The increasingly islamicized Muslim country of Turkey appears to have dreams of another Ottoman empire.
The Ascent of Evil: Receding American Hegemony/Atlas Shrugs
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan has criticized French President Nicolas Sarkozy over his opposition to Turkey joining the European Union in an interview to mark the launch of the Euronews television channel’s new Turkish language service.
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In his first interview with the European TV channel Euronews on Saturday, ErdoÄŸan spoke about a range of topics, from Turkey’s negotiations aimed at eventual full membership in the European Union to Cyprus, relations with Israel, and questions on Kurds and Armenia.
The Turkish prime minister said some of the EU member states were not acting honestly during Turkey’s ongoing negotiation with the bloc. “This is where a problem arises. Why am I saying this? Because they are trying to corner Turkey with conditions that do not exist in the acquis communautaire [the total accumulated body of EU law]. This is really wrong,” he said.
Pointing to Sarkozy’s stance regarding Turkey’s EU bid, ErdoÄŸan said: “One cannot easily comprehend what Mr. Sarkozy does. But no matter what they do, or what kind of obstacles they put in front of us, we will keep walking, patiently.”
He said his country would continue negotiations until all the EU members say they do not want Turkey. EU membership has been “a dream for our country for half a century,” he added. ErdoÄŸan said the EU should not become a “Christian club,” adding that, “The EU should not take part in a campaign of Islamophobia. Any country doing this must be warned.”
EU’s ‘historical’ Cyprus mistake
Answering questions on the longstanding dispute over Cyprus, ErdoÄŸan said the European Union had not been honest about the issue until now. “The EU bears a great deal of responsibility for the current deadlock over Cyprus. They made a historical error in accepting the south of Cyprus into the EU,” he said.
In response to whether he expected to see Cyprus reunited in the near future, ErdoÄŸan said the Greek Cypriot party always avoided a direct approach and thus should be warned by the EU. “We are striving to resolve the issue this year. And we want it to be resolved under the umbrella of the United Nations,” he said.
Replying to a question about the government’s initiatives regarding the Kurdish population, ErdoÄŸan said: “This has been one of the most important items on the agenda in recent days. But calling it a Kurdish issue will undermine, weaken this project. This project is one of national unity and friendship.”
ErdoÄŸan said it would be disrespectful to other groups in Turkey if such a matter was considered exclusively a “Kurdish issue.”
“This plan, this project, covers all of them,” he said.
Losing an ally
Speaking about future relations between Turkey and Israel, ErdoÄŸan said Israel should give some thought to what it would be like to lose a friend like Turkey in the future. “The way they recently treated our ambassador has no place in international politics. We have done our best for Israel-Syria relations. But now we see [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu saying, ‘I do not trust ErdoÄŸan, but I trust Sarkozy.’”
ErdoÄŸan also said if Israel believed it was a world power, it should take another look at the relationship it has with its neighbors.
He also commented on the Israeli foreign ministry’s recent accusation of being the cause of the rising tension between Turkey and Israel by saying: “I am telling the truth, and I will keep telling the truth. When innocent civilians are ruthlessly killed, struck by phosphorus bombs, infrastructure is demolished in bombings and people are forced to live in an open-air prison… we cannot see this as compatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
‘Turkey fulfills protocol commitments’
Replying to a final question on the Armenian Constitutional Court’s interpretation of the recent Turkish-Armenian protocols, ErdoÄŸan said: “We appear to have gotten off to an unhealthy start. What are we negotiating about? What are we going to do? Armenia should once again take this into consideration because we fulfilled our protocol commitments.” ErdoÄŸan also said both sides had road maps, and the process would continue.
Turkish officials said Sunday that Euronews would open a significant door to Turkey. At a ceremony Sunday held by the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, ITO, Turkey’s State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister BÃ¼lent ArÄ±nÃ§ said Turkey had much to gain from Euronews as a window to Turkey.
“Turkey’s full EU membership bid will get stronger with the contributions of Euronews,” ArÄ±nÃ§ said.
Speaking at Saturday’s launch ceremony, Pier Luigi Malesani, an executive of the Euronews, said Turkey would become closer to Europe with Euronews broadcastings. “A European Union that does not include Turkey would not be complete â€“ it would be missing something,” he said.
Lyon-based Euronews TV channel already broadcasts in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian for 24 hours a day. Turkish is the ninth language for Euronews. A Turkish language news channel will go on air throughout the world through 34 satellites.
Under an agreement signed in 2008, TRT became the fourth biggest partner in Euronews with a 15.7 percent stake.
Euronews has 21 shareholders including leading national TV channels from European countries. France has 25 percent, Italy 21 percent, Russia 19 percent and Switzerland 9 percent shares in the news channel.
Founded in 1992 in Lyon as a European Broadcasting Union initiative, Euronews beams into 293 million households in 150 countries by cable, satellite and terrestrial 24 hours a day with more than 400 staff from different nationalities.
In terms of audience, Euronews is the most watched news channel in Europe.