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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 06-10-16

Cyprus Press and Information Office: Turkish Cypriot Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <>

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No.199/06 14-15-16.10.06


  • [01] Statements by Gul before leaving for the Turkey-EU Troika meeting in Luxemburg.
  • [02] Statements of Gul on the plane on his way to Luxembourg.
  • [03] Mr Talat briefed the leader of UBP on his contacts in Brussels.
  • [04] Soyer on the Finnish initiative. He wants discussion of the Finnish proposals at another platform.
  • [05] The Turkish Cypriot Chamber denies it issues documents for products from Turkey to be traded in Europe.
  • [06] The continuing transfer of Turkish colonizers is causing overcrowding in schools.
  • [07] A house to house work-force survey is starting today.
  • [08] Turkish-German Chamber of Commerce Chairman on German Turkey economic relations.
  • [09] Hundreds of immigrants have been arrested in the occupied part of Cyprus.
  • [10] Turkish Cypriot woman takes back her house in Larnaka.
  • [11] Finland to deliver electric generator worth 30 million Euro to the occupied areas next month.
  • [12] London Turkish Cypriot Chamber organized a promotion cocktail.
  • [13] AFRIKA: Tourism on the verge of collapse.

  • [14] An exclusive farewell article by Sir Peter Westmacott with extensive reference to Cyprus.


    [01] Statements by Gul before leaving for the Turkey-EU Troika meeting in Luxemburg

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (15.10.06) reported from Ankara the following:

    Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul left for Luxembourg to attend the foreign ministers' meeting of Turkey-EU Troika. Gul replied to the questions of reporters prior to his departure from Ankara's Esenboga Airport.

    Asked whether he considered French President Jacques Chirac, (who telephoned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and said he was sorry for the adoption of a bill in the French National Assembly that would make it a crime to deny so-called Armenian genocide) sincere, Gul said Erdogan discussed all the issues in question with Chirac. We have concerns. Unfortunately Turkish-French relations were harmed. I hope France will become aware of this, Gul noted.

    Gul stated that all the international community and the EU circles criticized this bill, indicating that, France is discredited. I hope French politicians and statesmen will become aware of this and take necessary measures.

    Gul said Turkey would maintain its efforts within the framework of a program to prevent the bill become a law. He said many measures were in question, stating that all those would be discussed in a special agenda of the Turkish parliament on Tuesday.

    Giving information about the Turkey-EU Troika meeting, Gul said during his contacts in Luxembourg, he would explain EU executives Turkey's expectations as regards the Progress Report expected to be made public on November 8th.

    Gul said the meeting was important as it takes place immediately after the screening process and prior to the Progress Report.

    The Turkish Foreign Minister indicated that the studies that were fulfilled within the framework of Turkey's EU membership and the future studies would be discussed in detail with the EU partners. He said Turkey's negotiation process would be reviewed and at the same time the parties would exchange views on various regional and international matters.

    Gul said the EU party explicitly displayed its will on dialogue and cooperation with Turkey on various international matters with the effect of several developments that occurred recently.

    The role that Turkey may play on regional issues and global issues like the alliance of civilizations became more apparent recently. The crisis which erupted in the Middle East in July is the best example for this, Gul added.

    Stating that the Troika meeting would take place at a time when Turkey was passing through an important corner in its EU membership process, Gul said: To this end, I have no doubt that both parties would benefit from the meeting in the best way to further improve Turkish-EU relations.

    Gul also said he would have the opportunity to meet foreign ministers of several EU member countries during his visit to Luxembourg.

    Replying to a question about Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), Gul said: All the ideas, unless they include violence or incite violence, should be spoken and written in Turkey. It would be injustice to Turkey to say that people can not express their views in Turkey.

    Gul pointed out that there were several problems stemming from implementation, and noted that, we are closely pursuing them. We will do what is necessary.

    This is a process and we follow the implementation. However, I will recall the public opinion when I go to the EU. The Copenhagen criteria have already changed with this attitude of France. Turkey is aware of its deficiencies as a country which is not a full member. We are exerting efforts to eliminate the deficiencies. We do all those as our people deserve this, Gul said.

    Replying to a question about the Cyprus proposal of Finland, Gul said this country was in good will efforts to find a solution particularly to the Cyprus question and prevent this problem from overshadowing the EU process.

    Gul said Finland talked about this issue with Turkey before, noting that, we said Turkey will welcome every kind of good will efforts. We will welcome all constructive and objective initiatives. We said we would cooperate.

    Gul said this issue would also be discussed in Luxembourg.

    Gul wished the good will steps taken by Turkey to be noticed, and noted: It should not be forgotten that the island has two parties. One is the Turkish Cypriot party; the other is the Greek Cypriot party. The disagreement is between them. We are not the direct party of the issue. Thus, everybody should talk to TRNC executives in order to make progress and to be constructive.

    Gul said he hoped Finland would talk to `TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) President´ Mehmet Ali Talat to understand the matter better and to convince the parties.

    Moreover, Turkish daily MILLIYET newspaper (16.10.06), under the banner headline Conditionally yes to Cyprus, reports that the Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, prior to his departure for Luxembourg to attend the foreign ministers' meeting of Turkey-EU Troika, said at Ankara's Esenboga Airport that Turkey will cooperate regarding Finlands proposal. Noting that the island has two parties and that Turkey is not the direct party on the issue, Mr Gul said: They should talk to TRNC executives in order to make progress and to be constructive. The paper reports that it is mentioned that Gul will say yes with conditions to the proposal that was prepared by Finland regarding the Cyprus problem. He will stress that a comprehensive Cyprus settlement must be under the auspices of the United Nations and will ask for the opening of the occupied airport of Tymbou for direct flights in order to open the Turkish ports for the Cypriot vessels. The paper also publishes the following Guls proposals to the EU on the Finnish package:

    The situation of Varosha: The (occupied fenced city of) Varosha can be opened when there is a solution under the auspices of the U.N.

    Famagusta port: We can negotiate the matter of the opening of the port. The only condition here is that the TRNC must obtain the right to conduct from there direct trade.

    The opening of Turkish ports and airports to the Greek Cypriots: if they open the airport of Tymbou for direct flights, and if they recognize the right to the TRNC to do direct trade from the Famagusta port, only then this proposal can be fulfilled. In addition to that, the promises that were given to the TRNC after the referendums on the Annan plan must be fulfilled.

    On the same issue, Turkish daily SABAH newspaper (16.10.06) reports that the Cyprus problem will be the other important issue in the agenda of the Troika meeting. Mr Gul will submit their evaluations on Finlands proposal package. The paper reports that while Ankara supports the opening of the occupied Famagusta port for trade under the supervision of the UN, it also says that the return of Maras (closed fenced area of Varosha) is only possible in case it is included in the comprehensive solution package of the UN. The launching of direct flights to and from the occupied airport of Tymbou is one of the elements that Ankara wants to be included in Finlands package.

    (Tr. Note: The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is the illegal regime established by the Turkish Republic in the occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus where it maintains 40,000 Turkish troops, in violation of the international law).


    [02] Statements of Gul on the plane on his way to Luxembourg

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (16.10.06) reported the following from Luxembourg:

    Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul arrived in Luxembourg late on Sunday to attend the Monday's Turkey-EU Troika Foreign Ministers' meeting.

    Responding to questions of journalists on board the plane on his way to Luxembourg, Gul said: "Our government is determined to maintain political reform process till the end. We are aware of our deficiencies in our EU membership process. On the other hand, we have made great progress. But some developments overshadow our progress."

    Referring to the Cyprus issue, Gul said: "Our government believes that Cyprus could constitute a separate column within the EU with Turkey, Greece, the Greek Cypriot administration and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), and create a zone of cooperation in its region. We want to find a solution to the Cyprus issue before it leads to bigger problems in the future. Finland, which holds the rotating EU presidency, seeks a way-out by holding talks with all relevant parties including TRNC President Mehmet Ali Talat. Turkey will act constructively in this process, but at the same time, we expect the EU to fulfil promises it gave to the Turkish Cypriots. We will never accept anything which is not approved by Turkish Cypriot people."

    "Turkey-the EU Troika meeting will take place right after completion of the screening process and prior to release of the Progress Report by the European Commission. We expect the EU to be objective in its Progress Report," he said.

    Gul noted: "The Justice and Development Party (AKP) has a reformist stance. It has put forward long-term targets. The EU membership is one of them. We may make some mistakes in the reform process, and the EU treat Turkey unfairly from time to time. In such circumstances, Turkish people act emotionally. But when their logic prevails, they support the EU membership."

    Upon a question about civilian-military relations, Gul told reporters: "Everyone in Turkey is aware of their responsibilities. There is not any tension in those relations. We all know that we have to work together to resolve problems and seize historical opportunities."

    [03] Mr Talat briefed the leader of UBP on his contacts in Brussels

    Illegal Bayrak television (14.10.06) broadcast that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Mehmet Ali Talat, is informing the leaders and representatives of political parties about his recent discussions with EU officials in Brussels.

    Mr Talat met with the leader of the main opposition National Unity Party Huseyin Ozgurgun today within this context.

    The UBP Leader Huseyin Ozgurgun told reporters after the meeting that Mr Talat provided him information about his contacts in Brussels and that his partys boycott of the Parliament was not taken up.

    Noting that he explained his partys point of view on the Cyprus issue to Mr Talat, Mr Ozgurgun said that his party is working in cooperation with the President on the Cyprus problem.

    Expressing the view that the latest developments in the Cyprus problem are causing `concern` within his party, he said that the platform for a solution to the Cyprus problem is the United Nations.

    Mr Ozgurgun also expressed his partys opposition to EU proposals envisaging a partial solution to the problem.

    Mr Talat will meet with leaders of other political parties with seats in Parliament on Monday to brief them on his contacts in Brussels.

    [04] Soyer on the Finnish initiative. He wants discussion of the Finnish proposals at another platform

    Illegal Bayrak television (14.10.06) broadcast that the self-styled Prime Minister Ferdi Soyer, answering reporters questions at a program on illegal BRT last night, said that the EU Finnish Presidencys proposals on Cyprus are `unacceptable` but added that this should not be taken that the proposals cannot be discussed at another platform.

    Explaining that Mr Mehmet Ali Talat was verbally informed on the proposals by the Finnish Ambassador to Cyprus, he said that the ideas were not immediately rejected.

    He stated that the proposals were based on two main ideas: One was to start feasibility work in the fenced city of Varosha under the United Nations control and the second was to establish direct trade from the occupied Famagusta port, again under the control of the UN.

    Mr Soyer said that the Turkish Cypriot Side made its position towards the proposals very clear and told the EU presidency that it is against the idea of taking the Cyprus problem out of the UN framework and of a partial or a phased solution to the problem, adding that concessions that are of equal value could be made on the way to a settlement.

    Mr Soyer also noted that the handover of Varosha will only be possible after the lifting of the international isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people.

    Pointing out that the Turkish Cypriot people gave their support to the handover of Varosha at the referendum in the name of ensuring its future, he said that the Greek Cypriot Side rejected this offer by saying `NO` at the referendum.

    He added that the city will not be handed over until concessions that are of equal value are made.

    [05] The Turkish Cypriot Chamber denies it issues documents for products from Turkey to be traded in Europe

    Illegal Bayrak television (13.10.06) broadcast the following:

    The Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Commerce has denied Greek Cypriot press reports that vegetables traded from the North to the South through the Green Line originated from Turkey.

    In a written statement today, the Chamber said that the aim of the claims was to hinder trade between the two sides at a time when there is an increase in commercial activity between the North and the South.

    Referring to claims published in the Greek Cypriot media as `baseless`, the Chamber rejected accusations that it had issued documents to products originating from Turkey, adding that its been issuing `Accompanying Documents` since August 2004 to products produced only in North Cyprus in line with the authority it was given by the European Commission.

    The Chamber complained that similar accusations had also been made in the past in the same period, starting late October to early November, when a rise was recorded in trade of vegetables, especially tomatoes and potatoes.

    It reminded that the European Commission in the face of similar accusations and complaints by the Greek Cypriot Side last October - examined the issue and came to the conclusion that this was not the case.

    The Chamber also pointed to the fact that all products being traded from the North to the South are also being examined by the Greek Cypriot Customs Officers, who it said, has not informed the Chamber of any findings supporting the accusations.

    It also noted that the import of the vegetables - being traded from North Cyprus to South Cyprus - to the `Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus´ is banned during this period of the year.

    In conclusion, the statement said all these prove the fact that the accusations and claims published in the Greek Cypriot press are totally `baseless`.

    (Tr. Note: Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is the occupation regime the Turkish Republic has set up in the territories of Cyprus under the occupation of 40,000 Turkish troops).

    [06] The continuing transfer of Turkish colonizers is causing overcrowding in schools

    Illegal Bayrak television (13.10.06) broadcast the following:

    The Cyprus Turkish Teachers Union staged a warning strike today at two primary schools in protest at the governments failure to solve outstanding problems they say are affecting education.

    KTOS strike hit the (occupied) Lefkosia 9th of September and Camlibel (occupied Myrtou) primary schools.

    Addressing the striking teachers at the 9th of September primary school during this mornings strike, the President of KTOS Sener Elcil said that the Cyprus Teachers Union has always tried to bring to the governments notice - the problems faced in education- but said that the government hasnt been doing much to tackle them.

    Complaining that there wasnt sufficient teaching staff to meet the increased demand in schools which has been given a boost due to the rise in the number of families coming to work in the `TRNC´, Mr Elcil said that a draft law paving the way for new teachers to be employed is still waiting to be adopted in Parliament.

    He said that classrooms in many schools are so overcrowded, pupils are absolutely unable to receive the education they deserved.

    The Union leader said that KTOS was not against registering children of foreign workers, but said it was important that the government should have a plan when issuing work permits to foreigners.

    He also warned that more industrial action will follow in the days to come if the government fails to take action on these issues.

    [07] A house to house work-force survey is starting today

    Turkish Cypriot daily AFRIKA newspaper (16.10.06) reports that a house to house work-force survey is beginning today. The aim of the survey is to collect information on the employment and unemployment in the occupied areas as well as the situation of the work-force in the market, which will contribute to the employment policies of the occupation regime.

    The survey will be carried out by the self-styled State Planning Bureau and will be held between 16-31 October by 104 pollsters.


    [08] Turkish-German Chamber of Commerce Chairman on German Turkey economic relations

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (15.10.06) reported the following from Konya:

    Turkish-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Kemal Sahin said on Sunday that the potential of economic relations between Turkey and Germany was growing increasingly.

    Speaking to A.A correspondent, Sahin told A.A. correspondent that nearly 4 million Turkish citizens were living in Europe, stating that this was more than the total population of eight states in Europe.

    "There has been 70,000 Turkish origin businessmen in Germany. There are well-educated young Turkish people in Germany. We have lobby organizations. There are six Turkish origin MPs in the German parliament. Besides, 400,000 Turkish citizens work in Germany," he noted.

    "Germans have investments totalling 5 billion USD in Turkey. 2,400 German companies are acting in Turkey," Sahin said.

    "There are German companies which manufacture in Turkey and export their goods to the Middle East, Balkans and Turkish Republics. This is a serious potential for our economic relations. This potential rises increasingly. We hope the current trade with Germany will rise to 50 billion euro in the next 4-5 years," Sahin said.

    [09] Hundreds of immigrants have been arrested in the occupied part of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (15.10.06) reports that based on the list prepared by the so-called Police General Administration, a total of 410 immigrants have performed an illegal entry to the occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus between 2005-30 September 2006.

    According to the list presented a total of 308 persons are Syrians, while the rest immigrants came from Ukraine, from Pakistan, from the the free territories of the Republic of Cyprus, from Georgia, from Iran, from Banglandesh, from Lithuania, from Mongolia and from Egypt.

    As the paper writes, citizens from the Third World countries who abandon their homelands as economic refugees, see the island as a stepping stone towards other countries.

    On the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (16.10.06) reports that the police conducted an operation yesterday morning at the occupied Kerynia coast and arrested another eleven illegal migrants who are citizens of Syria, Iran and Russia.

    (M.L.- I.Ts.)

    [10] Turkish Cypriot woman takes back her house in Larnaka

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (16.10.06) reports that Halide Ali, a Turkish Cypriot woman who left the occupied areas of the island four years ago and settled in Larnaka demanding her fathers house, took back the house last month after 32 years.

    The paper notes that Mrs Ali possesses the title deed of the house and that there is a decision by the Larnaka District Court that the house should be given to her.

    The paper writes that after the report had been published in KIBRIS, Greek Cypriot officials called Mrs Ali and told her that she could enter into the house after its was repaired.

    Mrs Ali told KIBRIS that for years she was living with the memories of this house, that she is facing a situation which is not granted to everybody and that she is very happy. She said that she had written a letter to thank the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Cyprus, the (Larnaka) District Officer and the Department responsible for the Turkish Cypriot Properties.


    [11] Finland to deliver electric generator worth 30 million Euro to the occupied areas next month

    Under the title, Power plant here in November Turkish Cypriot daily CYPRUS TIMES newspaper (16.10.06) reports that the self-styled Minister of Finance Ahmet Uzun announced that the new power plant being built in Finland and currently producing electricity there on a test run is due to be on the island no later that November.

    The 70 Mega Wat power plant is expected to ease the burden on the current power plants and bring an end to the nerve racking power cuts.

    Mr Uzun while speaking to CYPRUS TIMES said that the plant cost around 30 million Euro and 13 million Euro were granted to the TRNC by the Republic of Turkey, the remaining 17 Million Euros was paid by the people of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus through the very minimal extra added on to their bills.

    A country that cannot solve its energy problem is not able to solve any other problem it may have said a proud `Finance Minister´, also stating that another 30 million Euros had been reserved to renew the network so leakage during the transfer of electricity was minimal.

    The Electricity Board is now under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance after the new government took office two weeks ago.

    [12] London Turkish Cypriot Chamber organized a promotion cocktail

    According to Turkish Cypriot daily VATAN newspaper (14.10.06) the London Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, which recently started its activities in the UK, had organized a promotion cocktail.

    The cocktail was sponsored by the Lloyds TSB Bank. The paper reports that Turkish Cypriot businessmen, members of the Chamber and Lloyds officials attended the cocktail which took place at the Central office of the Lloyds in Londons Turkish financial district, the City.

    Speaking to the guests the chairman of the Chamber Mustafa Kamil, briefed the audience on the aims of the Chamber. Turkish Cypriot businessman Mehmet Dalman, in his turn, said that in order for the Turkish Cypriot businessmen to be successful they have to help and support each other.


    [13] AFRIKA: Tourism on the verge of collapse

    Turkish Cypriot daily AFRIKA newspaper (14.10.06) reports under banner headlines that the tourism sector in the Turkish occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus, is on the verge of collapse. The reason for this is the low quality of products and the destruction of the environment.

    The paper reports that occupancy in the hotels that accommodate a casino is 50% and those without casino dwindle between 10 - 24%.

    The Chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Hoteliers Union, Mr. Beydagli, in a statement to the Illegal TAK, listed a number of problems that are the main reasons of the sectors present poor performance. He said that by destroying the environment they have dropped the quality of their product, which is the hotel. He also listed lack of qualified staff, lack of tourism master plan as major problems of the sector. He said that Casino tourism is contributing very little to the economy.



    [14] An exclusive farewell article by Sir Peter Westmacott with extensive reference to Cyprus

    Under the title Turkey and the EU: the Challenge ahead, Turkish daily TURKISH DAILY NEWS newspaper (16.10.06) publishes the following farewell article by Sir Peter Westmacott, the British ambassador to Turkey:

    There's a lot of talk these days of a train wreck later this year bringing Turkey's negotiations for membership of the EU to a shuddering halt. Is this exaggeration? Or just brinkmanship? Neither, I fear. The danger is real.

    Recently, the mood on both sides has deteriorated. Europeans fear that further enlargement will threaten their jobs. Some of their governments want priority to be given to making the EU and its institutions work better. Migration, legal and illegal, is at the top of everyone's political agenda. So is the obscenity of terrorism carried out in the name of Islam. Many in the EU are wondering whether it isn't time to call a halt to the admission of new members.

    For their part, Turks who have for years been overwhelmingly in favour of joining the EU are beginning to ask themselves whether it's worth trying to join a club which may not want them after all; and in which some of those asking for greater freedom of expression in Turkey are ready to criminalise those who deny the Armenian genocide of 1915. They wonder whether they really want to carry on with an accession process which has no guaranteed outcome, and which keeps running up against the Cyprus problem -- a problem which the Turkish side did its best to resolve by backing the Annan plan in 2004.

    The immediate risk to the accession process comes from Turkey's continuing failure to implement the so-called Ankara Protocol it signed in July last year, by opening its ports to the ships of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Turkey and the EU see the problem very differently. Ankara says it cannot and will not comply until the EU honours the commitment it gave to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots after the Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan plan. But the EU sees no valid link between the two issues. Turkey's agreement to implement the Ankara Protocol was unconditional. The reward was the start of negotiations on Oct.3, 2005.

    The challenge is to reconcile these conflicting positions. Both sides need to understand the other's concerns better. Turkey's commitment to extend its Customs Union obligations was unconditional, and part of the basis on which the EU agreed to open negotiations. But Europeans need to understand the deep sense of injustice in Turkey over the admission of a divided Cyprus to the EU after the Greek Cypriots had rejected the Annan Plan, and over what Turks perceive to be continuous pressure from the EU ever since to make them pay the price of that rejection.

    At the same time, Turkey needs to understand the European perspective better. Her insistence that the EU honours its commitments to the Turkish Cypriots after the strong backing which they -- and Turkey -- gave to Kofi Annan's settlement plan is understandable. But she must understand that none of the 25 Member States accepts the linkage which Turkey has established between the two issues; and that the EU lays great store by two basic principles: member state solidarity and the need for candidate countries to abide by the rules of membership.

    The Finnish Presidency is currently working on some ideas which, with sufficient support and political will, could both allow the Turkish Cypriots the direct trade with the outside world which the EU has promised them, and help Turkey to open up its ports. Anyone who cares about Cyprus, and relations between Turkey and the EU, should wish the Finns well. If their approach fails, the EU will hold Turkey to account for its unfulfilled commitments, with the risk that the accession process -- at least in part -- will be suspended.

    This would be dangerous. The negotiations, once stalled, would be very hard to re-start, not least because the argument over Cyprus would remain unresolved. All the more reason for renewing efforts to find a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.

    What will it take to avoid such an outcome, should the Finns' best efforts fail to do the trick? Turkey's friends, not least the UK, will do what they can to help. But they need convincing arguments.

    In fact, Turkey has a great story to tell. After decades of under-achievement, enormous progress has been made in the last few years. Reforms are advancing. Respect for human rights is growing. Civil society is on the march. State economic enterprises are giving way to a new culture of enterprise. With economic growth and unprecedented levels of foreign investment, Turkey is becoming a major force in the global economy. What other capital city has built a new airport in 2 years flat -- more than a year ahead of schedule?

    Much can be made of these and Turkey's many other achievements. Public opinion, in both Turkey and the EU, should hear Turkish political leaders of all persuasions explaining why they support EU membership, and why adapting Turkey's laws, practices and institutions to European norms is worth doing in its own right.

    For its part, the government needs to keep up the momentum of reform and modernisation. The spate of recent legal cases means that particular attention must be paid to the sections of the Penal Code which restrict freedom of expression.

    Turkey must also show the Europeans that they have nothing to fear and everything to gain from Turkish membership. Instead of reviving the ghosts of the Treaty of Sevres, or misrepresenting the Treaty of Lausanne, political leaders should draw with confidence on the Republic's achievements, and show the Europeans what it has to offer: business opportunities, a skilled labour force, effective partnerships in countering the illegal drugs trade, human smuggling, organised crime, and terrorism; a significant contribution to the EU's foreign and security policy; above all, the prize of a prosperous, successful, self-confident secular democracy of 70 million people, most of them Muslims, living in a transparent, liberal market economy governed by the rule of law, providing a much-needed force for stability and progress in one of the world's most turbulent regions. In other words, an opportunity that's too good to miss -- for any of us.

    Those who wonder whether the effort is worth making in the face of all the difficulties should remember British Prime Minister Harold Wilson's response when the UK's application for EU membership was vetoed by President de Gaulle: We will not take no for an answer.

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