American-Turkish Relations Since the End of the Cold War | Middle East Policy Council
This entry discusses the history of modern Turkey from its formation in the aftermath of the Ottoman defeat in World War I —18 until the 21st century. For discussion of earlier history of the area, see Anatolia; Ottoman Empire. Turkey allowed Islamists not only to participate in elections but also to govern at the national level. According to the dominant ideology of the Greek state, all the people of Greece are, or should be, Greek. As a result, the existence of ethnic and national diversity in the country has….
Turkey’s Cold War with the US worsens
Greece was forced to pay compensation and to accept the adjustments made to its frontier. Another humiliation sovereign Greece faced was the installation of an international financial commission to oversee the repayment of its substantial external debts. Makarios survived, but the coup triggered the invasion of the northern part of the island by Turkey,…. He acknowledged the way in which opposition to the junta had brought together politicians of all political backgrounds by legalizing the Communist Party, which had been outlawed in He moved rapidly to legitimize….
And relations between them remained relatively stable, with solutions sought for problems related to…. But the larger and richer islands of Rhodes and Cos had submitted involuntarily….
On November 22 Wilson, as instructed, announced projected boundaries that ceded to Armenia most of the provinces of Erzurum, Trabzon, Van, and Bitlis. Already in the summer of , however, the new Ottoman Turkish government of…. Greek Cypriot losses of land and personal property in the occupied areas were substantial, and they…. The UN Security Council condemned the move and repeated its demand, first made in , that all foreign troops be withdrawn from the Republic of Cyprus. Renewed UN peace-proposal efforts in and were unsuccessful, and in May a constitution for the….
The conflict upset the precarious international balance of power just prior to World War I by revealing the weakness of Turkey and, within Italy, unleashed the nationalist-expansionist sentiment that guided government policy in the following decades. Within the empire, administrators, soldiers, merchants, and artisans moved in pursuit of their professions.
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Where war, famine, or disease left regions underpopulated, settlers were moved in from elsewhere…. Both Serbia and Greece took advantage of the displacement by war or expulsion of many former Turkish landowners. The worsening humanitarian situation brought calls for international military intervention, but…. Efforts by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to fund and arm rebels became increasingly public in late and The United States, which had been reluctant to send weapons for fear of inadvertently arming radical jihadists who would someday turn against the West, eventually started a….
But the historical example in turn gains value from the fact that its course was guided by the practical application of the theories here set forth.
Marked coolness in the relationship between the two regional powers since late has highlighted the importance of the post-Soviet space where the two states have opposing views. Beyond Syria and the Balkans, there was never an agreement on how to deal with the conflicting issues of North and South Caucasus, Central Asia and now Ukraine. In each of the cases, incompatible visions resulted in extending support to opposing factions. In Georgia, during its brief conflict with Russia in , Ankara did not openly confront Moscow but indicated support for Tbilisi. In all of these circumstances, Moscow was on the other side, directly or indirectly opposing Ankara.
An unspoken narrative that guides the politics of the two neighboring powers after the Cold War has been avoiding direct confrontation with each other and letting the economy do the rest. By building stable and interdependent economic relations, both states avoid a path of dangerous descent into the chaos of a strategic security standoff. Turkey and Russia fought numerous wars with each other while they were both empires. There are many factors that can explain the viability of this logic, but the main one is perhaps the recognition of the importance of balance in relations.
In essence, this is the mutual ability to undermine the interests of the other party. At times when this balance is broken, conflicts and crises dominate. This is a recognized fact in both capitals.
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To be sure, the two most significant crises in the post-Soviet space — Georgia and Crimea — involved trade partners important to Turkey and took place in the Black Sea basin with Moscow as the opposing side to the conflicts. Turkey, a NATO member and an EU-associated state, managed to increase trade with Russia and significantly improve mutual political perceptions.
Strategically, the Russian objective is to dominate the post-Soviet space.
Turkey, in turn, aspires to play the leading role in the Black Sea region. Both of these ambitions overlap in the Caucasus. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Moscow pursued a policy of institutionalized economic, political, and security integration of the region utilizing multilateral cooperation. The goal was to restore and increase its influence in its periphery. This required rebuilding old and establishing new relations. For Turkey, on the other hand, the dismantling of the Union presented an opportunity to connect with states that were traditionally part of Turkish interests.
However, the existence of the Union had blocked Ankara from developing political relations without the involvement of Moscow. Turkic nations of the post-Soviet space also include Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Further to the east, the number of joint ventures decreases noticeably, revealing a notable lack of political capital which could be transformed into viable influence for Ankara.
Creating New Perspectives
There is another reason why it will be difficult for Ankara to craft any viable political engagement policy for Central Asia. For any effective cooperation, Ankara will have to deal with Russia. Moscow defines the post-Soviet space as a zone of its interests, a vision reflected in its foreign policy and security doctrines. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in , Turkey has been one of the central actors in the region. Its involvement, however, did not go far beyond building economic relations with newly independent states. Ankara's reasons for being involved in dealing with the post-Soviet space were economic at first.
Creating harmonized economic structures was central to recovery in the region. That also provided an opportunity for building a political alignment under Turkish leadership should the need arise. Ankara has had many advantages on offer, from economic investments to the building of a secular and viable political society — the famous Turkish model. This was especially acute for the states of Central Asia faced with the threat of radical Islamism, and the Caucasus states consumed by violent nationalist conflicts.
As a NATO member and a weapons exporter Turkey had enough expertise to help shape independent military force for the states in Central Asia and the Caucasus. With the exception of Turkmenistan, Ankara is nowhere close to building alignments with the Central Asian states. Historically, if either state rises to power, the result has been confrontation.
The Cold War-era Origins of Islamism in Turkey and its Rise to Power
In Russia and Georgia fought a brief war out of which Moscow emerged victorious, and Georgian territory was de facto sliced up into smaller units. But more important was the message that Moscow sent to the US. It is able and willing to pursue its interests in the post-Soviet space, utilizing military means if necessary.
The most important point is that Russia and Turkey have witnessed an almost simultaneous rise to the status of regional power. The rise was based on domestic hierarchy building, rapid economic growth, and formation of state policies that promoted integration around their respective neighborhoods, thereby maximizing influence. While Russia and Turkey have experienced evolution in their post-Cold War transition, they both consider that each can assume the mantle of leadership in the region.