Turkey joined NATO in 1952 on the grounds that it would advance its joint defence skills and would benefit from it when its territorial unity, sovereignty and security was at risk or under attack. This reasoning was in line with the articles 3, 4 and 5 of the NATO treaty but was an insidious tactic to deceive the masses.
The Menderes government expressed their desire to join NATO by sending a 5000 strong troop for the Korean War in support of the US and South Korean forces. Turkish administration wanted to use their “sacrifices” in Korea as a basis for their NATO membership. They had proven their loyalty. With a protocol agreement dated 17 October 1951 the membership of Turkey and Greece was given the green light. Turkey’s membership became official on 18 February 1952. Seven months later (8 September 1952) an Allied Land Forces HQ (Southeast) was formed in Izmir with a US lieutenant general at the top. This military base was enforced further with the participation of the French, British and Italian forces in 1954. Us military presence in Turkey became an acknowledged fact with the signing of the “Treaty on the Status of the NATO Forces” on 10 March 1954. The number of NATO “facilities” (bases) in Turkey reached 112 in 1966 and kept increasing in time. Turkish administrators were not allowed in these bases without permission from NATO and US commandments.
The “Turkey-US Defence and Co-operation Agreement” of 1976 guaranteed the right for the US to use some bases such as Incirlik and Kargaburun on NATO’s behalf. Another “Cooperation Agreement” signed by the military coup government in 1980 agreed the use of 12 military bases by US on behalf of NATO for five years. Despite the fact that teh agreement is expired it is still in effect because of US demand.
The number of NATO and US bases in Turkey has increased in time and technically become more sophisticated. The Incirlik air base in Adana is the most important one and being used as the 39th main jet base of the US Air Force. It is being used as the head quarter for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and the attacks on the regional countries. The NATO Air Base in Cigli, Izmir, is the oldest base in Turkey. It is administered by US Air Force (USAFE) and contains I-HAWK and Roland rocket systems as well as 42 fighter bombers and military personnel. NATO’s LANDSOUTHEAST HQ was moved from Naples to Izmir on 11 August 2004, followed by the stationing of the US 16th Air Fleet from Ramstein, Germany, to Izmir on 1 January 2006.
Among other main military bases in Turkey are Sile for the Stinger rockets; 3rd Jet Base Commandment in Konya for AWACS; 9th Jet Air Base in Balikesir for the “vault” rocket launching pad (6 in total); as well as Mugla Aksaz naval base, Ankara-Ahlatlibel, Amasya-Merzifon, Bartin, Chanakkale, Diyarbakir-Pirinclik, Eskishehir, İzmir-Bornova, İzmit, Kutahya, Luleburgaz, Sivas-Sarkısla, Iskenderun, Ordu-Persembe, Rize-Pazar, Erzurum, and Mardin containing “CAOC6”, NATO's joint air operation centres.
What determined the conditions and the framework of Turkey’s membership to NATO was the fact that it was a product of the military policies of the big western powers led by the US as well as resulting from the Second World War and the post war conditions. This membership brought further dependence to Turkey and enlarged NATO’s sphere of influence and military activity as far as the Soviet Union, while resulting in the neighbouring countries to see Turkey as an outpost of the US and NATO and giving way to tension in regional relations.
At a time when NATO considered the USSR and the peoples’ democracies in Eastern Europe as a military target Turkey became one of the two main forces, the second being the Shah’s Iran, of NATO’s capitalist encirclement of the USSR. The fact that NATO’s LANDSOUTHEAST HQ was stationed in Izmir was a clear sign of the role given to Turkey.
Through NATO the US guaranteed its conventional and nuclear military presence in Turkey, just like in Europe. NATO membership meant being a subcontractor of the policies of western big powers led by the US. It became public that during the 1960-61 “missile crisis” between the US and the USSR, the US atom missiles were stationed in the Incirlik base in Adana. In the name of “requirements of being a NATO member” Turkey presented its “cultural and historical relations” in the Balkans, the Middle East and the Caucasus into the service of the American strategy: it strived for the governance by the collaborating forces in these regions; manipulated Islam and the “Turkic culture” to this end; organised overt/covert lobbying activities in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece and Albania; played a part in the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the seizure of power by pro-American forces in the Balkans and the Eastern Europe; attempted to take part in the organisation of a coup in Azerbaijan and other countries; sent military troops to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosova and Somalia. As a NATO member Turkey now has military presence in 23 countries. Because of this membership Turkey was used as a base for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan by the US and British military. The government reasoned the deployment of troops to Afghanistan with the requirements of this membership.
NATO presence in Turkey and Turkey’s membership to NATO has led to the strengthening of the reactionary forces, military coups and increased tension and conflicts in the country and the whole region. It was under the auspices of NATO and US that those dark forces organised their sabotages, murders and coups in order to suppress popular opposition and maintain the rule of collaborating forces. Turkish counter guerrilla forces as a state organisation and as a variant of Gladios organised by the US-British secret services as part of NATO activities have been active for nearly 60 years.
One of the main obstacles before Turkey becoming an independent and democratic country is NATO and the continuation of Turkish membership to this military offensive organisation. Turkey is chained with its NATO membership as well as the military cooperation agreements with the US. In order for Turkey to break this chain it has to get out of NATO, cancel all bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements with the US and other imperialists as well as the military bases, and destroy all American nuclear-biological weapons and ammunition in its territory. Turkish, Kurdish or from any other nationalities, all progressive workers and labourers in Turkey and their revolutionary party, and progressive intellectuals are fighting for this end. This is a fight which has been going on since the 1960s. The 2004 NATO Summit in Istanbul was protested strongly.
Putting an end to Turkey’s NATO membership and the policies designed by the military agreements with the US would strike a blow to American imperialist strategy in a wide region, from the Balkans to the middle East and the Caucasus; it would also lift an obstacle to the advancement of friendly relations among the regional countries and strengthen the peoples’ struggles for independence and democracy. It is for this reason that this year, which marks the 60th anniversary of NATO and the 57th of Turkey’s membership, is set out to be the year of fight against and break away from NATO. We will see strong protests, numerous panels and meetings to educate the masses, and struggles for the closure of NATO and US military bases.
Revolutionary Communist Party of Turkey - TDKP