Gul pleased Turkey will continue the occupation of EU territory

Cyprus Press and Information Office: Turkish Cypriot Press Review
July 23 2004

Gul pleased because Turkey will continue the occupation of EU
territory without political cost

Istanbul YENI SAFAK newspaper (22.07.04) publishes an interview with
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul by Yeni Safak Ankara Representative
Mustafa Karaalioglu aboard the flight to occupied Cyprus under the
title “No obstacles to negotiations”.
The Turkish Foreign Minister made the following disclosures
concerning the issues on the political agenda.

EU: No gray areas left for Europe

“I do not see any hurdles to the commencement of negotiations with
the EU. I am not saying this in the fashion of an ordinary politician
or statesman. I am not saying it either in a manner intended to get
across the message that “we should have started negotiations two
years ago.” I am a deputy prime minister and foreign minister brave
enough to say some three months ago that “if I were writing the
progress report, I would not write a favorable one.” We had
shortcomings then. However, while I certainly cannot say Turkey is
flawless, nobody can now accuse our country of having shortcomings
great enough to disqualify it. Can you imagine the degree of our
determination? Not even the bureaucracy has been able to keep pace
with us. We convened Parliament during the summer recess and on the
last night before the deadline, we passed two important EU bills we
had promised to enact. We passed the Associations Bill as well as a
bill regarding the ‘Compensation of Damages Resulting From the
Struggle Against Terrorism.’ There is only one way for Europe. There
are no gray areas left.”

Negotiations should last ten years yet …

“The issue of whether negotiations can start in April or March is a
minor detail. What is important is that the date of negotiations be
set in a way that leaves no room for doubt whatsoever. The talks will
take some ten years. We as Turkey would prefer the negotiations to
last long. This is how it should happen because where large countries
are in question, major preparations are required. The negotiation
process is really a very complicated thing in itself.”

Israel: Their own Ministers are leveling criticisms

“The state of our relations with Israel should not be interpreted as
being the result of the change in regional balances. Turkey can never
act blindly. We are maintaining very good relations with regional as
well as non-regional countries. The thing about Israel is this: We
are not the only country to criticize Israel for some of its
policies. Israel’s own Justice Minister and other countries have
criticized Israel, too. Indeed, everybody has criticized Israel. Have
Israel’s relations with Turkey been severed because of this? No, they
have not. On the contrary, our relations with Israel and Palestine
are increasing our capability to contribute to the peace process.
[Israel’s] Deputy Prime Minister came to Turkey. We talked with him
openly and sincerely and told him what we think. Our relations [with
Israel] are continuing as part of our foreign policy. We are also
holding talks [with Israel]. These will continue.”

Armenia: We wish them well

“Such an issue (relations with Armenia) cannot be left frozen while
all other issues are being solved. We are trying to settle that
problem, too. Armenia is beset by economic troubles in many ways. We
would not want the people of a neighboring country to be wracked by
troubles regardless of which country might be in question. We would
want to help. Yet there are circumstances restricting our ability to
proffer help. At a time when some 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory
is under [Armenian] occupation … There are difficulties created by
this situation. We feel responsible about this matter and we are
trying to play the role of catalyst for the settlement of this
problem. I cannot say that we have gone a long way toward achieving
this purpose yet during the Istanbul meeting, all three countries at
least expressed their determination to hold talks about the problem
and work on it. There is a need to be courageous.”

Northern Iraq: We are making a great contribution to Iraq

We see Iraq as a whole rather than talking about a north or a south.
Important things are happening there. As far as Turkey’s interests
are concerned, there is no need for anyone to be worried. We as
Iraq’s neighbors are going to discuss the situation in Iraq for the
seventh time in Egypt. The UN is keeping a close watch on Iraq. The
Americans are also keeping a close watch on this country. This is a
very difficult period. Yet Turkey is doing its best to make favorable
contributions to Iraq. And we are contributing a lot.

The seminary is a global issue

Some work is being conducted in connection with the Halki Seminary.
However, this is a long-standing issue. There are no dates set for
anything. There are problems. This is not like Germans coming to
Manavgat to open a church. This is a historical and global issue. On
the other hand, we attach a lot of importance to religious freedoms
regardless of anything. We will consider everyone within this
framework, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Efforts are continuing yet
it is not as if a briefing has been held at this point for the
President or the Prime Minister.

Cyprus: Our gain is worth more than any amount of money

There are two important topics in the Cyprus issue: first, the future
of Turkish Cypriots, second, the incredible problems being created
for Turkey by those using Cyprus as an excuse. A crucial turning
point regarding both matters was reached sometime ago. This issue
used to be exploited as a flimsy pretext to conduct an incredible
propaganda campaign and create an unfavorable international image for
Turkey. By being represented as a quarrelsome country trying to
achieve certain military interests, unable to comprehend Europe’s
culture of compromise, entirely incapable of talking peace, and
always relying on crude force, Turkey was forced to pay incredible
political prices. Our latest polices and the results of the Cyprus
referenda have relieved Turkey. From now on, nobody can exploit
Cyprus to Turkey’s detriment. Not only have the obstacles placed
before Turkey by those abusing the Cyprus issue been removed through
our policies but they have also turned into pluses for Turkey. It has
been proven that Turkey supports peace and compromise. This is a gain
worth more than billions of dollars.

Direct flights to start

It has been understood who wants peace on the island, is open to
compromise, and supports coexistence. Because of their confidence in
the Greek Cypriots, many world leaders felt deceived [in the wake of
the Cyprus referenda]. They began to realize the injustices done to
the Turks. Where once they did not think it right to shake hands with
Turkish Cypriots’ representatives and their President and Prime
Minister, let alone calling them president or prime minister,
visiting them in their offices, or inviting them to official
functions, the Russian, American, and British foreign ministers are
now coming together with the Prime Minister of the “Turkish Republic
of Cyprus”. Let me also point out that the first direct flights will
be starting soon and there will be more to follow.

The support of the Islamic Conference Organization

Last year, Mr Denktas took part in the joint meeting of the
Organization of Islamic Conference and EU Foreign Ministers as “the
representative of the Muslim people of Cyprus.” At this year’s
meeting in Istanbul, it was decided to refer to the Turkish Cypriot
side at the General Assembly of the Organization of Islamic
Conference not as a Muslim community but as the Turkish Cypriot
State. Certain foreign ministers from Muslim countries visited
[Northern Cyprus]. Others will start paying visits from now on. There
is a lot that we must do and there is a lot that the Turkish Cypriot
Republic must do. The Turkish Cypriot government should effect a
rapprochement with Islamic countries and increase the number of
visits to these countries.

We too would have decided to carry out an operation 30 years ago

One should not brag about the 30-year Turkish foreign policy in
talking about Cyprus because Turkey went to Cyprus 30 years ago with
very just reasons and powers invested by international agreements. We
would have made the same decision if we had been in power then. Yet
during recent years, Turkey followed a policy that regarded
non-settlement itself as a solution. Denktas was the person who
implemented this policy. Yet the policy had become very detrimental
to both Cyprus and Turkey. It needed to be changed. We did that very
courageously. Now what is in question is an achievement acclaimed by
the entire world.

Denktas sounded like he was talking at a coffeehouse

I disregarded the manner of Denktas’ remarks during the 30th
anniversary celebrations. For, he gave the kind of speech that one
would make at a coffeehouse, a political arena, or an election rally.
There were representatives of the Turkish Republic and Government
before him. He should not have delivered the sort of speech that one
would make at an election rally or in a coffeehouse. Yet I am willing
to overlook it. I was not offended either. We are going to continue
to do what we believe to be right.