Since the 1930s, Turkey has always been a reliable partner for the West in the Middle East. Since the accession of Turkey to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1952, the country is one of the effective members in strengthening the command and military power of this organization, due to its facilities, privileged geographical position, power and potential. In fact, during these decades, Turkey always looked at the West and NATO from the Kemalist point of view. This approach has put Turkey in the circle of Western axes and treaties and made this country to play an important role in policies such as putting barriers against communism and confronting the Eastern and Soviet blocs. (Photo quoted from Yahoo’s image)


Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the continuation of the Kemalist regime in the Republic of Turkey, the alliance between Turkey and the West and NATO remained stable, and in areas such as the Caucasus, the Middle East and Central Asia, common interests were pursued between Turkey and the West.


With the rise of Islamists in Turkey within the framework of the AKP, although there are some doubts about the future of Turkey's cooperation with NATO in the West, but the type of dependence of Turkey on NATO within the framework of previous commitments and the continuation of military power in Turkey, Ankara is still seeking maximum cooperation with NATO.


Relations between Turkey and NATO have fluctuated in recent years, especially after the 2016 coup and the contradictory stances of the member states of NATO against the interests of the ruling Turkish party. But other incidents have exacerbated tensions between Turkey and NATO.


Major tensions over the past few years including: Disagreements and criticism of Turkey's approach to the Kurdish issue, purchase of the S400 missile system from Russia, Turkey's approach to the NATO plan to protect the Baltic states and Poland, dispute with Greece and Cyprus over gas resources In the Mediterranean, the deployment of Syrian fighters to Libya, as well as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, has virtually increased the scope of tension in relations between Turkey and its main NATO allies. With the changes in the Turkish political scene, including the reduction of military power and the role of Neo-Ottomanism by the Islamists of Justice and Development in the region, Ankara seems to look at NATO from a different perspective.


In recent years, Ankara has sought to implement more independent policies toward its relations with NATO, by setting minimum preconditions.


But Turkey's foreign policy has raised doubts today about the future of cooperation with Turkey. In the eyes of Western critics, despite Turkey's membership in NATO, this country brings itself closer to anti-Western governments in the Middle East and so put it in constant tension with its friends, so such a country cannot be trusted to the maximum. What is clear is that in recent years there have been criticisms of Turkey's continued membership in NATO by Western parties and figures. Although Turkey and NATO officials have emphasized the need for continued cooperation within the NATO framework, growing doubts about maximum cooperation have led to a growing desire to diminish co-operation and even increasing criticism among NATO members of Turkey's membership in NATO. Turkey, on the other hand, has come to the conclusion that it cannot rely on NATO as it did in the 1960s. Turkey's behavior shows that it is slowly turning to the east, but the pace of this shift is not so fast.


Farzad Ramezani Bonesh

Senior Researcher and Analyst of International Affairs