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ANKARA: Gul Criticizes Leaders In Europe Of 'Petty Politics'

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  • ANKARA: Gul Criticizes Leaders In Europe Of 'Petty Politics'


    May 25 2012

    President Gul blames European leaders for leaning to far-right policies
    by engaging 'petty politics.' Gul also says it was risky but right
    decision to visit Armenian capital

    Turkish President Abdullah Gul (L) welcomed by former US Secretary of
    State Condoleezza Rice at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. AA
    photo European leaders are guilty of engaging in "petty politics"
    by leaning toward the far right instead of finding new ways to fight
    the economic crisis, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said May 23 at
    Stanford University.

    "A leader should not always seek the easy and well-worn path ahead. He
    or she should be ready to go a new direction and leave a trail behind,"
    said Gul in the conference, adding that the current situation in
    Europe is "a telling example of how the lack of visionary leadership
    could adversely affect the lives of millions." "In recent months,
    we have witnessed in one after another election far-right parties
    gaining strength. And, even worse, their ideologies and views are
    more and more becoming part of the mainstream," Gul was quoted as
    saying by the Presidency's website, adding that this was an example of
    "petty-politics at its worst."

    Gul said the steps which brought European states closer to far-right
    politics were an example of the failure of leadership. "First,
    Europe's leaders failed to see the looming economic problems,"
    he said. "Consequently, the limitations of the European leaders in
    taking necessary decisions brought about the financial calamities they
    currently face. And now, there are growing tendencies across Europe to
    become more [inward-looking] and to give in to the rise of extremist
    political groups." Gul was welcomed by former U.S. Secretary of State
    Condoleezza Rice before addressing students at the Stanford Graduate
    School of Business. Speaking about the changes in Arab countries during
    his speech, Gul said leaders in the Middle East had long been out of
    touch with their people. The president said dictators in countries like
    Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Syria long thought they could stay
    in power as long as their armies and intelligence services were strong.

    'I was right to visit Yerevan'

    Speaking of his historic visit to the Armenian capital of Yerevan
    in 2008, Gul said it was "a risky move" for domestic political
    considerations and for foreign policy implications. "I went to Yerevan,
    marking the first-ever visit of a Turkish president to Armenia. The
    reward I was expecting from this gesture was a mending of fences
    between our two nations. I still pursue this hope. ... Risky as it was,
    I did the right thing by visiting Yerevan," Gul said.

    Asked by Rice about Egypt's election, Gul said Turkey was a
    Muslim country and was continuing its reforms on the way to the EU
    membership. "You will see that more Muslim states have democracy in
    the near future." Gul also said Turkey's currently poor relations with
    Israel were a result of Tel Aviv's choices. Relations deteriorated
    after nine Turks were killed in an Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara
    flotilla, which aimed to break the Gaza blockade in May 2010. Gul
    reiterated that Turkey's demand for an apology from Israel had
    remained unanswered. On a lighter note, the president also shared a
    memory of his childhood, saying he failed to sell soft drinks at his
    grandfather's shop because he was too shy to shout "Ice-cold soda!"

    "That was the end of my business career! If that very failure would
    not have happened that day, most probably I would not be the president
    of the Turkish Republic today," he said. Gul met with Apple executives
    later on May 23.