Thursday, April 17, 2008

Turkey Seeks Spot on Security Council

From Gareth Jenkins:
Turks have recently been receiving an unexpected geography lesson as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has stepped up its campaign to secure a seat on the UN Security Council when five places come up for election in October 2008.

In recent weeks Turkish newspapers have entertained their readers with photographs of government leaders, particularly Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, meeting a succession of dignitaries from little-known states in far-flung corners of the world, many of them exotically dressed in their local costumes. The AKP appears to have chosen April as the month of small island states. Last week, the leaders of leaders of Nauru, the Republic of Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Palau, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa and Tonga arrived in Istanbul for a conference on how to improve Turkey’s almost non-existent ties with the Pacific. This week Foreign Minister of the Maldives Abdullah Shahid was in Ankara for discussions with his Turkish counterpart (Radikal, Turkish Daily News, April 17).

Turkey last served on the UN National Security Council in 1961. On July 21, 2003, eight months after it first came to power, the AKP formally submitted Turkey’s candidacy for election to the Security Council when a vote is held on October 16, 2008. If chosen, Turkey will serve a two year term starting on January 1, 2009.

Although Turkey would undoubtedly stand to benefit diplomatically and politically from being a member of the UN Security Council, it is likely that the AKP is at least as attracted by what it regards as the prestige and the boost to national pride that would accrue from serving, albeit temporarily, on one of the most powerful decision-making bodies in the world.

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