Kremlin puts heat on Turkey over NATO missiles and Gulf war
A surprise visit to Ankara by a Soviet diplomat last week was understood to have two aims:Skip to next paragraph
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* To warn Turkey against accepting the deployment of cruise missiles on its territory.
* To warn Turkey against making a commitment in any future American intervention in the nearby Iran-Iraq war.
Deputy Foreign Minister Georgi Korniyenko's visit was made public only after his arrival. Strict secrecy surrounded all his contacts, including his one-hour talk with President Kenan Evren.
He arrived March 12, only a day before Chinese President Li Xiannian arrived for an official five-day visit. This has raised speculation that the Soviets wanted to express their concern over the frequent contacts and apparent warming of ties between Turkey and China.
There was also speculation that Mr. Korniyenko's mission was to warm up the rather cool relations between Ankara and Moscow during Turkey's three years of military rule and prepare the ground for a visit to Turkey by the Soviet foreign minister and prime minister at a later date.
But qualified observers did not consider such motives to be adequate justification for Korniyenko's surprise visit.
From private talks with diplomats and analysts, it seems certain that the reason Moscow dispatched Korniyenko to Ankara was connected with the Gulf war and the deployment of intermediate-range cruise missiles.
Persistent rumors that Turkey may agree to deploy NATO's cruise missiles on its land have increased recently with reports that the Netherlands and Belgium are unwilling to accept such missiles. Some senior United States and NATO officials have hinted that Turkey might be asked to allow deployment of cruises.
The Soviet diplomat reportedly tried to find out the truth about these rumors and also to warn against accepting the missiles. (Significantly, Korniyenko had made a similar surprise visit to Ankara last year to discuss the same matter and to urge Turkey to stand up against NATO's decision about the deployment of medium-range missiles in Europe).
Shortly after Korniyenko's departure, a spokesman at the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that Turkey had not been asked to deploy cruise missiles and that the government would definitely reject such a request if it were made. Korniyenko, no doubt, was assured during his talks with Turkey's official view.
In the Iran-Iraq war, rumors have been circulating that Turkey was approached by the US to support the US position and force in the Gulf. The US would want Turkey to grant facilities on Turkish soil in case of an armed intervention.
On this question, too, the Turks are opposed to making any new commitment, mainly to avoid endangering ties with Iran and other Middle Eastern countries.
Korniyenko warned on this matter, too, that any Turkish involvement in the war would anger the Soviets.
The Turks know that US military and political circles would be disappointed over Ankara's refusal to cooperate on both matters, particularly at a time when military aid to Turkey is under debate in the US Congress. But officials say that Turkey would not endanger its security just to please Congress.
Korniyenko is also understood to have discussed developments in Cyprus. The Soviets have shown concern about US attempts to solve the dilemma over the island's Turkish population, which declared independence last year.
The Soviets fear that a US-backed settlement may lead to partition of Cyprus, which Moscow strongly opposes. The Soviets wanted to show that their concern over this matter should not be ignored.