18 October 2008, Saturday
TODAY’S ZAMAN WITH WIRES İSTANBUL
After five years of intense lobbying, Turkey was elected on Friday to the United Nations’ influential Security Council for a two-year term starting on Jan. 1.
In an interview before Friday’s election, Babacan said Turkey could play a key role in resolving a standoff between the West and Iran over its nuclear program.
“We are in a position, I should say, to understand sensitivities on both sides,” Babacan said in an interview with Reuters late on Wednesday in New York. The Security Council is the powerhouse of the 192-member United Nations, with the ability to impose sanctions and dispatch peacekeepers. Having won the race for a seat on the council, Ankara may now be in the delicate position of being not only a facilitator in the talks on neighboring Iran’s nuclear program, but also having to vote on possible increased sanctions against its neighbor.
When asked how Turkey would vote if sanctions were on the table, Babacan said: “First of all, we are against nuclear weapons in our region, so within that framework, of course, Turkey is not supporting Iran owning nuclear weapons. … But, on the other hand, we believe this issue can and should be resolved through diplomacy, through dialogue.”
Iran itself was a candidate for temporary membership on the council. It lost the race against Japan in Friday’s vote.
In addition to a possible role in efforts to resolve the Iran conflict, Turkey has been mediating talks between Syria and Israel, lobbying for a regional cooperation platform for the Caucasus and thawing its relations with Armenia, a neighbor with which it has no formal ties. Ankara says as a Security Council member it could better help efforts to broker peace in the much-troubled Caucasus and the Middle East.
h/t: Cem Ertür
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