The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Soviet threats to Pakistan and Iran are pushing Turkey rapidly toward a long-delayed, comprehensive new security agreement with the United States.
Premier Suleyman Demirel's new Turkish government and a team of US State and Defense Department officials visiting Ankara have overcome most major difficulties and will sign a "foundation agreement" today (Jan. 9) to allow three vital US bases to stay open. The US-Turkish agreement on strategic US military bases was due to expire today.
US officials confirm that the new Soviet threat in south Asia has accelerated the talks in Ankara, headed by State Department counselor Matthew Nimitz. But they are cautious about estimating the new US-Turkish agreement's final scope and value.
The United States would like to have free use of the military, air, naval, and monitoring sites it now uses on a restricted basis. Turkey wants guaranteed aid for its armed forces and its weakened, inflation-and debt-ridden economy. The US already has agreed in principle to supply about $250 million of a $1.45 billion Western package for Turkey agreed on at the US-British-West German-French summit conference at Guadeloupe a year ago.
Turkish Ambassador to the United States Sukru Elekdag, an expert on NATO alliance affairs, told newsmen here Jan. 8 that he expected the latest US-Turkish talks to "finalize" the agreements soon. The Soviet moves into Afghanistan, the threat to Pakistan, and the holding of US hostages in Tehran, which he attacked as "never seen since the beginning of recorded history," have "dangerously upset the power balance" in the entire region, Mr. Elekdag said.
Mr. Elekdag outlined the emerging new US-Turkish accord as consisting primarily of a basic agreement defining US-Turkish security, economic, cultural, and commercial ties. he said he "understood" this document would require ratification by the Turkish Parliament, in which, he acknowledged, Premier Demirel's ruling Justice Party commands less than a majority of votes.
Supporting the main agreement, he said, were executive accords not requiring ratification. One would permit US use of the military installations; one would cover Turkish defense production (for which Turkey is seeking a regular schedule of US help); and another would be a "defense support" agreement (which would provide for regular US arms supplies on easy credit or grant terms).
The entire package, US analysts say, would replace the defense treaty initialed by Turkey and the United States March 26, 1976. That treaty was never ratified or implemented, mainly because of the effects of the arms embargo Congress imposed on Turkey after its 1974 invasion of Cyprus. The embargo was lifted by Congress in 1978.
Mr. Elekdag said Turkey's "pivotal position" between the USSR, the Arab world , and Western europe made it crucial for resisting further Soviet advances. Although Turkey, especially under former Premier Bulent Ecevit's socialist-loaning government, had sought detente with the Soviets, "for the security of our own country and for that of the rest of Europe, we have now seen a great deviation from this: a naked intrusion into the democratic affairs" of Afghanistan.
It is obvious," he continued, "that if this situation is not corrected it will have a great impact on detente. We hope reason will prevail."
Asked whether the US would be able to use Turkish bases for Mideast or other non-NATO operations, Mr. Elekdag replied that Turkey's "law of the land" allowed only NATO-type use. Other use would require parliamentary action on a case-by-case basis.
Last February, the Ecevit government refused permission to the US to fly in US Marine reinforcements from Turkish airfields for the Tehran embassy.
On Dec. 6 the deputy leader of the conservative Muslim National Salvation Party, whose support Mr. Demirel requires to keep his working majority in Parliament, said his party "definitely opposed" US use of Turkish bases "in case of armed intervention in Iran."
Mr. elekdag denied that the recent warning by the Turkish armed forces to curb terrorism and violence meant that the armed forces necessarily planned to seize power in the near future. He insisted that Turkey, as a functioning, secular democracy, did not face any major threat from the revolutionary, Islamic fundamentalism of Iran.