- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2001

No respect for Turkey

Kamran Inan sounded frustrated as he listed Turkey's complaints about the treatment it receives in international affairs.

Mr. Inan, chairman of the foreign-affairs committee of the Turkish Parliament, said Turkey has earned a place in European institutions because of its service in NATO, essentially as the sentry on the southern flank of the alliance during the Cold War.

"For 50 years, we have been defending Europe," Mr. Inan told editors and reporters at The Washington Times. "But once the Cold War was over, we were rejected treated like foreigners."

Mr. Inan, who led a parliamentary delegation to Washington this week, said Turkey is disappointed with the membership conditions set by the European Union.

"Ex-members of the Warsaw Pact have been given priority over us," he said.

Mr. Inan said EU officials accuse Turkey of violating human rights and failing to ensure democratic principles.

"We are a developing democracy and a developing economy… . Romania, Bulgaria nobody can tell me they are more developed democratically than Turkey," he said, referring to two of the countries under consideration for EU membership.

EU officials have told Turkey they could be considered for membership by 2010, he said.

"I jokingly tell them, why not just say the year 3000," he added.

Mr. Inan and other delegation members also complained that the EU is using the Cyprus issue as another reason to withhold membership. Turkey, with more than 30,000 troops in northern Cyprus, considers itself as a defender of Turkish Cypriots, not as an invader. Turkey is the only country that recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

"This is poisoning our relations with the EU," Mr. Inan added.

Tahir Kose, a member of Turkey's Democratic Left Party, said Europeans also object to Turkey's membership in the EU for cultural and religious reasons.

He cited a recent public opinion poll that showed 70 percent of Europeans object to membership for Turkey, a Muslim but secular country.

The delegation also included Oktay Vural of the Nationalist Movement Party, Mehmet Ali Irtemcelik of the Motherland Party, Abdullah Gul of the Virtue Party and Ayfer Yilmaz of the True Path Party.

Bush pleases Cyprus

The Cyprus Embassy is pleased with what it is hearing so far from the Bush administration.

The embassy has pointed out statements from Secretary of State Colin Powell and Marc Grossman, the nominee for undersecretary of state for political affairs.

Mr. Powell recently wrote Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides to assure him that the United States "will remain engaged in efforts to facilitate a just and lasting settlement" between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

"We fully support the ongoing U.N. efforts to achieve a comprehensive settlement," Mr. Powell added.

Mr. Kasoulides is scheduled to meet Mr. Powell on Monday in Washington.

Mr. Grossman, in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, suggested putting pressure on Turkey to get Turkish Cypriot leaders to return to U.N.-sponsored talks on reunification of the island.

Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has said he will not participate in a sixth round of the talks unless Cyprus recognizes his administration as a diplomatic equal.

"We have got to impress Turkish Cypriots and the people in [Turkey] that they have got to get involved in this negotiation," Mr. Grossman said at the confirmation hearing last month. "And we've got to use … leverage."

He added that he meant "positive" pressure to make Turkish Cypriots see the benefit of reunification of Cyprus in preparing to join the European Union.

Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to Greece, recently said the Bush administration opposes the Turkish Cypriot position.

"We have not been willing to recognize certain positions up front. Certainly not by the Turkish Cypriots," he told a Greek-American audience in Washington last month.

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