ANKARA: Hariri, Turkey, an exmaple for Islamic world


Turkish Daily News, Press Scanner
May 12 2004

Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri said Turkey, which is a bridge
between Europe and Asia, was an example for the Islamic world with
its efforts for modernization.

“This enhances the importance of Turkey’s role,” said Hariri.

The Lebanese premier will pay a visit to Ankara in the upcoming days
and before his visit to Turkey, daily Yeni Safak held an interview
with Hariri at his house.

“Turkey is an important country in the region and has historic
ties with Lebanon. There is no doubt that the AK Party government’s
policies have pushed the Arabs and us for new initiatives in Turkey.
That’s why, we support the AK Party’s efforts to improve its relations
with its neighbors and the Arabs,” said Hariri.

Asked about whether the European Union would open its doors to Turkey,
the premier said Lebanon supported Turkey’s EU aspirations.

“Through the reforms, Turkey proved that it is very serious and sincere
on the issue. The EU should respond to Turkey with a similar serious
and sincere way and open its doors to Turkey,” added Hariri.

Asked about whether he was thinking about acting as a mediator between
Armenia and Turkey since his country enjoyed friendly relations
with Armenia, Hariri said his visit’s primary goal was to improve
and strengthen the relations between Lebanon and Turkey and also
expressed the hope that all of the disagreements and problems in the
region would be resolved in a way that would contribute to peace.

In reply to a question concerning the U.S.-led Middle East Initiative,
Hariri said he opposed the fact that the United States launched such
an initiative without asking the peoples of the region.

The Lebanese premier is known to oppose the U.S.-led initiative.

“None of us are against democracy, reforms and freedoms but all of
them should be done in accordance with our own will and peoples’
expectations and interests. The power that will determine the future
of a region is the people of that region,” said Hariri.

Asked about the inhuman treatment in Iraq, the premier said the Arabic
world was shocked by the brutal torture against the Iraqi captives
and condemned the torture.

Hariri went on to say that the methods adopted by Britain and the
United States were not enough to control Iraq and said: “There is no
need for more troops or weapons. The only thing that Iraq needs is
a political solution.”

Hariri said that the United Nations should play a major role in the
transfer of Iraqi administration to the Iraqis and formation of a
political structure and should support the efforts to establish a
new government.

The Lebanese premier said that Arabic countries were in contact with
the big states and friendly countries for a solution that would help
Iraq’s stability and territorial integrity.