Turkey has a part to play in the international community: Letter

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Sir: For too long, Turkey has been maligned and marginalised by the international community, which has failed to understand what Turkey is really about ("The Turkish question", 30 July).

Britain and the US have sought to be more constructive in building a relationship with a country that desperately wants to be democratic, wants to be accepted and to be understood. However, this constructive approach is still too tentative, too arm's length. The challenge and opportunity for the West is to engage Turkey as a friend and as a country which can bring benefit to the international community.

This is not to condone or ignore human rights abuses, nor the country's faltering economy and the political state. However, these deficiencies will be rectified more quickly if the West accepts Turkey as a partner for greater good. Abuses and policy errors should be seen in the context of a Turkey that has a modern constitution, holds regular elections and which wants to be a modern, economically successful country and a valued member part of the international community.

It is a sign of the strength of Turkey's democratic instincts that a predominantly secular society can endure months of unstable coalition and then elect the Islamic Welfare Party into office, which has just renewed Turkey's commitment to Operation Provide Comfort in support of Kurds in Northern Iraq.

The country is a member of the Council of Europe, a strategically vital member of Nato, has applied for membership of the EU and has favourable trading arrangements with EU countries. As such, she deserves to be treated as a "grown-up" member of the international community and to receive a greater investment of time and understanding.


London SW11