ISTANBUL – Turkey joined NATO at the beginning of the Cold War to gain United States protection in the event of a Soviet attack. Back then, Turkey was clearly on the frontline; today, however, its leaders are assertively pursuing an independent foreign and security policy, and their growing confidence is now testing the Alliance’s cohesion.
Meanwhile, cooperation between NATO and the European Union remains stalled, owing to the dispute with Turkey over divided Cyprus. Moreover, in sharp contrast to the majority of NATO members, Turkey maintains that Iran and Syria should not be viewed as threats. And, at the height of the Libyan crisis, while NATO officials were preparing operational plans to intervene, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was speaking out against military action.