Foreign Affairs, January/February 2006
ERSEL AYDINLI is a Visiting Assistant Professor at George Washington University, on leave from Bilkent University, in Ankara. He worked on this article while on a fellowship at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. NIHAT ALI ÖZCAN is a retired Major from the Turkish armed forces. DOGAN AKYAZ is a Major in the Turkish armed forces.
WILL COOPERATION LAST?
Recent changes have already dramatically curbed the power of the Turkish military in several of its traditional areas of influence and reduced its long-standing authority in some civilian institutions. Not all of these adjustments have been greeted with open arms, but the Turkish General Staff (TGS) has largely complied with the EU's demands even though doing so has forced it to let go of power it had felt necessary to build up and carefully guard for decades. The explanation for this sacrifice is twofold. Turkey's generals have adapted because they see EU membership as the final stage of a modernization process they have supported for nearly a century. They also believe that the process leading to EU membership is the best means to confront key domestic challenges with which they have long struggled, such as Islamism and Kurdish separatism. So far, the deal has been worth their while. But with the EU's decision in October to begin membership negotiations with Ankara, the need for reform, especially regarding the military's policies on Kurdish secessionism and the status of Cyprus, will only intensify. And it remains to be seen how much further the Turkish military leadership will be willing to retreat...