Ambassador Hüseyin Diriöz, Assistant Secretary General for Defense Policy & Planning at NATO, on Turkey's contribution to the Alliance.

Ambassador Hüseyin Diriöz
Ambassador Hüseyin Diriöz is NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Defense Policy and Planning. He is the Secretary General’s primary advisor on defense policy and planning issues and is a member of the Secretary General’s senior management team. He is a career diplomat and served his country for 30 years before joining NATO. He first joined the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1978 and served in Kabul and Strasbourg before attending the NATO Defense College in Rome in 1987-88. He then returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a further year before joining the Turkish Delegation to NATO for four years. In 1993, he joined the NATO International Staff as Head of the Defense Policy Section, and in 1996 he returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara. From 1998 to 2000, he was Minister-Counselor in the Turkish Embassy, Washington DC, and on his return he became the Spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 2004 to 2008, he was Turkey’s Ambassador to Jordan, after which he returned to the Ministry in Ankara for a year before becoming the Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Turkey, Abdullah Gül.

NATO has undergone a dramatic reorientation over the past 20 years, evolving from a static European bulwark against the Soviet threat to an expeditionary actor addressing a wide range of new security challenges as far afield as Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa and as diverse as missile proliferation and cyber threats. And nowhere is this transformation more evident than in the changed significance of Turkey within the Alliance. Thrust from the far end of the “Southern Flank" to the very middle point of Alliance operations and partnerships, Turkey is now serving as a crucial geographic, political, and cultural outreach asset toward the key Middle East region and is thus helping NATO meet the challenges of the 21st century.

NATO's new Strategic Concept, agreed upon at the 2010 Lisbon Summit, depicts a complex contemporary security environment marked by regional instability, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism threats, and the disruption of transport routes. This long enumeration of threats has a particularly familiar ring in Turkey, a country located at the crossroads of international trade and bordering areas of civil strife and instability.

For this reason, Turkey has also moved to the forefront of NATO's military, political, and conceptual responses to these security challenges. It has contributed forces to all of the Alliance's crisis response and counter-terrorism operations from 1995 to the present, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Libya as well as the maritime operations “Active Endeavor" in the Mediterranean Sea and “Ocean Shield" in the Gulf of Aden.

“Turkey has moved to the forefront of NATO's military, political, and conceptual responses to security challenges."

In the political arena, Turkey is a traditional supporter of NATO's partnerships, acting as a valuable conduit of experience and expertise to partners in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, in particular. And in the wake of the Arab Spring, many Allies look to Turkey to develop the potential of NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue format and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, which offers practical bilateral security cooperation to the countries of the broader Middle East region.

Ankara continues to be a powerful advocate of NATO's Open-Door Policy, which has brought new Allies into Turkey's immediate neighborhood and thereby helped to consolidate its security. Finally, Turkey has used its status as a regional player to lend diplomatic clout to Alliance efforts. Thus, former Foreign Minister Hikmet Çetin served as NATO's first Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2006.

In addition to operations and partnerships, Turkey actively supports NATO's scientific and research efforts to prevent, detect, and defend against new challenges facing the Alliance. Notably, Ankara is home to the NATO Center of Excellence on Defense against Terrorism, which serves as a focal point for allied expertise on this subject. Turkey also hosted an advanced research workshop in critical energy infrastructure protection, and regularly contributes cyber defense experts to related NATO workshops and exercises. Altogether, in the last 20 years, Turkish scientists and experts have taken part in over 400 activities within NATO's Science for Peace and Security program, with Turkey's particular regional and cultural perspective providing unique added value.

Yet, even as Turkey bolsters Alliance efforts to come to grips conceptually with the often ethereal perils of the 21st century, it continues to live in the shadow of very real threats.

At their recent December 2012 meeting, NATO Foreign Ministers made the decision to augment Turkey's air defense capabilities in order to defend the population and territory of Turkey and contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along the Alliance's southeastern border. Significantly, NATO is to deploy patriot anti-ballistic missiles to Turkey according to the framework of the same NATO Air and Missile Defense System through which Turkey contributed its fighter aircraft to the Alliance's Baltic air policing mission in 2006. This underlines NATO's steadfast commitment to the security of the Alliance, and its full solidarity and resolve to protect its populations and territories.

Moreover, at the May 2012 Chicago Summit, the Allies unveiled the NATO Forces 2020 concept with the goal of ensuring that NATO has the capabilities needed to undertake the full range of operations that may be required to achieve the security to which the Alliance is collectively committed.

One means of achieving this goal is Smart Defense, which is designed to encourage allies to develop capabilities more efficiently and cost-effectively through multinational approaches and better prioritization. Another way to attain NATO Forces 2020 is the Connected Forces Initiative, which aims to maintain the inter-operability and collective deployability built up in NATO operations, for example through bolstering the NATO Response Force, enhancing NATO education, training and exercises, and the better use of technology.

Turkey continues to be well placed to support these initiatives. It participates in 55 Smart Defense projects and proposals and is poised to contribute more to the multilateral development of capabilities, as its industrial potential and business links with other NATO countries expand. Moreover, as the host of a Partnership for Peace Training Center in Ankara and the new Land Command of the reformed NATO Command Structure in Izmir, Turkey possesses unique assets to enhance the interoperability and deployability of NATO forces.

Most importantly, Turkey's 60 years of collective experience within a now 28-nation strong alliance, coupled with the benefits and obligations of solidarity, offer strong arguments for its continued engagement at the center of NATO. In short, one can confidently state that as Turkey acquires more importance for NATO, NATO also acquires more importance or Turkey.