ANKARA: President tells envoys EU membership remains top priority

Anatolia news agency, Turkey
July 18 2008


Ankara, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Friday [18 July] that
modernization project of Turkey as regards to European Union (EU)
membership should be one of the priorities of Turkish diplomacy and
other state institutions.

Gul met with Turkish ambassadors, currently in Turkey within the scope
of "1st Ambassadors Conference", over lunch at the Presidential Palace
in Ankara.

Gul said Turkish Republic strengthened its security, national unity
and integrity, upgraded its prosperity level and reached its goal to
become a "positive power" for peace and stability in its region.

Gul said Turkey launched initiatives on many regional problems
including the Middle East, assumed roles in multinational peace
protection forces, and played a significant role in peace and
cooperation activities in the world.

Turkish president said political, economic and cultural clashes in the
Middle East region deeply affected global peace and stability, noting
that the efforts exerted for the solution of the problems in question
could not yield results.

"We see that the actual situation was only in the interests of
fanatics, terrorists and speculators, so I think that mechanisms
should be established soon to prevent crises and to restore a new
confidence and cooperation atmosphere in the Middle East," he added.

President Gul said careful works and creative ideas of the ambassadors
contributed a lot for the solution of some problems, noting that UN
plan regarding Cyprus question was negotiated successfully.

Gul said Turkey launched many good-will initiatives to normalize
relations with Armenia since this country announced its independence,
adding "the initiatives in question and proposal of Turkey to
establish a "joint history commission" waits for response."

Commenting on relations with the EU, Gul said Turkey made important
steps on fundamental principles of democratic, secular and social
state for the past 85 years on the way to reach level of contemporary
civilization. "Full membership talks with the EU is the most important
phase of this," he added.

"Fundamental principles of the EU are based on democracy, supremacy of
law, protection of human rights, recognition of social rights, free
market economy, cultural diversity and respect. The values in question
are in conformity with the philosophy of our Republic and expectations
of our people. Thus, this project should be one of the most important
priorities of our diplomacy and other state institutions," he added.