Ankara should be assured of NATO’s resolve
ÜNAL ÇEVİKÖZJuly 1991 marked the end of the Warsaw Treaty Organization, what was known as the Warsaw Pact, established in 1955 as a response to NATO. These two organizations balanced the military pacts which defined one of the fundamental characteristics of the Cold War period.
In July, 25 years later, NATO finally had one of its summit meetings in Warsaw. NATO’s Warsaw summit will be remembered as a compellingly defining moment in Europe’s recent history, for it also confirmed the victory of the alliance over its Cold War foe.
Heads of states and governments of 28 countries, together with their future 29th fellow ally Montenegro, held their summit meeting on July 8-9. In addition to its symbolism, a generic overall strategic assessment of the Warsaw summit displays three important messages.
First, it is obvious that the alliance is in need of reiterating its core functions. NATO is an organization of collective defense. As the Polish defense minister described in his keynote address at the Warsaw Summit Experts’ Forum, the allies are 28 musketeers who believe in the motto of “one for all, all for one.” Soon, they will become 29 (Montenegro’s membership process has already been launched) and they will all get around the elliptical court of the North Atlantic Council in order to look at matters of world security. Core functions mean Article V. This was particularly underlined in the final communique. Why did NATO need to emphasize this in Warsaw? Obviously, Russia’s assertive foreign policy resulting with the annexation of Crimea and the ongoing confrontation in eastern Ukraine necessitated a stronger determination and commitment to collective defense. Central and eastern European nations were very keen to see it happen. The decision to deploy four multinational battalions in the Baltic countries and Poland defined the enhanced forward presence and military preparedness of the alliance at a time when there is an unprecedented unpredictability in international affairs. This move shows that NATO is shifting “from reassurance to deterrence.” Deterrence was the core concept of the Cold War. Today, nobody is interested in the emergence of new dividing lines in Europe and nobody wishes to go back to the terms and conditions of the Cold War. That is the reason why NATO is enhancing its deterrent capacity with a call for dialogue.
It is obvious that Russia is a counterpart. But is it a foe or a partner? NATO, with its comprehensive conceptualization of “deterrence and dialogue,” is showing Russia that even at a time of enduring troubles, it is willing to remain open to communication and expecting to build a cooperative relationship with Russia if its behavior changes.
Are there mechanisms for such an opportunity to be seized? The NATO-Russia Council is there and its presence offers the best opportunity for both sides to explain, discuss and analyze their concerns as well as their willingness to embark upon a new period of constructive partnership if Russia were to choose the same path.
Finally, “indivisibility of security” is a general principle that brings the members together and binds the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in a formidable bond of egalitarian solidarity. There is no priority as to the threats and challenges the alliance is facing during these testing times in history. It is important to see that NATO is determined to counter those threats and challenges whether they expose themselves in the east or in the south. Turkey, being the guardian of Euro-Atlantic security and stability in the alliance’s southern flank, should feel comfortable. Its national security is reassured and that neither NATO’s resolve nor its capabilities thereof should be questioned. At a time when Turkey needs to redefine its foreign policy objectives, NATO shows the path to be followed. It is now up to Ankara to enhance its normalization steps with Israel and Russia with further steps in Syria and elsewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean.