Turkey Suddenly Becomes Best Friend of Its Foes

Russia, Greece, Iran and Iraq will officially not be posing any threat to Turkey soon. Turkish media said that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan intends to considerably revise the national security strategy in October 2010. The head of the Turkish government will reportedly exclude the above-mentioned countries from the list of external threats. The Milliyet, a local influential newspaper, wrote that the imminent changes would be the most significant ones since the Cold War era.

It goes about the regulations of the so-called Red Book - the document elaborated by Turkey's General Staff and approved by the National Security Council. The document enumerates internal and external threats for Turkey. The document is subject to change, depending on the state of affairs inside and outside the nation.

The last time, when the Red Book was amended, it took place in October 2005, when Turkey started the talks about its membership in the European Union. The country had to adjust its Red Book in accordance with expectations from the West. The Iranian nuclear program was indicated in the document as one of the primary threats.

The list of Turkey's internal enemies includes Islamic fundamentalism, separatism and leftist radical groups. The list of primary external threats indicates the communist threat from the USSR and international terrorism. The threat from the Soviet Union disappeared after the collapse of the superpower, and Turkey eventually removed that paragraph from the Red Book. Nevertheless, Turkish military officials still believe that Moscow was posing a threat to Turkish interests.

It is worth mentioning that Turkey and Russia share common vision of stability in the Caucasus, the Milliyet wrote. Indeed, Ankara maintained "friendly neutrality" during the Caucasian war in August 2008. Turkey closed Black Sea ports for US warships that were traveling towards Georgia to demonstrate the USA's support to Tbilisi.

However, no one has canceled previous friction in the Russian-Turkish relations. It is hard to imagine Turkey bidding farewell to its interests in the Caucasus. It is an open secret that this issue determines the triangle of contradictions between Ankara, Moscow and Teheran that have been building their own policies in the Caucasus for ages. The clash of strategic interests in the region was reflected in regular wars between Russia, Turkey and Persia.

Turkey has been in a long-standing conflict with Iraq because of the Kurdish problem. The nation's repugnancies with Greece about Cyprus and disputed territories in the Aegean Sea is a different story. This historical conflict is extremely painful both for Athens and Ankara.

Until recently, the above-mentioned Red Book was traditionally prepared by the experts from the Turkish General Staff. It is an open secret that Turkish military men are mostly Western-oriented officials, not to mention the fact that Turkey has been developing military cooperation with the United States.

Now it just so happens that the Turkish prime minister has deprived the defense officials of their monopoly for the development of the security strategy. Erdogan added half-military and civil specialists to the list of Red Book "authors". The leaders of the Party of Justice and Development struggle against the influence of defense officials on the political life of the nation.

However, it does not explain the reason why Turkey suddenly decided to change its attitude to historical rivals.

"The government of Tayip Erdogan continues the course of his predecessor and party-fellow, Abdullah Gul, since 2002. The sitting Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu, gave a very precise description to this course: no problems with neighbors whatsoever," Sergey Demidenko, an expert with the Institute for Strategic Analysis told Pravda.Ru.

"Indeed, Turkey has been cooperating with many of its neighbors, especially in the field of economy. With Russia and Iran, Turkey plans to implement ambitious energy plans. As for Greece, the relations between the two countries have been improving because Turkey has not refused to join the European Union.

"Anyway, the intentions to revise the Red Book regulations are virtually a declaration of intentions, it is a demonstration of the political line. A declaration not to approach neighbors as enemies does not mean anything in practice really. One should bear in mind the fact that the Turkish administration harbors plans to turn the nation into a regional superpower. Its interests come into conflict with the interests of the above-mentioned states at this point, because the latter do not want Turkey's domination in the region. Thus, Turkey's previous discrepancies with its neighbors remain the same," the expert concluded.

Sergey Balmasov

Read the original in Russian

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov