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         CNN: You’ve just heard what President Perez of Israel thinks about the chances for peace and of what he will say to his friend with whom the relations are now strained, Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül . In a moment, you will hear Gül’s thoughts on all this. But first, why is Abdullah Gül so important. He’s not just the President of Turkey; he’s also the co-founder with Prime Minister Erdoğan of its dominant political party. Some observers see Gül and Erdoğan taking Turkey in new directions with ambitions to be the new powerbroker of the Middle-East and some say, they’re turning away from Turkey’s entrenched Western roots toward an Islamic foreign policy. I’ve asked Gül about that and a lot more. Listen up.

         CNN: President Gül, this is an honor to have you.

         ABDULLAH GÜL:  It’s my privileges to be here.

         CNN: You come at an interesting moment because there’s a great deal of speculation about Turkey. People look at Turkey and its recent actions in various ways and they say “Is Turkey still a loyal friend of the United States and of the West?”

         ABDULLAH GÜL:  You are right. I’ve been asked all these questions here. Turkey is the part of the Alliance. And definitely, Turkey is a strong friend of United States. As a matter of fact, President Obama, he made his first visit to Turkey and he made an excellent speech in our Parliament. And we really   appreciated this and the Turkish people very much sympathatic. And don’t forget that we are allies. Look at Afghanistan; Turkey is the only country which increased the number of troops there. We have increased 1000 more and now we have 2000 and we suppose to withdraw 1000 this year because we went there in additional. We saw that there’s no any country you see ready to take over so we decided to continue.

         CNN: One of the things people look at it is that on the issue that the United States has taken as a very strong issue, the issue of Iran. You voted against the United States in the U.N. Security Council. And I’ve been following Turkish foreign policy for a long time. Turkish Foreign Minister, Turkish Ambassador to the U.N., very rarely vote against the U.S. And very rarely on an issue of core security interest to the U.S. Why did you vote against the Iran sanctions?

         ABDULLAH GÜL: Well, there should not be misunderstood. That vote opened the way for more diplomacy. Now can you solve this problem in two ways: war or diplomacy. We prefer diplomacy because if the war happens, the region will be in turmoil.

         CNN: The other issue, of course, that has come up is your relations with Israel. You’ve had relations with Israel for a long time, you’ve had military relations with Israel. Ever since the Israeli operation in Gaza, relations seem to get bad and get worse, and then, of course, you had the flotilla incident and at this point, there seems to be virtually no  contact or communication. How is this situation going to get resolved?

         ABDULLAH GÜL: Fareed, this is not our choice, you see. We did not prefer this deterioration in relationship. But unfortunately, it was a great mistake from Israeli side because this blockage, embargo on Gaza, not only Turkey is criticizing this , President Obama, Madame Clinton, all the P-5 countries, the European Union, they all call Israel to lift this; can we ignore this, can we forget what happened in the Mediterranean Sea, can we forget that eight Turks and one American were killed in these ships. These ships carrying humanitarian aids, they were not acting crime. In fact, helping them, it is a value of the  West you see; if there’s something, the humanitarian tragedy there, so you go there you see and these were all NGOs, none of them was Muslim governmental organizations.

         CNN: But some Israelis say if you’re so concerned about the seizure of Gaza, why don’t you use your good offices to talk to Hamas and tell them to stop firing rockets at Israel, create a condition in which there’s peace and then there won’t be a siege?

         ABDULLAH GÜL:  Very good question.   I will tell you something few people know. How Hamas joined the election? They joined and they won the election. The next day, I was the Foreign Minister at that time, called them and told them: “OK, now your responsibilities are different; since you won the election, you will be different.” The next day, they wanted to come to us to talk to us. And they came.

         CNN: The representatives of Hamas?

         ABDULLAH GÜL: Yes, yes. To Ankara. They came and Israel knows this, all the details, you see, they know, they came and we talked to them, all in detail, and we told them that “Look, now your direction should be different from now; you are elected democratically, you should act democratically. Terror, sending these nonsense rockets, you should stop all these things. And try to get the embrace of  to the American people, the European people and also try to talk and tell them that if you have your state, independent state on your land, you are ready to live together with Israel.” So, we are very much helpful to Israel and not only previous governments, but the current government. Many times, I went there Israel and many time the Prime Minister Erdoğan went there and many times they came to us and we worked very good you see and we…

         CNN: With the Netenyahu Government?

         ABDULLAH GÜL: Till the Netenyahu Government,yes.

         CNN: Until then; so, it’s this government that you’ve had problems?

         ABDULLAH GÜL: Yes, yes.

         CNN: So, because  some people look at this and say Turkey is trying to play a new foreign policy that will win the hearts and minds of the Arab world so it is forsaking Israel, it is attacking Israel, it is having a more Islamic foreign policy…

         ABDULLAH GÜL: No, no; I mean the rhetoric in foreign policy is not good you see. It doesn’t bring you anywhere you see, but definitely the Arab world is also watching you see, if you dare to raise your voice sometimes, then of course the people, I mean, they like this. But we are not against Israel. We are not the enemy. But we have the right to criticize the wrong policies.

         CNN: We’ll be back in a moment with more with the Turkish President Gül. We’ve heard what Israeli President Perez would have said to Gül if they had met this week, what would Gül have said to his one time friend.

         Israel’s close relationship with Turkey has been a vital one for keeping peace in the Middle-East. But after the flotilla incident of four months ago, the relationship is ten years at best. We heard of what President Shimon Perez of Israel thinks of the relationship; what does President Gül  of Turkey have to say? Take a listen.

          Do you think that there is some circumstance in which your relations with Israel will get back to normal?

         ABDULLAH GÜL: It’s up to Israel.

         CNN: You want them to apologize?

         ABDULLAH GÜL:  I mean, what the international law is saying should be applied here. We are not asking something different you see.

         CNN: But you won’t even meet with President Perez? President Perez says that he had a meeting schedule with you and that you then said, your side said that the President Perez would have to apologize you  otherwise there would be  no meeting. 

         ABDULLAH GÜL: No. These are not correct. I mean, President Perez and I, we are friends. And even when he was not President, we used to visit Israel and I used to go to his Office, when he used to come to Turkey, he used to come to my Office. So, we know each other. But this time, there was no such appointment you see.

         CNN: If you met Mr. President Perez, what would you say to him?

         ABDULLAH GÜL:  I’d tell him that “ok, approach realistically and be realistic; of course, not the personal things to Israel you see and think of what happened and think of the value of Turkey.  Is it in your interest or not?”

         CNN: To have a strong relationship?

         ABDULLAH GÜL: Yes.

         CNN :But would you see him with no preconditions? You don’t require you would be willing to meet the President Perez without an apology? Just a conversation?

         ABDULLAH GÜL:  No, I mean, what I see that ok, they’re defending they’re acting and they’re criticizing us as if we acted something wrong. With these understandings, how can I meet? I mean, the mentality, the approach, the feeling is important, first of all. How can I ignore my people were killed? We are the State, we have the State tradition, you see. We are therefore this one thousand years state tradition we have. How can I forget all these things?

         CNN: President Gül; a great pleasure and an honor.

         ABDULLAH GÜL:  It’s my pleasure, thank you.

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