ANKARA: Turkish PM in France, says joining EU not only option

Turkish PM in France, says joining EU not only option

NTV television, Istanbul
21 Jul 04

[Announcer] Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey’s
ambition to join the EU is not its only option. Evaluating his visit
to France in a news conference, Erdogan stated: If necessary, we will
rename the Copenhagen criteria the Ankara criteria and implement
them. The prime minister also said that the Progress Report to be
issued by the EU Commission will be decisive in determining France’s

A large group of journalists attended Erdogan’s news conference
following his contacts in France. Most of the questions posed to the
prime minister were about Turkey’s reaction in the event it receives a
negative response or a conditional negotiation date from the EU in

[Erdogan] There is no provision in the EU acquis or in the rules
outlining the way to become a member on giving a date for a
conditional negotiation process or granting the right for full
membership. Moreover, Turkey’s ambition to join the EU is not its only
option. We have only one issue. We adopted the Copenhagen political
criteria with the aim of raising our citizens’ standard of living. If
the EU accession process proceeds positively, all well and good.
Failing that, we will rename these criteria the Ankara criteria and
proceed on our path.

[Announcer] Underlining the fact that the EU summit to be held on 17
December 2004 is not a summit for full membership as far as Turkey is
concerned, Erdogan said that the allegations of Armenian genocide,
which is a problem between Turkey and France, do not constitute a
criterion for EU accession.

Asked by a journalist how Turkey will implement the resolutions of the
European Parliament, Erdogan recalled the EU stance on Cyprus.

[Erdogan] Turkey will implement all the decisions that can be
implemented and it will not implement those that are impossible to
implement, in the same way as other countries fail to implement such
decisions. Those who are calling on us to withdraw from Cyprus should
have said the same thing at the time to those who should have
withdrawn from southern Cyprus. Under the EU acquis, a country that
has a border problem cannot become a full member of the union.
Cyprus, however, has become a full member under the name of Cyprus.

[Announcer] The prime minister also contended that the EU should give
Turkey a negotiation date in order to prove that it is not a Christian

[Erdogan] Still approaching Turkey with apprehension shows that one is
driven by Turkey’s culture and concept of civilization. The date of 17
December 2004 is very important and I believe that this date will
exonerate the EU from such a charge.

[Announcer] At his news conference, Erdogan also made important
statements in connection with foreign policy. Pointing out that there
is no crisis between Israel and Turkey, Erdogan said: It was wrong of
Israel to bomb Rafah, and we warned Israel. Friends tell the bitter
truth. Erdogan also warned about developments that could trigger a
civil war in Iraq.

Foreign journalists in particular asked Erdogan questions about
Turkey’s foreign policy. He was asked if the crisis between Turkey and
Israel has been overcome.

[Erdogan] There is no crisis between Turkey and Israel. Any stance or
any mistake is open to criticism. I, for my part, criticized a mistake
that was made, that is the bombing of the Rafah refugee camps in the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This was a friendly statement about a
stance and a mistake. In Turkey we have a saying: Friends tell the
bitter truth, but they tell the truth.

[Announcer] Even though Erdogan denied the existence of a crisis with
Israel, he stood behind the phrase of state terrorism.

[Erdogan] As you know, 14 members of the UN Security Council condemned
this. Why is this condemnation not disturbing Israel? In this case,
Israel should ask itself where it went wrong and what mistake it made
to evoke the condemnation of so many countries. Only the United States
abstained. If we question ourselves, I believe that we can attain
peace much more quickly.

[Announcer] Erdogan was also asked to comment on the allegations that
Israel is conducting secret operations in northern Iraq, allegations
that caused tension in Turkish-Israeli relations.

[Erdogan] We are not a country that acts on rumours. We conduct our
business on the basis of negotiations and intelligence and we take
steps when necessary.

[Announcer] Assessing the developments in Iraq, Erdogan warned that
developments are occurring that could trigger a civil war.

[Erdogan] At present, the developments in Iraq are not satisfactory or
cheerful. There is no one that does not have an account to settle over
Iraq. It would be wrong to say that only Iran has such
calculations. There are many designs over Iraq. It is difficult to
estimate the extent of each country’s calculations, but it appears
that everyone has an account to settle over Iraq.