Turkey, strategically located on the sensitive Soviet border, is considered so important to Western security that the United States and other industrialized countries are preparing a massive new program to bail out its foundering economy.
While neither Turkey nor its Western allies are certain of the outline of the rescue effort, the idea is that, if the economy is strengthened, the political instability that threatens this pivotal NATO ally could be brought under control.
But the Turkish economy is in such a shambles that, while they are prepared to help once more, the Western powers have no real confidence that their aid will accomplish anything unless it is accompanied by reforms that Ankara so far has been reluctant to make.
The problem is not just money, although Western specialists estimate that it will take around $1.5 billion in fresh economic aid and credits this year alone just to keep things running and from getting even more volatile.
Mixed into the situation is some Turkish nationalism and suspicion of foreign advice and investment, enormous inefficiency in the economy and state-run enterprises, a fierce political battle that allows both sides little room for maneuver, and a growing feeling that Turkey has gotten little for its pro-Western stance of the past and is increasingly being taken for granted by its allies.
Thus, while the financial needs are big, there is no real confidence among potential lenders that another infusion of aid will work over the long run.
In any case, U.S. and European officials say, any new international effort to bail out Turkey must be combined with demands for Turkish economic reforms that will restore bank confidence and eventually help Turkey pay its own bills.
At the Guadeloupe summit meeting last month, the United States, West Germany, France and Britain - under West German prodding -- acknowledged the urgency of Turkey's plight.
It was announced in Paris yesterday that the 24-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is prepared to assume a key role in developing an aid program for Turkey.
Yet the West has not figured out how much to offer or whether it could raise the money.
"Turkey is teetering on the brink of total bankruptcy," says a European ambassador here, "but it is one thing to sit around in the sun at Guadeloupe and another to get national treasuries to cough up the money."
Turkey has still not said it would comply with demands by the International Monetary Fund for belt-tightening at home and economic reforms that everybody except the Turks thinks are essential if any of the 220 banks to which Turkey already owes about $3 billion will reopen lines of credit.
The Turks have received about half of a two-year, $450 million loan from the IMF worked out last year, but the IMF has refused to release more until Turkey promises reforms. IMF approval of more credit to Turkey is the symbolic key to all new Western commercial aid.
What the IMF and the West want Turkey to do is devalue the Turkish currency by about 30 percent, stop handing out huge wage increases, and raise taxes and prices charged by state-run enterprises. These enterprises are so large and inefficient they run at almost a $750 million loss annually.
Turkish Premier Bulent Ecevit, a liberal and moderate, is preoccupied with his own political survival and complains regularly that the IMF and the West do not understand the domestic political consequences of such reforms. His rightist opposition says the reforms would amount to "selling out to Western domination."
Turkey's problems began in the 1973 oil crisis. Not only did prices. quadruple, for a country that imports more than 80 percent of its oil, but Turkey also lost much of its biggest source of foreign currency to pay for that oil -- its labor force that traveled to Western Europe to work in the factories and in other menial jobs and sent home the proceeds.
Since the crunch in the West, about 15 percent of the roughly 600,000 of these Turkish laborers in West Germany have come home, cutting down the flow of hard currency and adding to unemployment, now about 20 percent.
Turkey has piled up a foreign debt of about $12 billion, which, specialists say, is not so bad for a country of Turkey's size. The problem is that about half of it either is coming due soon or is already in arrears. This confronts Ankara with the task of rescheduling old debts at the same time it tries to borrow new money.
Western experts here estimate that Turkey needs about $5 billion in exports next year just to keep its industry afloat. Actual exports, however, are expected to reach only about $2.5 billion. Perhaps another billion dollars in hard currency earnings are expected to be sent home by workers abroad.
That leaves a gap of $1.5 billion, which the West believes it must raise. But the West, sources say, is also waiting to see how much aid Turkey gets from elsewhere, including the oil-rich countries and the Soviet Union, before making any firm commitments.
Turkey has not opened itself up for foreign investment of the kind that would help expand its technical expertise so its products could be sold on Western markets, earning the foreign currency Turkey needs.
Instead, Turkey has created a huge state-run and private industry establishment that serves only the Turkish market and is enormously profitable for a few businessmen, but runs at huge losses and with great inefficiency in the state-run sector.
An experienced Western official here says, "The situation is maddening. This is no Bangladesh. Turkey has everything except sensible economic planning. The country is one out of perhaps nine or ten in the world that can feed itself. It has good resources, substantial coal and hydrolectric power. But how do you get from here to there?"
Countries like South Korea and Taiwan, with much smaller economies, export several times what Turkey does.
"The Turks are simply 30 or so years behind the time on economic thinking," the Western official says, "and that is really what the dispute with the IMF is all about."