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Turkey to alter national security strategy

ANKARA, Turkey, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Over the last three centuries Turkey has fought 11 wars with northern neighbor Russia, more than any other country.

In a sign of changed relations, 19 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Turkish National Security Council intends to drop Russia from the list of potential national threats Zaman reported Wednesday.

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The country's military strategy, revised every five years, is a classified document that is called as the "secret constitution" or the "red book."

The decision is the result of the ruling AKP party's foreign policy of "zero problems with neighbors."

Zaman cites sources close to the document changes, who spoke on condition of anonymity and who added that for the first time the document included provisions on energy security in view of Turkey's multibillion-dollar energy contracts with Russia, which supplies nearly two-thirds of Turkey natural gas imports via the Black Sea undersea Blue Stream pipeline.

Iran, Iraq and Greece will also reportedly be removed from the updated red book at the upcoming National Security Council's next meeting in October.

Revising the document's primary Cold War direction, Turkey regards international terrorism and fundamentalism as its primary external threats. The national security document was last revised in 2005, when Islamic fundamentalism and Kurdish separatism were considered the greatest threats to Turkish security, the latter a particular concern due to the Turkish military's ongoing conflict with PKK Kurdish terrorists, who began waging a Marxist separatist campaign in 1979.

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In recent years Turkey has been steadily increasing its cooperation with the quartet of former "security threats" and now regards them as new regional partners, particularly in the sphere of energy cooperation.

Turkey's relations with Russia have improved substantially since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP party came to power eight years ago.

The new draft highlights close bilateral economic cooperation with Russia, the potential for increased cooperation in both trade and energy and "a shared vision of stability in the Caucasus."

In the region, Turkey's relations with Armenia have been problematic for decades, while Russia's relations with Georgia have been strained since a brief conflict between them erupted over Abkhazia and South Ossetia in August 2008.

Washington will undoubtedly view the revisions with interest as Turkey is its NATO partner and improved relations with Iran could interfere with the U.S.-led sanctions policy begun over Tehran's civilian nuclear energy program, which Washington and Jerusalem say they suspect is a facade for a covert effort to develop nuclear weapons.

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