and Moscow as a higher priority in comparison to the past. So, in the security conference in Munich in February 2007, Vladimir Putin confronted the US and NATO on the ground that they had violated Russia' national interests. Lastly, he signed a resolution suspending Russia' role in a Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). This attitude is an obvious reaction to the US intention to deploy its missile shields in Poland and the Czech Republic. Certainly other moves will follow as a result of this move by Moscow. The number of Reasons is rising for the US to give a break in its stance in the Middle East or to tend for a fashion change, while keeping the essence the same. Turkey may move more sensitively on its eastern border to realize the main principle of its foreign policy and to put its relations with the power centers on its western border. Turkey may need a plan which will benefit from cooperation projects stretching from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea and from Mosul to Egypt and the past-experiences in the Balkans Pact and the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO). What is Cento? After the Balkan Treaty, Turkey moved to establish a security system in the Middle East also. The Middle East Security System draft was launched with the efforts of the US State Secretary John Foster Dulles. Visiting the Middle Eastern countries in May 25-27, 1953, Dulles stated that during his visit to Ankara the importance of a defense organization in the Middle East against the expansionism of the Soviets. Then, Turkey pushed for the idea and intensified its efforts for it. "The Bilateral Cooperation Treaty" was signed between Turkey and Iraq. With this treaty, the Baghdad Pact was established. According to the Pact, the two countries will not interfere with each other' internal affairs; disagreements will be solved in a peaceful manner; and the treaty will be open to the Arab League countries and all the countries related to the region' security. However, the treaty got negative reactions from other Arab states. The first reaction was from Egypt and Syria; both countries decided to cooperate, bypassing Iraq. But the US welcomed the pact, and Britain became a member of the pact on September 23, 1955. The pact gained strength by the membership of Britain. Concerned about the reaction from the Arab countries reaction, the US did not formally become a member but worked for empowering the pact, stating that it would give military and economic aid to the member states. Joining NATO and SEATO the Baghdad Pact caused more tension in the Turkish-Soviet relations. Moreover, with the exception of Iraq, Turkey' relations with other Arab countries began to follow a negative route. An insurrection took place in Iraq on July 14, 1958. After the insurrection the pact members, with exception of Iraq, and the US State Secretary of State meet in London in 1958. At the end of the meeting, the ministers decided to move the center of the pact to Ankara. On March 24, 1959, Iraq officially announced its withdrawal from the Baghdad Pact. Ankara became the center for the pact after the withdrawal of Iraq. The name for the pact was changed to the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) on August 18, 1959. CENTO conducted its first meeting in Washington, DC, on September 7-9, 1959. Cento tended to focus on economic, cultural, and technical cooperation issues among its members, even though it was established out of defense concerns. The US began to give more support to the organization. Continuing for 20 years more, the organization came to the edge of falling when Pakistan and Iran withdrew from it on March 12, 1979. Turkey stated on March 13, 1979 that it respected the two countries decision to withdraw from CENTO, the organization had de-facto lost its function, and that it would start to launch the necessary procedure for abolishing the provisions of the treaty. Thus, CENTO, which is considered to be a successor of the Baghdad Pact, drew to an end.
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