Few changes loom in Turkish foreign policy under Evren

No change is expected in Turkey's foreign policy under the new military administration, but a different approach is likely on some specific problems, such as differences with Greece.

The hope is that the military government will be able to cut through red tape and solve some of the difficult problems that have beset Turkey in the last five years. But there is, as yet, no guarantee that the new regime will be more successful at this than the weak civilian governments of the recent past.

The country's new strong man, Gen. Kenan Evre, has made it clear that Turkey will remain loyal to the NATO alliance and maintain its close ties with the United States. He also assured the West that Turkey will strengthen its relations with the European Community and similar Western institutions.

Diplomats here do not doubt the sincerity of these assurances by General Evren, whose pro-Western feelings are well known. The status of US military installations in Turkey, which have been reactivated following conclusion of a new bilateral defense treaty earlier this year, also is seen as guaranteed.

Turkey's parliament was supposed to discuss and ratify the pact, but it failed to because it was tied up over political matters. The National Security Council, the country's powerful policymaking body, is expected to have no difficulty enacting the agreement.

On the other hand, the Cyprus problem remains unsolved, and this is a matter that caused a serious rift with the United States in the wake of the 1974 Turkish military invasion of the island. Turkish troops remain in the northern portion of Cyprus.

If any important change of attitude by Turkey is going to take place, it may well be in relations with Greece, according to analysts here. Hopes have risen in Greek and other diplomatic circles following the military takeover.

One reason for optimism was General Evren's forthright statement terming Greece "our close neighbor and friends" and adding that the new Turkish administration "will deploy all efforts to improve Greek-Turkish relations and Greece's return to NATO's military structure."

Another reason for optimism on this score is that General Evren proved his goodwill in trying to solve Turkey's differences with Greece over the Aegean air space problem (by agreeing earlier this year to lift all restrictions on air traffic in the area). He also engaged in serious talks with NATO Comdr. Gen. Bernard Rogers on the question of Greece's return to NATO.

Good progress is understood to have been made in recent secret talks between General Rogers and General Evren, and a new formula satisfying all sides concerned is said to have been accepted, thus clearing the way for Greece's reintegration into NATO.

A third reason for optimism on Greek- Turkish relations -- and to some extent for settlement of the Cyprus problem -- is that Turkey may become more conciliatory and moderate under its new military regime than the previous unstable civilian government.

Said a Western analyst: "The politicians had to think about the political effects of any concession. In fact, political leaders were hardening their position. The soldiers have no such problem. If they believe that a settlement of these problems is in the best interest of the country, nothing can prevent them from taking the right step."

However, other analysts will wait and see if the military government will be successful in bridging the gap with Greece, since the difrefences between the two nations remain deep, with each side reluctant to make what it regards as further concessions.

One of the first tests of this possible change will be the meeting in New York early in October between the directors-general of the greek and Turkish foreign ministries. An important test will be the government's stand on the intercommunal talks that began in Cyprus last week. The new administration is expected to make a reappraisal of the question in the light of a recent visit to Cyprus by the new foreign minister, Ilter Turkmen.

The recent changes in Turkey apparently have been followed with some concern by Moscow. Some East European newspapers have been critical of the new military regime, describing it as a threat to the "democratic forces" and the working class in Turkey.

General Evren told his first press conference that Turkey will continue to support detente and maintain good relations with the Soviet Union, which he said "has a special responsibility in the preservation of peace and security in the world." East European diplomats here welcome this official attitude but seem anxious to see whether there will be any real change of policy toward the communist blow under the military administration.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.