ANKARA: Gul In Moscow: There Have Been Worrying Developments InPales

Gul In Moscow: There Have Been Worrying Developments In Palestine

Anadolu Agency
May 20 2004

MOSCOW – Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah
Gul has said there had recently been worrying developments in
Palestine, adding, “incidents there have been developing in a way
that worries whole world.”

Following his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in
Moscow where he had arrived under his meetings with the Middle East
Quartet (formed by European Union, United Nations, Russia and United
States) on the issue of Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
Ministers Delegation’s Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Gul answered
Turkish reporters’ questions.

Noting that OIC’s meeting with Russia was occurring during an important
period, Gul said that important incidents had happened in Palestine
especially in last few weeks and in last few days.

“These are really worrying incidents and they have been developing in
a way that worries the whole region and the world. The latest policy
of Israel was condemned by the UN Security Council yesterday,” he said.

Stating that OIC wanted the problem to end peacefully, Gul said,
“as the Middle East Quartet said in its statements the day before,
both sides should act under framework of the road map. Israel should
stop use of force against civilians and innocent people, besides it the
policy of destroying homes should end. Any attempt that would split the
sides by building wall should be prevented and it should withdraw from
the territories it occupied under the UN Security Council resolutions.”

Noting that also Israel’s security and safety in the region should be
provided, Gul said, “these are important issues. I am here to talk
about these issues. With this respect I want to say that there will
be a session on Iraq issue in the Turkish parliament on next Tuesday.
I am thinking of directly bringing also the issues related to Palestine
and Middle East problem.”

Gul said that he had expressed his opinions about Cyprus to UN
Security Council permanent representative Russia and they had discussed
bilateral economic and political issues under his meetings in Moscow.

Stating that he had asked Lavrov to immediately lift economic embargo
on the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), immediately start
direct flights to the TRNC and remove obstacles that prevent vessels
carrying tourists and cargo from stopping by the TRNC, Gul said that
there would be concrete developments in line with the report that UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan would present to the UN Security Council.

Stating that Russia requested observer status in the OIC but there was
not such a status, Gul said that OIC’s regulations would be reviewed
at meeting in Istanbul and studies would start on granting Russia
such a status.

Replying to a question about Russia’s stance towards the Cyprus issue,
Gul said, “it is real that relations between Turkey and Russia have
been improving. Mr. President Putin proved it with multi-dimensional
partnership. Everything should enhance properly and appropriately to
this, of course.”

“While all relations are enhancing and getting deeper, common
opinions should emerge on regional issues and other problems and
Russia should review its policies, of course. Undoubtedly, these are
our expectations. However, we have to hold close consultations to
make these happen. We have to explain our issues in detail. We have
to clearly put forward our reasons. And it is what I am doing today,”
he said.

Stating that Lavrov had clearly told him that they supported lifting of
embargoes, establishment of commercial relations and lifting economic
isolation of the Turkish Cypriot side, which was the right thing,
Gul said, “they say that efforts could be exerted for a solution
in the future and everything should happen under the UN framework
and Annan’s plan should be taken as the basis. However, they say it
would be right to lift economic isolation. They clearly said that
they would not create any obstacle in front of Russian companies’
relations with the Turkish Cypriot side.”

Replying to a question, Gul said that opening of Turkish-Armenian
border could be possible only after Armenia withdrew from the
territories it occupied.

Asked about the Armenian President’s decision on not participating
in the NATO summit in Istanbul, Gul said, “it is a NATO meeting.
Armenia has a representation in Istanbul under the Black Sea Economic
Cooperation Organization. Should Armenia close it, too? I suppose
that it was a statement that targeted domestic politics.”

Asked whether Turkey had “plan B” in case the EU would not set a date
for opening of accession talks at its summit in December, Gul said,
“we don’t have such a plan. We all think of opening of negotiations
in December.”

“Besides, decision on opening of negotiations with Turkey was made
in 2002. At that summit, the decision was made and it was said that
negotiations with Turkey would immediately start in December of 2004
if it fulfilled political criteria,” Gul added.