I have been trying for a long time to understand exactly what various Western officials mean when they monotonously repeat that “Turkey is a valuable ally.” Turkey is obviously a large, strategically important country at a critical geopolitical crossroads. No great power can ignore it.
But whether a country is an “ally” or not depends on what? First of all, on whether that country considers – in practice – as opponents the same ones as the other members of the alliance. And secondly, whether it shares the same values with them.
For many years after the end of the Cold War, NATO was an alliance without purpose. It has now found “enemies,” which are Russia, Iran and Islamic terrorism. Are these also Ankara’s enemies? Absolutely not. Turkey is a NATO country that does not impose sanctions and once again is playing the game of skillful neutrality. Its political rhetoric is deeply anti-Western and anti-American. None of the country’s actions proves that it is a “loyal” member of the Alliance. On the contrary, in times of crisis, it creates problems and additional headaches, as in the case of Finland’s and Sweden’s call to join NATO.
However, NATO’s secretary-general and other Western officials insist on treating it with kid gloves. Of course, they ignore the other big problem – the fact that, in recent years, Turkey’s values have moved far away from the West and the Alliance.
Interestingly, history shows that expectations of what Turkey can offer the West and its allies collapse whenever it is time for decisions. In 2003, US warships waited to disembark their troops to open a second front in northern Iraq. They never did, and that infuriated the Pentagon officials. Americans experienced the same thing again in the war against ISIS. Israelis also felt very disappointed as they had invested heavily in their strategic relationship with Turkey.
The fear of “losing Turkey” continues to exist and determine the decisions in Washington, Berlin and NATO. Is it the inaction of a system that refuses to see the truth and ignores history? Is it the cynicism of powerful interests that they fear will sacrifice arms sales or trade relations? Or is it just the fear that if the umbilical cord is completely cut, Turkey will form a final alliance with Russia and permanently and officially join an anti-Western axis?
Whatever it is, it will not be long before there is a new disappointment, when all the remaining illusions will be torn down. For Greece, it is important that this day is not too far, because every day that passes with appeasement, it deepens Ankara’s impression that it can do whatever it wants.