The Turkish-Syrian crisis constitutes a landmark in the evolution of Turkey's post-Cold War Middle East policy. The crisis culminated in an agreement signed by Turkey and Syria on October 20, 1998,1 in the Turkish city of Adana. The Syrian government agreed to cease all support for the PKK (Kurdistan Workers party), which had been used since the 1980s as a political card in relations with the Turkish state.
By the terms of the agreement, Syria for the first time acknowledged that the PKK was a terrorist organization. Further, Syria agreed to do the following: (1) expel PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan from Syria, where he had taken refuge since the early 1980s; (2) arrest PKK militants active in Syria and uproot the PKK camps there; (3) cease providing weapons and logistical it to use Syrian soil for commercial benefit or propaganda activities against Turkey; and finally, (4) extend cooperation with Turkey against the PKK well into the future. To this end Syria agreed, although with reservations (see below), to establish "certain mechanisms" that would aid in implementing all these measures "in the most effective and transparent way."
These Syrian concessions could have far-reaching implications, not only for Turkey's post-Cold War Middle East policy, but also for the unfolding Middle East peace process, of which "international terrorism" is a determining factor.
One of the most important aims of Turkish foreign policy in the post-Cold War era has been to tackle successfully the external threats that were perceived to have shifted from the north to the south and southeast of Turkey with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.2 This task was supposed to be accomplished without deviating from the basic objectives pursued since the 1960s, based upon the preservation of neutrality in the Arab-Israeli dispute and other conflicts involving the regional states and the West.3
The perceived threats Turkey confronted in the post-Cold War era included the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the myriad religious, ethnic and border conflicts that threatened regional stability.4 The struggle against the separatist activities of the PKK was to be given priority, while diplomacy remained the preferable foreign-policy instrument to tackle external threats.
The PKK has threatened Turkey's national unity and territorial integrity in more direct and dangerous ways than the Soviet Union did in the course of more than 40 years of the Cold War. The PKK has its roots both inside and outside the country. Inside, it exploited Turkey's economically underdeveloped southeast region in an effort to carve out an independent Kurdish state. It was not supported by the bulk of the Kurdish population, most of which was concentrated in the big cities of Turkey's west. Outside Turkey, the PKK was supported by regional neighbors in various degrees to extract various concessions from the Turkish state. Turkish civilian and military officials believed that coping with the domestic economic reasons for the PKK's existence would be easier once it was forced to give up the armed struggle against the government. Although Turkish armed forces had demonstrated growing effectiveness in the 1990s in reducing the fighting ability of the PKK and restoring order in the southeastern cities, this success had come at a high cost: 30,000 military and civilian casualties (including the elderly and children) and $86 billion, which approximated Turkey's entire external debt.5 The government could not achieve lasting success unless the PKK's outside support was cut off.
As the primary supporter of the PKK, Syria has always been the focal point in Turkish post-Cold War strategy. According to Turkish authorities, Syria used the PKK card to pressure Ankara to be more forthcoming about the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, both originating in Turkey. Syria was not satisfied with the Economic Cooperation Protocol of July 17, 1987, which committed Turkey to release at least 500 cubic meters of water per second to Syria.6 Syria fears a drastic reduction in quality as well as quantity, due to Turkey's development project for Southeastern Anatolia (GAP). In addition to development projects in agriculture and industry, GAP includes the construction of 21 dams and 17 hydroelectric power plants on the Euphrates and Tigris and their tributaries during the early 2000s.7 In order to secure an uninterrupted flow from these rivers, Syria and Iraq have pressed the Turkish government to sign a water agreement with them based on the principle of "sharing."8
Syria's support for the PKK differed from that provided by the other regional states. From the time that Abdullah Ocalan first settled there in 1979, Syria provided financial, military and logistical support to the PKK, hosting its headquarters and training camps. It helped recruit personnel and exerted influence on PKK strategy and tactics.9 According to Turkish intelligence officials, Damascus also provided 80 percent of the basic necessities of the PKK camps functioning in northern Iraq.10
Syria also put pressure on Turkey by bringing the issue into the international sphere, using historical Arab solidarity against Turkey (and the Ottomans), international law, and the special position of Syria in the peace process. The Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have, for example, called upon Turkey to be more cooperative toward Syria and Iraq on the water issue.11 Even Jordan, the closest moderate Arab state to Turkey and also suffering from the water shortage, apparently expected Turkey to make a gesture concerning the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris that would alleviate the water shortage in the region.12
Still another component of Syrian policy was strategic cooperation with neighbors who had similar motivations. In 1995, Syria agreed to permit the Greek air force to land at Syrian air bases.13 That same year, Russia's role in the picture became clarified.14 Moscow permitted the third meeting of the "Kurdish Parliament in Exile" to be held in a building next to the Duma with the participation of some Russian parliamentarians. Russia also concluded a "military and technical cooperation agreement" with Greece and tried to draw Iran into a strategic partnership.
These developments contributed to the toughening of the Turkish stance toward the Arab world in general and Syria in particular. In a memorandum issued on January 23, 1996, Turkey charged Syria with having engaged in de facto aggression by supporting the PKK and stressed that, according to Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, Turkey was entitled to adopt self-defense measures against Syria.15 In the same memorandum, Turkey underlined that normalization of relations between Turkey and Syria required that Syria cease support for the PKK and reportedly registered for the first time the official Turkish demand that Ocalan and his collaborators be turned over to Turkish authorities. 16
This memorandum was immediately followed by the signing of the "Military Training and Cooperation Agreement" between Turkey and Israel in February 1996.17 In their explanation of the implications of this agreement for Turkey's relations with the Arab world, the Turks pointed out that it was directed against no third parties.18 Official statements suggest the following expectations:19 (1) the enhancement of Turkey's defense posture, (2) the deterrence of Syria from supporting the PKK and the Arab countries from supporting Syria, and (3) Turkey's contribution to the peace process through enhanced relations with Israel and continuing support for the Arab cause.
Despite strained relations with Syria and the Arab world in the wake of Turkish-Israeli military cooperation, Turkey has continued to try to use diplomacy to mitigate the tension. In early 1998, Turkey posed a peace initiative for the Middle East aimed at regional cooperation for stability. The head of the Middle East Department at the Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ambassador Aykut Cetirge, visited Damascus in February 1998 in an attempt to re-start the dialogue that had been cut off since 1995.20 This move was reciprocated by the visit of Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Adnan Omran to Ankara in July of the same year. These contacts came to nothing.21 The Turkish side later pointed to this diplomatic failure as justifying Turkey's resort to gunboat diplomacy.
THE OCTOBER 1998 CRISIS
Turkish political leaders called their policy toward Syria in October 1988 "crisis management," a "flexible response" strategy that would gradually escalate the crisis so long as Syria declined to respond to Turkey's demands.22 It was military coercion without the direct application of force. The crisis that it started was perceived with equal apprehension both within the region and outside. It was feared that if Turkey resorted to military force against Syria, the bilateral crisis could turn into an Arab-Turkish one, further exacerbating tensions caused by the stalling of the Arab-Israeli peace process.23
In what appeared to be a calculated move, strong verbal warnings to Syria from high-ranking Turkish military and civilian officials to the effect that Turkey was running out of patience concerning the support for the PKK suddenly escalated the tension between the two countries. A crisis ensued when Turkey began massing troops along the border and Syria retaliated, following the blunt statement made by Turkish Chief of Staff General Hilseyin Kivrikoglu to the effect that Turkey was engaged in an "undeclared war" with Syria over its support of PKK terrorism.
Turkey's strategy in its initial stage involved explaining its case before international bodies such as the U.N. Security Council, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and the Arab League. If this move did not generate international pressure on Syria to stop supporting the PKK, then diplomacy would give way to military escalation ranging from the harassing of Syrian ships in the Mediterranean to the aerial bombing of key targets in Syria.24
This policy was successful in gradually influencing the Syrian leadership. At first, Turkish warnings coupled with demonstrations of military force along the frontier were met with indifference. A statement issued by the Syrian embassy in Ankara25 asserted that "the Turkish escalation" of the crisis coincided with the establishment of the Turkish-Israeli "military pact" and the refusal of the regional peoples to become part of it. Blaming the Turkish side for the lack of dialogue between the two states, the statement also said that the Syrian side refused to bow to intimidation. Not only did the Syrian statement reject cooperation with Turkey to solve the crisis; Syria also retaliated by massing troops 30-40 km from the Turkish frontier and installing 36 of its 120 Scud-C missiles 55 km from the border. Meanwhile, the official Syrian news agency SANA announced the readiness of the Syrian leadership to initiate a serious dialogue with Turkey only if the latter was ready to give up its cooperation with Israel.26
Yet immediately afterwards Turkish policy began to show its impact, when divisions within the Syrian cabinet and among different sectors of the Syrian military became public knowledge. According to press reports based on Turkish intelligence sources,27 the Syrian defense minister and the chief of staff argued that in the case of a war between Turkey and Syria, Turkey would win, due to its superior armed forces, and that a Syrian defeat would likely result in the Asad regime's overthrow, which would directly benefit Israel. In contrast, the commanders of the Syrian air and naval forces argued against expelling Ocalan from Syria, recommending instead procrastination.28 Although reportedly undecided at the beginning, Hafiz al-Asad soon sent Turkey a verbal message via Iranian Foreign Minister Kemal Kharrazi to the effect that Syria had already begun arresting PKK militants and would expel them along with Ocalan without publicizing the event.29 Syria's concrete steps toward ending its support for the PKK were signaled to the Turks for the first time by messages sent through Iranian and Egyptian foreign ministers on October 13, 1998.30 On October 20 Premier Yilmaz announced that Ocalan was no longer in Damascus. This was followed by the signing of the Adana agreement on October 20, 1998.
The agreement included a clause which said that the parties “agreed to establish certain mechanisms so that the measures [that are supposed to be taken by Syria against the PKK] will be implemented in an effective and transparent way.”31 These "mechanisms," which included the establishment of a hotline between the two countries and the appointment of two (later to be increased to four) special officials to each other's diplomatic representations, were in place within ten days of the conclusion of the agreement.32 The mechanisms also included the holding of a tripartite security meeting with Lebanon to cooperate against the PKK and the establishment of a system for evaluating the effectiveness of confidence-building measures proposed by the Turkish side.33 According to the Adana agreement, the Syrian negotiating team pledged to submit this Turkish proposal for the approval of Syrian authorities.34 It reportedly concerned an on-site inspection by the Turks about which the Syrians had been sensitive from the beginning.35
Turkish military coercion also prompted Egyptian President Husni Mubarak to initiate his own mediation between Turkey and Syria. Egypt was later joined in this effort by Iran. Egypt had several motivations, primarily a concern for protecting Arab interests.36 Indeed the crisis of October 1998 was reminiscent of the Turkish-Syrian crisis of 1957 in terms of the Arab solidarity displayed.37 Perhaps the most revealing manifestation was the declaration issued by the representatives of the 22 members of the Arab League to the United Nations. The group denounced Turkish threats and declared solidarity with Syria in the crisis; it called upon Turkey to negotiate with Syria and declared its support for the efforts of President Mubarak to defuse the crisis.38
Like the other Arab states, Egypt must have felt that Israel would be the only victor in a war between Turkey and Syria. Although Turkey did not seem enthusiastic about Mubarak's mediation, Egypt's involvement benefited Turkey by increasing the impact of its gunboat diplomacy. Mubarak took pains to explain to the Syrian leadership that the Turks were not bluffing and that both the Arab world and Syria would be the losers in their struggle with Israel in the event of Turkish military intervention.
The Turks did not need to be warned by the Egyptian leader about the harm that would be inflicted on Turkish-Arab relations if Turkey attacked Syria. It was precisely for this reason that Turkey had held back for more than ten years.39 In the October crisis, the fact that the Turkish government did not go before Parliament to ask permission to use force against Syria suggests that it still preferred other options.40 While quite threatening, Turkish public statements simultaneously emphasized Turkey's willingness to establish normal relations as soon as Syria agreed to cease support of the PKK.41
Turkey was reluctant to bring the issue to the U.N. Security Council, reportedly to evade the risk of being held responsible for escalating the crisis. This crisis ended without being brought before the council, although Secretary General Kofi Annan's aide for political affairs, Sir Kieran Prendergast, asked Turkey's permanent representative, Volkan Vural, to inform the United Nations about developments relating to it.42 Another sign of Turkey's cautiousness about using military force against Syria was the fact that, although the crisis was resolved by the ousting of PKK militants and Ocalan from Syria, this did not fulfill Turkey's original condition for dialogue: the handover of Ocalan to the Turkish side.43
TIMING AND THE ROLE OF THE ARMY
Why had Turkish policy makers waited so long to act? Turkey had become increasingly frustrated by Syria's lack of response to a written request filed in May 1996 that they turn Ocalan over to Turkey and immediately cease all support for the PKK.44 A similar request, in an official "goodwill" letter presented to the Syrian envoy visiting Turkey in July 1998 in an atmosphere of a new peace initiative of the Turkish government toward the entire Arab world, had produced no result.45 The anti-Syrian attitude of Turkish public opinion, generated by the highly publicized confessions of Sirri Sakik in official interrogations in which he revealed the Syrian connection with PKK terrorism, also seems to have had some bearing on this crisis.46
In addition, the Washington agreement of September 17, 1998, gave rise to grave concern on Turkey's part. The agreement47 committed the major Kurdish leaders of northern Iraq, Mahmoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, to bury the hatchet. For the first time since they had cut off all contact with one another four years earlier over a feud related to the administration of northern Iraq, the two agreed to work together with a view to holding elections in the summer of 1999 to set up the nucleus of a joint administration of the territory. Certain provisions of this agreement had the potential to create harmful effects for Turkish foreign policy toward northern Iraq.
Turkey had been categorically opposed to any initiative that might bring about the establishment of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq. Turkey's preferred solution was to facilitate a compromise between the Barzani and Talabani groups to set up a temporary administrative mechanism that would effectively deny the PKK a stronghold there. This would be pending the eventual restoration of the authority of the Baghdad government throughout Iraq and following its reconciliation with the northern Iraqi Kurdish leaders.48 Before the signing of the Washington agreement, Turkey felt itself to be in a position to promote such a modus vivendi between the two Kurdish groups with the backing of the United States. Yet, as it turned out, the United States left Turkey largely out of the process.49
Furthermore, the Washington agreement came to involve a specific promise by which the two Kurdish leaders would, with the support of the United States, collaborate within the framework of a Kurdish federal administration toward the eventual establishment of a federated state in Iraq. Such an intent by the Kurdish leaders in question was totally unacceptable to Turkey on at least two grounds. First, it tended to confirm longstanding Turkish fears that, so long as Saddam Hussein remained in power, it was highly unlikely that there would be a reconciliation between the Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq and the central government in Baghdad that would salvage the territorial integrity and national unity of Iraq. Since one could not count on the eventual overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime or on the possibility that its successor would adopt an accommodating posture toward the United States, the Iraqi conflict could be expected to linger on, with harmful consequences for Turkey's national security. A Kurdish government in northern Iraq could well usher in the beginnings of a Kurdish state. Turkish officials appeared profoundly disturbed by the prospect of such an independent state in northern Iraq fueling separatist tendencies throughout the region.
By the same agreement, the two Kurdish leaders pledged to make a common effort to deny the PKK a safe haven in northern Iraq from which it could launch raids into Turkish territory. This aspect of the agreement was totally in accord with Turkish post-Gulf War foreign-policy objectives. Yet the Kurdish leaders also expressed in the agreement their determination to prevent any outside encroachments into northern Iraq.50 This suggested to the Turks that their anti-PKK military operations in northern Iraq would no longer be tolerated by the United States. The supportive U.S. attitude had produced a somewhat calming effect in international fora, including the KDP of Barzani, which had tended to come out strongly against these operations.
A statement by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit confirms the connection between the Washington Agreement of September 17, 1998, and the outbreak of the Syrian crisis. As Ecevit put it, the Turks feared that the agreement represented the first step toward the establishment of an independent Kurdish state and would provide the PKK with the opportunity to become more active in northern Iraq, with more opportunities to penetrate into Turkey.51 This meant that previous Turkish efforts to control the situation in northern Iraq were now jeopardized by the Washington agreement. According to statements made by Turkish intelligence officers at the time, forcing Syria to cease support to the PKK became a perceived necessity, to neutralize the militants there before they became more active thanks to the help provided by the Washington accord.52
If the Washington agreement was the trigger, the increasing disappointment among the Turkish military with the perceived failure of the Turkish Foreign Ministry to launch an effective international campaign against Syria was the finger that pulled it.53 The Turkish armed forces' growing irritation with PKK terrorism began to translate into a more active role by the military in foreign policy. This had begun early in the 1990s when the Turkish army apparently led the process of intensifying Turkish-Israeli military cooperation, probably without the concurrence of the foreign min is try.54
The Turkish military's active role in foreign policy became much more pronounced during the REFAHYOL (Welfare Party - True Path party coalition) government, in 1996-97, under the Islamist Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan. It was in this period that a National Security Council Memorandum of February 28, 1997, warned the Erbakan government of "sanctions" if it failed to take effective measures against "separatist and fundamentalist" activities in Turkey.55 At the time, the Turkish armed forces felt that the Foreign Ministry was not active enough in initiating an international campaign to deny supporters of the PKK a free hand.56 This, however, seemed more of a difference over approach than over basic principles.57
It is also important to note that the military coercion policy adopted by Turkey toward Syria during the October crisis enjoyed the support of the Turkish public. A public-opinion poll taken in Turkey October 1-11, 1998,58 showed that the majority favored remaining firm to ensure Syrian cooperation on the PKK issue. They preferred that force not be used against Syria, even though the policy included the threat of force. Finally, the poll revealed that the majority believed that firmness without recourse to brute force would be sufficient to ensure Syrian cooperation on the PKK problem.
IMPLICATIONS FOR TURKEY'S FOREIGN RELATIONS
The Arab solidarity against Turkey that was revealed during the October crisis was not new. On many occasions in the past, Arab countries had issued joint declarations in support of an Arab state that had conflicts with Turkey.59 The novelty of the October crisis was that it took place at a time of growing resentment on the part of the Arab world towards the policies of the Netanyahu government, which the Arab states held primarily responsible for stalling the peace process. This resentment was also directed against Turkey, the only Islamic state with intimate ties to Israel. The Final Declaration of the Eighth Summit of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) held in Tehran in December 1997 indicated the member states' "deep concern" regarding Turkey's military cooperation with Israel and called on Turkey to cease it at once.60
The unprecedented Turkish-U.S. Israeli military cooperation and the reaction against it recalled the 1950s, when the region was divided into "anti-Western" and "pro-Western" states.61 However, the nature of the relations among Turkey, the United States and Israel differed from their anti-Soviet cooperation. The October crisis shed some light on the real nature of Turkish Israeli military cooperation.62 In the late 1950s, Israel took a leading role in forming the "Periphery Alliance," a military pact with Turkey, Iran and Ethiopia against perceived Soviet expansionism and the Arab nationalism led by Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser that was associated with it.63 There were allegations during the October crisis that Israeli intelligence provided the Turkish side with information on the whereabouts of Ocalan after he was expelled from Syria.64 However, the Israelis seemed anxious during the October crisis to convey the impression that they were not in any way involved. This was probably out of fear that Egypt and Syria, feeling pressure from a Turkish-Israeli military front, would establish a joint front themselves. Thus Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak. Mordechai reportedly instructed the Israeli Defense Forces to delay a series of training exercises and scale back some of the usual military activities along the Syrian border.65
Reportedly, the eagerness of Israeli officials to demonstrate their non-involvement irritated the Turks. Even more disturbing was the Israeli unwillingness, contrary to the mutual pledge in the 1996 Turkish-Israeli Military Training and Cooperation Agreement, to pass to the Turkish side intelligence information about Syria. Instead they gave out the kind of ordinary information that could be gleaned from the media.66 Of course, the October crisis fell short of a real test for Turkish-Israeli military cooperation, since hostilities were averted. Had a military confrontation taken place, Turkey and Israel might have had to put at least a temporary halt to their cooperation.67
Still, despite the tensions between the two countries during the October crisis, the fact that war between Turkey and Syria was averted confirmed the value of Turkish-Israeli cooperation in the eyes of Turkish and Israeli leaders. This seems confirmed by the decision of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, accompanied by President of the Knesset Dan Tichon, Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai, and other ministers, bureaucrats and high-level army commanders, to attend the celebration at the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic.68 Apparently, the Israeli premier seldom attended such celebrations other than those of Egypt and the United States.
Turkey's cooperation with Israel will probably not cause a rupture in Turkey's long-cultivated ties with the Islamic states. Despite the previously mentioned manifestations of Arab solidarity during the October crisis, Arab countries were also careful not to damage their relations with Turkey. For example, the same declarations issued by the representatives of the 22 Arab countries at the United Nations also emphasized that Arab countries were still concerned with the preservation of historical Arab ties with Turkey.69 Most important, when Italy was seeking a state willing to accept Ocalan, Libya seemed to be the only Arab country that would consider it. Reportedly, the others had made it quite clear that they did not want to alienate Turkey.70
Egypt, the leader of the anti-Western Arab nationalism that involved Syria in the 1950s, and Iran, openly critical of Turkey's military cooperation with Israel in the 1990s, got involved in a goodwill mission between Turkey and Syria in what appeared to be a sincere effort on their part. This does not mean they did not expect to reap political benefits in return, of course.71
Jordan, whose moderation in the 1950s did not prevent it from supporting Syria against Turkey during the 1957 crisis involving Turkey and Syria,72 assumed a position in the October 1998 crisis that resembled benevolent neutrality in favor of Turkey. Then-Crown Prince Hassan described the Turkish-Syrian crisis as a "chronic tension" in which the water issue constituted one of the causes. Although he explicitly stated that on this issue Jordan was in favor of "the emergence of a common regional concept of sharing" of the regional waters - which meant supporting, in principle, the Syrian position,73 - he also indicated that Jordan had turned down the Syrian request for support on the grounds that Jordan must not take sides in order to be able to contribute to disposing of the present crisis. Hassan also echoed the Turkish civilian and military leaders to the effect that the Turkish-Syrian crisis could not be described as a Turkish-Arab crisis74 and that it could be resolved only when Syria put an end to PKK activities on Syrian soil.
It would be premature to predict that the October 1998 crisis opened a new period of relations between Turkey and Syria involving increasing cooperation on the PKK issue. To be sure, Syria today remains engaged in the Middle East peace process. However, to what extent can one count on the kind of smooth Turkish-Syrian cooperation that would prevent the renewal of this crisis?
Syria appears to be making plans to tum its momentary defeat in the October crisis into a long-term victory by insisting on a reciprocal gesture from Turkey on the water issue75 to "normalize" relations between the two countries. Such a request might be expected to find a sympathetic hearing, not only from Egypt76 and Jordan, but also from the United States, Israel and the West in particular, whose past seemingly pro-Arab attitude on the water issue77 would justify such an expectation. A future confrontation between Turkey and the international community concerning the water issue, appears to have been presaged in May 1997, when the United States supported the U.N. General Assembly in passing a pro-Syrian Draft Resolution on the "Cross-border Rivers."78 This development might confirm Turkey's worst fears about the possibility of being subjected to international pressure, even from its traditional allies, on the water issue.79
Shortly after the Syrian concessions during the October crisis, the Syrian side requested that joint committee meetings be renewed (suspended by Turkey on the grounds that Syria must first cooperate on the terrorism question) and that experts from Turkey and Syria take up "security, water and other political issues."80 Until the end of 1998, Turkey has not answered these Syrian calls, on the grounds that, since expelling Ocalan, the Syrian side has evaded its general responsibilities under the Adana protocol (reportedly in implementing the "technical details").81 Reports issued by the Turkish Intelligence Organization (MIT), the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the armed forces have all pointed out that gunboat diplomacy toward Syria produced results "on paper" but not in reality.82 Apparently, all the members of the Turkish National Security Council, in which commanders of the Turkish armed forces have visible weight, have agreed that inspection mechanisms - a part of the Adana agreement - must be made effective.83 In addition, the Turkish Armed Forces have been making statements since the start of the October crisis to the effect that no step back can be taken, since this would undercut Turkey's credibility and "no state would take Turkey seriously anymore."84
If the Turkish leaders were to conclude that Syria, having expelled Ocalan to avert Turkish military intervention, is inclined to backslide, possibly on the grounds that Turkey is not reciprocating on water, the crisis could start all over again.
The PKK appears to be too precious a political asset for Syria in influencing developments in northern Iraq and exerting control over its own Kurdish minority to be abandoned easily. Besides, as Makovsky and Eisenstadt have argued, Syria might even prefer to absorb a Turkish retaliatory military attack. It might not be devastating anyway in view of the U.S. and international pressure that would be brought against Turkey to stop it. In return Damascus could expect increased political support in the Arab world, increased Arab support on the water issue, Arab opposition to Turkey's relations with Israel, and pressure on Jordan to curb its growing military ties with Ankara.85
Turkey is also not optimistic regarding Lebanese cooperation, although in the Adana protocol, Turkey and Syria agreed to try to get Lebanon on board.86 This was considered another Turkish diplomatic victory, since Syria had turned down previous Turkish requests for a tripartite struggle against the PKK.87 Shortly after the signing of the Adana protocol on October 20, the Lebanese government reportedly signaled to the Turkish side a willingness to cooperate on the PKK question.88 Yet more than a month later, the Lebanese had still not responded to calls for a tripartite security meeting. Turkish diplomatic circles thought that, as with the prospects for Syrian compliance with the Adana protocol, Lebanese participation in such a meeting was also "a remote possibility."89 In fact, at the moment that the Syrian information minister and Syrian television were stressing that Syria could not relinquish its rights to Hatay [Alexandretta], Lebanese President Gazi Seyfettin was telling Syrian television, in effect, that Turkey aimed to overthrow the Asad regime and control Lebanon, and that the Lebanese government had given full support to Syria.90
Relations with Iraq also hold no great promise. In order to prove that the Washington Protocol of September 1998 does not bind Turkey, the Turkish state announced its own declaration in November 1998 concerning northern Iraq. This declaration appeared to be intended to replace the Washington Protocol, stating that the future of Iraq would be decided by the free will of the Iraqi people as a whole.91 At the same time, Ankara brought Kurdish leaders Barzani and Talabani to Turkey. Both emphasized that, although federation remained their aspiration for the future of Iraq, its realization depended both on the free will of the people of Iraq as a whole and on the cooperation of the central authority in Baghdad.92
In 1997, Iraq had upgraded its support for the PKK by allowing it to open offices in Baghdad-controlled southern Iraq. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit (now prime minister) said that this support by Saddam Hussein of the PKK posed a threat to Turkey and that Turkey would take the necessary precautions against it. This warning also seemed to address Iran, Greece and Armenia, who are on record as supporting the PKK in a variety of ways.93 All these Turkish threats of retaliation against the regional states supporting the PKK appear to increase the likelihood of conflict, a prospect which Turkey's Western partners fear. They seem to be holding back, in case Turkey engages in a military confrontation with one of its neighbors.94
The PKK has been a political card not only for Syria but for other states. Russia, for example, appears to have been trying to pose a counterforce to U.S. influence in the region and has not forgotten Turkish support for Chechen separatists during the war between Moscow and the autonomous region of Chechnya.95 Helping Syria to modernize its armed forces has been part of this Russian policy. Russia justifies it by pointing to the close cooperation between Turkey and Israel. In a statement in November 1998, Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev argued that Turkey, through its rapid-armament policy and its ties with the United States and Israel (a "politico-military front" in the Middle East), strives to change the regional balance of forces to its favor, erecting itself as a barrier to regional peace.96
The Duma unanimously (with one abstention) called upon President Yeltsin to grant political asylum to Ocalan after he fled Syria.97 Russia did not permit him to stay, however. The possibility that Turkey could impose economic sanctions on Russia was perhaps a factor. But even more serious was the possibility that Turkey would start supporting Turkish Muslims in Russia and gaining influence with the Turkic Republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus. Turkey suspects that Russia will be inclined to use the PKK card regarding the transportation of Caspian oil to world markets. Indeed, Ocalan's letter to the Duma appealing for political asylum,98 in which he stressed that the "struggle for oil" was involved in the efforts of Turkey and its Western protectors to finish off the PKK, shortly followed the declaration of the Ankara Protocol of October 29, 1998. This was an agreement, in which Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan·, Georgia and Turkey announced their determination to realize the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline project to bring Caspian oil to Europe via the Ceyhan terminal in southern Turkey. Russia saw the project as an economic as well as a political threat to its status throughout the former communist bloc. In an apparent reference to this Russian perception, Ocalan said in the same letter, "I would like to tie my destiny to my allies."99
The PKK question has increasingly become an international issue since the 1991 Gulf War, a phenomenon in which the October crisis constituted a landmark. This might well be the beginning of a new era in Turkish-PKK relations, the latter following in the footsteps of the PLO, which successfully shifted its struggle against Israel from terrorism into the political arena.
If the PKK succeeds in fashioning itself as a national liberation movement, Turkey's relations with its Western allies may be threatened. Turkey's relations with West European countries have become particularly tense in the wake of the capture of Ocalan in Italy. After their meeting on November 27, 1998, the prime ministers of Italy and Germany announced100 that they had decided to lead an all-European initiative to "find a political settlement" to Turkey's Kurdish problem. Their announcement created an uproar in Turkey.101 Turkish leaders stated that this announcement amounted to gross interference in Turkey's internal affairs, touching on a life-and-death question for Turkey. According to them, EU actions confirmed Turkish suspicions that Europe was aiming at reviving the Sevres Treaty of 1920, which had partitioned Anatolia along ethnic lines.102 This Turkish reaction suggested the further alienation of Turkey from Europe, a process that seems to have gained momentum, particularly since the start of the EU Customs Union at the beginning of 1996.103 Thus, former Turkish Foreign Minister Mümtaz Soysal declared that Ocalan's extradition to Turkey was more important than Turkey's full membership in the EU.104 Some even argued that the initiative of the German and Italian premiers - combined with EU Commission reports calling the Kurdish citizens of Turkey "minorities" - indicated that the time had come for Turkey to reevaluate its relations with Europe, including the Customs Union.105
Even Turkey's strongest Western supporter on the PKK, the United States, has made confusing noises on Turkey's Kurdish problem. Washington contributed to the ousting of Ocalan from Syria when President Clinton sent a "strongly worded" message to President Asad stressing that Syria must expel Ocalan as well as cease supporting the PKK altogether.106 More recently, the U.S. ambassador to Rome declared that the United States was in favor of solving the Kurdish issue in the international arena.107 This development came as no surprise, since the differences of approach and solution to the Kurdish issue between Turkey and its main ally have been a continuing source of tension.108
These Western actions invited Turkish reactions that made the October crisis a turning point in the evolution of Turkey's relations with its NATO partners and the EU. In a letter sent to the member states of NATO, Turkish Premier Yilmaz renewed the request that Ocalan be extradited to Turkey and stressed that this case represented a "test" of the extent to which NATO members would comply with the organization's own past declarations concerning cooperation against international terrorism.109
Turkish-Italian relations had already suffered considerable damage, as a popularly supported embargo on Italian exports to Turkey cost Italy $3.5 billion within only fifteen days of its imposition.110 Italian Premier Massimo D'Alema brought the embargo to the EU's attention, arguing that there were signs of the Turkish government's being involved. EU Commission Secretary Jacques Santer declared that, if the Turkish embargo was official, this would be against the Customs Union agreement, and the EU would retaliate by imposing its own embargo on Turkish exports to European markets.111
The damage inflicted on Turkey's relations with the Western world in the course of the October crisis does not necessarily represent an irreversible trend. Turkish leaders themselves seem to be aware that, prior to the October crisis, they had done little to clarify the Turkish position and policy on the PKK issue. The October crisis prompted the Turks to launch an ambitious propaganda campaign, particularly on the European front,112 which might eventually generate a more sympathetic European attitude toward Turkey's Kurdish dilemma.
More Western understanding, however, on an issue that Turkey considers a matter of life and death might not necessarily be enough to prevent relations from deteriorating. In the period since the October crisis, there has been no indication at either the government or the public level in Turkey that would suggest the start of a process toward finding a "political solution" to the Kurdish question, even in its most conservative interpretation: granting cultural rights and allowing views on Kurdish separatism to be advocated in the political arena.113 Even Israel, which has its own reasons not to invite the wrath of yet another terrorist group, may reconsider its military ties with Turkey, if, for example, there should be a war involving Turkey and one of its neighbors such as Greece, with whom Israel has pursued friendly ties since World War II. There are even reports that members of the Jewish lobby who are working on behalf of Turkey in the U.S. Congress are reconsidering this effort because it is becoming increasingly less justifiable on moral grounds in the Middle East and Africa.114
All in all, the Turkish-Syrian crisis of October 1998 testifies to Turkey's diplomatic, economic and military abilities as a rising regional power, while simultaneously revealing the limits of its relations not only with the East but also with the West in the post-Cold War era.
1 Hürriyet, October 21, 1998.
2 Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), West Europe Series (WES), December 22, 1989, s. 25. See also, FBIS, WES, December 18, 1989, pp. 26-27.
3 Mahmut Bali Aykan, Turkey's Role in the Organization of the Islamic Conference: 1960-1992, The Nature of Deviation from the Kemalist Heritage, New York: Vantage Press, 1994, Chapter IV.
4 FBIS, WES, March 4, 1991, pp. 53-4.
5 Statement made by Ambassador Uluc Ozulker, deputy undersecretary of state in charge of bilateral political relations in the Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry. See Hürriyet, October 13, 1998.
6 See the full text of the related parts of this protocol in Fahir Alacam, "Turkish-Syrian Relations," Turkish Review of Middle East Studies. 1994/95, No. 8, s. 14.
7 Southeast Anatolia Project, Ankara: The General Directorate of Press and Information of the Turkish Republic, n.d., passim.
8 See Syrian position and policy on the water issue in ''Syria Wants Arab Backing on Dispute With Turkey," http://www2.nando.net/newsroom/ntn/world/020596/world3_10890_s3.html See the official Turkish position on the water issue, Water Problem in the Middle East, Ankara: Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry, 1994, pp. 3-4.
9 See the contents of the "Special Report" on Syria's support for the PKK prepared and submitted for the consideration of the Turkish National Security Council by Turkish Intelligence units. Hürriyet, October 8, 1998.
10 Cumhuriyet, November 2, 1998.
11 See note 8. See also Milliyet, June 25, 1996, and Cumhuriyet, June 24, 1996.
12 Milliyet, November 14, 1996. See Jordan's position on the water issue in the Middle East in John Bulloch and Adel Darwish, Su Savaslari: Orta Dogu'da Beklenen Catisma, Istanbul: Altin Kitaplar Basimevi, 1994, pp. s. 52,168.
13 Milliyet, November 2, 1995.
14 Malik Mufti, "Daring and Caution in Turkish Foreign Policy,'' The Middle East Journal, Vol. 52, No. 1, Winter 1998, s. 34-40.
15 For the overall content of this memorandum, see Cumhuriyet, June 7, 1996.
17 The content of this agreement remains as an official secret for the Turkish side at least. It appears, from the various reports on it and the developments observed in Turkish-Israeli relations later, that it includes, among other things, joint military training and maritime cooperation between the air forces and the navies of both countries. See, for example, Keesing's Record of World Events, April 1996, p. 41071.
18 Cumhuriyet, May 8, 1997, and Sarni Kohen, Milliyet, May 9, 1997.
19 See note 18. See also interview with the Turkish Foreign Minister Hikmet Cetin. BBC Summary of World Broadcasts (SWB), September 29, 1993.
20 ArabicNews.com, "Turkey, Syria to Continue Dialogue" in http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/980228/1998022814.html. The Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and his Syrian counterpart Farouk al Sharaa later came together in the Islamic Foreign Ministers' Conference in Doha, March 1998.
21 ArabicNews.com, "Damascus, Ankara Fail to Settle Disputes" in http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/980704/l 998070433.html.
22 For this strategy, sec Milliyet, October 10, 1998, and Cumhuriyet, October 8, 1998.
23 See the reported conversation that took place between Turkish President Süleyman Demirel and Egyptian President Husni Mubarak on the subject. Milliyet, October 7, 1998. Sec also Cumhuriyet, October 13, 1998.
24 See the statement made by a high-level official of the Turkish armed forces to that effect. Cumhuriyet, October 8, 1998.
25 Sec the text of the statement in question in Hürriyet, October 6, 1998.
26 Milliyet, October 6, 1998. See also Hürriyet, October 6, 1998.
27 Milliyet, October 10, 1998.
29 For the Asad message to President Demirel, see Hürriyet, October I 0, 1998.
30 Hürriyet, October 14, 1998.
31 See the text of the Adana agreement. Hürriyet, October 21, 1998.
32 See the progress made on the implementation of the Adana agreement within 10 days of its conclusion. Cumhuriyet, November 1, 1998.
33 See note 31.
35 Cumhuriyet, October 29, 1998.
36 Gregory L. Aftandilian, Egypt's Bid for Arab Leadership-Implications for U.S. Policy, New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1993, pp. 21, 32-3, 64.
37 Cumhuriyet, October 6, 1998. For an account of the Turkish-Syrian crisis of spring 1957, see Aykan, Turkey's Role, pp. 43-5.
38 Milliyet, October 11, 1998.
39 Despite some isolated cases, like the one experienced in June 1996 when both states were engaged in a military show of force (see Milliyet, June 22, 1996; Cumhuriyet, June 16, 1996 and June 12, 1996), Turkish actions against Syria in the past have generally been confined to warnings of taking economic, political and military sanctions. See, for example, Cumhuriyet, October 28, 1993.
40 Cumhuriyet, October 7, 1998.
41 See the statement made by the spokesman of Turkish Affairs Ministry Necati Utkan to that effect. Anadolu Ajansi, October 7, 1998, "Turkiye-Suriye Gerginligi," http://www.anadoluajansi.gov.tr/suriye/suriye13.htm
42 Milliyet, October 8, 1998.
43 Hürriyet, October 10, 1998. See also, "Annex 2: Turkey's Specific Demands From Syria" in http://www.ict.org.il/artic1es/annex2.htm
44 Cumhuriyet, October 4, 1998. See also Cumhuriyet, October 7, 1998.
45 Regarding this Turkish letter of July 1998, see Hürriyet, October 3, 1998. In September, it was reported that Turkish military and government officials were preparing political, economic and military sanctions against Syria. See ArabicNews.com, "Turkey Escalates Accusations Against Syria" in http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/980907/1998090717.html According to the Turkish foreign affairs minister, Ismail Cem, in the past when pressured by the Turks the Syrians did take certain measures concerning the PKK, but these were "limited to one or two months." See Milliyet, October 13, 1998.
46 Cumhuriyet, October 4, 1998.
47 For the full text of this agreement, see Milliyet, October 2, 1998.
48 Mahmut Bali Aykan, "Turkey's Policy in Northern Iraq, 1991-1995," Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 32, No. 4, October 1996, s. 343-366.
49 Yasemin Congar, Milliyet, October 4, 1998. See United States views on the Washington agreement of September 1998 in an interview with the U.S. Assistant Deputy for the Secretary of State David Welch in Al Hayat, October 16, 1998 as translated in http://www.mnsi.net/ mergan95/18-10-98-welch-interview-alhayat shirin.htm
50 See note 47.
51 See the related statements of Bülent Ecevit, including the one concerning the Turkish state's interpretation of the Washington agreement of September 1998 in Cumhuriyet, October 9, 1998 and October 14, 1998.
52 Cumhuriyet, November 2, 1998. There were also reports in the French journal Top Urgent News Bulletin to the effect that the kidnapping of the six Turkish military intelligence officers by the PKK in the Bekaa Valley, and the lack of response by the Syrian authorities to Turkish requests for their immediate release, caused the eruption of the crisis. Cited in Milliyet, October I'.!, 1998.
53 See the statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit to that effect in Cumhuriyet, October 9, 1998. See also Cumhuriyet, October 2, 1998 and Milliyet, October 2, 1998.
54 Commander of the Turkish Air Force General Halis Burhan's visit to Israel seems to have been a critical turning point leading to the military cooperation between Turkey and Israel later on. See Milliyet, February 16, 1995.
55 See the full text of this memorandum in Milliyet, March 1, 1997. At the beginning of April 1997, the Turkish Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that the new Turkish National Security Strategy accorded priority to the "internal threat" stemming from "separatist and fundamentalist activities" over the external threats. Cumhuriyet, April 30, 1997.
56 See the statement made by a high-level official of the Turkish Armed Forces to that effect in Milliyet, October 8, 1998.
57 Cumhuriyet, October 8, 1998.
58 Hürriyet, October 15, 1998. This poll involved 2.145 people throughout Turkey and was made up of different ages and professional groups.
59 For examples of such supports, see Aykan, Turkey's Role, pp. 139-42.
60 See Resolutions Concerning Political, Muslim Minorities and Communities. legal and Information Affairs Adopted by The Eighth Session of the Islamic Summit Conference (Session of Dignity, Dialogue, Participation) Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran (December 9-11, 1997), IS/8-97/PIL/RES/FINAL, Unpublished OIC Document, p. 106.
61 See Kemal H. Karpat "Turkish and Arab-Israeli Relations," in Kemal H. Karpat, ed., Turkey's Foreign Policy Transition: 1950-1974 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1975). See also Alain Gresh, "Turkish-Israeli-Syrian Relations and Their Impact On the Middle East." Middle East Journal, Vol. 52, No. 2, Spring 1998.
62 For an example of an approach to this subject, albeit controversial, see Daniel Pipes, "A New Axis: The Emerging Turkish-Israeli Entente," The National Interest, Winter 1997/8.
63 Amikam Nachmani, Israel, Turkey and Greece. Uneasy Relations in the East Mediterranean, London: Frank Cass, 1987, pp. 43-82.
64 Cumhuriyet, October 23, 1998.
65 Haaretz, English Edition, October 6, 1998, in http://www3.haaretz.co.il/
66 Cited in Milliyet, October 9, 1998.
67 See the statement made by an Israeli official to that effect. Cumhuriyet, October 13, I 998. According to the same official, the lesson to be learned by Turkey and Israel from the October crisis was that the conduct of the relations between these two states must be transferred from the military to the diplomats.
68 Milliyet, October 31, 1998.
69 Milliyet, October 11, 1998.
70 Hürriyet, November 21, 1998.
71 See Turkey's experience with Egypt in the 1950s. Aykan, Turkey's Role, pp. 38-46.
72 Kurpat "Turkish and Arab-Israeli Relations," pp. 120-1.
73 See interview with Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan in Milliyet, October 14, 1998.
74 See the statements made by the Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, President Suleyman Demirel and the General Chief of Staff Hüseyin Kivrikoglu in Milliyet, October 7, 1998; Cumhuriyet, October 7, 1998 and Hürriyet, October 14, 1998. See interview with Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan in Milliyet, October 14, 1998.
75 See Syrian President Asad's statement in Milliyet, November 5, 1998.
76 Reportedly, irritation on the part of the Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry mounted as they contemplated the possibility that Egypt could, in the future, use its mediator status to side with Syria in pushing Turkey to make concessions on the sensitive national security issues of water, terrorism and even Hatay. Cumhuriyet, October 16, 1998.
77 Kamuran GUriln, Akintiya Kiirek. Bir Buyukeli;inin Anilari. Istanbul: Milliyet Yayinlari, 1994, pp. 240-272. See the official U.S. position on the same issue, Cumhuriyet, April 25, 1995. See Jordan's position on the water issue, Cumhuriyet, November 13, 1996.
78 Milliyet, May 23, 1997.
79 See Cumhuriyet, September 16, 1993.
80 for this Syrian request and the Turkish response to it, see Hürriyet, October 16, 1998.
81 Cumhuriyet, December 29, 1998.
82 Hürriyet, October 28, 1998.
84 Milliyet, October 8, 1998.
85 Alan Makovsky and Michael Eisenstadt, "Turkish-Syrian Relations: A Crisis Delayed?" Policy Watch, No. 345, October 14, 1998, in http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/watch/Policywatch/policywatch1998/345.htm. Besides, the PKK reportedly had a considerable amount of money -some of it earned from illegal drug trafficking- invested in Syrian banks, and, if it attempted to withdraw any, the Syrian economy would be negatively affected. Cumhuriyet, October 22, 1998.
86 See the full text of the protocol in Hürriyet, October 21, 1998.
87 For this, see Cumhuriyet, October 23, 1998.
88 Milliyet, October 26, 1998.
89 Cumhuriyet, November 29, 1998.
90 Hürriyet, October 21, 1998.
91 Cumhuriyet, November 5, 1998; November 6, 1998; November 9, 1998; and Hürriyet, November 11, 1998.
92 Cumhuriyet, November 8, 1998; Milliyet, November 9, 1998; and November 8, 1998.
93 Cumhuriyet, October 10, 1998, and Milliyet, November 11, 1998.
94 See the statement made by the NATO Commander General Galvin and his deputy General V. Eide. FBIS, WES, May 8, 1990, s. 87. See also John Bulloch and Adel Darwish, Su Savaslari: Orta Dogu 'da Beklenen Catisma, Istanbul: Altin Kitaplar Basimevi, 1994, p. 175.
95 Cumhuriyet, October 28, 1998; see Robert Olson, "The Kurdish Question and Chechnya: Turkey Versus Russia since the Gulf War," Middle East Policy, Vol. IV, No. 3, March 1996.
96 Milliyet, November 18, 1998, and November 20, 1998. Aside from extending military aid to Syria there existed a large number of Russian military experts in Syria, and Russian and Syrian units carried out joint military exercises in Russia. ArabicNews.com, "Syrian President to Visit Moscow, Military Co-operation Open" in http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/9806I l/l99806l l71
97 Milliyet, November 5, 1998.
98 See text of Ocalan's letter to the Duma in Hürriyet, November 5, 1998, and Milliyet, November 6, 1998.
100 For the data on these declarations regarding the Kurdish issue and European initiative see Milliyet, November 28, 1998.
101 See the related statements concerning the European initiative by the Turkish minister of state in charge of European Union Affairs, Silkru Sina Gilrel, in Cumhuriyet, November 29, 1998.
102 Ibid. See also Mahmut Bali Aykan, "Turkish Perspectives On Turkish-US Relations Concerning Persian Gulf Security in the Post-Cold War Era: 1989-1995", Middle East Journal, Vol. 50, No. 3, Summer 1996, pp. 349-351, 357.
103 For example, Turkey's experienced and pro-Western politician Kamuran Inan argued during the Islamist led REFAHYOL coalition government in the period 1996-97 that Premier Erbakan's policy of preserving a distance with the EU was correct in terms of its "foreign policy philosophy" though "disoriented" in implementation. Milliyet, December 31, 1996. Inan was joined by some other eminent Turkish pro-Western political figures on this score.
104 Milliyet, November 21, 1998.
105 Erol Manisali, Cumhuriyet, November 29, 1998. See Regular Report From the Commission on Turkey's Progress Towards Accession in "Regular Report-Turkey," December 2, 1998, http:www.europa.eu.int/geninfo/query_en.htm. See the reactions of the Turkish statesmen concerning these reports in Milliyet, November 6, 1998, and Cumhuriyet, November 7, 1998.
106 See Milliyet, November 8, 1998, and Hürriyet, November 8, 1998.
107 Milliyet, December 14, 1998. See Alan Makovsky, "Turkey, the United States, and Ocalan: The Stakes," PolicyWatch, No. 352, November 20, 1998, at http://www.washingtoninslitute.org/watch/Policywatch/policywatch1998/352.htm
108 Aykan, "Turkish Perspectives on Turkish-US Relations..." pp. 350-1.
109 Milliyet, November 21, 1998.
110 Hürriyet, November 27, 1998.
111 Hürriyet, November 25, 1998.
112 See the basic points that the Turks planned to stress in this campaign. Milliyet, November 23 1998.
113 See the letter from Turkish President Süleyman Demirel to the Presidency of the European Union stating that granting Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin "extra rights" in the wake of Ocalan's capture was out of the question. See excerpts in Hürriyet, November 21, 1998. Public-opinion polls reveal that the Turkish people do not regard democratization as a pressing problem for Turkey. Milliyet, May 14, 1995.
114 M. Hakan Yavuz, "Turkish-Israeli Relations and the Turkish identity debate." Journal of Palestine Studies, XXVII, No. 1, Autumn 1997, s. 33-4.