26 March 2009
Suat Kiniklioglu, deputy chairman for external affairs for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), has indicated that Ankara favors Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay for the NATO role, even though MacKay has said he prefers to keep his current job.
"It is unacceptable that NATO be headed by an individual who has in the past rudely disrespected our values and religious beliefs," Kiniklioglu said in an interview with the Anatolia news agency, in an apparent reference to Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that sparked Muslim protests worldwide.
Kiniklioglu also cited media reports quoting the Danish leader as saying Turkey would never join the EU, as well as Denmark's unwillingness to stop broadcasts by a satellite television station which Turkey says is a mouthpiece for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
"He is a problematic man," Kiniklioglu said.
Turkey's disappointment concerning Rasmussen is mainly due to Roj TV broadcasts and the fact that Rasmussen said in 2003 that Turkey would never be a full European Union member. Turkey is an EU candidate.
Yet, Turkey is also concerned that at a time when NATO will assume responsibilities in Afghanistan, a secretary-general with such an approach could affect the alliance's relationship with the Muslim world.
Sedat Laciner, head of the Ankara-based Turkish think tank USAK, similarly argued that Rasmussen is the wrong man for the NATO position. "Mr. Rasmussen is perceived as enemy of the Muslim people in entire Muslim world. He also made great mistakes in PKK issue. I cannot imagine such a man as the head of the NATO" he added.