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'EU pushed Turkey to look elsewhere'
By JPOST.COM STAFF
07/08/2010
In interview, Obama encourages Europe to ally with Turkey.
 
US President Barack Obama said that Europe's reluctance to allow Turkey into the European Unions may have pushed Ankara to "look elsewhere," in an interview published in the Thursday edition of Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Obama said that the US "always expressed the opinion that it would be wise to accept Turkey into the European Union. I recognize this raises strong feelings in Europe, and I do not think...[this] is the sole or predominant factor at the root of some changes recently observed in Turkey's orientation."

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However, Obama told the Italian newspaper, this is "destined to play a role in how Turkish people see Europe. If they do not feel like they're being treated as part of the European family, it's natural that they would look elsewhere for alliances.

"Although some things, such as an attempt to broker an agreement with Iran on nuclear issue, have been unfortunate, I think they were motivated by the fact that Turkey has a long border area with Iran and does not want any type of conflict in that area," Obama added.

"Perhaps the desire to flex muscles played a role," Obama told Corriere della Sera. "What we can do is continue to work with Ankara, clarify to them the benefits of integrating with the West, while respecting their unique qualities, that they are a great Islamic democracy."

Obama said that alliances with Turkey "can potentially be very good for us, if they embody a kind of Islam that respects universal human rights and the secular state, and can have a positive influence on the Muslim world."
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