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Turkey's President says Nation Belongs in Europe

Turkish President Abdullah Gul speaks on Turkey's international relations, at Chatham House in London, 08 Nov 2010
Turkish President Abdullah Gul speaks on Turkey's international relations, at Chatham House in London, 08 Nov 2010

The president of Turkey says the balance of power in the world today is shifting away from the West, and the center of gravity is moving towards Asia and the East.  President Abdullah Gul, speaking in London, says until a new balance emerges the world will endure global and regional shocks.  

President Gul is in the British capital to receive the prestigious Chatham House prize.  The members elected him for being a force for reconciliation and moderation in Turkey.

Speaking to its members here in London, Mr. Gul says the world has changed.

"Today the road to peace, stability and welfare passes through democratic values and the enhancement of human-rights standards," said Gul. "Likewise, values such as the rule of law, political plurality, equality and respect for differences can no longer be ignored."

He says the world is in an imperfect equilibrium.  And that power is changing in a post Cold War world that no longer revolves around two superpowers.

"The relative weight of the West in the international balance of power is also gradually declining," he said. "Rising powers like China, India, Brazil and Russia are shifting the center of gravity of international relations towards Asia and the East."

That he says makes it strategically imperative for the European Union to admit Turkey as a member.  Doing so, he says, would be a remarkable turning point with historical significance in the first quarter of the 21st century.

"The EU will not be weaker, but stronger politically and economically with Turkey's membership," said the Turkish president.

Turkey opened accession negotiations with the European Union in 2005, but is considered very unlikely to join in the next 10 years, partly because of opposition from countries such as France.  EU officials also have serious concerns about the strength of Turkey's political and civic institutions - from the judiciary, to the independent media.

Mr. Gul acknowledged Turkey has some shortcomings that it needs to address, but said there is freedom of expression in Turkey.

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