World power is shifting towards the East and the EU should admit Turkey if it wants to remain a global player, Turkey's President Abdullah Gul said on Monday.
"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," Gul said.
"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," he said.
"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."
"New world order"
President Gul said a new world order based on harmony between powers was emerging and modern Turkey would certainly take its rightful place in it.
In his address Monday at the Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, Gul said the emergence of an international order based on harmony between the US, the EU, and rising powers like Russia, China, India and Brazil was imminent and Turkey would take its rightful place in it thanks to its state tradition and rich inheritance of experience, memories and reflexes.
President Gul emphasized that the world did not revolve around the two super powers anymore as the relative weight of the West in the international balance of power gradually declined and rising powers like China, India, Brazil and Russia shifted the centre of gravity of international relations towards Asia and the East.
He said with the emergence of new and unforeseen challenges and opportunities, the international system was bound to evolve towards a new state of equilibrium in the next decade.
Gul underlined that the path to an effective and fair global order went through local building blocks as well and on a regional scale Turkey was already playing an active part in shaping the future international order.
Gul said he had been advocating the idea of Turkey joining the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries as a target and pleased to see that many strategy analysts were already talking about the notion of ?BRIC+ T?. He said Turkey continued to be a force for good in its region and had been making positive contributions to the establishment of a new international order. He said Turkey had various assets in the political, economic and social fields, in addressing the challenges and risks, and making use of the opportunities.
President Gul said as a strong NATO ally, a negotiating candidate to the European Union and member of many regional organizations, Turkey was a well networked and connected power, tried to contribute to the establishment of a better global economic structure by participating in the G-20 and showing diligence in issues like curbing global warming, ensuring sustainable energy and supplies and eradicating poverty.
Gul said, to this end, Turkey tore up a self imposed iron curtain poising our relations with its neighbours and has been pursuing a zero problem policy. He said Turkey has been building an arc of stability, cooperation and welfare in its region through various regional dialogue mechanisms, free trade agreements, energy, communication and transportation projects.
"In parallel to the ground breaking democratic and social reforms put into practice at home, Turkey has become a staunch supporter of initiatives aimed at advancing human rights and addressing humanitarian issues. We also have done our utmost in promoting mutual understanding and respect among different cultures and faiths, and, last but not least, in fighting all forms of racism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance," said Gul.
He said the credibility of Turkey's message was strengthened by the fact that it had historical and cultural ties with the many peoples in its region and Turkey could draw upon its cross-cultural skills, soft power and influence in acting as an interface that facilitated dialogue among parties in dispute. He said despite some setbacks, Turkey was a vibrant democracy which made progress in its negotiations for full membership to the European Union.
Turkey also has pointed to its rapidly growing economy -- among the fastest growing in the world -- and young population as EU assets.
Speaking later in Oxford, Gul said some EU member states were creating artificial problems in Turkey's EU membership negotiations but said Turkey would stick to the task.
"The injection of some political issues of certain member countries in the negotiating process leads to certain artificial problems which in our point of view is not fair and not acceptable," he said at an event hosted by the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.
"But Turkey is determined to move forward in the direction of working on the negotiations," he said, speaking through an interpreter.
The EU Commission will issue on Tuesday its annual report on how EU candidates are progressing on requirements.
Cyprus will be seen as the main outstanding problem, along with issue on media freedom, according to a draft report obtained by Reuters.
Largely Muslim Turkey started formal membership negotiations with the bloc in 2005 along with Croatia, which is on the final stage of entry talks.
Accession talks with Turkey have slowed to a standstill due to the dispute whether Turkey open its ports and airports to traffic from Cyprus while the EU maintains a blockade of the Turkish Cyprus state.
Turkey's Milliyet daily said on Monday top-level secret talks have been held over the last two weeks between Turkey and the EU on steps to resolve the Cyprus problem. A European Commission spokeswoman declined to comment on the reports.
Gul did not elaborate, but Turkish officials say some EU countries are using an impasse over Cyprus to stall the bid.
Gul said he had been given some information about the EU report, but had not seen it and did not comment on its contents.
"No new gesture on Cyprus"
Gul told BBC interview on Monday that nobody should expect gesture from Turkey on Cyprus to remove the blockage experienced with the EU.
Gul, currently in London to get Chatham House prize that is given to a statesman who made the highest contributions to international relations, had an exclusive interview with BBC Turkish Service.
Gul said gesture should not be expected from Turkey to remove the blockage, "Turkey makes gesture but there will not be need to make a new gesture if your gesture is not returned. Turkey is not in a condition to make a new gesture. The biggest gesture was Turkey's 'yes' vote to Annan and EU plan in 2004. Turkish Cypriots showed the biggest gesture by supporting that referendum. However, they could not get anything in return."
Gul said, "we made a call to remove all embargoes in the island on January 24, 2006. They did not accept even that proposal".