jump to navigation

Turkish Premier indicates change of policy towards Turkic countries 12 mars 2007

Posted by Acturca in Caucasus / Caucase, Central Asia / Asie Centrale, Turkey / Turquie.

BBC Monitoring International Reports, March 12, 2007 Monday       Türkçe

Source: Sabah website, Istanbul, in Turkish 11 Mar 07

Excerpt from report by Erdal Safak, headlined « Could there be surprise ? », published by Turkish newspaper Sabah website on 11 March:

Three weeks after a trip to Turkmenistan, we accompanied Prime Minister Erdogan on a tour of another Turkic republic, this time Azerbaijan. The reason for this visit was the « First Joint Forum of the Azeri and Turkish Diaspora Organizations in the World » in Baku.

On our flight back, six journalists who had covered the trip got together with Erdogan in the private compartment of the ANA plane at a late hour of the night [9 March] to hear his views on domestic and foreign developments.

First, let us convey our questions and the prime minister’s answers on political matters, which we had to squeeze into the final minutes of our conversation.

[Question] Next week will mark the end of your fourth year as prime minister.

[Erdogan] Yes, it will be four years on 15 March.

[Question] Is there anything you wanted to accomplish but could not in those four years? Is there anything that remains unresolved inside you?

[Erdogan] We have had a successful, stable, goal-oriented term. However, despite our positive drive, we have not been able to make as much progress as we wanted on unemployment. We reduced it by a point but that is not enough. It is true that there is a transition from agriculture to the service and industry sectors. That reduces off-the-record [economic activity] and puts it on record. Our second problem is the current account deficit.

[Question] We are more severely affected by global financial fluctuations because of the current account deficit.

[Erdogan] That may be true, but our current account deficit is not as large as that of the United States or Japan. Of course, our economy is smaller. (In this context, Erdogan said that he is not concerned about the rise in the value of the Turkish currency. He even said that the state is earning money « without doing anything » thanks to this rise.)

Leaving Door Ajar

Then we turned to the subject of the presidential elections to be held in five weeks. We were fully aware that we would not get an unambiguous answer but we tried our luck.

[Question] You have been commissioning public opinion polls. Do you see any differences in the vote the AKP [Justice and Development Party] would win in [general] elections depending on whether you or someone else leads the party?

[Erdogan] Believe me, we do not ask such questions in the polls. At this point, it makes no sense to ask that question. [The party] will look at the picture that will emerge after May. The party organization knows best the issue of winning or losing votes.

[Question] However, if the party organization is asked, no one would tell their leader « not to go to Cankaya. »

[Erdogan] No, that is not true. There are people who say that. Some have even written personal letters. There have been people who have said: « You deserve to be there, but you should stay on as prime minister for another five years. »

[Question] So, could there be a surprise?

[Erdogan] Our life is full of surprises. It is possible.

You may interpret this as « leaving the door ajar » or as « covering up one’s intentions. » Our impression was that Erdogan has not yet made his final decision and that, even if he has, he is still weighing the pros and cons [of running for the presidency].

Pleasure of Being State

As for Erdogan’s comments on overseas developments, he described the decision of the Greek Cypriot administration to tear down its side of the Ledra Street barricade as: « We were once again proven right both at home and abroad. » The prime minister also had some strong words for the opposition: « The AKP said that this would be a correct step. Why should we be afraid if we are right? What did north Cyprus lose by tearing down its side of the wall? On the contrary, the EU started pressuring the Greek Cypriots. Now they are pressuring them for direct trade. (EU Commissioner for Enlargement) Ollie Rehn’s statement was very strong. Yet, our main opposition has been trying to pitch us against the General Staff. What have we accepted that was not in the interests of our brethren in Cyprus? They should come out and disclose one thing we have given away. Let me be frank: If anything would be given away, it would be given away with the Annan Plan. That plan contained provisions that were hard to accept. However, in return, you were gaining politically. You were becoming a state. Being a state comes at a price. However, those who do not know the pleasure of being a state [being in power], those who have become accustomed to tribal life, cannot understand this. »

[Question] Are your charges aimed at the Greek Cypriots who voted against the Annan Plan or the opposition at home?

[Erdogan] I mean the ones at home, the ones at home.

Return to Turkic World

It would be « unbecoming, » at a minimum, not to discuss the reason for our trip, that is Azerbaijan and relations with Turkic republics.

[Question] In your last trip to Baku (in June 2005), you were able to win Azeri President Ilham Aliyev’s approval for enlarging the lot that was assigned to Turkey’s new embassy compound. Did this visit produce any similar results?

[Erdogan] This time I discussed with [Aliyev] a topic on which we reached a decision (at the 10th Turkic Congress) in Antalya (last September). I told him that we want to open a Turkish Yunus Emre Centre [in Baku]. We will use the old embassy building we vacated for this project. Just as the Germans have Goethe Institutes in different places in the world, we want to open Turkish cultural centres that we will call « Yunus Emre Centres » in the Turkic republics and other major capitals. [Passage omitted]

Turkish Classes for Turks

[Question] Is Turkey opening up to the Turkic republics again?

[Erdogan] We are compensating for the neglect of the past years. Efforts were made during the tenure of [former President] Ozal. There was also some effort during the tenure of [former President] Demirel. We have to prepare a common Turkish language textbook with Azerbaijan. That is because we can easily communicate with the Azeris. We can do that to some extent with the Uzbeks also, but it is hard to communicate with the people of the other Turkic republics. They use the Russian Cyrillic script in those countries. The Latin script will be used in the common textbook. That way it will be easier to communicate verbally as well as in writing in five years.

Between the lines of Erdogan’s statements we could read clues of Turkey’s new strategy [with respect to Turkic republics]:

1. Build a Turkic bloc (in a political and economic sense) that extends all the way to the Wall of China without renouncing the goal of joining the EU. Perhaps even raise relations with China and Russia to a strategic level by holding on to one end of the « Shanghai Cooperation Organization, » in which some Turkic republics are members and some are observers.

2. Direct the oil and natural gas resources of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan to Turkey through pipelines that will criss-cross this entire region, and thus make Turkey the EU’s second most important – from a standpoint of reliability the most preferred or indispensable – energy supplier.

To get a sense of the scale of this new strategy, it is enough to take a look at the new Turkish embassy building in Baku. It is situated between the US and Russian embassies and it is at least as big and impressive as theirs. Turkey is saying: « I am also [a contender] in this region. »


No comments yet — be the first.

Votre commentaire

Entrez vos coordonnées ci-dessous ou cliquez sur une icône pour vous connecter:

Logo WordPress.com

Vous commentez à l’aide de votre compte WordPress.com. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Image Twitter

Vous commentez à l’aide de votre compte Twitter. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Photo Facebook

Vous commentez à l’aide de votre compte Facebook. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Connexion à %s

%d blogueurs aiment cette page :