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Russia, Iran, Iraq, Greece no longer 'national threat' to Turkey

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 8/23/2010 12:00:00 AM |

Turkey is set to remove Russia, Iran, Iraq and Greece from a list of countries considered threats to national security in one of the most significant security reviews since the Cold War. (UPDATED)

Turkey is set to remove Russia, Iran, Iraq and Greece from a list of countries considered threats to national security in one of the most significant security reviews since the Cold War, daily Milliyet reported Monday.

The updated list is a part of a larger security review being undertaken by the National Security Council, or MGK.

The National Security Document, prepared by MGK with contributions from the Interior Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, the General Staff and the National Intelligence Organization, is slated to be discussed by the MGK in October.

Typically prepared by military officials and viewed as a kind of regional geopolitical snapshot of the country’s perceived security situation, the document is now more obviously influenced by the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, Milliyet wrote, adding that the new documents reflect a more confident and ambitious Turkey.

In contrast with materials prepared in the pre-Cold War era, when Turkey was more focused on protecting the government from the perceived threats of political reaction, separatism and subversion, the new document sets out the “active foreign policy” defined by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, along with Turkey’s rising regional political and economic profile, as explicit goals.

As part of these “civil bureaucratic” revisions, the language pertaining to domestic politics has been softened, taking caution not to offend or target conservatives and religious communities, Milliyet wrote. The “zero problems with neighbors” foreign-policy platform, initiated by the AKP in 2002, also reportedly features in the new review.

The biggest change, according to the newspaper, is the removal of four neighboring countries from the national threat list. Russia, Iran, Iraq and Greece are no longer being described as “threats,” but as allies, based on cooperation and a “shared vision.”

Where Iraq was previously seen as a threat based on the existence of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in the north of the country, in addition to internal divisions and instabilities, the new document focuses on the cooperation between Turkey and the central Iraqi government on issues including energy and the fight against terror.

Greece, once a “primary threat” to Turkey, has been dropped from the list due to growing bilateral economic and political relations that have decreased the military threat of war in the Aegean Sea.

Iran, once a “primary threat” to Turkey based on its regime and potential nuclear weapons, has also been demoted. The country is no longer a threat, and according to sources directly linked to the new document, is being referred to as a possible ally in the fight against the PKK, Milliyet reported.

Russia, previously a threat due to communism, has been highlighted in the document as sharing a vision with Turkey based on economic cooperation, trade, energy potential and stability in the Caucasus region.

The security review is often colloquially referred to as the “red book,” or the “secret constitution.”

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