New York Times: "At the UN this week, Turkey bolstered its image as the healthiest man of Europe"
During this week's UN General Assembly meeting, Turkey seized the opportunity to beef up its image as one of the world's most important rising countries, both economically and diplomatically, said the New York Times on Wednesday. "If the United Nations General Assembly often serves as a stage for ambitious countries to project a new image, none has grabbed that opportunity this year with as much vigor as Turkey," wrote the Times' Mark Landler. In a flurry of speeches and meetings, President Abdullah Gul defended his country's close ties to Iran, proclaimed Turkey's intention to become a leader in the Muslim world, and spurned an attempt to mend fences with Israel over the deadly May 31 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, he added. Saying that Turkish leaders aren't shy about Turkey's ambitions, declaring that its status as a Muslim democracy, its growing economy, and its location at the hinge of Europe and Asia should make it a central player in resolving problems like the Iranian nuclear program and the Middle East conflict, the story quoted Gul as saying. "If you look at all the issues that are of importance to the world today, they have put Turkey in a rather more advantageous position. Turkey is the only country that can have a very important contribution to the diplomatic route with Iran." On new UN sanctions on Iran, the story said that according to Gul, Turkey will abide by these sanctions, but won't allow them to constrict its broader trade with Iran. "If the demand is for Turkey not to have any trade, any economic relations with Iran, it would be unfair to Turkey," he added. Gul also told the paper that some American and European companies continue to do business with Iran under new names, circumventing the sanctions. "That is why the sanctions do not yield the results that are envisioned for them, in most cases," he explained. Stating that Gul denied the perception of some in the US that Turkey's actions on the Iranian nuclear issue are somehow undermining US policy, the story quoted Gul as saying, "That is definitely not the case. Turkey doesn't want to see a nuclear-armed Iran." Nothing seemed to make Gul prouder than Turkey's economy, it said, quoting him as touting Turkish bonds as a safer investment than those of Portugal, Italy and Spain — three members of a European Union that yet to accept Turkey, which also didn't have to bail out its banks due to the global economic crisis. The report also quoted Gul recounting a meeting with a head of state this week who told him, "Turkey used to be known as the sick man of Europe, whereas Turkey now is the only healthy man of Europe."