American Hellenic Institute


Facebook Image
AHI Welcomes Line of Questioning about Turkey in GOP South Carolina Debate
January 18, 2012—No. 05 (202) 785-8430

AHI Welcomes Line of Questioning about Turkey in GOP South Carolina Debate

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) welcomes the line of questioning on whether Turkey belongs in NATO as raised by Fox News Anchor Bret Baier during the Fox News/Wall Street Journal Republican Debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C. on January 16, 2012.

During the debate, Baier raised the following question to Republican Presidential Candidate Governor Rick Perry:

“Governor Perry, since the Islamist-oriented party took over in Turkey, the murder rate of women has increased 1,400 percent there. Press freedom has declined to the level of Russia. The prime minister of Turkey has embraced Hamas and Turkey has threatened military force against both Israel and Cyprus. Given Turkey’s turn, do you believe Turkey still belongs in NATO?”

Gov. Perry responded:

"Well, obviously, when you have a country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists, when you start seeing that type of activity against their own citizens, then yes—not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong in NATO, but it's time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go zero with it."


In a follow-up interview with CNN as reported by The Hill, Gov. Perry did not distance himself from his response on Turkey, "This is a country that's got some explaining to do to the United States.”

AHI President Nick Larigakis welcomed the line of questioning on Turkey and Gov. Perry’s scrutiny of Turkey’s NATO membership.

“This is a welcomed discussion especially at the presidential debate level,” said Larigakis. “We have long called for a critical review of United States policy toward Turkey in our policy statements. We have consistently maintained that Turkey is an unreliable ally of the United States, which is clearly evident in Turkey’s actions not just in the present day as touched upon by Mr. Baier’s spot-on question but throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century.”

Turkey, Unreliable Ally, Undermines NATO

AHI President Larigakis added that on numerous occasions during the Cold War Turkey undermined NATO’s efforts by actively aiding the Soviet military to the serious detriment of the United States. Examples include:

  1. During the 1973 Middle 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.
  2. Over NATO objections, Turkey allowed three Soviet aircraft carriers, the Kiev on July 18, 1976, the Minsk on February 25, 1979, and the Novorosiisk 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 United States 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.
  4. 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.”1 This position was voiced over a period of months by Turkish officials, the opposition party and the military chief of staff, General Kenan Evren.2

In 2003, Turkey refused to allow the United States to use bases in Turkey to open a northern front against the Saddam Hussein dictatorship. Turkey’s reasoning was that it wanted $6 billion more—in addition to $26 billion irresponsibly offered by the Bush administration through then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz—for a total of $32 billion. A former Bush administration official called Turkey’s negotiating tactics “extortion in the name of alliance.”3 Therefore, the United States’ successful prosecution of the war against Iraq without access from Turkey proved Turkey’s limited value as a strategic military resource in the region.

“In 2012, Turkey, a member of NATO, is illegally occupying a member of the European Union, the Republic of Cyprus, which it has done for 37 years,” said Larigakis. “In addition, Turkey has threatened Israel and Cyprus as the two countries exercise their sovereign rights to explore oil and gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean through the U.S. firm Noble Energy, which has also been the target of Turkish threats.”

AHI also cites American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Resident Scholar Michael Rubin’s blog entry on the issue titled, “Was Perry wrong on Turkey?” Rubin points out:

1. New York Times, May 15, 1979, at A1, col. 3.
2. See The Washington Post and New York Times, April—September 1979.
3. New York Times, Feb. 20, 2003; A1; col. 6.


The American Hellenic Institute is an independent non-profit Greek American public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.


For additional information, please contact Demetra Atsaloglou at (202) 785-8430 or at For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at