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Ankara’s gesture of support to Talat 7 mai 2009

Posted by Acturca in South East Europe / Europe du Sud-Est, Turkey / Turquie.
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Cyprus Mail, 7th May 2009

Simon Bahceli

Turkey’s newly-appointed Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu yesterday called on all sides involved Cyprus negotiations to play a positive role and refrain from actions that could derail peace talks. Davutoglu was on the island just 24 hours after being sworn in as foreign minister in a major cabinet reshuffle in Ankara.

Speaking during a surprise visit to the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat yesterday, Davutoglu said, « All sides, including the international courts, should support Talat’s positive efforts for peace. All sides should be especially careful to avoid negatively affecting the talks ».

Davutoglu’s visit was widely seen yesterday as a gesture of support from Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which has developed strong ties with Talat over the past five years. It is also believed by some that the visit was meant to reiterate Turkey’s backing for negotiations and issue a clear warning to the newly-elected National Unity Party (UBP) ‘government’ in the north that it will not tolerate attempts to derail or divert talks. The nationalist UBP has said it will not seek to block talks, but openly says it is wary of the joint sovereignty framework on which current reunification talks are based. Traditionally the party has promoted campaigning for the international recognition of the north as a separate state.

The Turkish Foreign Minister also sought to encourage the positive participation of other interested parties in the talks to continue giving constructive support to peace efforts.

« We believe also that the international community, the Greek Cypriot administration, Greece and Britain as guarantor powers, will continue to play a positive role in talks, » he said optimistically.

Davutoglu’s one-day visit also included meetings with the newly-elected Turkish Cypriot ‘prime minister’ Dervish Eroglu, ‘foreign minister’ Huseyin Ozgurgun, and outgoing ‘prime minister’ Ferdi Sabit Soyer.

On what Davutoglu’s appointment might bring to ongoing negotiations on the Cyprus problem, Eastern Mediterranean University lecturer in international relations Erol Kaymak told the Cyprus Mail the new foreign minister was likely to take an active role in shaping the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot line.

« Davutoglu is seen as the architect of Turkey’s current foreign policy, » Kaymak said, adding that the former academic was also a politician known for thinking outside the box.

« It was his brainchild to normalise relations with Hamas in the Gaza strip, » he said.

Kaymak added that Davutoglu had strong beliefs about Turkey’s combined growing diplomatic role in the Middle East and links with the EU.

« He sees Turkey as a hub, rather than as a conduit between East and West ».

Talat appeared genuinely pleased with Davutoglu’s appointment, saying yesterday that the new foreign minister was someone he knew well and had worked with a great deal.

« He knows Cyprus very well and we a glad to see him in this role, » he said.

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