Gul responds to questions from parliament members in Sweden
As part of his state visit to Sweden, President Abdullah Gul on Wednesday responded to the questions from the Parliament members and shared his views. In response to a question if Turkey is carrying out studies about the rights of the minority groups in the country, President Gul said, "Our Assyrian citizens, as per the Treaty of Lausanne, are not a minority, but they are part of the Turkish people. Besides, everyone in Turkey is equal before the law and everyone is free to do anything legitimate. There is no obstacle in the way for anyone to be elected to any position. During the times when we had poor standards of democracy, we went through problems from time to time in our political history indeed, but these problems were not limited to our Assyrian citizens. Turkey, however, has achieved many radical reforms since those times in such areas as democracy, human rights and freedoms and the rule of law and it is making every effort to raise them." When asked by Swedish Parliament member Hans Valmark what Sweden could do for Turkey on its path to EU membership, Gul noted that the rich energy resources of the Caucuses, Middle East and Central Asia can reach Europe via Turkey in the best and most secure way. "Even so Turkey has not been able to open the energy chapter, which one cannot understand at all," Gul said. Stating that all the frozen chapters must be opened again, Gul said, "How could you freeze the chapters? This simply means blocking Turkey. After all, even after Turkey concludes its negotiation process successfully, it will not be directly admitted into the club as some EU countries like France and Austria will hold referenda. We might hold a referendum as well when it is the time and we cannot predict what the result will be. We, on the other hand, know something: we aim to conclude this process successfully." Touching on the ongoing resolution process regarding the Kurdish issue and in response to a question whether the rebel PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan will be released, Gul said that there were two sides of the issue, one of which is raising the level of the standards of democracy and human rights and freedoms for all citizens including the Kurdish ones and the other is terror and violence. "We must resolutely declare that we are against every kind of terrorism, no matter where it occurs and no matter what purpose and aim it has. We must also reiterate that resorting to violence or arms has no room in the world today. Terrorism and violence have nothing to do with seeking rights. If this issue did not include violence and terror, we would have solved it long ago within the framework of democracy," Gul added.