Dismissing talk of "axis shift", 'Ahtisaari praises Turkey's foreign policy
The leader of a group of senior European policymakers over the weekend dismissed claims that Turkey is moving away from the West, and instead praised the "common sense" of Ankara's growing involvement in its region. "If you were a country located where Turkey is located, would you not utilize the economic and political potential that this region gives?" Martti Ahtisaari, a former Finnish president who heads the Independent Commission on Turkey, said in an interview. "It is common sense. If I were running this place, I would definitely do the same." He stressed that peace in the Middle East should be the whole world's top priority, as instability there affects many other issues. On its current visit, members of the commission, established in 2004 to examine the challenges and opportunities Turkey's possible EU membership presents, spoke with Kurdish politicians and civil representatives in Diyarbakir and also met with President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The group has presented two reports on Turkey's EU bid, in 2004 and 2009, advocating its membership. Ahtisaari also praised Turkey's reforms and its economic performance during the global financial crisis.