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Turkey

Turkish President Has Lost Faith In Both Israel And Syria

In the interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung, Turkish president Abdullah Gül reveals secret talks, which ultimately failed, to resolve the diplomatic dispute with Israel. He also said days are numbered for the Syrian regime. Gül added that Turkey still wants

Turkish president Abdullah Gül
Turkish president Abdullah Gül
Christiane Schlötzer and Kai Strittmatter

SÜEDDEUTSCHE/Worldcrunch

President Abdullah Gül says Turkey no longer trusts Benjamin Netanyahu's government. Recent relations between Ankara and Jerusalem have gone from bad to worse, as Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador because of his government's refusal to apologize for the death of nine Turkish activists on the Gaza aid ship Mavi Marmara in May 2010.

In an exclusive interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung, Gül also revealed that there had been several rounds of secret talks between Ankara and Jerusalem to try and settle the issue. But, he said, every time some sort of agreement looked as if it might be reached, Israel switched positions. Gül stressed that Turkey "has no problem with the Israeli people," only with the government.

With regard to the violence in Syria, Gül stated that Turkey had given up hope that President Bashar al-Assad would tackle reforms. The days of the authoritarian regime are numbered, he added, and it pained him that so many people in Syria were killed. Concerning the successful overthrows in the Arab world and in North Africa, Gül said: "We enthusiastically support these revolutions." The president said that Turkey's democratic standards could also serve as a source of inspiration for states in transition.

Making Europe a front runner again

Gül gave assurances that Turkey, despite its commitment to the Middle Eastern countries in transition, wished now as before to become an EU member. He hoped that more Europeans would see that "Turkey would not be a burden on the Union." On the contrary: with its strong economy, Turkey could help make "Europe a front runner again." Gül stressed that Turkey "could offer a positive contribution."

Gül expressed disquiet at the serious crisis in neighboring Greece. Turkish tourists visiting Greece were helping Greece's economy, and Turkey was willing to do more to help Greece, Gül said.

On his state visit to Germany, which begins Sunday, Gül said that he didn't want to limit his visit to Berlin -- visits to high tech companies in Baden-Württemberg have also been planned. "When we look at Europe today," said Gül, "we see that there are actually only two upward-striving countries: Germany and Turkey." The two countries should thus work closely together in research, technology and economically in the future, he said.

"No longer appropriate"

Gül was critical of the fact that Turks visiting Germany still need a visa, while Germans traveling to Turkey do not. "In view of close ties between our countries, that's no longer appropriate," he said. A number of Balkan countries had recently secured EU visa waivers, he pointed out.

According to the Turkish president, if Germany wants to hold on to its strong economy and prosperity it has to continue to open up. "It's a fact that the population in Germany is shrinking." Meanwhile, increasing numbers of young Turks who've received good educations in Germany are returning to the country of their parents and grandparents -- and that trend could continue. The visa issue was damaging the economies of both countries, Gül said.

Read the original article in German

Photo - WEF

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Green

As Air Quality Worsens, Kampala Citizens Find It Difficult to Breathe

Kampala’s air quality is much worse than globally accepted standards, but several interventions are being instituted to avert its effects.

As Air Quality Worsens, Kampala Citizens Find It Difficult to Breathe

Rush hour traffic in Kampala, Uganda on Sept. 9, 2022. Kampala’s air is nine times more polluted than the World Health Organization’s recommended limit.

Apophia Agiresaasi

KAMPALA, UGANDA — There’s something in Kampala’s air. Philomena Nabweru Rwabukuku’s body could tell even before she went to see a doctor. The retired teacher and her children used to get frequent asthma attacks, especially after they had been up and about in the city where there were many vehicles. It was worse when they lived in Naluvule, a densely populated Kampala suburb where traffic is dense.

“We were in and out of hospital most of the time. [The] attacks would occur like twice a week,” Nabweru says.

Her doctors blamed the air in Kampala, which is nine times more polluted than the World Health Organization’s recommended limit, according to a 2022 WHO report. By comparison, Bangladesh, the country with the world’s worst air pollution, is 13 times the recommended limit.

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