February 18th of 1952 is the day Turkey decided to join NATO, voted in favor by both the ruling Democratic Party and the opposition Republican People’s Party in the parliament. This anniversary began with jubilant celebrations from the NATO and AKP government front. NATO celebrated the anniversary of the acceptance of Turkey and Greece on its social media accounts. The Turkish Ministry of National Defense had the propaganda videos prepared for NATO – all too fittingly, given the US Legion of Merit awarded to Hulusi Akar, the Turkish minister of defense. Hulusi Akar himself did not forget to release a personal video on the subject. All of this propaganda amounted to a single message: Turkey consistently fulfilled its responsibilities as a member of NATO and will continue to do so. At a time when the aggressive expansion of NATO brought the world to the brink of nuclear war in Ukraine, this message does not bode well. It is the proof of the hollowness of the so-called conciliatory efforts of AKP and that the NATO membership of Turkey can bring it to a catastrophe at any moment.
But this anniversary of Turkey joining NATO did not just witness sinister celebrations. Socialists who upheld the anti-imperialist traditions of the working class and the youth met in Dolmabahçe, in order to raise the call “Turkey out of NATO and close all imperialist bases.” It is the same placewhere a revolutionary youth leader of the 1960s, Deniz Gezmiş, organized a grand protest in 1968 against the infamous 6th US fleet, throwing the US navy sailors into the waters of the Bosphorus. This demonstration was organized by the initiative of the Revolutionary Workers Party among others and took place with the participation of the Communist Movement of Turkey, United Workers Platform, Socialist Laborers Party, Social Liberation Party, and the Revolutionary Movement. The participants shouted slogans against NATO and imperialism. The slogans echoed in the Bosphorus, declaring that no passage would be permitted to US and UK navies. The Revolutionary Workers Party held up placards during the demonstration reading “Out of NATO, Destroy NATO!”, “Murderous US and UK get out of the Black Sea”, “NATO take your hands off Ukraine”, “Not a single bullet, penny, soldier to NATO’s war!” and “Imperialists and their lackeys, remember the 6th Fleet”. Here’s the common press statement read during the demonstration:
To the press, public and the toiling people of Turkey:
We are in Dolmabahçe on the 70th anniversary of Turkey’s NATO membership! Turkey out of NATO! Close all imperialist bases!
70 years ago today, Turkey became a member of the imperialist war-machine that is NATO. The purpose of NATO since its inception in 1949 is to safeguard imperialism all across the world. NATO did not only create a military pact but had also been the organizer of the massacres, systematic torture, and coups against socialists, the working class and the oppressed peoples through its counter-insurgency units. US imperialism, undoubtedly, has been the protagonist of these murder and terror networks. Today we meet in Dolmabahce, where the revolutionary youth and workers of this land threw the soldiers of the imperialist US 6th fleet into the waters. Standing upon and deriving strength from the revolutionary, socialist, and anti-imperialist traditions of our lands, we raise the call to fight to take Turkey out of NATO and close all imperialist bases.
The membership of Turkey in the imperialist war-machine of NATO was not meant to benefit the working people of Turkey but rather the handful of parasitic bosses. The Menderes government of the 1950s achieved its goal of NATO membership at the expense of the blood of the hundreds, lost in the fight against the Korean revolution, paving the way of profitable dealings with Western imperialism for the Turkish bourgeoisie. The lot of the toiling people of Turkey was even more exploitation at the hands of the national and international bourgeoisie. Because NATO is not just a military pact, but the safeguard of aggressive neoliberal policies exploiting toiling masses and taking back their hard-earned rights, and the host of oppressive regimes and dictatorships repressing the struggles of the toiling masses all over the world. By demanding Turkey to leave NATO, we call for an extensive struggle against all sorts of military, economic and cultural domination of the imperialist order.
Our lands became a stepping stone for the wars of US imperialism, which sought to invade and colonize the neighbouring states. To reap benefits, the bourgeoisie of Turkey did not refrain from offering our people as NATO soldiers time and again. The military base in Incirlik has served and continues to serve as a place to deploy the US nuclear weapons. The Kürecik base in Malatya, on the other hand, is a part of the missile defense shield that shields the US and Israeli interests. These bases continue to be the bane of the Middle East.
NATO was always present in the making and direction of the fascist movement in Turkey. NATO was always behind the fascist gangs, the Islamist groupings and the counter-insurgency actions targeting the working class, toiling masses, and the people for the benefit of the handful of bosses. Furthermore, the coup on September 12, 1980 that set out to destroy the working class movement was the work of NATO generals, affectionately called “our boys” by the US. The bloody deeds of NATO carried on after 1980 and they continue today.
Today, NATO shows itself in its warmongering in Ukraine as a result of its expansionist policies in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea. The so-called neutrality and the conciliatory stance of the AKP government is a farce. Instead, AKP’s support of imperialism stands before us as a concrete reality. We condemn the AKP government for its contribution to the threat of war in Ukraine and its support of NATO aggression by selling weapons and providing diplomatic aid. Turkey’s NATO membership means that Turkey could potentially take part in a possible war, presenting a grave danger to our people. Instead, Turkey should strive to attain the fraternity of the peoples of the Black Sea region. The Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits should be carried out diligently. It should be out of the question for Turkey to take part in a war “as required by our NATO membership” as Erdoğan puts it. Turkey, led by Erdoğan, continues to arm Ukraine in the name of imperialism even if it does not provide soldiers. It is also trying to circumvent Montreux Convention and open the strait up for imperialist navies. We warn you of the grave danger: continuing to deploy nuclear weapons of the US in the Incirlik military base at a time when nuclear war is a real possibility is to put the lives of our toiling people at terrible risk for the benefit of a few parasites, in the same vein as what happened during the Korean war.
In short, NATO is most certainly not a security umbrella for the peoples of the region or elsewhere, especially not for Turkish and Kurdish peoples. On the contrary, it is the biggest security threat. NATO is the largest terrorist organization in the world. NATO membership and cooperation is the biggest possible humiliation for a people. For the oppressed peoples of the world, dismantling the imperialist crime syndicate of NATO is one of the most righteous and honorable cause to struggle for.
NATO is the sworn enemy of the working class struggles. As those fighting for the working-class power, we recognize NATO as the war-machine that stands against every advance of the working class. Therefore, we need to nullify this enemy of the working class together with the working classes of our region. As long as we remain in NATO, the main enemy will continue to be at home. Hence “NATO OUT of Turkey and our region!”
Turkey immediately out of NATO!
Close all imperialist bases in Turkey, starting with Incirlik and Kürecik!
No to the circumvention of Montreux! NATO out of the Black Sea!
Not a single penny, not a single bullet for the imperialist war of NATO!
Break the economic, cultural and military chains of imperialism!
We will not be soldiers of NATO!
Down with imperialism! Down with NATO!
United Workers Platform (BIZ); Revolutionary Movement; Revolutionary Workers Party (DIP); Socialist Laborers Party (SEP); Communist Movement of Turkey (TKH); Socialist Liberation Party (1920TKP)