NATO enlargement and its implications for Turkey
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NATO, which has been throughout the Cold War a collective defense organization, was considered either useless or out of date with the end of the Cold War. However, as it did in the early years of the Cold War, habitually originating from its own dynamics, NATO transformed itself in order to meet the imperatives of the post-Cold War international environment. The geographical enlargement of NATO is the centerpiece of this whole transformation process. It bears implications not only for NATO itself but also for the foreign policy that Euro-Atlantic states follow. The partnership and membership aspects of the geographical enlargement preserved NATO's credibility and served NATO on its way to become a security community, and both aspects ensured NATO's survival. As such, the establishment of relations either through partnership, membership or other way with NATO became the objective of CEE, Balkan, Caucasian, and Central Asian countries, on their way to acquire a democratic, peaceful, and Western identity. In this context, NATO addressed the concerns of a community of 46 states in the Euro-Atlantic region. Meanwhile, on part of Turkey, there appeared some opportunities and setbacks. While consolidating Turkey's western identity on the Caucasus, the Balkans and Central Asia, NATO enlargement brought new concerns to Turkey's agenda regarding regional security as well as Turkey's position in its only and most institutional and functional linkage with the Western Europe and the U.S. After the admission of three new members to NATO in 1999, the pros and cons of a second round of NATO enlargement requires an examination in depth as the decision time gets closer, not only for NATO but also for Turkey.