Foreign relations of Turkey


Foreign relations of Turkey

Foreign relations of the Republic of Turkey are the Turkish government's policies in its external relations with the international community. Historically, based on the Western-inspired reforms of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, such policies have placed heavy emphasis on Turkey's relationship with the Western world, especially in relation to the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union. The post-Cold War period has seen a diversification of relations, with Turkey seeking to strengthen its regional presence in the Balkans, the Middle East and the Caucasus, as well as its historical goal of E.U. membership.

Relations by regions

European Union

Turkish application to join the European Economic Community (now the European Union) as an associate member in 1959 soon resulted in associate membership in 1963, with full membership being acknowledged as the final goal. However, problems in foreign policy such as the Cyprus conflict and the internal political turbulence from the 1970s until the early 1980s forced Turkey to delay applying for full membership of the European Community until 1987. The application was rejected, although the E.C. did say that Turkish membership could occur at some point in the future.

An EU-Turkey Customs Union came into effect on January 1 1996, allowing goods to travel between Turkey and the E.U. member states without customs restrictions, although it crucially stopped short of lifting restrictions in areas such as agriculture.

The European Union confirmed Turkey's status as candidate for membership at the European Council's Helsinki Summit in 1999. The accession talks did not follow immediately, however, as the E.U. said Turkey had to make significant reforms, particularly in the field of human rights, before the talks could begin. Turkey's current administration has identified EU membership as its top priority, and has taken many - and sometimes controversial - reform packages through the Parliament aimed at gradually harmonizing Turkey with E.U. standards. Since October 2005, Turkey has formally started accession negotiations with the E.U. and these will be based on the acquis communautaire.

Europe

Turkey has close historical, cultural, economic and political ties with the Balkan states, which are important for Turkey as they are the country's gateway to continental Europe. Turkey attaches importance to the creation of an atmosphere of mutual understanding and peaceful co-habitation through closer ties with the Balkan countries, which would lead to the preservation of peace and stability in the region. Turkey has participated in NATO operations and peacekeeping missions, contributing to the KFOR and the United Nations police mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the European Union Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUPM), as well as the EU-led police mission “Proxima” in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Turkey is also contributing to the EUFOR-ALTHEA. For the reconstruction efforts; Turkey is part of launching the Southeastern European Cooperation Process (SEECP), and the Multinational Peace Force Southeast Europe (MPFSEE)/Southeastern Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG). Turkey also plays a role in regional economic initiatives as well as the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe initiated by the EU and the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI).

Turkey announced its support for the 2004 Annan Plan for Cyprus. The plan was accepted by the Turkish Cypriots (but not by 2/3, although a simple majority was needed), but overwhelmingly (3/4) rejected by the Greek Cypriots. Turkey continues to recognize the TRNC at the expense of the Cypriot government in the south, and thus far, the Turkish Embassy in (north) Nicosia is the only official diplomatic mission in the TRNC. The issue of recognition became a thorn in Turkey's candidacy for European Union membership, particularly after the internationally-recognized south was admitted to the Union in 2004.

North America

Friendship between Turkey and the United States dates to the late 18th century, when Turkey was part of the Ottoman Empire, and was officially sealed by a treaty in 1830. The close relationship between the modern Republic of Turkey and the United States began with the Second Cairo Conference in December 4-6, 1943, and the agreement of July 12 1947 which implemented the Truman Doctrine. As part of the cooperative effort to further improve Turkish economic and military self-reliance, the United States has loaned and granted Turkey more than $12.5 billion in economic aid and more than $14 billion in military assistance.

Turkey sided with the United States during the Korean War of the early 1950s, providing active military support to the U.S. forces. During the Gulf War of 1990, the Turkish Armed Forces contributed to the coalition forces, and Turkey supported the initiatives of the U.S. in the region. Turkey has hosted the Incirlik Air Base, a major operations base of the United States Air Force, since 1954. Following its membership in 1952, Turkey became the bulwark of NATO's southeastern flank, directly bordering Warsaw Pact countries and risking nuclear war on its soil during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In the post Cold War environment, though still committed to its close relations with Washington, Turkey became a more independent actor. Although Turkey supported the United States in the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, there was strong domestic opposition to the Iraq War. A government motion to allow U.S. troops to attack Iraq from Turkey's border failed to reach the necessary majority. This led to a cooling in relations between the U.S. and Turkey and fears of a permanent rift due to the situation in Iraq. [cite web|url=http://www.cfr.org/content/publications/attachments/TurkeyCSR.pdf |title=Generating Momentum for a New Era in U.S.-Turkey Relations|first=Steven A.|last=Cook|coauthors=Sherwood-Randall, Elizabeth|publisher=Council on Foreign Relations|format=PDF|accessdate=2006-12-17|date=2006-06-15] Turkey is particularly cautious about an independent Kurdish state arising from a destabilised Iraq; it has previously fought an insurgent war on its own soil, in which an estimated 37,000 people lost their lives, against the PKK (listed as a terrorist organization by a number of states and organisations, including the U.S. and the EU).cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2887893.stm |title=Turkey's fears of Kurdish resurgence|first=Pam |last=O'Toole|work=BBC|accessdate=2006-12-17|date=2003-03-26] [cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4690181.stm |title=PKK 'behind' Turkey resort bomb|work=BBC|accessdate=2006-12-17|date=2005-07-17] This led the Turkish government to put pressure on the U.S. to clamp down on insurgent training camps in northern Iraq, without much success. On October 17, 2007, the Turkish Parliament voted in favour of allowing the Turkish Armed Forces to take military action against the PKK rebels based in northern Iraq. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7049348.stm BBC: Turkish MPs back attacks in Iraq] ] In response, U.S. President George W. Bush stated that he did not believe it's in Turkey's interests to send troops into Iraq. [ [http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/10/17/turkey.iraq/index.html CNN: Turkey approves Iraq incursion] ]

The U.S. and Turkey have had a Joint Economic Commission and a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement for several years. In 2002, the two countries indicated their joint intent to upgrade bilateral economic relations by launching an Economic Partnership Commission. In 2005, Turkish exports to the U.S. totaled $4.9 billion, and U.S. exports to Turkey totaled $5.3 billion.

Central Asia

Turkey has strong cultural and linguistic ties with the predominantly Turkic nations of Central Asia. Economic and political relations are developing rapidly, and are likely to grow even more quickly with Turkey's recent elimination of visa requirements for citizens of the Central Asian Turkic republics. The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) has formed an alliance of trade between Turkey and the Central Asian states. Turkey is even working on developing solid relations with the other nations of the region, namely Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

Afghanistan was the second country to recognize the Republic of Turkey, after the Soviet Union. Turkey supports the Bonn Process and the Central Government in Afghanistan. Turkey participated in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) since its inception and assumed the command of ISAF II between June 2002 and February 2003, and ISAF VII between February and August 2005. Turkey provides training for the Afghan National Army and Police Force. Turkey has undertaken a number of reconstruction projects in the fields of education, health and agriculture. Turkish construction firms are also active in the country with investments.

Middle East

The father of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, created a radical shift in Turkish domestic and foreign policy by instituting a strong tradition of secular democracy, which had its roots in the West. Atatürk was a Europhile in many ways and made numerous reforms to modernize Turkey, based on the principles of positivist and rationalist Enlightenment, which he believed would foster educational and scientific progress. In this period, Turkey shifted increasingly towards the West, while culturally and ideologically distancing itself from the conservative mindset, practices and traditions of the Middle East, which were regarded by the Turkish revolutionaries as the source of the backwardness that had caused the Ottoman Empire to collapse.

Iraq

Facing strong domestic opposition in Turkey, a government motion to allow U.S. troops to attack Iraq from Turkey's border failed to reach the necessary majority in 2003. A primary concern for Turkey was an independent Kurdish state arising from a destabilised Iraq; it has previously fought an insurgent war on its own soil, in which an estimated 37,000 people lost their lives, against the PKK (listed as a terrorist organization by a number of states and organisations, including the U.S. and the EU).

The United States' reluctance to threaten the relative stability of northern Iraq by launching operations against the PKK led the Turkish Parliament to authorise a cross border military operation in 2007. On February 22, 2008, the Turkish Armed Forces launched a ground operation in northern Iraq against the PKK rebels in a move described as the first significant Turkish ground offensive into Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. [ [http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/02/22/turkey.iraq/index.html Turkey launches major Iraq incursion] ] The ground offensive was preceded by air strikes of the Turkish Air Force against the PKK camps in northern Iraq, which began on December 16, 2007. [ [http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2007/12/20/220440/turkish-air-force-in-major-attack-on-kurdish-camps.html Flight Global: Turkish air force in major attack on Kurdish camps] ] Turkey's armed forces stepped up their offensive against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq on February 27, 2008 amid rising diplomatic tensions between Baghdad and Ankara. [ [http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/02/27/turkey.iraq/index.html Turkey sends more troops into Iraq] ] The Turkish military pulled out of northern Iraq on February 29, 2008. [ [http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/02/29/iraq.main/index.html Iraq incursion finished, Turkey says] ] Turkish troops fired artillery shells into northern Iraq on March 5 2008. [ [http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/03/05/turkey.iraq/index.html Turkish troops shell northern Iraq] ]

Iran

Turkish-Iranian relations have essentially been peaceful since 1923. There are an estimated 18 to 25.5 million Turkic speakers in Iran (the Iranian Azeris and Turkmens) who mostly live in the northern regions of the country. However, a period of coldness in bilateral relations existed following the 1979 Iranian Revolution due to the conflicting ideologies of secular Turkey and theocratic Iran.cite web|url=http://www.saag.org/papers11/paper1077.html |title=Turkey and Iran coming closer|first=K. Gajendra|last=Singh|publisher=South Asia Analysis Group|accessdate=2006-12-17|date=2004-08-03] Ankara has long suspected Iran's support for Islamist organizations and militant groups in Turkey. [cite journal|url=http://meria.idc.ac.il/journal/1997/issue4/jv1n4a2.html|journal=MERIA|title=Radical Islamic political groups in Turkey] Nevertheless, the economic and political relations between the two countries have significantly improved in the recent years. Today, Iran and Turkey cooperate in a wide variety of fields that range from fighting terrorism and drug trafficking, and promoting stability in Iraq and Central Asia. Both countries have strongly advocated Iraqi territorial integrity since the beginning of the 2003 Iraqi invasion. [ [http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/menu-234/0612052996181236.htm Erdogan: Iran, Turkey against disintegration of Iraq - Irna ] ] Iran and Turkey also have very close economic relations. Both countries are part of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and both were once members of the CENTO alliance. Turkey receives a significant number of Iranian tourists every year, [ [http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=46608 Turkish Daily News: "Turkey, Iran ready to bolster tourism"] ] [ [http://www.traveldailynews.com/new.asp?newid=30484&subcategory_id=100 Travel Daily News: "Turkey and Iran sign MoU to extend tourism cooperation"] ] while Iran is a major natural gas supplier of Turkey. Turkish construction companies have undertaken important projects in Iran, such as the new Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran. [ [http://www.turkishweekly.net/news.php?id=29353 Turkish Weekly: "Tehran Prioritizes TAV for Imam Khomeini Airport Bid"] ]

Syria

Although Turkey shares its longest common border with Syria, relations between the two countries have often been strained. Water disputes have been a major source of conflict, as Turkey has constructed several dams on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers to develop the region. Additionally, the self-annexation of the Hatay State to Turkey in 1939 was never recognized by Syria, which continues to show the Hatay Province of Turkey as part of Syria's territory on maps. Hatay became independent from Syria, then a French mandate, in 1938, and became a parliamentary republic with an ethnic Turkish majority; and 8 months later it decided to join Turkey with a referendum.

Turkey had alleged Syria of ties to the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization internationally by a number of states and organizations, including the USA, NATO and the EU. The two countries came to the brink of war when Turkey threatened military action if Syria continued to shelter Abdullah Öcalan in Damascus, his long-time safe haven. Relations have improved since October 1998, when Öcalan left Damascus and Syria pledged to stop harboring the PKK rebels.

Israel

Turkey was the first country with a Muslim majority to formally recognize the State of Israel, on March 28, 1949; before Israel was admitted to the United Nations on May 11, 1949. Israel is considered by many as Turkey's closest ally in the world, after the United States. [Mahmut Bali Aykan, “The Palestinian Question in Turkish Foreign Policy from the 1950s to the 1990s”, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 25, No.: 1, February 1993 and also, http://www.smi.uib.no/pao/hawas.html] The primary reason for this close and intimate relationship between the Republic of Turkey and the State of Israel is due to the many similarities between the two nation states; both being secular, pluralist democracies. The founders of the State of Israel and prominent Israeli politicians such as David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and Moshe Shertok had all studied in the leading Turkish schools of Istanbul in their youth, namely Galatasaray Lisesi and Istanbul University.

Israel has been a major supplier of arms to Turkey. Military, strategic, and diplomatic cooperation between Turkey and Israel is accorded very high priority by the governments of both countries, which share concerns with respect to the regional instabilities in the Middle East. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/281909.stm BBC News | Middle East | Analysis: Middle East's 'phantom alliance' ] ] [http://ankara.mfa.gov.il/mfm/web/main/document.asp?subjectid=18367&missionid=65&languageid=0&statusi] [http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/New_World_Order/PowerBloc_TurkeyIsrael] In the book "Israel's Secret Wars", Benny Morris provides an account of how Mossad operatives based in Turkey infiltrated into Iraq and orchestrated a number of Iraqi Kurdish uprisings to weaken the Iraqi government. It has been reported that the Israeli Mossad played a major role in the capture of the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in 1999. [ [http://www.washington-report.org/backissues/0499/9904060.html The Ostrovsky Files: Capture of Kurdish Rebel Leader Ocalan Recalls Mossad Collaboration With Both Turkey, Kurds ] ] The Israeli and Turkish navies have conducted joint exercises. Turkey also provides its large air space (something Israel lacks) to the jets of the Israeli Air Force for training purposes, particularly the area around the Konya Air Base in central Anatolia. There is a plan to build a massive pipeline from Turkey to supply water, electricity, gas and oil to Israel. [^Konuralp Pamukçu, "Water trade between Israel and Turkey: A start in the Middle East?" Middle East Policy, 10(4) Winter 2003 and http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1145961328841&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull.] In 2000, Israel and Turkey signed a Free Trade Agreement. [http://www.dtm.gov.tr/ab/ingilizce/sta/israil/israel.htm] In the beginning of 2006, the Israeli Foreign Ministry characterized its relations with Turkey as "perfect". However, in February 2006, a visit paid by Khaled Meshal, leader of the newly elected Hamas, changed this status. Israeli diplomats went so far as to compare this visit to a possible official visit of Abdullah Öcalan (the imprisoned PKK leader) to Israel, but Turkish authorities immediately denounced this comparison as "irresponsible and erroneous". After Khaled Meshal paid an official visit to Russia, Turkish-Israeli relations entered a "cooling down" process. Some have suggested that this was only a public relations stunt to show the Islamic world that Turkey was on their side because Turkey had been silent in major issues important to Arabs and the Islamic community such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Lebanon crisis. [http://www.thenation.com/doc/20020902/vest20020823 and for some historical records see, Mahmut Bali Aykan, “The Palestinian Question in Turkish Foreign Policy from the 1950s to the 1990s”, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 25, No.: 1, February 1993 ] Israel has even advocated that Turkey make up a majority of peace keepers in Lebanon because it has said that it does not trust troops from other Islamic countries like Bangladesh and Malaysia. [http://.www.turkishweekly.net/comments.php?id=2211]

The history of the Jewish-Turkish relations dates back to the medieval Khazar Empire. The Khazar Turks converted to Judaism at some point between the last decades of the 8th and the early decades of the 9th centuries AD. [E.g., Brook; Dunlop; Golden, "Khazar Studies"; "passim", and Christian 282-300.] Later, in the 14th-16th centuries, the Ottoman Sultan Beyazid II invited the Sephardic Jews fleeing the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions to settle in the Ottoman Empire. The later record of warm relations dates to the 19th century, when the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, himself of Jewish origin, supported the Ottoman Empire in numerous disputes, particularly in the Berlin Congress of 1878. During the 1930s and 1940s, the Republic of Turkey again served as a safe haven for the European Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi-perpetrated Holocaust. [ [http://www.jewishmag.com/43mag/bengurion/bengurion.htm David Ben-Gurion ] ]

outh Asia

Republic of India

"Main Article:" "India-Turkey relations"

Despite its close supportive bond with its geopolitical rival, Turkey's relations with India have always been generally friendly and stable, though at certain times cold. The two nations have been in contact with each other since the early times of the Ottoman Empire; Turkey and India work closely with each other to fight cultural terrorism in the Middle East, Central, and South Asia. India was also one of many countries to recognize the newly-independent Turkey and send political aid to combat the subsequent poverty and benefit the war effort.

Pakistan

Pakistan and Turkey are close allies and support each other on a number of issues including the Kashmir dispute and Cyprus, as well as the Palestinian conflict. Both are members of the ECO.

The Turkish people also have a special bond with the Pakistani people. This dates back to the Turkish War of Independence, where the Muslim League members (later founders of Pakistan) donated large sums of money towards the war effort, which led ultimately to Turkey's victory. The common liberal thinking of both people further strengthens the love between the Pakistanis and Turks til this day.

Both countries have a large amount of military co-operation, with frequent exchange and training schemes.

outh Caucasus

The former Soviet republics in the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia) are important for Turkey politically, economically, socially and culturally. The country develops policies in this region taking into account its strategic importance, due to its energy resources and pipeline corridors.

Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Armenia's independence in 1991. In 1994 Turkey closed its border with Armenia and imposed economic sanctions when Armenian forces took control of the Kelbajar region of Azerbaijan during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Turkey does not recognize the de facto independent republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly Armenian populated enclave that declared its independence from Azerbaijan in 1991. Armenia claims that Turkey is using the blockade in order to isolate their country with projects such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Baku railway, both of which bypass Armenia. Both Armenian and Turkish politicians have publicly expressed a desire for the blockade to be lifted, but little has been done.

Turkey shares a similar culture with Azerbaijan. In addition, Turkish and Azerbaijani languages are mutually intelligible. Turkey has been a staunch supporter of Azerbaijan in its efforts to consolidate its independence, preserve its territorial integrity and realize its economic potential arising from the rich natural resources of the Caspian Sea. Turkey approaches the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict using the Minsk Process and standing by the principal of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. It supported indirect bilateral talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia. With the aim of playing a facilitator role, Turkey initiated a trilateral process of dialogue (Reykjavik, 2002 & Istanbul Summit, 2004) among the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia. The three states are also members of the BSEC, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, which provide international platforms of cooperation and dialogue between them.

There are currently no diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia. The land border between the two states has remained closed since the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War. [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78799.htm U.S. Department of State: Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Armenia: Respect for Human Rights. Section 1, a.] ] However, airliner flights between Yerevan and Istanbul resumed in 2005. In the recent years, large numbers of Armenian workers have moved to Turkey, around 40,000 in Istanbul alone, contributing to the build-up of closer relations between the two nations. [cite news|url=http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8173275|work=The Economist|title=Armenians in Turkey] Next to the closed land border, the disagreements over the definition of the Armenian Genocide and whether it was state-sponsored or a local ethnic conflict, remains the biggest issue in the tense relations between the two countries. Most historians and scholars agree that the deaths of as many as 1,500,000 Armenians during the final years of the Ottoman Empire were a result of state-sponsored genocide. [ [http://www.genocidewatch.org/TurkishPMIAGSOpenLetterreArmenia6-13-05.htm Letter] from the International Association of Genocide Scholars to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, June 13, 2005] [Kamiya, Gary. [http://www.salon.com/opinion/kamiya/2007/10/16/armenian_genocide/ Genocide: An inconvenient truth] . Salon.com. October 16, 2007.] [Jaschik, Scott. [http://hnn.us/articles/43861.html Genocide Deniers] . "History News Network". October 10, 2007.] Turkey rejects that the Armenian death toll fits the legal U.N. definition of genocide and also rejects the 1.5 million figure as the final death toll, insisting that the deaths were closer to the range of 200,000-600,000. [ [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9117457/Armenian-massacres Encyclopædia Britannica: Death toll of the Armenian Massacres] ] and were the result of disease, famine and inter-ethnic strife. [cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6045182.stm |title=Q&A Armenian 'genocide'|work=BBC|accessdate=2006-12-29|date=2006-10-12]

Turkey has a close partnership relations with Georgia. Turkish citizens can use the Batumi Airport in Georgia, which is run by Turkey's Tepe-Akfen-Vie consortium (TAV), without a visa or passport. Turkey views the Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts as a potential danger to peace and stability in the entire region. The resolution of these problems is essential for the preservation of peace and stability in the area. Turkey has shown a readiness to be a negotiator for the Abkhazian conflict.

International organizations

Turkey is a founding member of the United Nations (1945), [http://www.un.org/Overview/growth.htm] the OECD (1961), [ [http://www.oecd.org/document/48/0,2340,en_2649_201185_1876912_1_1_1_1,00.html Organisation for European Economic Co-operation ] ] the OIC (1969), [ [http://www.oic-oci.org/english/main/member-States.htm] ] the OSCE (1973), [ [http://www.osce.org/about/13131.html#T OSCE: About - Participating States ] ] and the G20 industrial nations (1999). Turkey is a member state of the Council of Europe (1949) and NATO (1952) as well as being in full accession negotiations with the European Union since 2005, having been an associate member since 1963. Turkey is also an associate member of the Western European Union since 1992 and signed the E.U. Customs Union agreement in 1995.

Turkey entered NATO in 1952 and serves as the organization's vital eastern anchor, controlling the Turkish Straits which lead from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean and sharing a border with Syria, Iraq, and Iran. A NATO headquarters is located in İzmir, and the United States has maintained air forces at the Incirlik Air Base in the province of Adana.

Turkey is also a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1995. It has signed free trade agreements with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Israel, and many other countries. In 1992, Turkey and 10 other regional nations formed the BSEC to expand regional trade and economic cooperation.

Debates and frictions

Aegean Dispute

Turkey and Greece have clashed for decades over the status of Aegean islands and over the extent of territorial waters and airspace. The tensions came to the brink of war on a number of occasions, most recently in 1996, when Greek and Turkish warships faced each other close to the disputed Imia-Kardak rocks. Only U.S. and NATO intervention subsided the conflict. In February 1999, relations between Greek officials and Abdullah Öcalan (holding a Greek Cypriot passport) and the role of the Greek Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, where Öcalan was captured by agents of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) caused crisis in relations between the two countries for a period of time; but relations have since improved, particularly following the earthquakes that struck both countries in 1999. However, the Imia/Kardak issue sprang up again on a smaller scale in 2004.

Armenian genocide

In World War I, 1,500,000 Armenians were claimed to have been massacred by Turkish forces or sent on death marches into the Syrian Desert which have widely become known as the Armenian Genocide. Most historians maintain that it was a deliberate and intentional attempt to exterminate the Ottoman Armenian population of eastern Anatolia by forcefully deporting them to the Syrian Desert. This view is also the position of the Armenian Republic. [cite news|title= PBS effort to bridge controversy creates more|author=Josh Belzman|publisher=MSNBC|url=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12397821/|date=April 23, 2006|accessdate=2006-10-05] The Republic of Turkey insists that the deaths among the Armenians were a result of inter-ethnic strife, disease and famine during the turmoil of World War I, citing that the Armenian Dashnak and Henchak rebels had sided with the Russian Army which invaded eastern Anatolia during the war and committed massacres against the local Muslim population (Turks and Kurds) in that area. The border between Turkey and Armenia has been shut since 1993 due to the Nagorno-Karabakh War, in which Armenia occupied parts of western Azerbaijan, a Turkic state. Both this issue and the events of 1915-1917 remain large stumbling blocks on the way to re-opening the land border and restoring the short-lived diplomatic relations (1991-1993) between Turkey and Armenia.

Cyprus dispute

The effects of Turkey's invasion of Cyprus in 1974, that followed a Greek coup d'etat on the island, backed by the Greek military junta which then ruled Greece and sought Enosis (Union) between Greece and Cyprus through installing the pro-Enosis Nikos Sampson in place of the Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios, continues to be one of the most hotly-contested issues in Turkish foreign relations. The area controlled by the Turkish military forces since 1974, later became the de-facto independent state of Northern Cyprus in 1983. This state is still up to date recognized only by Turkey, as the UN controlled Green Line splits the island into two.

ee also

*Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey
*List of Turkish diplomats
*Turkish diplomatic missions
*Politics of Turkey
*Republic of Turkey
*Ottoman Empire

References

*CIA World Factbook

External links

* [http://www.turkishpolitix.com Turkishpolitix.com/Gateway to Turkish affairs]
* [http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/documents/44edf1a5d337f.pdf Timeline of Turkish-Israeli Relations, 1949-2006] (PDF)
*
* The European Parliament Policy Department External Policies [http://www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/committees/studies/download.do?file=20800#search=%20Turkey%20 The Influence of Turkish Military Forces on Political Agenda-Setting in Turkey, Analysed on The Basis of the Cyprus Question] - Published 2008



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