A brief history of Turkey's NATO membership

​The Turkish government’s pseudo anti-NATO discourse in recent days aims to erase the historically pro-U.S. stance of Turkey’s Islamists
Adnan Menderes (C).
Sunday, 26 November 2017 16:55

Turkey became a NATO member by paying with the lives and blood of more than 2,000 soldiers in Korea, under the auspices of then-Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes. The ruling Justice and Development Party’s pseudo anti-NATO stance of the recent days is an attempt to erase history.

One of Turkey's top agenda items in the recent period is its NATO membership.

While the anti-NATO statements of Turkish officials are noteworthy, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has supported NATO in all sorts of capacities since 2002 and clearly declared its commitment to the alliance at every opportunity, and these anti-NATO statements aim to erase history.

Today, Turkey’s Islamists and pro-government groups insistently try to erase the history of how Turkey became a NATO member. Because Turkey’s NATO membership came with a bargain on the life and blood of Turkish soldiers in the Korean War in 1950, and then-Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes is the most culpable for this bargain of blood.


Turkey’s first official attempt to become a member of NATO was during the time of the Adnan Menderes administration in 1950.

For this membership attempt, Turkey partook in certain events:

Firstly, more than 5,000 soldiers were sent to Korea by the Adnan Menderes government to support the U.S. invasion of Korea.

741 of the Turkish soldiers sent to Korea lost their lives in the war, and more than 2,000 soldiers were wounded.

Turkey officially became a member of NATO in February 1952, after these losses for U.S. interests in the Korean Peninsula.


Adnan Menderes, who is one of the "heroes of democracy" of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, advocated for U.S. aggression against the Korean people and the Soviet Union with these words:

"When the government of the Republic of Turkey made a decision to send military troops to Korea, the forces of other member states, particularly the United States of America, had already started to carry out military operations against the intruders. It is evident that our government is in harmony with the legalities, acts and measures based on these understandings of the other member states, which are affiliated to the same liabilities within the United Nations. And our government has done nothing but express the "pacta sunt servanda [all pacts must be respected]", which constitutes the bare characteristic of our state."  

Menderes stated that the decision they had taken was a noble decision, and that if they would have convened a thousand times again on this issue, they would make the same decision.

As a result, Menderes received what he wanted. 741 Turkish soldiers lost their lives, more than 2,000 soldiers were wounded. NATO bases have been built in many places in Turkey; the Turkish governments’ hunt for communist sympathizers expanded in the country, and military coups directly supported by NATO targeted the left-wing of the Republic of Turkey.