American Hellenic Institute


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Turkey-A Stain on NATO's Honor
June 25, 2004—No.43 (202) 785-8430


WASHINGTON, DC—On June 25, 2004, AHI President Gene Rossides issued the following statement on Turkey and NATO on the eve of a NATO summit meeting in Istanbul, Turkey on June 28-29, 2004. Mr. Rossides’ statement follows:

It is ironic that the NATO summit starting June 28, 2004 is being held in Turkey, a member of NATO who is and has been in violation of the NATO charter since 1974 and NATO has done nothing about it.

Turkey is a stain on the honor of NATO because of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and its occupation of 37.3 percent of Cyprus since 1974 to the present time, in violation of the North Atlantic Treaty. July 20, 2004 marks the 30th year of Turkey’s aggression and occupation.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a regional alliance created under article 52 of the United Nations Charter for collective defense against aggression under article 51 of the Charter. The fundamental principles, objectives and purposes of the North Atlantic Treaty are to deter aggression and to support democratic government. The preamble and article 1 of the North Atlantic Treaty state:

The parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all Governments.

They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.

They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area.

They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security.

They therefore agree to this North Atlantic Treaty:


The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

Turkey violated article 1 of the North Atlantic Treaty by failing "to settle" the Cyprus problem "by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered" and also by her "use of force . . . inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations." Turkey also violated the policy set forth in the NATO preamble.

Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus violated the United Nations Charter (article 1, paragraph 1; article 2, paragraphs 3 and 4 on the use of force; and the preamble). As a result, Turkey also violated article 1 and the preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty.

Turkey contravened the fundamental policies against aggression and in support of "democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law" set forth in the preamble and underlying the North Atlantic Treaty. Turkey breached both the letter and the spirit of the Treaty. Although some have actually argued that the North Atlantic Treaty applies to aggression against a member country only and not to aggression by a NATO member against a third party non-member, this interpretation is inconsistent with the plain meaning and purpose of the North Atlantic Treaty. Article 1 prohibits the use of force in "any international dispute."

At a minimum, NATO should have suspended Turkey until its aggression in Cyprus had been "purged." "Purge" is the word used by Cyrus Vance, former Secretary of State in the Carter Administration, and George Ball, former Under Secretary of State (1961-1966), in their joint testimony in Congress on July 10, 1975. Instead, NATO assisted in supplying arms to Turkey after the Congress enacted an embargo in 1974.

The Administration introduced legislation on February 26, 1975, only three weeks after the congressional arms embargo law went into effect, to modify the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to allow arms shipments to Turkey. This action reflected the desire of the Administration to supply arms to Turkey regardless of its acts of aggression.

Vance and Ball testified jointly before the House International Relations Committee on the Administration-backed bill aimed at modifying the congressional arms embargo that Congress had enacted in the Fall of 1974. (Hearing on S. 846 and H.R. 8454; N.Y. Times, July 11, 1975, at A2, col.3.)

They stated their view that Turkey had violated the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Foreign Military Sales Act, as well as the bilateral agreements under those Acts. They expressed their deep concern that a precedent was being set for other nations to disregard the conditions of our military assistance and military sales programs. They also urged action to reinforce the fundamental principles of our military aid programs—namely that our arms are to be used for defensive purposes only and not for aggression, as Turkey had done. They proposed a three-month lifting of the embargo and its reimposition indefinitely if satisfactory progress had not been made to resolve the problem.

Ball and Vance stated:

Our one safeguard is that most of these arms are provided under explicit conditions that they will be used only for the purposes for which they are explicitly provided, which are solely for internal security, legitimate self-defense and to permit the recipient country to participate in collective security arrangements consistent with the United Nations Charter which, of course, includes NATO. But that raises the central question: How can we preserve the credibility of these conditions if we are prepared to ignore them in the case of Turkey in a highly visible situation which all the world is watching?

That Turkey used the arms we provided in violation of the relevant American laws and of the express language of the bilateral agreement that governed their transfer is not in dispute. That issue has been settled by an opinion of the Comptroller General in unequivocal language.

The question now is: Should the Congress wipe out the penalties of violation which, in express terms, would render Turkey ineligible for further American weapons until the Turkish Government takes steps to purge itself by some serious move to settle its dispute with Greece and to remove its troops from Cyprus? To do so might dangerously undercut the conditions we have imposed on the use of all the arms we have provided up to this point under our various military aid and military sales programs. (Emphasis added.)

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Finally, and in many ways this is the most important point, we are seriously concerned that this so-called compromise would create a widespread impression that no nation that has acquired arms from the United States need any longer pay attention to the conditions on which those arms were made available but would be free to use them in pursuit of its own interests in local conflicts.

How could NATO fail to take into account Turkey’s aggression against Cyprus and all the killings, rapes and destruction caused by Turkey?

On July 10, 1976 the European Commission on Human Rights found Turkey guilty of violating the following articles of the European Convention on Human Rights:

    1. Article 2—by the killing of innocent civilians committed on a substantial scale;

    2. Article 3—by the rape of women of all ages from 12 to 71;

    3. Article 3—by inhuman treatment of prisoners and persons detained;

    4. Article 5—by deprivation of liberty with regard to detainees and missing persons;

    5. Article 8—by displacement of persons creating more than 170,000 Greek Cypriot refugees, and by refusing to allow the refugees to return to their homes;

    6. Article 1 of the First Protocol to the Convention—by deprivation of possessions, looting and robbery on an extensive scale.

On January 23, 1977, the London Sunday Times published excerpts of the report and stated: "It amounts to a massive indictment of the Ankara government for the murder, rape and looting by its army in Cyprus during and after the Turkish invasion of summer 1974."

NATO’s failure to act against Turkey is a stain on its honor.

Why haven’t the Turkish military leaders and political leaders of 1974 been brought before a war tribunal for their aggression and war crimes?

The appeasement of Turkey by NATO was centered on Turkey’s alleged strategic importance to the defense of the West in Cold War era, to excuse its failure to apply the provisions of the North Atlantic Treaty to Turkey. The additional tragedy of Cyprus is that the alleged strategic importance of Turkey is highly questionable if not a myth. The record shows that during the Cold War Turkey brushed aside NATO and U.S. interests on many occasions and deliberately gave substantial assistance to the Soviet military.

In 1974, Edward Luttwak, the noted strategic analyst, stated the following regarding Turkey’s cooperation with the Soviet military. 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 unreliability 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.

(3) Over NATO objections, Turkey allowed three Soviet aircraft carriers, the Kiev on July 18, 1976, the Minsk on February 25, 1979 and theNovorosiisk 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.

3. 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.

    1. 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.)

    2. 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 ofNewsweek, 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.

    3. 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.

NATO’s policy of a double standard on the rule of law and appeasement of Turkey should end now in the interests of NATO in upholding its values and principles set forth in the North Atlantic Treaty.

Although Turkey continues to violate the North Atlantic Treaty by its presence in Cyprus, NATO has ignored the transgression. Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus is a stain on NATO’s history and will remain until Turkey removes its illegal troops and illegal settlers and ends its illegal occupation of Cyprus.

NATO should, in accordance with the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty, take action against Turkey. It should have done so in 1974. It should do so now. At a minimum it should suspend Turkey from NATO until its aggression in Cyprus has been "purged."


For additional information, please contact Vivian Basdekis at (202) 785-8430 or at For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at