Polish Defense Policy Shift Towards Turkey?

The recent purchase of Turkish TB-2 drones announced by the Polish Ministry of Defense came as a surprise to some observers of Poland’s domestic military affairs. It comes as the Polish President visits Turkey and talks with President Erdogan. This raises the question is the Polish government planning greater defense cooperation with Turkey.

The idea of a Warsaw-Bucharest-Ankara axis came to life at the beginning of the previous decade. From the Polish perspective, the increase of presence within South-East Europe is also giving more opportunities for security cooperation that exceeds those within the Visegrad Group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia). But besides the alliance of the east-central European states, Poland wants to find an economically strong ally much closer to its borders than the United States.

Being closer to Ankara means that the Polish defense policy shifts towards securing its interests to the south instead of the east. Erdogan’s latest change of policy towards the Kremlin, to a more conservative stance, may be the beginning of Turkish penitence for previous actions that upset NATO.

Turkey have also announced that it will deploy its F-16 jet fighters to Poland as a part of its contribution to the NATO mission in the Baltic Sea region, along with signing the mutual treaty on the protection of confidential information in the defense industry. This may be the beginning of a new Warsaw-Ankara relationship and see greater defense cooperation.

This, however, may not be without controversy. International observers point out that both Poland and Turkey do not respect certain rules of democracy and try to impose forms of authoritarian rule. The new anti-Russian stance of Erdogan is certainly appealing to the Poles, who seek a new partner in the face of the Russian threat. Whether a stronger Polish-Turkish alliance evolves remains to be seen but it may counterweight the current balance of power in Europe.