- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 9, 2006

‘Gift to the world’

Turkey is setting an example for other Muslim nations by adopting wide-ranging democratic and economic reforms, according to Turkey’s deputy prime minister.

“Turkey’s success has ramification beyond itself,” Abdullah Gul, who also serves as foreign minister, told the Brookings Institution on his visit to Washington last week.

“After all, these reforms — having been realized in a Muslim country — make a unique case so far. This is a gift to the world.”

Mr. Gul said Turkish reforms prove that Islam and democracy are compatible.

Since 2001, Turkey has adopted more reforms than at any time in the past 70 years, according to many outside analysts. Turkey, motivated by its goal to join the European Union, outlawed the death penalty — except in terrorist cases during times of war — guaranteed more freedom of expression, adopted laws to safeguard political parties from being banned by the government and lifted some restrictions on public rallies. Economically, Turkey created an independent central bank, which now runs a tight monetary policy, and privatized industries such as Turk Telekom and Turkish Petroleum Refineries.

“From the very start, we have recognized the need to couple political reform with economic reform,” Mr. Gul said.

“Indeed, in order to achieve overall success, these two should go hand in hand. If one lags behind, the other fades away soon after.”

Mr. Gul said he has also taken his message to forums of leaders from other Muslim nations, such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

“I was quite vocal about problems of [democratic] representation, accountability, transparency, gender equality and a fairer distribution of wealth,” he said.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Prime Minister Janez Jansa of Slovenia, who meets President Bush. Tomorrow, he meets Vice President Dick Cheney. He also holds talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Sen. Richard G. Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

• Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett of Britain, who meets Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and speaks at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies.

• Kiran Pasricha, deputy director of the Council of Indian Industries, who participates in a Heritage Foundation forum on U.S.-India relations.

Tomorrow

• President Alejandro Toledo of Peru, who meets with U.S. trade representatives and members of Congress and holds a 10 a.m. press conference at the National Press Club.

Prosecutor General Boris Velchev of Bulgaria.

• President Tabare Vazquez of Uruguay; David Byrne, professor of law at Ireland’s University College Dublin; Franco Cavalli and Isabel Mortara of the Swiss office of the International Union Against Cancer; Mike Daube, professor of Health Policy at the Curtin University of Technology of Perth, Australia; Louis Denis of the Oncology Center of Antwerp, Belgium; and Shoba John, director of PATH Canada in Bombay; David Khayat, director of the French National Cancer Institute; and Anbumani Ramadoss, India’s minister of health and family medicine. They participate in a conference hosted by the International Union Against Cancer.

• Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri of Pakistan, who addresses the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Wednesday

• Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica of Serbia, who holds a 1 p.m. press conference at the National Press Club.

Thursday

• Tibisay Lucena, president of the National Electoral Council of Venezuela, who addresses the Inter-American Dialogue.

Friday

• Leon Roldos, the front-runner in the October presidential election in Ecuador, who addresses the Inter-American Dialogue.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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