Bridge or Barrier?

Turkey and the West After the Cold War

by Ian O. Lesser


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This report explores the roots of Turkey's western orientation and the prospects for Turkish relations with Europe and the United States after the Cold War. The study indicates that Turkey's basic western orientation will almost certainly hold and that the prospects for Turkey formally joining the European Community have not improved despite Turkish support in the Gulf War. Turkey's prospects for inclusion in new European security arrangements will remain poor, and Turkey will become increasingly distinctive and perhaps isolated within the NATO alliance. It also finds that if Europe excludes Turkey, then the significance of the bilateral relationship with the United States will grow and that U.S. and Turkish interests are likely to remain broadly congruent. Given these findings, the United States should strive to promote Turkey's strategic importance in Europe and the Middle East, avoid pressing Ankara for a formal expansion of defense cooperation, consider the potential role of Turkey as a conduit for western aid to the southern republics of the former Soviet Union, seek the development of a more mature and diversified relationship mixing traditional security assistance with expansion of political and economic ties, and continue playing an active role in promoting a Cyprus settlement.

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