Turkey is a founding member of the United Nations (1945), the OECD (1961), the OIC (1969), the OSCE (1973), the ECO (1985), the BSEC (1992), the D-8 (1997) and the G-20 major economies (1999). On 17 October 2008, Turkey was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Turkey’s membership of the council effectively began on 1 January 2009. Turkey had previously been a member of the U.N. Security Council in 1951–1952, 1954–1955 and 1961.
In line with its traditional Western orientation, relations with Europe have always been a central part of Turkish foreign policy. Turkey became a founding member of the Council of Europe in 1949, applied for associate membership of the EEC (predecessor of the European Union) in 1959 and became an associate member in 1963. After decades of political negotiations, Turkey applied for full membership of the EEC in 1987, became an associate member of the Western European Union in 1992, joined the EU Customs Union in 1995 and has been in formal accession negotiations with the EU since 2005. Today, EU membership is considered as a state policy and a strategic target by Turkey.
Turkey’s support for Northern Cyprus in the Cyprus dispute complicates Turkey’s relations with both NATO and the EU, and remains a major stumbling block to Turkey’s EU accession bid.
The other defining aspect of Turkey’s foreign relations has been its ties with the United States. Based on the common threat posed by the Soviet Union, Turkey joined NATO in 1952, ensuring close bilateral relations with Washington throughout the Cold War. In the post–Cold War environment, Turkey’s geostrategic importance shifted towards its proximity to the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans. In return, Turkey has benefited from the United States’ political, economic and diplomatic support, including in key issues such as the country’s bid to join the European Union.
The independence of the Turkic states of the Soviet Union in 1991, with which Turkey shares a common cultural and linguistic heritage, allowed Turkey to extend its economic and political relations deep into Central Asia, thus enabling the completion of a multi-billion-dollar oil and natural gas pipeline from Baku in Azerbaijan to the port of Ceyhan in Turkey. The Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline forms part of Turkey’s foreign policy strategy to become an energy conduit to the West. However, Turkey’s border with Armenia, a state in the Caucasus, remains closed following Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijani territory during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Under the AK Party government, Turkey’s influence has grown in the Middle East based on the strategic depth doctrine, also called Neo-Ottomanism. This policy has led to tensions with major Arab countries such as Turkey’s neighbour Syria following the Syrian civil war and with Egypt following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.