The Troubled Partnership: Turkey and Europe

by F. Stephen Larrabee

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Political dynamics unleashed by the end of the Cold War have raised questions about Turkey's position in the Western alliance and its long-term domestic and foreign policy evolution. Keeping Turkey tied tightly to the West remains a strong American priority, but Europe views Turkey increasingly as "odd man out." Moreover, nonstrategic factors, especially human rights and the Kurdish issue, have led to increasing strains in Turkey's relations with the European Union (EU). If Turkey does not join the EU in the near future, Ankara could find itself excluded from the key decisions that affect Europe's--and its own--security. This in turn could further estrange Ankara from Europe and deepen the discord between Europe and the United States, which strongly supports Turkey's bid for EU membership. To halt the deterioration of Turkey's relations with Europe, the author proposes moving the problem to the top of the Western policy agenda; changing the requirements for membership in the WEU to allow Turkey in without it first joining EU; promoting a settlement of the Cyprus issue and of the Greek-Turkish dispute over the Aegean; and devising ways to allow Turkey to participate in the transatlantic dialogue that will affect its future.

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