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Euronews: "Abdullah Gül, President of Turkey, welcome to euronews. Thank you for giving us an interview.Turkey has a growing role in the NATO alliance, helping to make decisions that will affect NATO. The Middle East region is a big concern to NATO. What do you think of this development?"

Abdullah Gul: "I would like initially to start by saying that NATO is an important security organisation and Turkey has been a member of NATO since the beginning… nearly sixty years ago.

But conditions in the world have evolved, security conditions have evolved, there are new issues.
Whereas before individual states had to look after their own we are having to cope with many international illegal organisations.

Terrorism has now become the world ‘s central issue. In a changing world NATO has new concerns, new issues and today NATO has become an important institution in the war against terror."

Euronews: "One new question is the Kurdish issue in the north of Iraq. Is Turkey prepared to give any ground over that?"
Abdullah Gul: "To be able eradicate terrorist organisations you have to apply sophisticated programmes and plans ..and Turkey does that.

Sometimes we do it in a public way.. sometimes behind the scenes. Those who want to fight to death and not give up their weapons, then our military must tackle that and fight these people to the end. I must say this.

But there are people on the fringes of terrorist organisations without knowing why they are part of them. It is important to try to get these people back on the normal path.

Until now the Kurdish Regional Government in the north of Iraq has refused to do what is necessary but I am pleased to say during our meetings with them over the last few months they realise that these terror groups are bad news for them as well."
Euronews: "As far as international relations go you are very close to Israel. They consider Hamas a terrorist organisation. But your relations with Hamas are very different to Israel's. Shouldn't Hamas be considered terrorists, the same as the PKK?"
Abdullah Gul: "The PKK, Hamas and the Palestinians…they have no links with each other.

There are many groups linked with the Palestinians in The Middle East. In respect of the Palestinians we would never support suicide bombers. I must tell you that.

But one group, the PKK, is using military means to create a something outside its own territory and they attack Turkey.

But the Palestinians on the other hand are trying to defend themselves in their own country.

There is no discrimination in Turkey against the Kurds. Ethnic indentity doesn't interest us."

Euronews: "Mr President. The question wasn't about the moral value of the PKK and Hamas movements. The question is simply that Turkey has a bad relationship with the PKK and yet has a good relationship with Israel which in turn considers Hamas a terrorist organisation. This is a little contradicatory isn't it? They are, after all, two movements which are struggling over territory."

Abdullah Gul: "Palestine is a state under occupation and the Palestinians are using military means to end the occupation.

Even after United Nations rulings, Palestine is still under occupation."

Euronews: " No, excuse me, because, perhaps…

Abdullah Gul: "Wait a minute. I must explain this important question. When Hamas carries out a terrorist attack, we condemn it. But don't forget what Israel has done in Gaza.

They killed between 1,300 and 1,800 people ..this is something we can never accept. So if you are comparing Hamas and the PKK you are making a big mistake."

Euronews: "In respect of Turkey's membership talks with the European Union …where are you in negotiations?"
Abdullah Gul: "For the moment the negotiating process is going on. From time to time there are small problems to do with internal politics that cause us difficulties…I have to admit that."

Euronews: "What are these problems?"

Abdullah Gul: "The Cyprus question for example.

Unfortunately the Cyprus question is an important subject as I am sure you know. From time to time, during these negotiations political problems arise and sometimes that causes situations which are contrary to the interests of the European people."

Euronews: "Cyprus is a member state, but it is not recognised by Turkey. The Cypriots want to take their boats into Turkish ports but they don't have access. That's a commercial problem for an EU member state don't you think?"

Abdullah Gul: "I must say one thing. We don't ask the Cypriot Greeks for a visa. Not many people know that. But no-one can deny there is a problem. There is a problem in Cyprus. There are two parts: Greek Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus. Why has the United Nations proposed a peace agreement?

Why has Europe endorsed this peace proposal of the United Nations? Why was this peace plan subject to a referendum in 2004? It was in two parts. The Turks accepted the peace plan and the Cypriot Greeks refused it."

Euronews: "Mr President in order to make the Annan plan..the peace plan of the United Nation, which is supported by the European Union….to make this more acceptable don't you think perhaps Turkey could withdraw the main part of its 40,000 troops from Cyprus. And couldn't Turkey also reduce the flow of immigration from Anatolia in Turkey to Cyprus?"

Abdullah Gul: "I will say immediately to you that there is no immigration from Anatolia towards Cyprus. If this peace plan had been accepted, at the time of the referendum of 2004… if the Cypriot Greeks had not rejected the peace plan, today the soldiers Turkish stationed on the island would have withdrawn. Everyone knows that, including the European Union. We are not against a solution."
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