ANKARA: Expansive Foreign Policy Talks Kick Off In Ankara


Turkish Daily News
July 16 2008

Turkey’s ambassadors from all over the world met yesterday for a
first-ever meeting in Ankara to hold what government officials called
comprehensive discussions regarding the country’s short and long-term
foreign policy goals.

In his opening speech, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said the four-day
brainstorming session would maintain coordination and create synergy
between Turkey’s envoys abroad and diplomats within the Foreign
Ministry, hoping that such meetings would become more frequent in the
future since Turkey maintains a very demanding foreign policy agenda.

On Turkey’s relations with the European Union, Babacan stressed that
Ankara would not deviate from its decades-old EU objective and press
ahead with those reforms required for full membership.

Babacan to EU: Win over Turkish public opinion

The foreign minister also called upon the EU to fulfill its
responsibilities to Turkey in order to win over Turkish public opinion,
which has often been frustrated by inconsistent messages coming from
the bloc’s leaders. Babacan said the EU Commission’s support for
Turkish membership should be reflected in its summit declarations.

Meanwhile, in Parliament, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told
his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, deputies that more
than two negotiations chapters could be opened in Turkish-EU talks
during the EU presidency of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Referring to his private meeting with Sarkozy this week in Paris,
Erdogan said: "We had the chance to discuss these issues. He (Sarkozy)
clearly said to me that he would exert efforts in this respect (for
the opening of three to four chapters)," said Erdogan.

Turkey’s EU membership negotiations, and the closure case filed
against the AKP, were also discussed during the meeting between
Erdogan and Sarkozy.

The French daily, Le Figaro, reported that Sarkozy assured Erdogan
that the 27 members of the EU bloc would present a coordinated front
due to the successful consultations with Ankara.

During their meeting, Erdogan asked Sarkozy to be supportive of
Turkey’s EU ambitions during his term as EU president, said Le Figaro.

Ankara seeks non-permanent UN seat

Meanwhile, in his address to the ambassadors, Babacan, while listing
foreign policy objectives, touched upon Turkey’s bid to secure a
non-permanent seat in the U.N. Security Council for the 2009-2010

He said if Turkey was elected to the U.N. seat, it would contribute to
international efforts for peace and welfare; support the U.N. reform
process; help resolve international conflicts; take the lead in
the fight against xenophobia, racism, discrimination, intolerance,
extremism and violence; and open the door for dialogue between
different cultures and civilizations.

Babacan also sent word that Turkey would continue contributing to
U.N.-led peacekeeping missions throughout the world.

On Ankara’s "facilitator" role in the Middle East, Babacan said Ankara
was pursuing a proactive policy and obtaining meaningful results as
a country found trustworthy by Syria, Israel and the countries of
the region.

On the decades-old Cyprus dispute, Babacan said Turkey longed for
a fair and stable solution to the problem on the basis of past
U.N. resolutions. Regarding ties with neighboring Armenia, he
said Turkey would continue to willingly assume the initiative for
normalization of bilateral ties.

In order to improve ties with Latin American and African countries,
Turkey is planning to open additional embassies or representative
offices, noted Babacan. He also praised the Turkish-African summit,
to be held in August in Istanbul, where leaders from 54 African
countries will gather.