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Greek American Organizations’ Policy Statement on Critical Review of U.S. Policy Toward Turkey Needed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: C. Franciscos Economides
May 18, 2005—No.46 (202) 785-8430

Greek American Organizations’ Policy Statement on Critical Review of U.S. Policy Toward Turkey Needed

WASHINGTON, DC—American Hellenic Institute president Gene Rossides announced today that the major Greek American membership organizations endorsed the policy statement on "Critical Review of U.S. Policy Toward Turkey Needed" prepared by the American Hellenic Institute. These are: the Order of AHEPA, the Hellenic American National Council, the Cyprus Federation of America, the Panepirotic Federation of America, the Pan-Macedonian Association of America, the Evrytanian Association of America and the American Hellenic Institute. The endorsed statement, which is part of the 2005 Greek American Policy Statements, follows:

Critical Review of U.S. Policy Toward Turkey Needed

Dramatically changed circumstances since the end of the Cold War and Turkey’s refusal on March 1, 2003 to allow U.S. troops to use bases in Turkey to open a northern front against Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship when it counted most, its "extortion in the name of alliance" negotiating tactics to get $6 billion more for its cooperation over the $26 billion offered and its virulent anti-American and anti-Semitic attitudes, warrant a wholesale review of the U.S. policy toward Turkey. It should also be noted that earlier, during the Cold War, Turkey actively aided the Soviet military to the serious detriment of the U.S. (See Exhibit 1.)

The Turkish military and the Erdogan government were key players in the "no" vote which put U.S. forces at risk. They thought we needed Turkey and that we would give Turkey more dollars, a veto on policy regarding the Iraqi Kurds and access to Iraqi oil. They miscalculated the U.S. reaction.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, on March 20, 2005, the second anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in two TV appearances, blamed Turkey’s refusal to permit the U.S. Fourth Infantry Division to use its territory to open a northern front against Iraq with preventing the capture or killing of future insurgents hardest and reducing their number. If that had happened, he said "the insurgency today would be less." It follows that if that had happened fewer American soldiers would have been killed by the insurgents.

Among U.S. policymakers, decades of Cold War reliance on Turkish military and political cooperation (together with an effective Turkish public relations initiative) gave rise to the largely unchallenged perception that Turkey was an indispensable military and political ally in the Eastern Mediterranean. Accordingly, when colliding Greek and Turkish interests required U.S. intervention, the U.S. usually accommodated Turkey, while publicly denying any policy "tilt" in Turkey’s favor. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Islamic fundamentalism took the place of Soviet communism as the region’s major geopolitical threat, reinforcing among U.S. policymakers the perceived value of a cooperative Turkey. More recently, global terrorism directed at the U.S. has continued the perception that Turkey’s goodwill must be preserved.

The views of Turkey's alleged importance have been propagated to the detriment of U.S. interests by a handful of U.S. officials, think tank advocates and Turkey's paid U.S. foreign agents registered with the Department of Justice. Leading the pack have been former Defense Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Defense Under Secretary for Policy Douglas Feith, former Defense Advisory Board Chairman Richard Perle, former State Under Secretary for Political Affairs Marc Grossman, and U.S. registered foreign agents for Turkey, former Congressmen Bob Livingston (R- LA) and Stephen Solarz (D-NY) who are paid $1.8 million annually by Turkey. Mr. Feith, an assistant to Mr. Perle at the Defense Department in the 1980’s, is a former paid agent of Turkey who headed International Advisors Inc. (IAI) from 1989-1994 and received $60,000 annually. IAI was registered with the U.S. Department of Justice as a foreign agent for Turkey. Mr. Perle, who initiated IAI and its contract with Turkey, is a former paid consultant for Turkey in his capacity as a paid consultant to IAI at $48,000 annually from 1989-1994.

The U.S.’s successful prosecution of the war against Iraq without access from Turkey proved Turkey’s marginality as a strategic military resource in the region. Over the years, other actions have raised considerable doubt over Turkey's reliability as a strategic ally. Today, the U.S. has access to alternative military facilities in the region including countries in the Middle East, Central Asia, Afghanistan and in Iraq itself.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld stated on April 18, 2003 that the Incirlik Air Base in southeast Turkey is no longer needed to patrol the northern Iraq "no-fly zone" and that the U.S. has withdrawn nearly all the 50 attack and support planes from Incirlik (N.Y. Times, 4-29-03, A11, col. 6). Incirlik should be closed and U.S. taxpayer money saved.

The military’s notorious influence over the Turkish government, traditionally tolerated by U.S. policymakers for perceived strategic reasons, is increasingly being recognized as an impediment to Turkey’s successful democratization, its EU aspirations, and the reform of its economy. The transformation of Turkey into a politically stable, fully democratic, and economically sound nation, whether or not she accedes into the EU, is in the interests not only of the people of Turkey, but also of Turkey’s neighbors (especially Greece and Cyprus) and of the U.S. It is by no means certain, however, that Turkey will complete this desirable process quickly, or at all.

Expressing considerable doubt, France’s former ambassador to Turkey, Eric Rouleau, concludes that one of the great challenges facing Turkish reformers is "to convince the Turkish military to relinquish its hold on the jugular of the modern Turkish state." (Eric Rouleau, "Turkey’s Dream of Democracy," Foreign Affairs, Nov./Dec. 2000, pp 100-114, at 102.) He refers to Turkey’s National Security Council, established by Article 118 of the Turkish constitution, as "a kind of shadow government through which the [military] can impose their will on parliament and the government" (page 105). He describes "Mercantile Militarism" under which the Turkish military draws up its own budget, controls substantial industries through OYAK, "a vast conglomerate comprising some 30 enterprises," and an arms production company, TSKGV, which also "comprises some 30 companies and generates tens of thousands of jobs. More than 80 percent of its revenues go into a reserve fund estimated to reach tens of billions of dollars" (pages 109-110). OYAK and TSKGV, he reports, are very profitable and for a good reason—they are exempt from duties and taxes (page 109).

The reforms of the Erdogan government have not measurably reduced the role of the Turkish military.

Turkey and the EU

To achieve EU accession, Turkey, like all other candidate states, must meet the Copenhagen criteria, the EU acquis communautaire, and the specific criteria set by the EU if accession talks are to begin in October 2005. This also includes a settlement of the Cyprus problem and of all its claims against Greece and recognition of the Republic of Cyprus and the obligation of Turkey to treat Cyprus as Turkey treats other members of the EU, i.e. Cypriot flagged ships to use Turkish ports and Cyprus Airways to use Turkish air corridors.

Achieving the goals of genuine democratic freedoms, political stability and economic progress, whether through EU accession negotiations or otherwise, will require fundamental changes in Turkey’s governmental institutions. The U.S. should be pressing for fundamental changes now.

Such changes include reducing the military’s traditionally pervasive role in all aspects of national life and placing it under civilian control. Turkey must also reverse its historic intransigence to a reasonable and just solution to the Cyprus problem, must conform to longstanding international agreements concerning Aegean Sea boundaries, and must significantly improve its human rights record, particularly regarding its 20 percent Kurdish minority.

The U.S. supports Turkey's territorial integrity but should also adopt in its own best interests a policy of political, cultural and human rights and local autonomy for the Kurds in Turkey.

We will continue to urge the Executive Branch and Congress to engage in a critical review of U.S. policy towards Turkey and to acknowledge that the foregoing changes are desirable U.S. policy goals.

Turkey’s Human Rights Violations Against Its Kurdish Minority

The suppression of human rights by the government of Turkey has been particularly brutal against Turkey’s twenty percent Kurdish minority and amounts to ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide. The Kurds have a unique language and traditions. Mostly Sunni Muslims and numbering 15 plus million in Turkey today, they have been settled for more than two millennia in a broad arc spanning southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran (7 million), and northeastern Iraq (4 million). They have traditionally resisted subjugation, but history has consistently denied them a national homeland. They are therefore political and ethnic minorities wherever they live, the easy target of majorities casting about for targets to attack and divert attention from domestic issues. In Turkey, the abuses against Kurds by the government have been chronic and genocidal.

In the past two decades, the Turkish military and mercenary groups have killed, either by direct military intervention or assassination, tens of thousands of Kurds, over ninety percent of whom have been innocent civilians. It is also well-documented that since 1984, the Turkish military’s genocidal policy has destroyed over 3,000 Kurdish villages (some in northern Iraq outside of Turkish territory), creating over 3 million Kurdish refugees. France’s former ambassador to Turkey, Eric Rouleau, detailed Turkey’s massive killing of Kurds between 1984 and 1999:

"According to the Turkish Ministry of Justice, in addition to the 35,000 people killed in military campaigns, 17,500 were assassinated between 1984, when the conflict began, and 1998. An additional 1,000 people were reportedly assassinated in the first nine months of 1999. According to the Turkish press, the authors of these crimes, none of whom have been arrested, belong to groups of mercenaries working either directly or indirectly for the security agencies." (Eric Rouleau, "Turkey’s Dream of Democracy," Foreign Affairs, Nov./Dec. 2000, page 112.)

In view of Turkey’s horrendous human rights record, U.S. policy toward Turkey should be driven by forceful incentives for democratic reform. These include an arms embargo and economic sanctions.

Economic and Military Aid to Turkey

The U.S., in its own best interests, should not give economic and military aid to Turkey. The U.S. should publicly repudiate Turkey’s illegal use of U.S. arms in Turkey’s invasion and continuing occupation of Cyprus, now in its 31st year with over 35,000 Turkish armed forces illegally in Cyprus and 110,000 illegal settlers/colonists from Turkey; its actions suppressing the ethnic Kurdish minority in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq and its suppression of the religious freedom of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The U.S. should stop further sales or transfers of arms and military technology to Turkey and should continue an arms embargo until Turkey supports a democratic, workable, financially viable and just solution to the Cyprus problem and demonstrates significant improvement in its human rights and religious freedom record.

Ceasing U.S. arms supplies will contribute to a more rational allocation of Turkey’s resources, thereby bringing about badly needed economic reform. Halting further arms sales or transfers will also eliminate a stimulus for the regional arms race. The U.S. should also urge the termination of the Turkey-Israel military cooperation understanding because of its adverse influence on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and road map.

Since the 1980's Turkeys brutal suppression of its Kurdish minority has been accomplished with U.S.- supplied arms as documented in reports by the State Department, the World Policy Institute, the Federation of American Scientists, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The grant and sale by the U.S. of arms to Turkey these past decades has made the U.S. an accessory to Turkey's horrific human rights record against its Kurdish minority.

Similarly, Turkey's illegal use of U.S.- supplied arms in its invasion and continuing occupation of Cyprus, and the U.S.'s failure to immediately halt arms to Turkey as required by U.S. law, and the failure to denounce Turkeys aggression, as most nations did, made the U.S. an accessory to Turkey's invasion of and occupation in Cyprus.

Despite the end of the Cold War, Turkey has a military inventory far beyond its legitimate defense needs. Who is threatening Turkey? Each year Turkey spends a disproportionately large amount of its resources on its military. This not only reflects the military’s deeply entrenched influence over Turkish society, but also drains away resources better spent on economic reform. The result is chronic financial distress necessitating periodic requests for emergency assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the U.S. taxpayer. The IMF and World Bank should insist on Turkey getting out of Cyprus now as a financial factor and make it a condition of any further assistance.

Additional Reasons Not to Give Economic and Military Aid to Turkey

  1. Turkey’s horrendous human rights violations against its citizens generally as set forth in the State Department’s annual Human Rights country reports.
  2. Turkey’s illegal blockade of Armenia.
  3. Our huge deficit.
  4. Our substantial domestic needs.
  5. The Turkish military has "tens of billions of dollars" in a cash fund and owns vast business enterprises including the arms production companies of Turkey. (See Eric Rouleau in Foreign Affairs (Nov./Dec. 2000; at pages 110-112.)
  6. The fact that Turkey owes the U.S. $5 billion.
  7. The fact that Turkey’s U.S. foreign agents registered with the Department of Justice have contracts totaling $1.8 million. Since money is fungible, $1.8 million of any aid to Turkey goes to these U.S. foreign agents from U.S. taxpayer dollars.

Turkey in Violation of U.S. law and its agreement by transfer of U.S.-origin tanks to Cyprus

Turkey is presently in violation of U.S. law by its recent transfer from Turkey to Cyprus of 12 U.S. –supplied M-48 tanks and other arms. The State Department spokesperson, Adam Ereli has erroneously stated that the transfer is not in violation of U.S. law because the tanks transferred to Cyprus are under the control of the Turkish military. The State Department official who advised Mr. Ereli on the answer was in error. Since December 22, 1987, 22 U.S.C. § 2373 absolutely prohibits the transfer of U.S. supplied arms to Cyprus by Turkey without regard to whether the arms remain in the control of the Turkish military.

Subsection 2373 (e) (1) reads as follows:

"(e) Arms sales agreements to prohibit transfer to Cyprus

(1) Any agreement for the sale or provision of any article on the United States Munitions—List…entered into by the United States after December 22, 1987, shall expressly state that the article is being provided by the United States only with the understanding that it will not be transferred to Cyprus or otherwise used to further the severance or division of Cyprus."

Further, subsection 2373 (e) (2) requires the President to report to Congress any violations. It reads as follows:

"(2) The President shall report to Congress any substantial evidence that equipment provided under any such agreement has been used in a manner inconsistent with the purposes of this subsection."

Turkey—a major drug trafficking nation

A number of other examples of actions by Turkey that are harmful to U.S. interests could be listed. One of the most serious is Turkey's breaching its understanding with the U.S. by lifting the ban on opium cultivation in 1974 and tolerating the use of its territory for major drug trafficking to the present time.


For all the above reasons, we believe that a critical review of U.S.-Turkey relations is long overdue by the Executive Branch and Congress. We urge the Bush Administration to conduct this review so that it can engage Turkey more effectively on the Cyprus and human rights issues and on Turkey’s indefensible Aegean Sea territorial claims.

A critical review of U.S.-Turkey relations should include:

(a) a candid re-assessment of Turkey’s strategic value to the U.S. and reliability as a regional
ally in view of Turkey's failure to help in the Iraq War; its attempt "to extort" more money from the U.S.; its demand a veto over U.S. policy on the Iraq Kurds; and its demand for access to Iraqi oil;
(b) the availability of military facilities elsewhere in the region;
(c) an end to the double standard and appeasement of Turkey on the rule of law for its invasion of Cyprus and its violations of human rights in Turkey and Cyprus; and
(d) identification and implementation of the best means (economic sanctions, cessation of arms sales, withdrawal of any economic benefits, conditions on any U.S., IMF and World Bank aid to Turkey, etc.) for promoting U.S. interests in the region.

Hopefully the State Department, with its new political leadership in Secretary Condoleezza Rice and its new career leadership in Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, will initiate a critical review of U.S.-Turkey policy, a review which is long overdue.

Critical Review of U.S. Policy Toward Turkey Needed Exhibit 1

Turkey's Collaboration with the Soviet Military during the Cold War

How many readers are aware that Turkey actively aided the Soviet military during the Cold War! The Turkish Parliament’s vote on March 1, 2003 not to allow U.S. troops to use bases in Turkey to open a second front against Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship is not the first time Turkey has double-crossed the U.S. Let us look at the record. As long ago as 1974, Edward Luttwak, the noted strategic analyst, discussed Turkey’s cooperation with the Soviet military during the Cold War. He wrote at that time the following:

No longer presenting a direct threat to the integrity of Turkish national territory, and no longer demanding formal revision of the Straits navigation regime, the Soviet Union has nevertheless successfully exercised armed suasion over Turkey, even while maintaining a fairly benevolent stance, which includes significant aid flows. Faced with a sharp relative increase in Russian strategic and naval power, and eager to normalize relations with their formidable neighbor, the Turks have chosen to conciliate the Russians, and have been able to do so at little or no direct cost to themselves. It is only in respect to strategic transit that Turkey is of primary importance to the Soviet Union, and this is the area where the concessions have been made. Examples of such deflection, where the Russians are conciliated at the expense of western rather than specifically Turkish interests, include the overland traffic agreement (unimpeded Russian transit to Iraq and Syria by road), the generous Turkish interpretation of the Montreux Convention, which regulates ship movements in the Straits, and above all, the overflight permissions accorded to Russian civilian and military aircraft across Turkish air space. The alliance relationship in NATO and with the United States no doubt retains a measure of validity in Turkish eyes, but it is apparent that its supportive effect is not enough to counteract Russian suasion, especially since the coercion is latent and packaged in a benevolent, diplomatic stance. (Luttwak, The Political Uses of Sea Power, Johns Hopkins Press, 1974, pp. 60-61.)

Examples of Turkey’s disloyalty and unreliability over the past decades as a NATO ally for U.S. strategic purposes include:

1. During the 1973 Mid-East War, predating the Turkish invasion of Cyprus by one year, Turkey refused the United States military overflight rights to resupply Israel and granted the U.S.S.R. overland military convoy rights to resupply Syria and Iraq, and military overflight permission to resupply Egypt. A member of the Turkish Foreign Policy Institute in Ankara wrote:

During the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, Moscow’s overflights of Turkish airspace were tolerated. On the other hand, during the same Middle East conflict, Turkey refused to allow the United States refueling and reconnaissance facilities during the American airlift to Israel. (Karaosmanoglu, "Turkey’s Security and the Middle East," 52 Foreign Affairs 157, 163, Fall 1983.)

2. In the 1977-78 conflict in Ethiopia, Turkey granted the Soviets military overflight rights to support the pro-Soviet minority of Ethiopian communist insurgents, led by Colonel Mengistu, who eventually prevailed and established a Marxist dictatorship directly dependent upon the Soviet Union. Giant Soviet Antonov-22 transport aircraft ferried Cuban troops, Soviet weapons and other assorted needs to Ethiopia. During the peak months of the conflict (December, 1977—January, 1978), the Soviet Union greatly increased the number of overflights through Turkish airspace with the direct acquiescence of Turkey’s regime. The Soviets ferried in 2,000 Cuban troops by the end of the first week in December. By late December, 17,000 Cuban troops were in Ethiopia. The Cuban troops were immediately moved to the fighting front against Somali and anti-Communist Ethiopian forces. They effectively turned the tide in favor of the communists. (C. Meyer, Facing Reality—From World Federalism to the CIA 276-80, 1980.)

3. Over NATO objections, Turkey allowed three Soviet aircraft carriers, the Kiev on July 18, 1976, the Minsk on February 25, 1979 and the Novorosiisk on May 16, 1983, passage rights through the Bosphorous and Dardanelles Straits into the Mediterranean in violation of the Montreux Convention of 1936. The Soviet ships posed a formidable threat to the U.S. Sixth Fleet.

4. In 1979 Turkey refused to allow the U.S. to send 69 U.S. marines and six helicopters to American military facilities at Incirlik in Turkey for possible use in evacuating Americans from Iran and protecting the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

5. Again in 1979 Turkey refused the U.S. request to allow U-2 intelligence flights (for Salt II verification) over Turkish airspace "unless Moscow agreed." (N.Y. Times, May 15, 1979, at A1, col. 3.) This position was voiced over a period of months by Turkish officials, the opposition party and the military Chief of Staff, General Kenan Evren, (See, Washington Post and New York Times, April—September 1979).

6. In January of 1981, President Carter tried to obtain a commitment from Turkey for the use of Turkish territory for operations in cases of conflict in the Middle East. The January 20, 1981, New York Times reported that Turkey was not in favor of "the United States using Turkish bases for conflicts not affecting Turkey." In the spring, 1983, issue of Foreign Policy magazine, Harry Shaw pointed out that Turkey is unlikely to become involved in, or allow U.S. forces to use Turkish territory in a Middle East war that does not threaten her territory directly.

7. As an example of the above, in 1980, Turkey refused to permit the U.S. to use the NATO base at Diyarbakir in eastern Turkey as a transit point for the purpose of conducting a rescue mission into Tehran, Iran, to free the American hostages held in that city. The distance from Diyarbakir to Tehran is 450 miles as opposed to the actual route taken, which was over 900 miles.

8. In May, 1989, Turkey rejected an American request to inspect an advanced MIG-29 Soviet fighter plane, flown by a Soviet defector to Turkey. (New York Times, May 28, 1989, at A12, col.1.)

9. The Turkish government refused repeated American requests for the installation of antennas in Turkey concerning eleven transmitters whose broadcasts would have been directed primarily at the Soviet Union and its eastern European satellites. As reported in the July 22, 1983, issue of Newsweek, the initiative by the U.S. Department of State sought to improve reception of programs broadcast by Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, and the Voice of America.

10. Turkey further damaged NATO by vetoing NATO’s effort to put military bases on various Greek islands in the Aegean for defensive purposes against the Soviet navy.

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For additional information, please contact C. Franciscos Economides at (202) 785-8430 or at [email protected]. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.