President Gul: "Turkey no longer receives intl but is instead a leading donor country"
Turkey is a quite important country, and everyone in both our region and the world is increasingly aware of this, President Abdullah Gul said yesterday, adding that Turks should recognize it as well. "Sometimes we don't realize this fact in Turkey," Gul told state-run broadcaster TRT from New York, where he is attending the UN General Assembly and having various talks on the meeting's sidelines. "Whoever I meet here, they ask me how Turkey is able to grow so much economically. They say that in the past Turkey was the 'sick man of Europe' but now it's the healthiest man of Europe. Particularly Turkey's constructive and solution-oriented efforts and initiatives to solve regional problems have drawn great interest around the world. All this has made Turkey remarkably visible. Turkey has never been so visible as it is right now." On a meeting he co-chaired earlier this week as part of a summit of UN Millennium Development Goals, attended by representatives of the world's 49 poorest countries, Gul said, "I want to say with pride that every representative from those countries who took the floor during the meeting expressed their appreciation to Turkey for (its aid to their countries.) Top officials from other countries such as the Belgian and Austrian prime ministers, and the British foreign secretary, all were beside themselves in amazement at this." Turkey was long known for receiving international aid but now it's a country that gives aid, Gul said. Asked about Western countries' concerns over Iran's controversial nuclear program, Gul said the Iranian nuclear issue is a source of concern for Turkey as well. "I'm not saying that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon," he explained. "However, Turkey isn't treating this issue as unimportant. Turkey doesn't want to see any country with a nuclear arsenal in its region." Asked about the fight against terrorism, Gul underlined the importance of Turkey eliminating the terrorism threat, and said the state will do whatever is necessary towards that end. Saying that issues should be discussed with self-confidence and good will, he stressed, however, that the state making any concessions from Turkey's unitary structure is out of the question. Yet Gul also called for local administrative reform, saying that Turkey should adopt a decentralized administrative structure, with local authorities wielding more power. Governing everything from Ankara runs counter to modern principles of government, Gul said.