Turkey is not looking to take on any role in the Arab world, Turkish President Abdullah Gül recently said in an interview with Foreign Affairs magazine.
“All countries are equal and all nations have their dignity. No one can write a script and assign roles to other countries. You do not prioritize, and you do not patronize. Of course, we are happy with the fact that they take us as an example because we are a Muslim country, a democracy, and an economic success story,” he told the magazine’s Jonathan Tepperman.
Gül, who also responded to questions on Israel, said the country was responsible for the weakening of Turkish-Israeli relations.
“The current situation between Turkey and Israel is the outcome of the Israelis’ own preferences and the mistakes they have made. The entire world knows this. Even the allies of Israel, who cannot express it directly to the Israelis, clearly say this to us,” Gül said.
The Turkish president also commented on the ongoing Syria crisis. “Of course, with Turkey being a neighboring country and sharing a land border with Syria of 900 kilometers, the repercussions for Turkey are different. For instance, we have 150,000 Syrians who have come to Turkey as a result of the problems in Syria. This has led to some security issues and border clashes or clashes on the border between the regime forces and the opposition, which also affect us,” he said.
“From the very onset of the crisis, we have always opted for a controlled and orderly change in Syria. As a result of the escalation of events, we made it clear to everyone that Turkey, in unity with the free world, will support the Syrian people in their demands. But from the very beginning, I have argued that both Russia and Iran should be invited to engage with the transition in Syria to prevent further bloodshed. I believe that Russia in particular should be treated properly,” the president said.
Asked why Turkey did not seem as concerned about the Iranian nuclear program as are other countries in the region and countries in the West, the president said Turkey did not want to see any neighboring country possess nuclear weapons.
“Turkey will not accept a neighboring country possessing weapons not possessed by Turkey herself. We are not underestimating this matter in any way. But we are more realistic, and what we need is a more comprehensive solution and approach to this problem. What matters here is to guarantee the security of Israel in the region, and once that is guaranteed, then the next step must be to eradicate all such weapons from the region. This can be done only through peace,” he said.
Gül also touched on other matters such as Turkey’s democracy, its relations with NATO, the United States and European Union during the interview.