PM rules out NATO intervention in Libya

TODAY’S ZAMAN WITH WIRES
ANKARA

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an delivered a keynote speech in front of some 15,000 Turks living in Germany at the ISS Dome in Düsseldorf on Sunday.

PM Recep Tayyip Erdo?an on Monday firmly ruled out any NATO intervention in the Libyan crisis, while he strongly criticized European countries due to their “double-standard” approach towards developments in North Africa.
“What has NATO to do in Libya? NATO’s intervention in Libya is out of the question. We are against such a thing,” Erdo?an said in a speech delivered at a meeting organized by the Turkish-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TD-IHK) in Hanover.
Last Friday, NATO’s top-decision making body said the organization will not intervene in the Libyan crisis, but will continue to monitor the situation closely. The North Atlantic Council said in a statement that it will continue to monitor the situation “in coordination with other international organizations” and “continue to consult in order to be prepared for any eventuality.” Erdo?an also responded to certain criticism directed against him for not releasing a blunt and public warning to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. “We are ruling a state, not a tribe,” Erdo?an said. He also stressed that Libya has de facto been divided into two parts and that he wished to see a reunited Libya. Praising Turkey’s principled stance on developments in North Africa, Erdo?an slammed European countries for failing to display a strong stance.
On Sunday, Erdo?an threw an even sharper barb at international community’s approach on the same issue, without naming any particular country or leader. “We are not one of those who see oil when looking at the Middle East,” Erdo?an said. “We are not one of those who see unearned income when looking at the Balkans. We are not one of those who look at Caucasia, Asia and Africa with interest considerations. This is all what we say: We say democracy, we say human rights, we say justice, we say law and we say international values,” Erdo?an said.
“Whatever we say for Baghdad, we say the same thing for Darfur. Whatever we say for Cairo, we say the same thing for Tripoli,” he said, underlining that there has been a double-standard approach when the issues is about peoples of the Middle East.
“Is democracy a right for certain segments? The person in the West has the right to democracy and is it early for the person in the East? Why are those who want democracy and human rights for countries which do not have oil keeping silent vis-à-vis countries which have oil? Here you see the double-standard. Here you see the insincerity,” he said.
In a televised national address late Monday, the prime minister touched upon the same issue and argued that sweeping protests across the Arab world are largely driven by people’s “desire for more freedom and justice.” A popular revolt that toppled the country’s long-time president in Tunisia in mid-January also inspired Egypt’s uprising and was followed by mass demonstrations elsewhere in the Arab world, including in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Oman, Morocco, Kuwait, Algeria and Jordan.
Stressing that these mass protests are driven by people’s desire for more freedom, justice and even distribution of income, Erdo?an said Turkey endorses a direction that people of these countries point to as the single, correct direction.
Call on Germany’s Turks to ‘integrate,’ not ‘assimilate’
Turkish immigrants in Germany should integrate into society but not assimilate to the point where they abandon their native culture, Erdo?an has stated during his visit to Germany, echoing a similar speech which caused outrage three years ago.
Speaking in Düsseldorf to some 10,000 members of Germany’s large Turkish community in the wake of last year’s heated debate over the place of immigrants in the country, Erdo?an on Sunday took up the theme of integration amid what he sees as persistent Islamophobia. “You must integrate, but I am against assimilation … no one may ignore the rights of minorities,” he said, adding that individuals should have the right to practice their own faith.
“Nobody will be able to tear us away from our culture. Our children must learn German, but first they must learn Turkish,” Erdo?an added. A swift reaction to Erdo?an’s messages came from Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who insisted that Turkish children growing up in Germany should learn the language of their host country first.
Speaking in Berlin on Monday, Westerwelle said the country’s Turkish community needed their children to focus on German to optimize their chances of a good education and prospects later in life. “Children growing up in Germany must learn German first,” he said.
Erdo?an’s visit came in the wake of a heated debate over the place of immigrants in Germany, sparked last year after central banker Thilo Sarrazin published a bestselling book that argued German culture was at risk from Muslims. “Enmity against faith, intolerance to differences and with all of these, I underline Islamophobia… Just as anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity, so is Islamophobia; this should be understood like this,” Erdo?an said.

On Saturday, Erdo?an told the Rheinische Post newspaper that forced integration requiring immigrants to suppress their culture and language was an affront to international law.

Erdo?an’s speech on Sunday came ahead of a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel scheduled for Monday evening, where Turkey’s bid to join the European Union was likely to come up. Erdo?an was to join Merkel for the inauguration of the CeBit information technology fair in Hanover, where Turkey is this year’s official partner country. In Hanover during the day, Erdo?an held an informal meeting with Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schröder. No statement was released after the meeting at Schröder’s residence.

In January, during her first-ever visit to the divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Merkel’s remarks, in which she placed blame for the lack of resolution in Cyprus on the Turkish side, highly irritated Ankara. At the time, Erdo?an recalled that it was the Greek Cypriots who rejected a UN plan to reunite the island in 2004, while the Turkish Cypriots approved the blueprint and advised Merkel to discuss the issue with her predecessor, Schröder, who was chancellor from 1998 to 2005.

Along with opposition to Turkish membership from countries such as Germany and France, the dispute over Cyprus is one of the main reasons behind the stalemate in Turkey’s EU accession talks, which were opened in 2005. Turkish leaders have sounded increasingly impatient with lack of progress in entry talks, though they insist membership remains their top foreign policy goal.


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