Turkey not favour Merkel's sanctions call for Iran, urges for EU bid

PM Erdogan said he did not favour imposing economic sanctions to pressure Iran into showing it has no covert nuclear weapons programme.

Turkey not favour Merkel's sanctions call for Iran, urges for EU bid

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday he did not favour imposing economic sanctions to pressure Iran into showing it has no covert nuclear weapons programme.

Erdogan discussed different approaches with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to international efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions, but made clear Turkey's reluctance to back the use of sanctions, Reuters  said.

"We are of the view that sanctions is not a healthy path and ... that the best route is diplomacy," he said at a joint news conference with Merkel.

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Turkey is a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and Erdogan said it had not yet reached a firm decision on how it would vote on a U.S.-backed sanctions resolution.

Merkel's pressure

Merkel urged NATO ally Ankara to be ready to support the imposition of sanctions through the United Nations unless Iran shows transparency to assure the international community that it has no ambitions for nuclear weapons.

"We would happy if Turkey votes in April on the Iran issue together with the United States and the European Union," she said.

Turkey doubts the effectiveness of sanctions and its trade would inevitably suffer if sanctions were imposed on its fellow Muslim neighbour.

"Turkey shares a 380 km (240 mile) border with Iran and it is an important partner, especially in energy. When appraising our relations we shouldn't ignore this," Erdogan said.

He also raised doubts about the results of three earlier rounds of sanctions against Iran, and noted several countries had violated sanctions having voted for them.
 
Nuclear Israel

In an apparently veiled reference to Israel, the Turkish leader referred to another country in the region that possessed nuclear weapons. The Jewish state is widely assumed to have the bomb but has not declared itself a nuclear-weapons state.

"We are against nuclear weapons in our region. But is there another country in our region that has nuclear weapons? Yes, there is. And have they been subjected to sanctions? No," Erdogan said.

Turkey is worried about the potential for a nuclear arms race in the region between Iran and Israel, though it does not feel directly threatened by either country.

"If the world trusts us, we would fine a middle path with Iran. I hope that we will reach a result if we continue to work," Erdogan said.

 

Turkey's EU bid

Turkey is frustrated by the slow progress of its EU membership negotiations, and has bridled at Merkel's suggestion that it opt for privileged partnership with the 27-nation bloc. Turkey says it has entered negotiations for nothing less than full membership.

Merkel said negotiations over membership were open-ended and had already brought positive changes in Turkey. She said issues had to be resolved over Cyprus.
 
"The rules of the game have changed" since Turkey first applied to become a member of the bloc five decades ago, Merkel said through an interpreter after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
 
Along with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Merkel remains one of the staunchest opponents of Turkey's bid to join the European Union, arguing that a vast, relatively poor country with a mainly Muslim 71-million population has "no place" in Europe.
 
Turkey's EU membership talks are partly frozen because of the issues over Cyprus island.
 
Eight policy areas, or chapters, have been frozen by the EU over Ankara's rejection to open ports and airports to Greek Cyprus.
Turkey says it will open up to traffic from the Greek Cypriot part of the island if the EU ends the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot north of the island.

Merkel was scheduled to wrap up her visit Tuesday after touring historic sites in Istanbul and attending a business forum there.

Germany is one of Turkey's principal economic partners -- bilateral trade amounted to almost 25 billion euros (36 billion dollars) in 2008. More than 4,000 German companies operate or have partnerships in Turkey.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Mart 2010, 14:26
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