Turkish Prime Minister Balent Ecevit said yesterday that his visit to Moscow last week brought Turkey and the Soviet Union "much closer" together.
Ecevit said, however, that this closeness and a friendship pact that he signed with the Soviet Union would not weaked Turkey's ties with the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance.
"Both sides accept that they are members of different alliances," Ecevit said.
The Turkish-Soviet friendship treaty calls for "preservation of the borders of both countries as borders of good neighborliness and friendly cooperation" and renounces the use of threat of force against the other.
Some Western diplomats see the current Turkish-Soviet rapprochement as leading toward possible neutralization of Turkey, which maintains the largest army in NATO after the United States and controls the Soviet fleet's outlet to the Mediterranean through the Bosphorus and Dardanolle straits.
In addition to the friendship pact, Ecveit brought home from Moscow pledges for increased Soviet economic and technical aid -Turkey is already one of the largest non-communist recipients of Soviet assistance and apparent backing for Turkish proposals on Cyprus.
"The Soviet leadership has a great understanding for the Turkish approach and realizes the value of the solutions we suggest," Ecevit said.
Contrary to Turkish proposals that the future of Cyprus be decided by the island's Greek and Turkish communities, the Soviet Union had previously propagated the idea of an international settlement confrence, an approach similar to that of the Greeks.
But Ecevit said that during his Moscow talks, "I did not notice any desire to internationize the Cyprus problem as long as others do not try to internationlize it."
Turkey seized one-third of Cyprus in 1974 following an Athens-backed coup aimed at uniting the island with greece. The U.S. Congress imposed an arms embargo on Turkey following the invasion. This soured relations between Ankara and Washington.
Ecevit said he would have pursued improved relations with the Soviet Union, the Turks' traditional enemy - the two countries have fought 13 wars in 300 years - even if the embargo had not been applied.
The Turkish leader added he would continue to seek closer cooperation with Turkey's powerful northern neighbor even if the embargo is lifted.