Today.Az » Politics » Turkish FM at UN: "NK conflict must be resolved within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan"
24 September 2006 [12:44] - Today.Az
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul pressed for a seat on the U.N. Security Council, saying it was "long overdue" and warranted given Turkey's front-line role in securing peace in Lebanon.

It was a position likely to be disputed by longtime rival Greece, and by the Greek-Cypriot administered southern Cyprus.

Gul's call before the U.N. General Assembly comes as Turkey has stepped up its profile in international politics. Turkey was the first Muslim country to commit troops to a U.N. peacekeeping force being deployed in Lebanon as part of a cease-fire agreement that ended a monthlong war between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.

"From the very start, Turkey has followed an active diplomacy, and took its place at the forefront of the international efforts to end the bloodshed," Gul said. "We believe that, in the spirit of equitable rotation, our turn to be represented is long overdue."

Echoing comments by other delegations, Gul said the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the center of the problems in the Middle East, and called for a revival of the peace process in the region.

Gul indicated that Turkey supports the U.N. Security Council's resolution No. 1701. "Despite some ongoing problems, the resolution is a positive step for regional peace and stability," said the Turkish foreign minister.

"Progress toward peace in the Middle East will have a positive impact on other global problems," noted Gul.

He stressed that the Iraq issue is very important. "There is an urgent need to establish an Iraq where ethnic warfare is over and democracy is erected," said Gul.

Gul stated that terrorism continues to claim the lives of innocent people in the world. "Turkey has no tolerance for applying double standards in the fight against terrorism," commented Gul.

Referring to the Caucasus, Gul stated that the problem of Nagorno Karabakh must be resolved within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

Gul reiterated that Turkey will continue to assist the political process and rebuilding of Afghanistan.

Gul's comments reflect Turkey's desire to raise its international profile as it strives to join the European Union -- a process that has met with resistance from a number of EU members, in large part over Turkey's human rights record.

Turkey opened membership talks in October 2005, but its refusal to recognize EU-member southern Cyprus or open its ports to Greek Cypriot ships and airplanes has also led to speculation that the European Commission, the EU's executive body, could recommend suspending membership negotiations.

The main point of contention is Ankara's unwillingness to implement a Turkey-EU customs agreement that requires it to open Turkish ports to southern Cyprus -- which would imply recognition by Turkey of the Greek Cypriot-led government of Cyprus. The customs requirement is part of a deal on the free exchange of goods with all EU members.

Defending the government's position on Cyprus, Gul said Turkey's January proposal for the lifting of all trade restrictions "remained on the table."

Cyprus has been divided between a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish-Cypriot north since 1974, when Turkey intervened in the island after an Athens-backed coup by supporters of union with Greece.

But Gul also protested that the isolation of Turkish Cypriots is unfair, arguing that "in this day and age, living under unjustly imposed restrictions defies all reason."

Gul indicated that "the Turkish Cypriots voted for the Annan Plan in the island. Turkish Cypriots expect a solution within the framework of the Annan plan in order to bring lasting and comprehensive solution in the island. It is high time for the Turkish Cypriots to unite with global economy."

Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said Wednesday that the tiniest EU member wants Turkey to become a European democracy, but will insist that Ankara first deliver on its promise to the European Union and recognize southern Cyprus.

Speaking shortly after G?l, the foreign minister of Greece expressed regret that the Cyprus problem remained unresolved.

"Our goal remains an agreed solution between the two communities, without arbitration and tight timetables, which will be approved subsequently by referenda," Dora Bakoyannis said.

Pressing Turkey's case for the Security Council seat, Gul said his country was "emerging as a major donor country" and called it an "anomaly" that it had not served on the council since 1961.

He mentioned initiatives such as the "Alliance of Civilizations" in which Turkey has participated in an effort to promote intercultural understanding and correct a "rift in cultural perceptions" surrounding events in the Middle East. The Alliance is a U.N.-sponsored group that promotes understanding between Western and Islamic states.

"Having consolidated our place among the largest economies of the world, we want to enrich and improve our relations with the more distant regions," which include Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, East Asia and the Pacific," Gul said.

/Turkish Daily News/

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