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Jurnalul.ro Vechiul site Old site English Version We Are between Russia, Turkey and NATO

We Are between Russia, Turkey and NATO

de Radu Tudor    |    11 Oct 2005   •   00:00
We Are between Russia, Turkey and NATO

After we published an analysis from Jane’s Defense Weekly about the conjuncture alliance between Turkey and Russia against Romania for the securisation of the Black Sea seem to be very interesting for a lot of people. Our country, having the support of NATO and USA, is confronting a serious obstacle at present, an obstacle coming from another ally: Turkey. After the terrorist attacks on September 11 2001 against Washington and New York, NATO admitted that Europe could be more vulnerable to terrorism than North America. Until the 6th of October, the "Active Endeavour" Operation started patrolling against crime - guns, drugs and people trades - which is also a part of the terrorist actions in the East of the Mediterranean Sea and sometimes it is mistaken for it. "Active Endeavour" had an enormous success, but the efforts of extending the operation in the Black Sea is facing the reluctance of Russia and Turkey. The Mediterranean Sea is more of a bridge than a barrier between NATO, France, North Africa and the Middle East. Insurgent groups like al-Qaeda and PKK "The Party of the Workers in Kurdistan/ the Congress of the People in Kurdistan" finance their activities with all sorts of felonious enterprises, which are often placed aboard the ships they own or control.


Moreover, capturing Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri, led to the disclosure of the plans of al-Qaeda of destroying some other ships, of blowing up small boats or of attacking ships by air or underwater. Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri was convicted in Yemen for the attack against the USS Cole ship in 2002 and the one believed to be responsible for the 2002 attack against the French M/V Limburg ship. Everybody heard about the 1996 capturing of a ferry in Bosforus by a group of Chechen rebels and the recent disclosures regarding the nuclear bazaar of Abdul Qadeer Khan, both of them leading to a nightmare scenario.

Taking care that such a scenario wouldn’t take place, the "Active Endeavor" Operation sends marine forces from Germany, Greece, Itlay, Holland, Spain, Turkey, Great Britain and the United States. Thousands of ships had been monitored and, in accordance to the international laws, the suspect ones had been controlled more thoroughly. The Mission is to intercept, escort, protect, interrupt and discourage the crime activity that may be connected to terrorism. The Operation allowed NATO to build a clear image of the traffic in the Mediterranean Sea, which is essential for the future anti-terrorist operation.

The operation was so successful that NATO extended it in Gibraltar in 2003, involving Norway, Denmark and Portugal and for the entire Mediterranean Sea in 2004. Algeria, Israel, Ukraine were also involved as well as Russia, after long rounds of negotiations.


Russia wanted to get her own commercial ships out of the mutual investigation procedures. Then, they wanted "Active Endeavor" to be under the NATO-Russia patronage, even if they asked the North Atlantic organization to pay for Russia’s participation. NATO rejected these claims but accepted a strange arrangement according to which the Russian Navy acts together with NATO, but not under its command.

However, the real trial appeared on the 7th of June, when Italian vice-Admiral Ferdinando Sanfelice di Monteforte, the commander of the "Active Endeavor" at that time, reported that the chiefs of the marines in the Black Sea, and Russia was one of them apparently, agreed for the extension of the operation in the Black Sea in 2006.

This is the normal thing to do, since the Black Sea is the connection between the East and the West: an integral part in Europe, connected to Rotterdam by the Danube and the Rhine, and in the Southern Europe, through the Bosforus and the Dardanelles. Unfortunately, the Black Sea has shores also in some areas rich in the crime that "Active Endeavor" is fighting against. A separate concern is represented by the highbinder mini-states like Transnistria and Abkhazia.


The region represents a legitimate concern of the NATO states that are not on the shores of the Black Sea, even though Russia "doesn’t see any danger in it", as the Russian Defense Minister, Serghei Ivanov, stated.

One of the most surprising things is the fact that Turkey, an important NATO ally, joined Russia in its intercession of being against "Active Endeavor" in the Black Sea. Ankara doesn’t want to be against the 1936 Montreux Convention, even though this agreement doesn’t say anything about the passing of a NATO force with minimum capacity trough the Turkish straits. It is true that a small army unit lead by destroyer USS Mahan of the American Navy went through the Turkish straits for several interventions in harbors of the Black Sea.


"Active Endeavour" is about the combining of the exercises of the Black Sea non-riparian forces with the ones of Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. These countries together with Georgia, Russia and Ukraine should have created some very powerful antiterrorist forces.


As for the Russian straits, Russia has come against the security measure proposed by Turkey in 1994. These kinds of measures are not against the Montreux Convention and are reasonable for the 50,000 ships crossing the straits every year. Moreover, Moscow got the oil and natural gas pipes. Besides the Black Sea, Russia insists on protecting Iran’s nuclear ambitions that are probably the greatest threat for Turkey. Meanwhile, the true fight against crime and terrorism on the Black Sea continues, and Turkey has a lot to lose. Imagine an attack against Limburg in a point very close to the Bosforus. Turkey should join Romania and Bulgaria, the NATO allies, for the "Active Endeavor" operation in the Black Sea.