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Turkey’s Foreign Minister Says His Country Won’t Break Ties with Israel

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Foreign Minister liter Turkmen of Turkey has told Turkish businessmen that his country is seeking to play the role of a bridge between the West and the Islamic countries and that the severance of diplomatic relations with Israel is not being considered.

Turkmen’s remarks, monitored by sources of the World Jewish Congress from a broadcast of the Australia Agency in Istanbul earlier this week, came at a meeting with the Turkish Businessmen’s Society, (Tusiad) at which he disclosed the intention of his government to apply for full membership in the European Economic Community “when the political atmosphere is right.” Turkey, he added did not have to turn its back on the West while strengthening relations in the Middle East.

Elaborating on this theme, Turkmen said that in formulating foreign policy, Turkey would take care to “keep all options open” and to distinguish clearly between short-term and long-term perspectives. He noted:

“We believe Turkey will gain in significance for her Western partners as an element of stability in the Middle East to the extent that she strengthens her relations with Islamic countries, and similarly for the Islamic world to the extent that she takes her place in the economic and political decision-making mechanism of the EEC.”

OFFERS AN EXPLONATION

Asked by the president of Tusiad to comment on relations with Israel, the Turkish Foreign Minister said that a break in relations was not being envisaged and gave the following explanation: “There are certain sensitive balances in our foreign policy. We have to assess our external relations as a whole, Arab countries are understanding about the difficulties we would have in cutting off relations with Israel entirely,”

Besides Egypt, Turkey was the only Islamic country which did not vote in favor of the recent U.N, General Assembly resolution condemning Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights and calling for Israel’s total isolation from the international community.

Last month, Turkmen stated that while Turkey’s basic policy of support for the Arab cause at the UN remained unchanged, the UN resolution as formulated had “presented difficulties” for the “delicate balances” in Turkish foreign policy. Turkey had come under severe criticism and pressure from Arab quarters because of her abstention in the UN vote.

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