Turkey has serious problems over freedoms: FM

Turkey's foreign minister said on Wednesday "Some of them have been solved, but there are still many problems to be solved in coming days."

Turkey has serious problems over freedoms: FM

Turkey's foreign minister expressed thought on Wednesday that there were serious problems in Turkey regarding freedoms.

Foreign Minister Ali Babacan once more reaffirmed his support for the remarks he made at the European Parliament last May, and said that there were serious problems in Turkey regarding freedoms.

"Some of them have been solved, but there are still many problems to be solved in coming days," Babacan told the private NTV channel.

Replying a question on the status of religious freedoms in Turkey at the External Relations Committee of the European Parliament in May, Babacan said that not only non-Muslim minorities in Turkey had problems regarding religious freedoms, but the Muslim majority experienced similar problems as well.

On Kirkuk referendum, Babacan said that for what the referendum would be held and who would vote were not so certain.

"We (Turkey) think that an approach like 'let's hold the referendum, and let's take this step if the votes in favor are around 51 percent' will cause a disaster in Kirkuk and entire Iraq; because Kirkuk's demographic structure has been manipulated and been changed in time," Babacan told the private news channel.

Babacan said Turkey saw Kirkuk as a small model of Iraq in which different groups were represented.

"Any disagreement in Kirkuk may be spread to entire Iraq," he said.

Babacan said any step in Kirkuk should be taken with a compromise of all groups in the city.

The foreign minister said that Turkey had launched a more active Iraq traffic.

On relations with Armenia, Babacan said that Turkey's priority in its foreign policy was to have zero problem with its neighbors.

"We have taken many unilateral steps to normalize our relations with our neighbor Armenia so far," Babacan also said.

Babacan said that there were direct flights between a few cities in Turkey and Armenia's capital Yerevan, and there was indirect trade between the two countries.

The foreign minister also said that Turkish President Abdullah Gul wrote a letter to Armenia's President Serzh Sargsian after he was elected, and similarly Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan and he sent letters to their colleagues in which they said that Turkey was ready for a dialogue and was willing to normalize relations.

Babacan said that Senate's or House of Representatives' adopting a resolution that recognized the Armenian allegations regarding incidents of 1915 would seriously harm Turkish-U.S. relations.

"We (Turkey) think that politicians should look ahead, and historian and experts should deal with history," the foreign minister said.

Babacan said that Turkey was economically vital for Armenia, and told the private channel that it was the Armenian government who would either undertake responsibilities to open a new page or maintain the status quo.

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Last Mod: 17 Temmuz 2008, 11:57
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