Milliyet, Turkey
Sept 6 2008



TURKISH FORMER FOREIGN MINISTERS OPPOSE PRESIDENT'S VISIT TO ARMENIA



President Abdullah Gul's decision to go to Armenia has been criticized
by former Foreign Ministers.

Ilter Turkmen: "In my view, Gul should not have gone to Armenia. I am
quite worried about the ramifications of the trip.

"It is clear that Turkey could not accept the slightest untoward
situation during the visit. During the Yerevan visit of Foreign
Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Unal Cevikoz, in addition to security,
discussions were held on establishing a Joint Historical Commission.

"For whatever reason, this was given priority, whereas in my view, the
real thing that needs to be resolved is the border issue. I do not
expect any agreement to come out of the meeting between Gul and
[Armenian President Serzh] Sargsyan."

Mumtaz Soysal: "Gul's approach of combining politics with the match is
very wrong. A policy of getting out one step in front is being pursued
here.

"Gul's listening to [US President George W.] Bush prior to making his
decision strikes me as wrong.

"I think that Gul will encounter incidents there that will be at the
level of rowdiness. I am certain that even a 1-0 victory by Armenia
will be published in the Western media with a headline of 'Revenge for
1915.' Essentially, the real match took place between Gul and [Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan.

"While Erdogan said 'he definitely has to go,' Gul was cautious. Gul
has tried to look good to the United States, and Erdogan to the EU."

Sukru Sina Gurel: "This decision by Abdullah Gul is very wrong. While
the genocide and a territorial claim are in the Armenian constitution,
I ask 'why this visit?' Perhaps it is a gamble...

"Diplomacy, however, is not a matter of playing at the gambling
table. It is certain that this visit by Gul will be used
inappropriately by Armenia.

"Even if this meeting should be seen as football diplomacy, it could
be called fancy footwork diplomacy, and this means a discrediting of
diplomacy."


[translated from Turkish]