Responding to a question on Cyprus and European Union (EU), Erdogan said, ”I don’t find it right to directly link Cyprus and the EU. Cyprus issue is put forward us continously. They said Copenhagen criteria. Unfortunately, they are using Cyprus which has not any connection with Copenhagen criteria as a trump. We don’t think this is right. We know that there is Cyprus question and we are determined to solve it.”
Noting that both parties had to make self-sacrifice in Cyprus issue, Erdogan said, ”there is a government ready to solve this at the moment. We are saying that we will debate this plan contrary to the former government. We have to solve the issue through negotiation. But, if they want the impossible, a solution will become difficult.”
Erdogan stated that he wanted to once more tell the U.S. officials the importance of Turkey’s role in its region in especially post cold war era and in a period when countries had to focus on new techniques.
He also stressed the expectation that political and bureaucratic hurdles before defense industry should be overcome as soon as possible during his contacts, Erdogan said.
Erdogan said that the defense industry relations between the two countries have reached a good level in which the two countries produce F-16 planes together and producing hunter planes together came to agenda. ATC had taken an important role in supporting the issues which Turkey attributes importance, voicing both countries’ common interests both in the U.S. and also in the Congress and also pursuing the interests of the U.S. firms working in Turkey.”
Erdogan who was awarded with a plaquette by ATC officials, also met with Turkish Friendship group members in the U.S. Congress.
Robert Wexler, the Chairman of the Turkish friendship group in the Congress said that they discussed with Erdogan the issue of upgarding the economic relations with Turkey to the level of military and strategec relations.
Wexler said that the Turkish friendship group in the Congress will work on plans to create more economic relations between the two countries.
Cliff Sterns, another member of the group said that Erdogan’s party’s having the majority in the parliament is a big opportunity. Sterns said that the new government can do many things on secularism and economic prosperity by thinking in long term. Sterns also voiced the wish of U.S. President George W. Bsuh to sign an agreement with Turkey which will be similar to North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and which will be valid for a short term.
Erdogan also met with Democrat Party senator Paul Sarbanes and former Athens mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos. Sarbanes, one of the leading names of the Greek lobby in the U.S., wanted to meet with Erdogan. Turkish-Greek relations, Cyprus and EU process were taken up in the meeting.
Sarbanes gave the message in the meeting that if there is progress in Cyprus issue, certain impediments which Turkey faces in the Congress can be lifted.
ERDOGAN: ”I PROPOSED BUSH TO ADMIT US TO NAFTA”
Erdogan said that he proposed U.S. President George W. Bush that Turkey should be admitted to North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Erdogan, who came to Turkish House in New York to meet with Turkish people living in and around this city, said, ”non-inclusion of Turkey to the European Union (EU) will not be the end of the world. We will definitely find a way out.”
In this context, he proposed Bush that Turkey should be admitted to NAFTA, Erdogan announced.
Erdogan said, ”the former government took decision which would shock the EU. We will overcome the deficiencies in implementation. We don’t want to give any trump to EU member countries at Copenhagen summit on Thursday. We will fulfil Copenhagen criteria in order to upgrade living standards of our people whether they admit us or not. We will solve the problems by ourselves if they don’t include us in the EU. I proposed Bush during our meeting to admit us to NAFTA. We will definitely find a way out. We are a world country.”
Touching on Cyprus issue, Erdogan said that politicians would solve the problems instead of causing problems.
Erdogan noted, ”we will sit at a table to solve the Cyprus question. We think the U.N. plan is negotiable. We are in favour of a solution within the scope of reciprocal self-sacrifice. If both parties make self-sacrifice, a common point can be found. We have expressed our views to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. I think a solution which will relieve both of the sides will be found in Copenhagen.”
Erdogan said that the government would not promise the things which it can’t do, adding that ”populist approaches are forbidden. The investments which are the real needs of the country will be done. We will ensure that Turkey won’t stand behind other countries. We will increase the income per capita to 5,000 U.S. dollars in five years. We won’t let anybody to humiliate Turkish people, we didn’t come here to ask for money. We have businessmen, we ask the U.S. to give them opportunity.”
Erdogan said that the interest rates decreased by 20 points due to the stable government and the Stockt Exchange Market index increased. Erdogan said that ”the way to be modern depends on transportation. We promised to build 15,000 kilometers of ‘double way.’ Every contractor will construct a 50-kilometer part of the road and we will finish it in five years. The source of that will be ensured by fighting with corruption. There is corruption in Turkey. The burden of only the banks which were transferred to the Fund is 22 billion dollars. This burden increases to 50 billion dollars together with duty losses.”
ERDOGAN MEETS WITH U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN
Erdogan met on Wednesday with United Nations (U.N.) Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis, advisers Egemen Bagis, Omer Celik, Cuneyt Zapsu and Foreign Ministry personnel as well as U.N. Deputy Secretary General for political affairs Sir Kieran Prendergast attended the meeting which lasted for about an hour.
Following the meeting, Erdogan told reporters they debated Cyprus issue during their meeting.
Erdogan said that they discussed the person who would represent Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) at Copenhagen summit on December 12 during their meeting but refrained from announcing a name.