At fast-breaking dinner for foreign envoys, Erdogan urges more active intl stand against terrorism
There is no axis shift or route deviation in Turkish foreign policy, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a fast-breaking dinner hosted by his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) yesterday, urging the international community to stand with Turkey in full solidarity with its fight against terrorism to ensure security and stability in both Europe and the region. The dinner was attended by many parliamentary deputies and officials, foreign ambassadors serving in Turkey, leaders of various religious communities, and international and domestic journalists. Speaking to the assembled guests, Erdogan again dismissed claims of an axis shift in Turkish foreign policy, which gained fresh momentum after Turkey voted against new sanctions on Iran at the UN Security Council, and its strong reaction to Israel's May 31 aid flotilla raid which left nine Turkish peace activists dead. "Turkey's foreign policy direction hasn't changed," he said. "Any deviation from Turkey's path is equally out of the question. We're only in a position that requires us to be proactive in our region as well as to solve chronic regional issues through consultation and to see dialogue and communication as the only way out of all kinds of problems in our region." Stating that the model partnership and strategic cooperation between Turkey and its longtime ally the US are continuing in many areas, Erdogan said, "Turkey, whose face is directed towards the West, is insistently called on to turn its back on the East. But Turkey's government is open to all four corners of the world." On Turkey's European Union aspirations, Erdogan said its EU accession bid is a strategic goal and state policy for Turkey, adding that a major constitutional reform package set to face a referendum next month would be a great step forward in Turkey's efforts to align itself with EU criteria. Erdogan said the package will change the structure of several important judicial bodies, raising the level of the Turkish judiciary to that of developed countries. Erdogan also asked Turkey's European friends to support reform efforts to bring Turkey closer to the EU, making its institutions equivalent to their European counterparts. Calling for all needless obstacles to Turkey's EU path to be swept aside, Erdogan urged the EU to adopt a constructive determination to solve the Cyprus issue. "We want a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus issue by year's end," he said. "Efforts to solve it can't continue forever." Turning to Israel's flotilla raid, Erdogan said Turkey's demands from Israel concerning the raid remain in place. "Israel must accept its fault, apologize, and pay compensation to families of the raid victims," he said. "We'll continue to pursue Israel meeting these conditions." Decrying the terrorist PKK's escalating violence in the runup to next month's referendum, Erdogan said, "The terrorist group, which enjoys international support, is severely disturbed by Turkey integrating itself with EU institutions, becoming more democratic, and making record economic progress. We see the PKK's increasing terrorist attacks as an attempt to sabotage the referendum process." Stating that the terrorist PKK is a threat to not only Turkey's security but also the security of Europe and the region, Erdogan urged the international community to take a more genuinely active and determined stance based on concrete steps against the PKK, which he said is acting as a proxy for certain foreign powers.