ANKARA - Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul has said, "Turkey's membership to the European Union (EU) as a Muslim country will make an important contribution to peace in the world."
Speaking at a program on the private CNN-Turk TV Channel on Sunday, Gul said, "the EU membership is not a matter of only the government, it is the matter of the whole country. Therefore, everyone has responsibilities in this process."
"Turkey's membership to the EU as a Muslim country will make an important contribution to peace in the world. If the EU accepts Turkey as one of its members, it will give the message to the whole Middle East that they could be Muslim, democrat, modern and transparent at the same time. In fact, the EU will suffer the heaviest loss if it rejects Turkey's membership. Turkey will continue to act as a regional power whether or not it gets a date for opening of accession talks with the EU," he said.
Upon a question, Gul said, "further improvement of bilateral relations with Iran and the Russian Federation is not an alternative to Turkey's EU membership process. We, of course, attribute great importance to further improvement of our relations with these two countries. However, no one should consider it as an alternative to the EU."
Responding another question about the scheduled visit of President Bashar Al-Asad of Syria to Turkey next week, Gul said, "a Syrian president will pay an official visit to Turkey for the first time. I am quite sure that the visit would make a valuable contribution to bilateral relations between Turkey and Syria."