Turkish President Abdullah Gul gave clear messages to his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy who visited Ankara on Friday, expressing Turkey's uneasiness over political obstacles on Turkey's European Union accession.
At a joint press conference following their tete-a-tete meeting, Gul told reporters that the two countries had deep-rooted relations for over 500 years and reaffirmed Turkey's determination to maintain strong ties.
Sarkozy is visiting Turkey as the president of G20, Gul recalled, adding that he expects Sarkozy to make a visit to Ankara also as the French President.
It has been 19 years since the last visit of a French President to Turkey.
Gul said Turkey's EU bid was one of the most important topics of the agenda at his meeting with Sarkozy.
Gul, whose country had expressed disappointment at the shortness of the visit, insisted that membership remained a priority for Turkey and urged France not to block the country's accession talks, which are already at a standstill.
"We expect the EU to keep their word regarding Turkey's accession process to EU," Gul said.
Once the negotiation process is over, Gul said, Turkey would show respect to decisions of some EU-member states, such as France and Austria, who already decided to hold referendum on Turkey's membership.
"I shared our expectation that everybody should help this process go on. This is a very sensitive issue for Turkish people and, as I said before, negotiations should not be blocked by artificial barriers," he said.
Gul said trade volume between Turkey and France reached 12 billion euro and there is a huge potential for Turkish and French companies, adding that there are nearly 2,000 French companies active in Turkey. Gul also said that he shares Sarkozy's views about the global economic order and measures to avoid further financial downturns in the world.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday used his first visit to Turkey since taking office to repeat his opposition to Ankara's bid to join the European Union and said both sides should consider an alternative association.
"We have a point of disagreement that is well known," Sarkozy bluntly told a joint news conference in the Turkish capital Ankara with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul.
"We spoke as statesmen, which is to say that we tried to understand each others' red lines in order to try to find ways in the future that do not lead either to the destabilisation of Europe or to the humiliation of the Turkish society as it is modernised," Sarkozy said.
EU countries agreed unanimously in 2005 to start talks with Turkey with the goal of full membership. Turkey complains some EU states have already decided against admitting a large Muslim country of 75 million people with a growing economy.
Nicolas Sarkozy said some EU member states did not think that negotiations should be halted because Turkey was a big country and the EU and Turkey should get closer to each other.
Sarkozy said he believed the importance of the role Turkey has been assuming in international platform for a long time noting that this role of Turkey stemmed from depth of history and its position between the east and the west and its geographical location.
Sarkozy said as the rotating president of G20, support of Turkey was very important for France and noted that tough, urgent and complicated issues like reform of international monetary system and regulation of raw material prices were on their agenda.
Sarkozy said Turkey was an important agricultural country underlining that Turkey could play a very important role in this area.
Sarkozy said French rotating presidency would be very pleased in case a working seminar could be held in Turkey in April on regulation of raw material prices. He said this seminar could take place under the co-chairmanship of Turkey and France.
Turkish President Gul responded affirmatively to the issue.
Sarkozy also said the issues in question should be solved quickly to prevent further instability in economy.
French President stated that nuclear issues were also discussed during his meeting with Gul, noting that they have proposed an unlimited cooperation to Turkey on nuclear area. He said this was the expression of their confidence in Turkish democracy, stability of Turkish society and economic potential.
Meeting with Erdogan
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had said he would bring Sarkozy to task for his negative stance towards Ankara's accession bid, but there was no apparent sign of tension when the two men met later on Friday.
Smiling and looking relaxed, Erdogan told Sarkozy in front of the cameras his visit was a chance for the two countries to "build a future together" and said he expected Sarkozy to visit soon as president of France.
The French president described Prime Minister Erdogan as a distinguished and courageous leader, and expressed his pleasure with working with the Turkish premier during France's rotating presidency of G-20.
Sarkozy said that he attached great importance to Prime Minister Erdogan's views about reform of the international monetary system and arrangement of raw material prices.
Turkey played an important role in international platforms, he said, adding that Turkey could make both historical and democratic contributions to the global balance, and that Turkey's position could contribute to the global peace.
Officials in Paris had said Sarkozy's meetings with Gul and Erdogan would mainly focus on G20 issues and the Middle East.
The French president said Cyprus issue had a role in Turkey's EU membership process, and he thought that it would be better to continue negotiating and reaching a compromise instead of having a deadlock one day.
Sarkozy said everyone could have a different opinion, countries could have red lines, and underlined importance of talking for a compromise. "I think that between full membership and association, which the Turks have said several times they don't want, there is a balanced path that can be found when we look at this issue in peace and with vision," Sarkozy said.
The French president said he could understand Turkey's sensitivity about Libya, but France thought that Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi should leave office.
Sarkozy said the systematic violence against Libyan people was unacceptable, and France thought that it should be investigated and punished.
The United Nations (UN) Security Council should discuss developments in Libya, and al-Qadhafi and people cooperating with him should be sent to criminal courts, Sarkozy said.
Sarkozy highlighted importance of a wide-scale humanitarian aid plan, and said those countries should get freer
The French president said he knew Turkey well, and even a single Turk would not accept an outsider to determine the future of his/her country.
What was new in Middle East was that the nations in the region wanted democracy, social and economic development, Sarkozy said.
Sarkozy said Turkey and Europe were assuming a common responsibility to help those nations.
Moreover, Sarkozy said it was high time that they had brought up Union for Mediterranean vision, and the European Council should debate this union and Europe's relations with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries.
Sarkozy said the world was at an intersection point, and the new geopolitical facts should be taken into consideration.
AgenciesGüncelleme Tarihi: 26 Şubat 2011, 11:07