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Gul: Turkey not seeking role in Arab world

Published By United Press International
ANKARA, Turkey, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Turkey does not aim to assume a role in the Arab world although some may see it as a model, President Abdullah Gul says in a recent wide-ranging interview.

"All countries are equal and all nations have their dignity. No one can write a script and assign roles to other countries," the president told Foreign Affairs magazine, the Anatolia News Agency reported Thursday.

"Of course, we are happy with the fact that they take us as an example because we are a Muslim country, a democracy, and an economic success story," Gul added.

Commenting on Turkey's eroded relationship with Israel, Gul blamed the situation on "the Israelis' own preferences and the mistakes they have made."

Gul charged that Israel had a "very shortsighted strategic stance" on its blockade of Gaza and that the blockage "must be lifted," Today's Zaman reported.

He considered the blockade "a matter that relates to everyone including the EU, the United Nations and the United States."

Similarly, the president said Turkey's stance as an ally of Syria had changed because opponents of President Bashar Assad "have legitimate demands."

Because of "grave human rights violations" committed by Syria, Turkey "will support the Syrian people in their demands," Gul said.
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Tour de France concludes in Paris
Race winner Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain (C) stands between second place finisher Christopher Froome of Great Britain (L) and third place finisher Vincenzo Nibali of Italy on the presentation podium following the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris on July 22, 2012. Wiggins of Great Britain became that country's first ever overall winner of the Tour de France. UPI/David Silpa