Financial Times
January 22, 2015

Sir, Your assertion that Turkey is becoming “an increasingly unreliable partner for its allies” both oversimplifies the complexity of the conflicts threatening the region and underestimates the burdens the country faces from these conflicts (“Erdogan’s Turkey drifts away from the west,” editorial, January 19). Turkey has the same goals as its western allies — end the Assad regime in Syria and stop Isis — but the difference is that the battle is on the country’s border, forcing Turkey to play a delicate role in bringing stability and peace to this conflict.

Turkey is doing its part to confront the entwined crises on its borders provoked by the civil war in Syria and the emergence of Isis. However, Turkey needs the full support of the west, including improved intelligence-sharing capacities, in order to ensure Turkey’s border is secure and suspected terrorists are apprehended. Turkey cannot be expected to confront the multinational threat posed by Isis alone; it needs the help of the entire international community to identify suspected terrorists, much in the same way the west does.

Turkey’s commitment to its Syrian neighbours is further demonstrated by its response to the humanitarian crisis at its doorstep. Turkey is currently host to approximately 1.6m refugees from Iraq and Syria at a cost to date of $5.5bn. Amnesty International, The International Crisis Group and others have lauded Turkey for shouldering a great deal of this burden on its own while calling on the international community to step up and do more.

Turkey has spent centuries at the crossroads between east and west. In these challenging times, its vast experience navigating the region’s conflicts, as well as its ongoing collaboration with its western allies in security agreements such as Nato, have never been more critical to securing the region.


Baha Erbas

New York, NY, US

Fellow, Turkish Heritage Organisation