Turkish president criticizes EU 'negligence'

AP News
Posted: Dec 09, 2011 12:00 PM
Turkish president criticizes EU 'negligence'

European Union "negligence" is to blame for the financial crisis roiling the continent, said Turkey's president Friday, contrasting the EU's malaise with his country's economic and political dynamism.

Gul also called for a revamping of the U.N. Security Council, suggesting its permanent members no longer reflected the shift in influence from the postwar equation when the five nuclear powers effectively steered world policy. His comments, to the World Policy Conference's three-day session, were a restatement of Turkey's claim to prominence _ in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and beyond.

His blunt criticism of the EU _ a group Turkey has been prevented from joining mainly due to years of German and French opposition _ also suggested that the Turkish government was increasingly disenchanted with the failure of its efforts.

Sentiment has been growing in Ankara to give up on EU membership hopes _ fueled by the eurozone's struggles to get a handle on the immense debts of member countries that threaten the future of their common currency.

Some progress appeared to be made Friday, with the EU saying that 26 of its 27 member countries are open to joining a new treaty tying their finances together to solve the euro crisis. But while Gul wished the EU good luck, his comments brimmed with self-satisfaction as he compared Turkey's robust economic state to that of some of the European countries most at risk.

"At a time when euro member states are not able to abide by the criteria that they put for themselves, we are at the stage where we can meet those criteria," he said, noting that Turkey's budget deficit was at only 2.5 percent _ well below the benchmark set for themselves by eurozone nations.

Bluntly accusing EU leadership of bad governance, Gul said that "European Union negligence ... paved the way to the current difficult economic situation." Urging the EU to get its house in order, he warned: "Their decisions will affect all of us."

"We are witnessing the early days of a new world order," said Gul. And as economic power shifts, political change must follow, he asserted, saying the U.N. Security Council must be newly configured to refer greater power-sharing with emerging nations.

"The reform of the United Nations is imperative" to shift away from a Security Council that only "serves the interest of the leading powers," he said.

Gul said his country is a model for Arab nations that have shaken off dictatorships and proof that Muslim countries can be democratic.

"Turkey is a source of inspiration for them," he said. "Particularly our approach to religious freedom and secularism ... (and) democratic pluralism.

"It set an example for those countries ... struggling to find the right balance between faith and politics."