Turkey not a loyal US ally, says CATO vice president
by Apostolis Zoupaniotis
New York, Apr 25 (CNA) -- Turkey is neither a loyal ally of the United States, nor a factor of stability in the Middle East and the Caucasus, said Dr Ted Galen Carpenter, Vice President of the Washington-based think tank CATO Institute, speaking in front of Greek American audience, in Astoria New York. The event was organised by the National Interests Committee of the Federation of the Hellenic Societies of Greater New York.
On the question of Cyprus, he said Ankara has attempted to project itself as ''the nice guy'', following the rejection by the Greek Cypriots of a UN-proposed solution plan in a referendum in April last year. He also said Turkey is exploiting the EU and the US and pointed out that Turkey's positions on the question of Cyprus would continue to become harder.
Dr Carpenter said that the United States both during the cold war era and the post cold war period has treated Turkey in a special way. And at the end of the cold war, when they adapted ''the keystone power thesis'', Turkey was considered the "keystone power".
In his analysis Dr Carpenter disputed all four basic arguments for the above mentioned thesis and he concluded that Turkey's behaviour causes difficulties for both the Middle East and the Caucasus areas as well as the European Union.
Arguing on the assumption that Turkey is a "loyal ally", Dr Carpenter said that although that could be true during the cold war era, Turkey's most recent behaviour in Iraq proves the opposite. Turkey has refused to allow allied troops to open the northern front in Iraq, while refusing to allow the use of its bases to allied airplanes bombing Iraq.
On the argument of Turkey as a factor for stability in the region, the speaker said that Turkish threats to invade Iraq if the Kurds get control of Kirkuk and the threats against Armenia prove the opposite.
To the people that claim Turkey is a western secular country, part of the Western club, Dr Carpenter said no-one can make this case today, under the guidance of Erdogan's party. He pointed out that both anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are on the rise, assisted by the reports of the Turkish press.
''All that show signs of Turkey becoming a bizarre populist nation'', he said.
To Turkey's supporters who back its EU candidacy, Carpenter said that although legislation has been adopted by the Turkish Parliament on economic measures and on curbing torture and protecting human rights, but the Turkish authorities do not comply.
''Legislation is one thing, but practicing it is another'', he said, accusing the Turkish government of corruption and systematic human rights abuses.
''Ankara'', he said, ''expects the EU to dilute its standards and look the other way on certain practices''.
Dr Carpenter called on the EU leadership to make it clear to Turkey that it won't become a member unless it changes its attitude.
On Cyprus, he said that when the Annan plan failed, Turkey came out to the world to look like "the nice guy", putting the blame on the Greek Cypriots.
''Turks have exploited the EU and US reaction and they believe they can get into the EU even though they continue occupying part of Cyprus''.
Carpenter added that the Turkish positions on Cyprus continue to become harder.
On Greco-Turkish relations, he called on Athens to reassess its policies towards Turkey because the secular leadership in this country becomes fewer and fewer.
Replying to a question, he characterised the current status of the US-Turkish relations as ''uneasy'', although ''we haven't turn our back to Turkey yet''.
''That hasn't yet been translated to a policy change vis-a-vis Turkish goal to become an EU member, but I detect a decline in enthusiasm'', he added.
In conclusion, Dr Carpenter said there is little evidence that Turkey is a constructive partner of the United States and has a long way to go.
''Turkey is causing increasing difficulty in both EU and the Middle East and the Unites States doesn't need one more adversary'', he said.