Thursday, September 23, 2010

Turkey is Rising

At the U.N., Turkey Asserts Itself in Prominent Ways
By MARK LANDLER, New York Times, September 23, 2010

UNITED NATIONS — 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.

In a flurry of speeches and meetings — and one meeting that did not happen — the Turkish 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 its deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza.

Turkey’s muscle-flexing has left the United States uneasy, with administration officials worried that Iran had obtained access to financing for its nuclear program through Turkish banks, and that Turkey’s rift with Israel could complicate American efforts to make peace in the Middle East.

Israeli officials reached out to Turkey to arrange a meeting this week between Mr. Gul and the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, in New York. But it collapsed amid Israeli claims that Turkey had demanded an apology from Mr. Peres for the flotilla raid and Turkish claims that Mr. Gul had no time — all of which inflamed a sore that the Israelis hoped had been gradually healing.

Turkey’s leaders made no apologies, saying they did not start the fight with Israel. Nor are they 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. “If you look at all the issues that are of importance to the world today,” Mr. Gul said in an interview on Tuesday, “they have put Turkey in a rather more advantageous position.” Turkey, Mr. Gul said, was the “only country that can have a very important contribution to the diplomatic route” with Iran — a clear reference to its effort, along with Brazil, to head off the last round of United Nations sanctions against Iran. After the United States brushed aside those negotiations, Turkey voted against the sanctions in the Security Council.

Mr. Gul said Turkey would adhere to the United Nations sanctions, but would not allow the measures to constrict its broader trade with Iran.

For complete article, click here
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