Turkey urges Europe to back Arab freedom yearning

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Europe must heed and support the calls for freedom emanating from the Arab world, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said here Wednesday.

"We cannot look at those regions and see only oil wells and not the poverty and the yearnings of those people," he told the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe.

And he stressed that any foreign military intervention "must be motivated solely by humanitarian concerns", saying: "We do not want a new Iraq or Afghanistan".

"The situation in Libya but also in Palestine must be assessed through the prism of humanitarian values," Erdogan said.

He also called for the establishment of a civilian government in Egypt "as soon as possible" and said he was closely monitoring the unrest in Libya, Tunisia and Bahrain.

Turkey was to present a "roadmap" on Wednesday to end the turmoil in Libya at the first meeting of the international contact group on Libya in Doha, Qatar.

The roadmap urges an immediate ceasefire, the lifting of sieges of rebel-held towns, the creation of humanitarian corridors and the initiation of a "transformation process" that would lead to free elections.

The Doha meeting opened under the joint chairmanship of host nation Qatar and Britain, with UN chief Ban Ki-moon among the top-level delegates.

Observers have cautioned that the Turkish proposal stands little chance of being supported by the Libyan opposition as it stops short of openly calling for the departure of veteran strongman Moamer Kadhafi.

"Turkey is able to communicate with all the parties and can play a major role in the search for peace," Erdogan said.

Turning to his country's bid to join the European Union, he said "it must be treated fairly and promises must be kept."

"My country needs the EU and the EU needs Turkey," Erdogan said, highlighting his country's "historic reforms since 2002 in the areas of democracy and the fight against corruption and poverty."

"Those who think that (Turkish) accession would harm their prosperity are doing injustice to Turkey but also to Europe and their own people," he added.

Negotiations on Turkey's EU accession, which began in 2005, have run into opposition from France and Germany, which fear the entry of a predominantly Muslim nation of 73 million people.

Paris and Berlin instead have offered Ankara a "privileged partnership".

© 2011 AFP

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