Centre for International and Defence Policy

Centre for International and Defence Policy
Centre for International and Defence Policy

NATO and Turkey: Past, Present…Future?

Wednesday, May 8, 2019, 12:00-1:00 pm
Robert Sutherland Hall, room 554 

Since the current Turkish government came to power in late 2002, Turkey has increasingly been seen by NATO and the United States as the organization's “odd-man out”.  Matters have not been helped with the recent introduction of a new presidential system concentrating power in the hands of President Erdogan.  This alone, is likely to challenge NATO's commitment to the principles of individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law as the opposition and civil society come under greater pressure. Turkey’s questionable actions throughout the Syrian civil-war have often served to perplex its NATO allies as well, and the pending purchase of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles has been the focus of continuing concern, especially in Washington which has recently suspended delivery of parts and services necessary to Turkey's receipt of the F-35 stealth fighter jet. On the other hand, Turkey has been a generally reliable partner since joining NATO in 1952, although there is no question that historically the relationship was often strained when Ankara believed its interests at risk.  As a NATO member, Turkey also faces several unique challenges.  It is largely surrounded by unstable neighbours.  It is the only NATO country confronting a destructive and demoralizing domestic insurgency led by the Kurdish PKK, and according to the Turkish government the PYD, a Syrian affiliate of the PKK supported by the United States, also poses a threat to Turkey. Turkey, in addition, is the only NATO country to recently experience an attempted military coup in which members of the armed forces, for the first time in a long history of coups, directly killed their fellow citizens.  During his talk, Chris will look back at the military's role in Turkey, the rise of the AKP party under Erdogan, the 2016 attempted coup and discuss contemporary and what future NATO-Turkey relations might look like.

Thomas Hughes


Chris Kilford   

CIDP Fellow
President, Canadian International Council, Victoria 




Dr. Chris Kilford is a member of the national board of the Canadian International Council (CIC) and President of the 400 members of the CIC Victoria branch.  He holds a PhD in history from Queen’s University (2009) with a focus on civil-military relations in the developing world. Today, he is a Fellow with the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy, a Research Fellow with the Conference of Defence Associations Institute and he has taught numerous distance-learning courses for the Royal Military College and the Canadian Forces College focused on geopolitical issues.  His long career in the Canadian Armed Forces was capped with postings to the Canadian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan as the Canadian Deputy Military Attaché from July 2009 until July 2010 and then to the Canadian Embassy in Ankara, Turkey as the Canadian Defence Attaché from July 2011 until August 2014.  Since retiring from the military in late 2014, his articles and opinion pieces on Canadian defence and foreign policy issues, plus Turkish and Middle Eastern matters have appeared in many Canadian and international publications and he has conducted numerous television and radio interviews on similar subjects