Turkey seeks democracy, not clout, in Mideast
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday that Turkey seeks only peace, democracy and the rule of law in its vicinity, while dismissing claims that Turkey seeks to boost its influence with “different intentions,” during a speech at a university in Russia.
Erdoğan told students at the Kazan Privoljskiy Federal University in the autonomous Republic of Tatarstan in Russia that while Turkey was resolving its years-long problems with its neighbors, the country has also started to contribute to peace and stability in the Caucasus, Middle East and the Balkans.
Erdoğan said Turkey and Russia are displaying exemplary cooperation in solving problems with their neighbors and that he believes this cooperation will continue to grow. The prime minister also said Turkey is trying to build a relationship based on cooperation and solidarity in a geography where Turkey and Tatarstan share a history, culture and faith.
Erdoğan had talks with President Dmitry Medvedev and other officials during his key visit to Moscow, which he said “opened the gates of a new period between Turkey and Russia.” Officials of both countries largely discussed cooperation in nuclear energy, progress in a visa exemption deal, bilateral trade opportunities and regional developments.
Erdoğan applauded his country’s growing economic clout and pointed to “decisive steps” taken for the rapid democratization of Turkey, which he said were coupled with an active foreign policy within the framework of peace, democracy, human rights and the principles of international law.
Erdoğan said seven Turkish ministers accompanied him during his latest visit and that the ministers have successfully completed high-level consultations with their Russian counterparts. Erdoğan said he hopes that his first prime-ministerial visit to Tatarstan and last year’s visit from President Abdullah Gül to the autonomous republic mark a turning point for communication between the two nations.
Erdoğan wants Turkish contractors for Kazan Universiade
Erdoğan also called on Russian authorities during his speech to cooperate with Turkish contractors in helping to construct infrastructure for the 2013 Summer Universiade games, which will be held in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan.
Erdoğan recalled the Winter Universiade games in Erzurum last month and praised Turkey for successfully building the winter facilities and organizing the event. “We have significant experience,” Erdoğan stressed, adding that while Kazan will host the Summer Universiade games in 2013, Turkey’s Mersin will be hosting the summer Mediterranean Games.
“We would be pleased to see the participation of Turkish contractors in facilities that will be built in Kazan for the 2013 Summer Universiade games,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan added that he does not consider the current level of foreign trade, direct investment and tourism between Turkey and Tatarstan to be sufficient and said the two need to increase their level of solidarity, communication and cooperation.
The prime minister also said he hopes Turkey and Tatarstan will reach a very different level together in every sector, starting with the construction of facilities for the 2013 Summer Universiade games.