Ismet Inönü, who succeeded Kemal as president in 1938, warily steered a neutral course through the first five years of World War II, although Turkey received lend-lease aid from the United States after 1941. Despite considerable Allied pressure, Turkey declared war on Germany and Japan only in Feb., 1945; as a result of its declaration of war, Turkey took part in the conference (Apr.–June, 1945) at San Francisco that founded the United Nations. Relations with the Soviet Union became acrimonious after the USSR denounced (Mar., 1945) its friendship pact with Turkey and demanded a thorough revision of the Montreux Convention and joint control of the Straits. Turkey rejected all Soviet demands, and in 1947 it became, with Greece, the recipient of U.S. assistance under the Truman Doctrine.
In the elections of 1950, the government party was defeated and Celal Bayar, leader of the Democratic party (established in 1946), succeeded Inönü as president. With Adnan Menderes as prime minister, the new government followed a policy of firm alignment with the West. Turkish troops fought with distinction in the Korean War, and in 1952 Turkey became a full member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; U.S. air and missile bases were subsequently established at Izmir and Adana. Turkey concluded a military defense pact with Yugoslavia and Greece (the Balkan Pact) in 1954 and played a leading part in the creation (1954–55) of the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO; until 1959 known as the Baghdad Pact). Tension with Greece over the island of Cyprus, whose population is mostly Greek but includes a sizable Turkish minority, began in the mid-1950s and continued after Cyprus became independent in 1960.
Partly as a result of aid under the Marshall Plan, the Turkish economy expanded considerably after 1950, and foreign capital was attracted by favorable investment laws. The Menderes government was returned to power in 1954 and 1957, although a serious economic crisis had developed. Growing discontent led to the enactment of restrictive laws by the government. Many leading journalists were jailed, and tension erupted into the open in Apr., 1960, when university students demonstrated against the government. The attempts to suppress these outbreaks led directly to a coup in May by an army junta headed by Gen. Cemal Gürsel. The junta, which favored a return to Kemalist principles, placed Menderes, Bayar, and several hundred other Democratic party leaders on trial for having violated the constitution; Menderes and several others were executed.
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