Turkey should not expect any apologies when NATO's next Secretary-General and former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen makes a speech in Istanbul today.
“Listen. In Denmark we do not apologise for having freedom of speech,” Fogh Rasmussen is quoted by Ritzau as saying.
“You all know that a Danish Prime Minister cannot apologise on behalf of a newspaper,” he continues.
The newly-appointed upcoming secretary-general for NATO is in Turkey to speak at a United Nations conference on intercultural dialogue and understanding.
The Turkish media has widely reported that Fogh Rasmussen will issue an apology during his speech today, and that the apology was one concession offered in order to get Turkey to withdraw its opposition to Fogh Rasmussen’s appointment.
But Fogh Rasmussen rejects the assertion.
“We have nothing in the bag,” he is reported as saying.
Turkey’s largest newspaper Hürriyet wrote yesterday that: “Turkey has given a conditional yes to Rasmussen. He must apologise for the Mohammed cartoons and Roj TV must be closed,” it said referring to a Kurdish television station which broadcasts from Denmark.
“I have though a lot about what to say and I am mindful of my responsibility as NATO’s next secretary-general,” Fogh Rasmussen tells Ritzau.
“Understanding between peoples is important in order to improve security and that is what my main task as NATO secretary-general will be. To improve security,” he says and stresses that he sees Turkey as a good ally and an important strategic partner for NATO.
When Fogh Rasmussen mounts the podium in Turkey today, his arm will be in a sling after he fell down stairs last evening and dislocated his shoulder.
Edited by Julian Isherwood