Turkey - a strategic partner

Posted in Europe | 08-Jun-04 | Author: Dieter Farwick

In past newsletters we have covered the status and the role of Turkey from different perspectives. Turkey is both a strategic linchpin and a stronghold for its security partners. Turkey cannot flee from its history or its geography.

To make things even more complicated, Turkey is by religion an Islamic State but by political status secular—since Kemal Atatürk separated state from religion. Turkey’s strong military plays the role of the guardian of Atatürk’s legacy.

At present, there are two interwoven issues:

On the one hand, it is the resolve of the present Turkish government to become a full member of the European Community. On the other, there is growing pressure from the Islamic movement to turn the clocks back. Around the world there are mixed feelings about Turkey’s integration into the European Community.

With this newsletter, we can offer you more thoughtful analysis from a senior Austrian analyst, Dr. Andrea Riemer. After a quick glance at the historical development of Turkey in its geo-strategic and religious contexts, she outlines the “strategic dilemma” by which Turkey is caught between Washington and Brussels. It is interesting to read her assessment of the five possible options Turkey faces in solving its complex dilemma.

Whatever the final outcome may be, one thing remains pivotal:

Turkey must remain a Western oriented stronghold. From Turkey, the West can influence the further development of the “Greater Middle East.” An economically successful, democratic (in terms of Islam) Turkey could be the blueprint for a better future in that war-torn region.

It is the mission of responsible governments not to lose sight of this fundamental and strategic objective.