» Friday, December 15, 2006

Turkey and Middle East

Asked if the Prime Minister accepted that what had been agreed in Brussels on Turkey in net terms was a negative rather than a positive, the PMOS replied that the Prime Minister believed the important point was that this Summit had kept the momentum going. Of the 35 chapters, 28 were still on going, that was important. The momentum to addressing the concerns that would allow the other 7 chapters to be addressed was being looked at. Turkey was aware of the need to keep going. Turkey had expressed its disappointment, but equally Turkey was very much still in the game. So therefore the momentum towards accession was being maintained. He added that part of the reason for going to Turkey was to underline our support for that continuing process. Part of it was also because it was recognised, particularly at the moment, that Turkey was a vital player in the Middle East region as a whole and that it has relationships with other people in the Middle East region that were important. Turkey had expressed its disappointment, but they were very much still in the game, this was what mattered.

Put to him that the Prime Minister should be visiting Cyprus as they were the country blocking negotiations, and that he should also be speaking to the Germans since it appeared that Chancellor Merkel was swapping her position on Turkey, the PMOS said that he would not intervene in German politics or give a running commentary on the position of the German Chancellor. In terms of the first question, there were criteria that Turkey had to meet in terms of what it was supposed to do to allow progress to be made. There were concerns whether Turkey was meeting those criteria, which was a factor. What was important was that people did not portray this as being an endless road. Far from it, they were very much on the road as a result of this summer. Not quite going at the pace that was hoped, but still very much on the road. It was important now to talk to Turkey about how we would get to the end of the road. Asked again about Cyprus, the PMOS said that they were in communications with them, but it was important that on this trip we talk to Turkey, and we talk also about the broader Middle East issues as Turkey was an important player.

Asked what the Prime Minister would be doing this evening in Turkey, the PMOS said the Prime Minister would be meeting Prime Minister Erogodan at a dinner.

Asked what the Prime Minister expected to get out of the visit to the Middle East over the next week, the PMOS said the Prime Minister intended to use the visit to underline that he believes a two state solution is way forward, to find out what the obstacles are to moving forward, to say to the Palestinians that there is a choice in terms of moving forward now in trying to get a Palestinian state established. Any decisions taken now should be made with that choice in mind. A Palestinian state is not just in the interests of Palestine, and in the interests a secure Israel, but in the wider Middle East. The Prime Minister wants also to build on the support of moderate Muslim countries and leaders and to find the momentum to get a Palestinian state established, and a two state solution established.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Search for related news

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