Thanks to Germany
German ban on arms sales to Turkey will help develop local
Trump’s pre-election discourse that advises NATO members to ramp up their military expenditure is not new and has roots in the past. The idea annoyed Turks that buy arms out of NATO members. Emeritus Professor Ilter Turan evaluates NATO policies of countries and their defense strategies for Dunya Executive. • Why does Trump constantly complain about NATO? The US believes European countries should contribute more to NATO Alliance budget, that is used as a vehicle for the joint defense of the continent since the end of the Second World War that has destroyed Europe entirely. There are claims that European countries are exploiting a safe haven created by the NATO defense system without paying a proper price. The U.S has provided 72 percent of the NATO’s $921.5 billion budget. However one should look at the details of the expenditures and analyze after closely seeing where the money is gone. Defense costs increase according to the distance of the country where you are conducting an operation. The U.S has military bases in different parts of the world. These bases are the forefronts of the U.S defense activities. It wouldn’t be right to call them as useless costs. Turkey is the eight country with the largest military in the NATO. But one should note that Turkey isn’t paying a significant salary to the privates serving in its army. On the other hand western countries do pay larger amounts of salaries to their staff. • Could the European position in the NATO change? European Union doesn’t have the capacity to deploy its own defense force. However a few countries in the EU has enough power to handle its own defense. All have their own defense plan and shape it according to their needs and joint defense capacity. It seems impossible for those EU nations to act together in NATO as a European group. Three major military powers in the Western Europe are French, United Kingdom and Germany. As currently seen in Middle East and Africa, France and Britain never hesitates to use its forces for their own interest. Case for Germany is a bit problematic. It acts prudently when dealing with military issues with a historic background that is responsible of the bloody Second World War that destroyed Europe. So if Germany begins to establish military bases in other European countries then others including France would be disturbed. When you consider all of these, a European defense without the U.S leadership would be weaker. The U.S presence balances Germany. • Do you think European Union countries will increase their defense budgets? It is clear that European public is reluctant on increasing their defense budget. The roots of that reluctance depend on the idea that there is no such security issue in the continent. Is this real? There are soft threats and I believe immigration and terror are among them. These do not require increasing classical defense budget expenditures. “German public isn’t interested in the words of the U.S president saying that defense expenditures should be increased. However Russian aggregation could increase, may create a concern,” a politician said in a conference in Brussels, last week. It seems that in order to convince the European public about an increase on defense budgets, first they should be convinced about the Russian threat. The hesitation over the Russian expansion has increased significantly after the annexation of Crimea and its attacks on the stability of Ukraine. Moreover Russian aim to create domains in the Middle East and Libya are being noticed. The European optimism suggests that establishing mutual economic dependency is wiser than trying to stop Russian military. • Are Turkey’s defense moves annoying NATO? Every country has a common interest in NATO and those that contradict with the alliance, as well. It is not a major problem unless they contradict with the NATO strategy and policies. Countries like us that has experienced the Cyprus problem, knows how contradictory interest create a problem in the alliance. Another problem among the NATO countries are the arm sale suspensions of a member to another one due to unfavorable domestic or foreign policy of the buyer. There is a huge global market and you can find those arms with slight differences in the quality from another vendor. However these kind of moves weaken the alliance and its joint defense. Moreover those arms you buy from a non-NATO member are sometimes incompatible with the NATO defense system. This prevents to serve the alliance in full capacity. This is not something favorable and it allows the member to act independently from the alliance. The Germans who denied selling tanks and Austrians who hold their technical support for tank engine, will be contributing to Turkey in its efforts to build its own tank in the long term. We should be thankful to our Western allies for denying us and helping improve our projects. Especially Germany deserves a sincere acknowledgement in pushing Turkey to build its own tank.