Peace in Afghanistan cannot be settled only through military presence - Turkish President

Peace in Afghanistan cannot be settled only through military presence - Turkish President

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said that peace, stability and security could not be settled in Afghanistan only through military presence and expenses, Anadolu Agency reported.

"First of all, it is necessary to win the hearts of Afghan people," said Gul who spoke to reporters in Lisbon on Saturday.

Gul is currently in Portugal to attend ongoing NATO summit.

NATO leaders on Friday adopted a new strategic concept that will shape the future of the Alliance for the next decade.

Recalling that a meeting would be held on Afghanistan today, and NATO was pursuing International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations in that country, Gul said that Turkey had an important role in this issue.

Turkey pursues activities not only military area but also in health, education and economy areas in Afghanistan, said Gul, adding that today's meeting would be held with countries which had such activities in Afghanistan.

When asked whether Turkish soldiers would withdraw from Afghanistan as of 2011, Gul said that it was early to set some timetable in withdrawal.

Commenting on the influences of increasing the cooperation between NATO and Russia on Turkey, Gul said that this was an issue Turkey extended support.

Recalling that Russia was a neighbor to many European countries, Gul said that Russia was also a super power in the issues of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, thus, relations between NATO and Russia had been important for a long time. He added that a NATO-Russia Council meeting would take place today.

With the document, adopted at Lisbon Summit, NATO also demanded a better NATO-EU cooperation and asked EU to fulfill its obligations against Turkey for "strategic partnership."

The document said non-EU NATO allies (Turkey, Norway, Iceland) had significant contributions to EU missions, adding, "for the strategic partnership between NATO and the EU, their fullest involvement in these efforts is essential."

This expression was added to the text after Turkey's demands. It reflects expectations regarding Turkey's partner membership to European Defense Agency, recognition of Ankara in European security and defense policy, and inclusion of Turkey in its decision-making process for operations.

"We are determined to make our contribution to create more favourable circumstances through which we will fully strengthen the strategic partnership with the EU, in the spirit of full mutual openness, transparency, complementarity and respect for the autonomy and institutional integrity of both organizations," it said.

"NATO members will always assist each other against attack, in accordance with Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. That commitment remains firm and binding," it said.

"Deterrence, based on an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional capabilities, remains a core element of our overall strategy. The circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated are extremely remote. As long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance," the strategy paper said.

Turkey repeatedly said that NATO should not target any other country as a threat and this view was reflected in the paper.

"The Alliance does not consider any country to be its adversary. However, no one should doubt NATO's resolve if the security of any of its members were to be threatened," the document said.

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