The southern flank of NATO, 1951-1959: military stategy or poltical stabilisation?
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In 1951-52, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation established the Southern Flank, a strategy for the defence of the eastern Mediterranean in the Cold War involving Greece, Italy and Turkey. Among its many aims, the Southern Flank sought to mobilize Greece and Turkey as allies and integrate them into the Western defence system. Throughout 1950s, the alliance developed the Southern Flank and in 1959, it was finally stabilized as fractious Greek-Turkish relations were improved by the temporary settlement over Cyprus. These events are the focus of this thesis. It examines, among other things, the initial negotiations of 1951-52, the Southern Flank‟s structure and function and relative value in NATO‟s overall policy, and its response to the challenges of the eastern Mediterranean in the early Cold War. It explores not only the military aspects of the Southern Flank (e.g. the establishment of its headquarters and NATO‟s command structure; the special role of each member state; military planning and the lack of unity in command) but also the more controversial political aspects. Hence, it analyses the admission of Greece and Turkey to NATO, the short-lived military cooperation between these states and Yugoslavia during 1953-55 and the deterioration in Greek-Turkish relations from 1955 due to Cyprus. It also focuses on the part played by other major members of the alliance, principally the United States and Britain, in Southern Flank politics and strategy. Thus, it considers how the US and UK viewed the power balance between the three Southern Flank members and how the Americans sought to influence affairs through financial, military and technical assistance, including the construction of US bases in Greece and Turkey. More generally, the thesis also assesses the threat posed to the Southern Flank at various points by rising tensions in the Middle East.
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