FM Davutoglu: "US needs to adjust to Turkey’s new profile"

Turkish-US ties have been through rough patches in the past and may become strained again, given the changing nature of their relationship, according to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

It will take time for the US to become accustomed to the necessary mentality change, "since Turkey doesn’t want to be a strategic ally of the US from the security perspective only," he told reporters on Saturday.

Turkey’s views need to be taken into account by the US in shaping its policies, Davutoglu said.

Turkey wants to be influential and visible in global politics, he said, adding that this ambition is a pillar of the current government’s policies. "Turkey wants to be one of the countries shaping the new world order. We want Turkey to be seen as a country that will help restore the international system," he said. "We don’t want to be a country adapting to the system. We want to be a central country whose word carries weight, a country that says how the UN system or G-20 should be shaped, a country offering a view on how the global financial crisis should be solved," he said.

Strengthening Turkey’s strategic direction in the wake of the Cold War has been another basic aim of government policy, Davutoglu said, adding that despite frustration over the slow pace of European Union membership negotiations, Turkey has the political will to pursue its EU bid. "Turkey’s future is in the EU. And the EU’s future will be shaped with Turkey," he said.

DAVUTOGLU BLAMES ISRAEL FOR FAILURE TO MEND TIES

Turkey is willing to improve ties with Israel, but internal rifts within the Israeli government are complicating efforts, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Saturday. "We intent to make peace with Israel. Why should we want bad relations with a country alongside which we’re trying to broker peace?" Davutoglu told reporters in Istanbul, referring to Turkey’s 2008 mediation efforts between Israel and Syria. "But we’re having difficulties when the other side doesn’t have the same political will." Davutoglu said that earlier this month it took the Turkish government about two minutes to decide to send fire-fighting planes to help extinguish a devastating fire in Israel, while in Israel such a decision would have sparked days of debates between coalition partners that would have been been leaked to the press, in the end scuttling the plan. "With the makeup of the coalition, internal rivalry is fiercer than Israel’s rivalry with other countries," he argued. Davutoglu also reiterated that the only way for Israel to improve ties is for it to apologize for a deadly May 31 raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship and compensate the families of the nine casualties. "Turkish citizens were killed in international waters, nothing can erase this truth," he said. Davutoglu also defended Turkey’s policy on Iran’s nuclear program, which some in the West allege shows Turkey is moving away from the West, saying it boosts Turkey’s standing as an international actor. Turkey is categorically against Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, he stressed, but it is also against restrictions on the rights of countries – including Turkey – to advance nuclear technology on the grounds that they could develop nuclear weapons. "The Turkish economy is growing," he said. "But since we lack (domestic) energy resources, there are only two alternatives left to meet our energy needs: renewable energy and nuclear energy." Davutoglu said Turkey has been telling Iran that it should allow international inspection of its atomic program, and added that Ankara would never agree to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) system. "We’re telling Iran that if you seek to do so, we – before even the US – would oppose it," he said.

Davutoglu dismissed claims that Ankara’s foreign policy orientation has shifted towards the East, citing figures showing that 49 percent of his foreign visits were to countries in Europe and America, while visits to the Middle East and Asia made up 31 percent. He added that Turkey wants to be a country that makes effective contributions to the international system, as it is going through a process of restructuring. "In the past, the international system was defined by big powers and Turkey simply adjusted to it," he said. "In the new era, we’re trying to become one of the central countries."

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