Homogeneity at Home, Security in the World
Nowadays, NATO is in a difficult crossroad due to the complex issues that it should deal with. The crucial decision that should be taken is whether to become more homogeneous and coherent, or to end up as an à la carte alliance, a useless forum full of divergences and impediments. Yet, we must ask what the role of Turkey in the whole process is? Is it facilitating deeper integration, or does it function as a destabilizing and disintegrating factor?
After the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the dissolution of the USSR, NATO was meant to have accomplished all of its goals. The potential threat of a coalition that was inextricably impregnated with communistic values disappeared. With these circumstances, NATO hovered over a peculiar dilemma. On the one hand, there was the scenario of shutting down the Treaty, while on the other hand there was the idea of the expansion of its mandate. The latter prevailed and today NATO is one of the most effective military mechanism producing stability, steadfastness and democracy. Nevertheless, the expansion's sustainability was extremely dependable on two interrelated factors: homogeneity and commitment.
Historically, the Warsaw Pact was the counterweight of NATO and the struggle between the two was constant and intense. The sole doctrine beyond the strategy of both camps was the elimination of the rival as every new membership for the first was a lost battle for the second. Α consequential decision – entirely faithful to this approach – was the 1952 entry of two states into NATO with totally different ideas, mindsets and values. The explanatory narrative for this decision was simple: those days, NATO did not have the lavishness to discriminate against states due to fear of the influence that the Iron Curtain was exercising in the region. Thereafter, its authorities qualified with a double "stroke" the simultaneous entrance of Greece and Turkey in the Treaty; a decision which was pretty successful as it did not make allowances to the Soviets, while being a bit tricky as it brought two traditional rivals into the same command structure.
However, after 64 years, the co-existence of these two is mostly a spiel of stagnation rather than a visionary enhanced cooperation. We are not still in 60s or 70s when a minimum of willingness for cooperation was adequate to put friends and enemies together on the negotiating table. The issues that are at stake nowadays are more complex, challenging and diverse, and the cynicism is not enough to create ties by its own, in a framework as such. The patterns and the applicable conditions within the Treaty are based in different criteria than the past. In our epoch, a viable alliance requires a plethora of characteristics such as political vision, legitimacy of the public opinion, clear democratic benchmarks, reasonable raison d'etre and a common axis of values been unanimously respected. Since NATO is more than merely a military impact nowadays, a minimum of homogeneity and reciprocal acceptance of certain values should be considered as a prerequisite for its successful operational actions. It can also be considered as the defensive kernel of the Western world, meaning that it is an aggregated cooperation of democratic states that sit, decide, and bind themselves together, and protect each other according to enacted, internal rules. This accumulated politicization has transformed NATO into something deeper than an operational branch of a treaty. It carries upon a system of values and it can be developed further and further if only its members are truly committed into a democratic framework which entails the protection of fundamental democratic personal and collective rights such as the protection of human rights, the respect of the minorities, the freedom of expression and the religious tolerance. Any discount in the aforementioned issues violates the scope and the political background that NATO was built upon.
Apart from homogeneity, commitment is important as well. Homogeneity gives birth to commitment and it merely determines it. Commitment is consisted of a true, loyal and trustworthy participation in the political as well as in the military section of the Alliance. Does Turkey fulfil these requirements? The answer is quite pessimistic. The entire absence of any aforementioned value that sketches out the homogeneity principle causes a dubious narrative of whether Turkey should be a member of the Alliance or not. The hurdles seem to be uncountable as Turkey is an extremely unpredictable, faithless, and not secular at all. The democratic dimension is quite underestimated – if not absent –and its goals are most of the times conflicting to those of the European states. But what actually is mostly undesirable is the intolerance that Turkey presents; its imperial syndrome as well as its intransigence in fundamental democratic conditions that surely slows down NATO capabilities and undermines the aims of the Treaty itself. NATO has been trying to consolidate a political background beyond the military one and it seems unlikely for Turkey to keep up with it. The bigotry in the decision-making procedure and the overrated position of the religion in the administrative and political branches of the society is also an impediment that leads Turkey decades backwards and makes it unable to follow the North Atlantic vision.
However, we should not undermine the geo-strategic role that Turkey can play. As a large Western-Asian country the relatively close co-operation is indispensable. The difference is located in the status. The pattern that the European Union is following by having Turkey close enough without giving it the coveted membership is safe and sound. In 2016 we want inspiration; a vision to follow and a value to preserve. Legitimacy has become more and more difficult and we should persuade people that we would do the necessary things to protect our most valuable principle: democracy. Especially after the British opt-out of the European Union, NATO should become fragile, homogeneous and coherent. When many state that NATO is a leftover of the past and it cannot produce other than a cold war, we should respond that NATO is here to preserve peace and prosperity. Only through homogeneity at home and commitment in the structure, we can provide security in the world.
Alexandros Lefteratos studied international relations and European studies in Panteion University of Athens as well as in Luiss Guido Carli in Rome. Currently, he studies in the College of Europe in Poland.
This article has been submitted for category D "Increasing Solidarity in the Face of Divergent Threat Perception" of the "Shaping Our NATO: Young Voices on the NATO Summit" competition. Comments are most appreciated. You can also read the other articles in this category. Category D marks the end of the competition. We would like to thank all participants and members who have submitted op-eds and/or provided comments.
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