NATO IN THE CAUCASUS AND TURKEY'S KEY POSITION

27/11/2016



What the Atlantic Union and EU plan to do in the Southern Caucasus remains a question of wonderment. The respondents to the question “what should be done” are, in this regard, the neighbour and ally Turkey, and the only Western military force in Georgia, the United States. Since the Clinton administration, the US has adopted a stance in favour of Georgia’s admission to NATO. The Georgians both trust the United States and have received strategic support from them. The solution to the security problem faced by Georgia and the entire Caucasus lies in the need to control any further crises and the need to restrict the possibility of more conflict. In this regard, it is important to seek an answer to this question: “What would NATO do from a political and military point of view to maintain the security and stability of the Southern Caucasus in the future?” As a power struggle emerges in the region regarding energy following the east-west conflict, the matter of geopolitical control in the region surrounding Russia, Iran, Turkey and Europe in general has come to the forefront. In this regard, the US has acquired supporters for itself in line with its own interests in the region. It was clear since as early as 1991 that these supporters would include Georgia and Azerbaijan. The European Union, on the other hand, was not able to create a policy regarding either the Caucasus or the Middle East. Meanwhile, Turkey was excluded from the EU’s Security and Defence Policy because of Greece and Cyprus and therefore prevented it from contributing to operations in some of Europe’s most important crisis zones. But in spite of this, the EU has still been able to show its effect in the Southern Caucasus, and in particular in trade routes in Georgia. A solution to the security problem is vital in order to attain political integration. In this regard, alongside the United States, Turkey is an irreplaceable ally in NATO. This will continue to hold true even after Georgia is included in NATO. Anyone wanting to organise an operation in the military sense in the Black Sea or Caucasus will have to have the support of Anatolia and the Straits. Based on an understanding of collective defence, NATO is able to put Turkey’s military force in the Black Sea into action. NATO has no political or logistical difficulty from this point of view. Bulgaria and Romania too are in support of Europe here. It is possible for NATO to exhibit a presence in Georgia through Turkey. But there will be a cost to Turkey for its support and participation. However much Ankara might support Georgia’s independence and territorial integrity, it is avoiding a conflict of any kind with Russia. Turkey’s policy is to get along with its neighbours within NATO and to keep its own regional interests under observation. Whether or not Turkey accepts Georgia’s request for NATO membership depends on its observation of its own security interests. Washington has, in the past, acquired certain experiences with the use of airports and sea ports in Turkey. In Cyprus, in the Aegean, in the Caucasus and in Iraq, the ally Turkey will be following its interests strongly. From a geostrategic point of view, Turkey is a key country and has a strong hand. For this reason, the emphasis made by allies on the “European-Atlantic union of values” will not be sufficient for Ankara to be convinced. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Lothar Rühl, Germay, 8 September 2008
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