LONDON (Combined Sources)—Turkish President Abdullah Gul, who is in Great Britain to receive the “Man of the Year” award from Chatham House said Monday that for Ankara “it is impossible to ignore the occupation of Azerbaijani territories,” during an address at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London.
“Although there are talks underway on Nagorno-Karabakh, it is well know that seven Azeri regions are occupied. The United Nations says these lands are occupied. Armenia itself is even aware that these territories do not belong to it,” Gul claimed during his speech.
Saying that frozen conflicts must be solved for the sake of the region’s security, Gul cited the 2008 Georgia-Russia war as an example and the effects it has had on the region.
“The current de-facto situation is not acceptable to anyone. There are some problems in the matters of Azerbaijan-Armenia, Turkey-Armenia and Georgia and they require dialogue to resolve them,” said Gul.
Gul also spoke about the normalization process between Armenia and Turkey and said that although Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Armenia’s independence, some problems persist. He neglected to mention Turkey’s unilateral decision in 1993 to blockade Armenia as an expression of solidarity with Azerbaijan.
“During the last one to two years, we’re seriously trying to resolve these problems and will continue to do so. Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey have serious work ahead. It’s necessary to be persistent in the Caucasus in order to restore stability in the region,” said Gul.
Gul also told European leaders that the EU needs his country as a member if it wants to remain a global force, reported Euronews.
In an address to London-based think-tank Chatham House, Gul said the 27-nation bloc should see Turkish membership as “imperative”.
“It is sad to observe that some European leaders do not properly see the future of the world in the span of 20, 50, 70 years time,” Gul said.
“Given the fact that the international balance of power tends to shift towards the East and Asia, it is, indeed, a strategic imperative for the EU to have Turkey as a member.”
“This short-sighted vision is the major impediment before the idea of the EU as a global actor, capable of assuming greater responsibilities on political and security issues complementing its economic clout.”
Gul’s comments appear to be a veiled attack on France and Germany. The two countries oppose Turkey ever gaining full membership. They promote instead the idea of a “privileged partnership.”
Turkey began formal negotiations to join the European Union five years ago but talks have slowed over Ankara’s 36-year military presence in northern Cyprus.
The European Commission is set to release a progress report on Turkey’s bid for membership later on Tuesday. It is expected to criticize the speed of reforms to guarantee the freedom of the press.
The number of Turkish citizens in favor of EU membership has dropped from 48 percent in 2009 to 38 percent now, according to a German Marshall Fund poll published in September. The same survey found the rate of people against it rose from 22 to 31 percent.
That poll also reported that only 26 percent of Turks believe the country will ever join the EU. The year before the rate was 32 percent.