Former British PM Blair praises Gul, Erdogan
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair praises President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his new memoir, "A Journey," published this week. In the book, Blair recounts the decade spanning 1997 to 2007, when he was prime minister. Writing about 2005, when Ankara finally entered membership accession negotiations with the European Union, Blair said Turkey was taking important steps toward Europe. He called Erdogan and then Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul sensitive and foresighted, adding that it was easier for him to engage with them than other Turkish politicians he knew. Erdogan and Gul are wise and know what they want, he added, and they view the Cyprus issue rationally. Blair said Turkey's EU membership would take time. "The EU has already enlarged and [more] time is needed to digest this [potential further] enlargement," he wrote. Stressing that he favors Turkey's EU membership, Blair said it would be dangerous to push Turkey away from Europe, as doing so would signal that Judeo-Christian and Muslim civilizations cannot coexist. In a footnote, Blair said global power and influence have been shifting to the east. Countries like Turkey and Brazil occupy important positions in global affairs, he added.