Although the topic mentions about the security aspects of Turkey and Turkey’s relations with the outside world, the main emphasis is going to be Turkey’s membership with the EU. However, before going into the Turkey’s membership to the EU, I am going to talk about the historical perspective of security and Turkey’s position in the world. We like to talk about Turkey and its geopolitical position on the world map by starting saying that Turkey tries to be a member of the EU and part of Europe but it does not stop there. Turkey is also a Balkan Country, a Mediterranean Country, a Black Sea Country, part of the Caucasus, part of the Middle East and Asian Country. Therefore, it is like a prism for a policy formulator to look at the situation of Turkey in the world and its security aspects and its future aspirations about where Turkey’s position would like to be.
It was easy during the Cold War times as far as the security aspect was concerned because there was the cold war and there were two camps. In that, Turkey took a place rather early in 1952 and Turkey became a member of NATO. After the thaw of relations between east and west that was around mid 70s, when the conference for security and cooperation in Europe was founded, Turkey took its place. This was one forum where in the old terms east and west met, had discussions about arms control, economic cooperation, human rights and so on. After the demise of the Soviet Union and when a new era opened, of course the focus was still about security aspects to the relationships of Turkey but the main issue came from the development issue and Turkey’s position in the world where it would like to be and in which group Turkey should take its place. In fact, this has started with 1959 with the Rome Agreement as we all know, the first seeds of the EU. Turkey applied for an associate membership in 1959 and with Ankara Agreement in 1963, the first relation started with the EU started with this respect. This should not be any surprise to anybody that Turkey opted especially after the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall and so on that Turkey made its choice with the West. Because this was a national trend, in fact, when one looks at the Turkish history. It has always been an ardent desire in both the times of Ottoman Empire and later in the Republican times to associate Turkey with Europe or in general sense with the West. Turkish government always tried to be in closer contact with the west and with the modernisation idea or the project that the West “always” generally represents. This process of modernisation began with the Tanzimat Prescript promulgated in 1839 and thereafter other steps were taken during the Ottoman times. We had our first constitutional era in 1876 and second one in 1908 and after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War, Turkish nation started to come into being and in 1920, we had the inauguration of the first Turkish Grand National Assembly which carried out the national war of liberation. In 1923, we had the proclamation of the republic and the Ataturk era dawned on Turkey which had undertaken many reforms which were of great importance as well as they concerned very different areas of social life in Turkey. In short, with these efforts Turkey came to become a country where the requirements of the modern age, as it was back in 1920s and so was already there. And for the Turkish Nation under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, these series of political, cultural and social as well as economic reforms were implemented which put Turkey on a par to speak with the other countries of the West. Of course, there were still needed efforts which were to be followed later. This was the main background and the main foundation of the modern Turkey which has started to take shape.
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Political Reflection (PR) Magazine (PDF | 3.851 KB)
* Published in the Third Issue of Political Reflection Magazine (PR).
His Excellency Mr Yigit Alpogan has been Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland since July 2007. Prior to this he was Secretary General of the National Security Council of Turkey from October 2004 to July 2007 and Ambassador of Turkey to Greece from November 2001 to September 2004. Mr Alpogan entered the Foreign Service in January 1968 and has held positions as Deputy Under-Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Director General for Bilateral Political Affairs and Ambassador of Turkey to Turkmenistan.
May 11th, 2010 – 5.30pm, University of Birmingham