Turkish president meets Afghan, Azerbaijani, Macedonian presidents

President Gul believes that Turkey's importance within NATO is "more significant than ever", and that Turkey is an influential broker in the vital decisions.

Turkish president meets Afghan, Azerbaijani, Macedonian presidents

 World Bulletin/News Desk

Turkey's president held talks on Saturday with his Afghan, Azerbaijani and Macedonian counterparts on the sidelines of a NATO summit to take place in Chicago.      

President Abdullah Gul met Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan-- which is one of the main topics of the NATO summit to begin on Sunday.      

Gul later met Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.       During his meeting with Karzai, the two leaders referred to a friendship agreement signed between the two countries in 1921 and decided to speed up efforts to update the agreement.      

Karzai thanked Turkey for its role in Afghanistan, and expressed concerns of his country to Gul, while Gul said he would express those concerns to leaders of other NATO members.      

Gul highlighted Afghan-Pakistani relations, and Karzai thanked Gul for the trilateral meeting held in Istanbul in November among Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan.      

President Gul later met Macedonian President Ivanov, who thanked Turkey for its support to his country's NATO membership bid.      

Gul said Macedonia's membership process had to speed up after a ruling of the International Court of Justice that supported Macedonia's bid.      

President Gul said Turkey would always support Macedonia, and underlined importance of accession of all Balkan countries to NATO.      

Lastly, Gul met Azerbaijani President Aliyev, and congratulated him on his country's being elected the rotating president of the United Nations Security Council for May.      

Gul and Aliyev discussed Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, and they debated an article to be added to NATO final declaration on "long term disputes". Sources said the two leaders assumed a common stance on this issue.

The President will have a number of meetings with the Turkish community living in this part of the US later, as well as with the Turkish players at NBA.

Supporting missile defense system

After the Chicago part, which will be concentrating on NATO Summit, President Gul's visit to the US will have a second part in San Francisco, where he will be visiting Stanford University and leading global technology and social media companies, as well as venture capitalists.

On his way from Ankara to Chicago, President Gul responded questions from Turkish journalists on his entourage. Starting with remarks about NATO and the Summit, President Gul reminded that his country, which joined NATO 60 years ago, reserved a major part of its potential for defending the Alliance for decades, sacrificing from its development in many areas. "It's high time for all the members of the Alliance to share responsibility", the President said. Especially responding a question about the "smart defense" concept, championed by the European wing of the Alliance, President Gul said that this concept must remain "temporary" and would not jeopardize the deterrence capacity of the Alliance in the future.

On the subject of missile defense system, the President was supportive. Stressing the fact that the system is not targeting a specific country but any country that poses a threat with its missiles, the President made it clear that the system is "the system of the Alliance, not of any major country or group of countries."

"Influential broker"

President Gul believes that his country's importance within the Alliance is "more significant than ever", and that Turkey is an influential broker in the vital decisions. "We believe that the Alliance should continue expanding eastwards", the President said, and once again underlined the importance Turkey attributes to the inclusion of Balkan and Caucasian countries. "Membership of the Balkan and Caucasian countries in the alliance will be instrumental for the solution of many other unrelated problems as well", the President said.

Afghanistan took a considerable part in the chat with Turkish media, where President said that Turkey is aiming to remain with its civilian capacity building mission in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO military presence there. President reminded once again that a solution in Afghanistan will not be possible without Pakistan. "Initially, they [Pakistan] were not coming [to the Chicago Summit]. It would have been implausible to have a meeting about Afghanistan at the Summit in the absence of Pakistan. But I was pleased to learn recently that they were invited later on, and that President Zerdari will be coming to attend the meeting."

Rejects WSJ claims

Responding a question about a news article that appeared on WSJ, which quoted unanymous Pentagon sources claiming that it was intelligence from US Predators that led to the death of 34 Turkish civilians in Uludere, in southeast Turkey, the President was bold. "We were expecting such news about the problematic experiences of UAVs in Afghanistan and other conflict areas", the President said, unweiling his belief that it was the lobbies against the use of UAVs in sensitive areas who were influential sources for the news and that Turkey was taken as a case to support a rather subjective claim.

One last question was about President Gul's planned meeting with Mr François Hollande, the newly elected French President. "Mr Hollande is elected by a France who learnt from the mistakes of Mr Sarkozy", the President said, and continued: "Hence we expect more rational policies from France in his term."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Mayıs 2012, 11:08

Muhammed Öylek