By Nawab Khan (with photos)
BRUSSELS, Oct 4 (KUNA) -- Former Turkish foreign minister, Yasar Yakis, has stressed that the wealth of the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) combined with Turkey's technology, industrial and economic achievements augur a "bright future" in their relationship.
"The GCC is the wealthiest countries of the region. They have means of contributing to all type of stabilisation and improvement of the region. Turkey is one of the most dynamic country in the region," he told the Kuwait news agency, (KUNA), in an interview.
Yakis noted that Turkey is the 16th biggest economy in the world, sixth biggest economy in Europe.
Turkey has historical and strong relations with the GCC countries, he said and added that "we can use these historical ties in order to facilitate closer economic and political ties." "I see a bright future in our ties. They have money and Turkey offer s a lot of opportunity for cooperation," he asserted.
Yakis, a founding member and vice chairman of the Justice and Development party (AK Parti) is in Brussels to attend an international security conference. He also served as Turkey's ambassador in Cairo and Riyadh.
He rejected accusation that Turkey is trying to revive the Ottoman Empire saying "the multi-ethnic empires completed their age." The Turkish official also dismissed western criticism that Turkey is turning towards the Arab-Muslim world and abandoning the West.
"Turkey has not given up its plan to join the EU because Turkey considers its accession to the Europe as the most important modernisation project after the proclamation of the Turkish Republic in 1923," said Yakis a chairman of the EU committee in the Turkish parliament.
He said the questions was open whether Turkey will ultimately joint the EU, noting that some European countries are already putting hurdles by calling for a referendum on the issue.
Turkey, he stressed, is bent on becoming a "first class democracy" and to make it a transparent market economy and reduce corruption.
"When we achieve these things, whether Turkey joins the EU or not becomes less important," he told KUNA.
Turkey's EU accession process is not a substitute for Turkey's close relations with the countries of Balkans, Caucasus, Middle East and Central Asia regions, he clarified.
Turning to strained ties with Israel , Yakis said it is a separate issue.
"We believe that the problem between Turkey and Israel is not between the peoples of Turkey and Israel, "he said pointing out that Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1492 gave refuge to Jews who had fled persecution in Spain.
"It is the shaky government, the fragile government in Israel with the presence of extreme right parties which is the problem," he said.
Yakis reiterated the three conditions, apology from Israel for killing the nine Turkish peace activists on an humanitarian boat mission to Gaza, payment of compensation and lifting of the economic embargo on Gaza, for improving ties with Israel.
Yakis condemned the Greek Cypriots' exploration and exploitation of natural gas resources together with Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean as "illegal." He explained that the Greek Cypriot side did not consult with the Turkish Cypriots over the matter, and secondly the delineation of the Exclusive Economic Zone in the Eastern Mediterranean has not yet been decided and agreed by all the parties, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Cyprus and Israel.
Without this agreement any exploration of gas resources in the area is illegal, he said.
The Worldwide Security Conference (WSC) is convened annually by the EastWest Institute (EWI), an international nonprofit policy organization based in New York and Brussels.
The 3-day conference which began on Monday will address cyber security, U.
S.-China relations, weapons proliferation and security in Southwest Asia. (end) nk.asa KUNA 040954 Oct 11NNNN