Gul: "Don't expect more gestures from Turkey on Cyprus"
Nobody should expect any kind of gesture from Turkey on Cyprus to clear the political hurdles put up by the European Union, said President Abdullah Gul yesterday. Gul, in London to get a statesman's prize from Chatham House, told the BBC Turkish Service that some EU members would hold referendums on Turkey's membership, and added, "We will respect the results, but the Turkish people have something to say on the same issue. Maybe when the time comes, the Turks will say, 'We've fulfilled the reforms and raised our standards to EU levels, and that's enough for us,' and not feel the need to join the Union." On the Cyprus issue, he said, "Turkey has made gestures, but there's no need for a new gesture if it isn't reciprocated. It's not Turkey's place to make a new gesture. The biggest gesture came in 2004, when Turkey approved the Annan and EU plan. The Turkish Cypriots made the biggest gesture by supporting that (plan in a) referendum, but they go nothing in return." He added, "On January 24, 2006, we called for an end to the embargo (on Northern Cyprus). They didn't even accept that proposal." Commenting on allegations that Turkey has turned its back on the West to favor the East, Gul said, "They want to use this to pressure on Turkey. Such questions raise suspicions about us, even after we have changed our laws and constitution and upgraded our standards for EU integration." Gul said Iran is Turkey's neighbor, and they will continue to encourage commercial and cultural ties. Sanctions accomplish nothing, and peaceful solutions should be found to the Iranian nuclear issue, he said. On next week's NATO summit in Lisbon, expected to focus on Iran and a missile shield proposal, Gul said, "NATO is a program that aims at defense. A defense system has been developed for everybody who has ballistic missiles, apart from NATO members. Thus, categorically, it is wrong to say (the aim of the system) is Iran. No single country is the target. We will definitely not accept this."