CCTV1

24.06.2009
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QUESTION: So Mr. President thank you very much as I mentioned this is the second time I'm interviewing you. Four years ago when you were Minister of Foreign Affairs we did a very good interview. This time you are the president. In a different hat, different feeling and different responsibilities I guess Mr. President.

PRESIDENT GUL: Yes you are right, it was in 2005. And I came here as a foreign minister. This time as a president, of course, everything is different, this is a state visit and I am sure that the talks will open a new page between two countries.

QUESTION: I see.

PRESIDENT GUL: So we will focus on different issues, political issues, economical issues. I feel different but also it gives me chance to compare what happened in China in five year. At least this hotel was not here.

QUESTION: It's new, this hotel is very new.

PRESIDENT GUL: So it changed.

QUESTION: Mr. President I heard this time you have a big delegation to China and also you are going to travel to other cities in China including Chiya and Rumuche. But I understand the main focus of this visit for you is to try to find ways to stretch-outbetter bilateral relations and of course in terms of economic and trade relations. What is your expectation this time?

PRESIDENT GUL: You are right. I am very happy that we came here with a big delegation not only hard bureaucrats, also well-known businesspeople, well-known investors. They are very much interested in investing in China and to make economic co-operation between two countries. So that for this time our delegation is very big. Different field, different people, from economy, tourism, from political issues to technology. I think we are going to have talks and meetings. As you said we are going to see also different cities. We are going to see the culture, the richness of China and also economic and technology of boon whole China. So different places will be very much interesting for us, so we are very happy.

QUESTION: Mr. President, Turkey is at a very important and very special position in the world geopolitical map because Turkey, you know, is sitting between Europe, Asian and even Middle East and Africa. And we know that these years, in recent years, before the financial crisis, Turkey has enjoyed quite significant developments, in terms of economy like 7% economic growth and for capital ten thousand trillion dollars. So tell me what is the situation in Turkey now?

PRESIDENT GUL: As you said, Turkey is located in a very strategic place. In fact, we are the bridge between Asia and Europe. China is on the eastern side of Asia, we are on the western side of Asia. Last six-seven years, we had a big success in economy. Economic growth was 7%, we became the sixth largest economy of Europe and seventeenth largest economy of the world. We are almost one trillion dollars gdp in purchasing power and more than ten thousand dollars per capital. Of course the first thing is the correct economic policies. We changed the laws, we changed the constitutions and of course the political stability was very much important behind of this success single party government was big advantage so therefore we are very successful. Of course this economic crisis is affecting everyone we are also having our share. But we are managing very well. Our banking sector is very strong, very solid. In 2001, we carried our structural form in the banking sector. We had created independent id to watch and monitor the banks' activities, their ratios. So we get the benefit now, although the economic crisis is there but the banking sector, financial sector is very solid. We are the most solid and the strong banking sector in Europe in fact so it's a big advantage of course. Our export increased, investing from outside to Turkey enormously increased. We hope that we will continue with this.

QUESTION: I guess that this time it's because of the experience and the lesson that you have learnt, Turkey has learnt since 2001, at that time you met the same kind of crisis.

PRESIDENT GUL: Exactly.

QUESTION: But this time Turkey seems to me more confident. Your government is more confident and also up to now some people are saying you should have another deal with IMF, you should have a bigger stimulus package. What's your strategy to face this financial crisis?

PRESIDENT GUL: You are right! As I said in 2001 we had a very bad economic in fact financial crisis. What the world is facing today, we faced in 2001. We got our lesson so it became an advantage for us today. That's why the banking sector is solid. We are living on this globe, you see there is an international crisis although we did not cause that, we are not the reason, we know how it started and we know who are responsible for this. But at the end, the declaration of crisis is affecting us. We have to take some measures. Turkey is taking some measures. We are supporting our companies. Tax reductions, export expansions. Then of course, we are supporting the banks, commercial banks, investment banks in their liquidity. Total package is so far three billon dollars. So we will continue with this. International co-operations is also important, G20.We are together with China, other countries. Since this crisis is not local, since it's going to affect all of us, we believe that international support is also necessary for this. That's why we have been talking with IMF although we are not very much obliged to have an agreement with them but it has of course some advantages. We have been negotiating now.

QUESTION: Maybe it's an option. At least it's one option on the table.

PRESIDENT GUL: It's one option on the table. While we have the confidence, as I'm repeating the banking sector is strong, structure, reforms in economy are being carried out. We will continue.And the result is there is no any banks collapsed now. We are no being financially supporting the banks so none of the banks found itself in that situation. They did not ask because they are operating very well and they are very confident.

QUESTION: I see, I see, so Mr. President, you are an expert, I know you are an economist so tell us what's your view? Because when I check the news about Turkey, especially about Turkish economy, it's a little bit contradictory. Some say Turkey is now having a very high unemployment rate reaching something like fifteen or sixteen. Then on the other hand at the same time foreign investment in Turkey is shrinking. But at the same time, actually, as you just mentioned the banking system is very sound and safe in Turkey. What's your view? Is Turkey hitting the worse or some people say like for China or other countries we are seeing some early signs of recovery? What's your opinion?

PRESIDENT GUL: First of all, I have to say that we have been affected but when you compare Turkey with the other European countries and America or other countries…

QUESTION: You are luckier!

PRESIDENT GUL: We are very much lucky and we feel it less than others because the ship is strong of course there are waves going and coming but we have the confidence. It's strong. The macro economic indicators are going well. There is the fund poses is going well. And the financial sector is strong. So what is affecting us? It's the export itself affecting! Sixty percent of our exports is to Europe. And European countries are in difficult position. Their import is getting less and it's affecting us. For instance, automobile industry, it's the number one item in export to Europe. Suddenly it stopped so therefore the automobile sector feels some problems. The government decided to take some measures, tax reductions. So what we believe is that Turkey is recovering and we see the light at the end of the tunnel. We see the light and also the statistical indicators are saying this. Of course one should not be very much optimistic. But at least we are not pessimistic. So therefore, the economy again started to grow and the statistical indication is showing that the point is going up again. So therefore, we are optimistic. Employment, yes, it's a problem.

QUESTION: I guess this problem is not closely related to this financial crisis?

PRESIDENT GUL: It was ten percents that increased little bit and again what I am saying that since the economy started to work then it's getting down. Last months indicator is saying that it's getting down again. So we are optimistic about this.

QUESTION: Optimistic! So we know that just a few weeks ago they had the famous meeting in Russia called "golden bricks" I mean Russia, China, India and the all. How do you see the future of your country? I know strategically you are the gateway or you are the bridge? What is your vision?

PRESIDENT GUL: I am very much optimistic for the future of the country. First of all strategically, Turkey is located in a very good place as you see. We are very close to different places, we are the center. In another meaning, you can reach the whole Europe, you can reach the Middle East, you can reach Russia, you can reach Caucasus, you can reach the central Asia. So we are almost the center. We are a part of European Custom Union. We have a unique position there. We are the only country before being full member of EU becoming the member of European Custom Union. There is no any custom, any barriers between Turkey and Germany, UK or France or Italy. This makes us strong. Turkish economy, industry understood, learnt how to compete with the German goods, with the Italy's, UK's and France's. So this is a big advantage. This really educated us. Also labor force is very much skillful. We have very young population. We are well-educated and we can reach all the corners that we mentioned. In few days, sometimes less than one day goods can reach from Turkey to the heart of Europe. So this is a big advantage. And the reform process in democratic life, in economic life is also very much of course encouraging us.

QUESTION: And also your relationship with America and also with west. Mr. President talking about this, let me just to move it to European Union. I know it's a kind of complex for Turkey. You have been working for so far, for so many years. But just recently the election in the European Union, some say it shatters the dream of Turkey for its full membership in the European Union. What is your opinion?

PRESIDENT GUL: These are very much conjunctiveLet's go six years ago or seven years ago when the Chancellor Kohl was leading Germany, people were talking about "oh there is no hope" because he was not very much sympathetic the membership of Turkey. Then government changed, Schröder became Prime Minister then everything changed. What is important? The important thing is the decision was taken altogether, all the leaders, all the member countries, all of them together decided to start the full membership negotiation with Turkey. In 2005 we started the chapters. So they are going on our wing in fact. Definitely the Europe is plurality, there are some who are opposing, there are some who are defending but the decision the legal status is clica when they are debating Turkey, we are moving in fact.

QUESTION: You mean the train has started to reach the station?

PRESIDENT GUL: Definitely, train has not stopped, the train is going and the direction is well-known. It is up to us in fact. It is up to our performance how to fulfill all the rules or how we are going to upgrade or adopt the European act in Turkey. This is called the reform process. We are very much determined that we will continue. We have to understand the pluralism and big countries Accession is always difficult. Let's look at the United Kingdom. Two times they had to be stopped by France. They said no we don't want you to be the member.

QUESTION: I guess my audiences in China, they also understand this by the experience that China applying for the member of the WTO. For us it also took many years. A hard process.

PRESIDENT GUL: Turkey is seventy million, when we compare our population with you, it's so small. But when you compare this in Europe, it's one of the biggest populations. So that for accession is not easy. Spain, UK, Portugal they took more than ten years. So we started accession negotion in 2005. We are not disturbed as you see. We focus on our own responsibilities. What's this? To upgrade the standard to the EU level. So we have been doing this. At the end, we are not going to a burden on European Union. We are going to make the pipe bigger. We are going to get our share from the bigger one. But I said to you, we are the sixth largest economy of Europe. How can they ignore us?

QUESTION: I see, this is what I just want to…..

PRESIDENT GUL: Forget the strategic issues, forget the security issues, forget the others you see, energy issues. We have been the corridor to wide energy to Europe. They know all these things. When they started the accession negotiation, it was not easy for EU conutries, they carried out many strategic studies. At the end, they have learnt and they decided that Turkey is an asset for us. They decided altogether.

QUESTION: Mr. President, comparing with the EU, actually Turkey is a membership of the NATO was smoother and also quieter and more successful in a way. But sometimes it seems to me that you still have disputes with other members within this organization. Like recently election for the appointment of the security general of NATO.

PRESIDENT GUL: May I ask you a question?

QUESTION: Sure.

PRESIDENT GUL: When Turkey became the member of NATO, do you know?

QUESTION: Let me see, it's in the 80s?

PRESIDENT GUL: No, no, no..

QUESTION: 70s?

PRESIDENT GUL: 1952, it means that 57 years when the NATO was seven countries. One of them was Turkey.

QUESTION: Almost the founder member?

PRESIDENT GUL: We were before Spain; we were before all the European countries as you see. So we are one of the main pile of NATO. So that for, when the decision is taken there, definitely our participation is important. The problem was related to the process, alright? But it was solved and I'm sure the new Security General of NATO will be successful, so we are supporting him.

QUESTION: You are supporting him?

PRESIDENT GUL: Yeah, by the way, I mean, Turkey is not only having relations with only European Union and NATO. Of course Asia is our main partner; Japan, Korea, China I mean all the Asian countries. Also the Latin America, just last month President of Brazil was in Turkey.

QUESTION: After China?

PRESIDENT GUL: When he was going back……. There are direct flights between Turkey and Brazil. So Africa is another field, we have been very much active there. So Turkey is leading not only one direction policies. There are different directions.

QUESTION: I see what you mean. Actually, you know, my understanding is that Turkey is a kind of juncture in the political, economic and even strategic map of the world because of this kind of very good or special position, the geographic position. And also that's also the reason my understand is, you know, Turkey is a kind of bridge between the west and namely the United States and the Middle East or namely the Muslims, the large majority Muslim population in the Middle East. That's also the reason why I remember after G20 President Obama went to Turkey and he made very famous speech saying that the United States will never have a war with Muslim.

PRESIDENT GUL: You are right, yes.

QUESTION: And then he went to Cairo next time to make that Cairo speech which is quite some people say that a milestone. What is your opinion?
PRESIDENT GUL: You are right President Obama visited Turkey very early in fact Turkey was the first country for the bilateral visits. That visit was very much important of course, we talked different issues. It was a very successful visit. He was very much satisfied, we were very much satisfied. The Middle East, Caucuses and all the issues are taking place around us. So we talked all of them. He learnt from us, we learnt from him. It was very good opportunity.

QUESTION: I guess he learnt something while he was in Turkey which contributed later to his famous speech in Cairo University.

PRESIDENT GUL: Yes, that speech was also very good speech. I mean he's very much conscious about giving positive statements. That's good in fact for the world. And he's insisting that he's not going to act unilaterally. He's going to listen to the different opinions and he's going to act, if necessary, altogether with the world. So this is good for the world peace.

QUESTION: You know Mr. President, because majority of the Turkey's population is Muslim and Turkey has very good relations with Egypt, Syria, Palestine and of course as well as Israel and at the same time Turkey has quite big influence in the region, I mean in the Middle East Region. So people say that, the Americans, the Obama Administration's strategy in the Middle East is having some kind of color or strategic change. So I want to know what your review is. Do you think? He is calling between two states Israel and Palestine and he says America is ready to talk with Iran pre-conditionally as long as Iran is having peace on nuclear activity. What's your opinion?

PRESIDENT GUL: Well, first of all, it's well-known that Turkey and the United States are having strategic relations for almost half century but Turkey is a unique country in its geography. Our history is well-known. We are a Muslim country, large population is like that, our culture is also well-known. But at the same time Turkey is a secular, democratic and a lawful state. I think Turkey is the only Muslim country who is fulfilling the European standards of democracy so that's very much important. And that's why Turkey is very much attractive in that place. All of our very friendly neighbor countries, we have been in very good relations with all of them but at the same time they have been monitoring and openly appreciating us. They are appreciating what's happening in Turkey. That for I think, President Obama has seen this and he started in Turkey.

QUESTION: So maybe it's kind of a beginning for people to see that the United States is trying to do something in the Middle East. Maybe in Palestine or in Iraq, they will remove the American forces, which was quite welcomed in the Middle East, am I right?

PRESIDENT GUL: Yes, Middle East is very important, you know, the Israeli and Palestinian problem is not the problem of just two nations. It is the problem of the world, there are many problems that is inspiring from that problem. So that for, if that problem is solved, I'm sure that the world will relax. Many other problems automatically, indirectly will be also solved. So therefore, it is the main problem of the world. It's not a just Middle East problem as you see. From China to Latin America, everyone is following that problem. Palestine and Israel's decision and attitude are important but America has weight there. So American administration also should really sincerely work for the peace there. That's why we share. You have show yourself because Obama's coming was well received in the Middle East. His messages are well and people are very much optimistic so America should really show that they are very much keen on this peace process. At the same time all the Arab countries the regional countries, also they should not leave everything on America. They also should work very hard. The only solution is that Palestinians and Israelis should live peacefully in that region.

QUESTION: And also this is something to do with the global security and anti -terrorism situation which is also quite fundamental.

PRESIDENT GUL: That's why I said the problem is not only between them. There are many unfortunately terrorist activities in different part of the world that they are justifying themselves with that problem. Although there is no link, they are linking and also there is no justification for terror but this is the reality so therefore if that problem is solved the world will relax.

QUESTION: So Mr. President, how is the situation now in concerning with Turkey's Kurdish separatists because I read some report saying that your government are actually having some kind of a flexibility, maybe concerning some kind of a negotiation to them or something like that? Well this is a very different thing for many of the Chinese audiences. What they know is from reports is that this kind terrorist attacks or somebody is shooting your troops from near border of Iraq or Turkey. What is the situation so far?

PRESIDENT GUL: First of all, within Turkey, all the people all the citizens whatever their ethnic group or their religion or their sex are according to the constitution they are equal. There is no any discrimination. There is not any different application of the laws. Whatever you are, your ethnic root. Turkey is a big country, huge country as you see. We have some citizens they call themselves Kurdish but for thousands years we have been living altogether. You cannot distinguish who is who. And all of us we have the same religion. Recently there is a movement they attempt people, they attempt illegal organization, act illegally and apply terror and they are called separatists but they are really small part of our Kurdish population. So these people never represent our people who call themselves Kurdish. This is the first thing. Then if there are some problems in the past it was because of the democratic standards. But we have been dealing with the reforms and these reforms are related to all country not the one part. And the democratic standards are getting upgraded and many problems are getting solved there. And in Turkey we never deny our different cultures, we never deny our different traditions. These are all richness of the country. And in the parliament if you ask the ministers although it not out habit to dig the roots of the people and to ask what's your ethnicity.

QUESTION: You cannot do because Turkey is an old country, thousands of years.

PRESIDENT GUL: But if you dig, then you will find different ethnicities and we are all proud of this and everyone is eligible to come every position which happened, can be president, prime ministers, member of the parliament. So there is no any rule that any ethnicity or any religion or without any religion are being discriminated in our country. Of course terror is a very bad thing. Yes, there is a terrorist organization unfortunately because of the geography, because of the politic situation in the Middle East because of Iraq. Because there is a local authority in Iraq and severe and difficult geography, high mountains terrorist organizations located there. From time to time, they are carrying some attacks using men, civilians and Kurdish citizens. We have been fighting with them.

QUESTION: So you are still trying to call some of them to back to Turkish major community and to join the society?

PRESIDENT GUL: Well, I mean we open our arms to our citizens. We may have some citizens who may do some wrong things. At the end they are your citizens.

QUESTION: Ok. Mr. President let's move to the last part. Something lighter. So political, so economic, you know, now you will be very famous in this program. Not only it's because you or me it's because when Chinese coach Mrs. Lampeen she is the very famous, let's say, woman volleyball player and she was a coach and she headed the American team to the Olympic Games. Now she's in Turkey.

PRESIDENT GUL: She's very welcome.

QUESTION: And a lot of people try to know what Lampeen is doing. So they know more about Turkey and I guess you will have more visitors, I mean tourists to your country.

PRESIDENT GUL: The sports is something a good tool for the co-operation you see. It's a good propaganda also. In sports sometimes one man or one woman can do more than the all complete energy you see. We have also some football players in Europe, Korea and Japan and they introduced Turkey very well there. I'm sure that this Chinese lady will be very successful she'll be the center of the all influence. She'll be very successful and also Chinese image in Turkey is wonderful but she'll introduce it in another way.

QUESTION: So the last question about your name. You have a middle name. I know the secret.

PRESIDENT GUL: What's that?

QUESTION: You have a middle name "Cumhur".

PRESIDENT GUL: Oh, I see. How did you get this?

QUESTION: Well I do my homework. I studied and I take myself a friend of you. It has the pronunciation "Cumhur" which means republic, right?

PRESIDENT GUL: When I was born, it was 29 October 1950. So that's the Republican Day of Turkey. It's our independence day. So Cumhur means republic. When I was born on that day, the parents gave that name.

QUESTION: So it means….

PRESIDENT GUL: I don't use it. I used to use it when I was writing. In the university I used to write magazines, journals so I used to use that name. But few people know that.

QUESTION: Maybe this is some kind of a destiny.

PRESIDENT GUL: I don't know.

QUESTION: Yeah, because when you were born, you were given this name and now today you are the president of Turkey of the republic. And you serve in the country because I know you studied economics and but never before that you had a chance to politics. But now you are in the politics, you are in this career and you are doing good.

PRESIDENT GUL: Well I have been frankly doing of course. The presidency is the big responsibility. But I believe that when apply this position, I have to do my best for my country for my people. So that's why I have been working hard.

QUESTION: Ok I congratulate you.

PRESIDENT GUL: Thank you very much indeed but I also congratulate you how you get this…

QUESTION: This is the profession. As a journalist you have to do your work, you have to do your preparation. I hope you don't mind.

PRESIDENT GUL: No, No, No, as I said I used to write this.

QUESTION: This is a kind of discovery when we figured out this we thought "Cumhur" then he was given the name in 1950. And now he's the president. What kind of a destiny or kind of a coincidence? Ok anyway, thank you very much! It was nice to talking with you!

PRESIDENT GUL: Please convey my best wishes and best wishes of Turkish people to the Chinese people. It's a good opportunity I hope that one day when Chinese president will be in Turkey. He will see how Turkish people sympathic and friendly. Although we are very far away, if you go to the thousands years back Turkish and Chinese people lived together in this part of the world. So we have great symphathy to China and Chinese history. And also today China is doing very well, Chinese achievements are lesson to the civilization and people and nations have been following that inspiration. And I want to congratulate also all the Chinese civilians.

QUESTION: Thank you very much Mr. President. Yeah we've prepared a little souvenir for you. It's a souvenir. It's about the art of war written by ancient Chinese military strategy.

PRESIDENT GUL: I had the chance to read the Turkish version of this. Thank you.
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