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>> The New Anatolian


TURKEY'S UNIQUE LOCATION OFFERS GREAT OPPORTUNITIES

The New Anatolian - June 25, 2007 by Ilnur Cevik Today we host the summit of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization in Istanbul which once again highlights Turkey's unique geo-strategic importance. The cooperation of Black Sea nations could provide excellent opportunities for the people of the region yet it is sad that this has not been properly utilized until now. The region can turn into a major European Union type entity as it becomes the world's second largest energy location after the Middle East. That is why it is important that the summit charts a new course for the Black Sea nations where they can forge genuine cooperation and open new horizons for the people of our region. Turkey is not just a Black Sea nation but it is also a Mediterranean country, a Middle Eastern power and a part of Europe. This makes it one of the most valuable land masses in the world. At times this unique situation poses great problems for Turkey as it finds itself engulfed in the conflicts of these regions. But all this could be turned into an advantage. Turkey is regarded as a political, cultural and economic bridge as much as it is a geographic link between all these regions. Thus it is essential that we crown our NATO membership with full membership in the European Union. It is also important that we enhance our relations with the Middle East and try to help find solutions to the complex problems and conflicts in the region. After the Cold War there was general belief that Turkey would lose its value as a frontline state. However, now we see NATO needs Turkey more than ever as it extends its sphere of influence from the Balkans to Afghanistan. If there is an intricate peacekeeping mission in the Balkans or in Afghanistan, Turkey's contribution is sought. If the Americans want to effectively find a logistics route for their forces in Iraq and Afghanistan again they seek Turkey's help. Turkey has also emerged as a major economic power in the region which enhances its regional roles. Turkey has enhanced its democratic character in recent years and has introduced social reforms which has brought it closer to the EU and also made it a more valuable friend for all regional countries. We feel these are the values which Turkey has to develop. This will make Turkey a stronger ally and friend and help it to serve regional stability and peace.





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