Turkish prime minister has said the European Union would make a mistake by rejecting Turkey as a member.
"What we are saying is regardless of whether you accept Turkey or not, we are already in the EU. There are five million Turks in EU countries already. You will only lose by leaving us behind," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Friday a televised interview on English-broadcasting news channel, Russia Today.

Erdogan said Turkey would not become an additional burden for the EU, but it would actually lift some of the existing burdens the EU had.
"There are countries already in the EU which cannot compete with Turkey in terms of freedom and economy. Why do not they accept Turkey? When you take a closer look at this, you see political reasons," he said.

"If the European Union makes a permanent decision not to accept us, then Turkey will make its decision based on that. But since we are holding talks with the new EU chairman, we are about to enter a new stage. During this new period we can take many different steps. We can make progress on many aspects, I believe," Erdogan said.

Responding to a question on whether he was poised to become a leader of the Muslim world as a result of Turkey's multilateral foreign policy, Erdogan said he had not tried to become a leader of the Islamic world.

"I did not put any effort into becoming one. Things like this do not happen just because someone wants to occupy this or that post. The thing is, we believed in something. We believed in serving our people in the best way possible. Of course, here in Turkey, we wanted to establish equal relationships with other countries, because there is a problem of inequality in our world," Erdogan said.

Over a question on the Nabucco and South Stream gas pipelines, Erdogan said Turkey was not a partner in the South Stream project.

"We are partners in Nabucco, though, and are involved in it. I see them as complimentary projects. Europe cannot be satisfied with either Nabucco or South Stream, but both projects can meet the demand of Europe and fill a very big gap," Erdogan said.

"We are involved in the South Stream project at the level of research and exploration. And Nabucco, as you know, involves six countries: Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria and Germany. Companies in these countries have taken up this project. Of course, we are a transit country, but there are supplying and consumer countries as well. Turkey is also a consumer country. So, we need to implement the Nabucco project as fast as we can. I, personally, and the relevant ministers and authorities continue to work on this as we want to launch Nabucco as soon as possible."

Responding to a question on relations with Armenia, Erdogan said that in 2005 he had sent a letter to former President Robert Kocharian, proposing that historians should investigate the incidents of 1915.

"There has been no reply. This is the job of historians, not politicians. Besides, the Turkish nation, our grandparents, did not commit genocide. They just would not have done it ... The Ottoman Empire would not have fallen for such a mistake.

"What happened was the deportation of people from one area to another, which caused certain conflicts. Both sides suffered losses. You can see this clearly in the historical records as we have opened up our archives now. What we say now is that Armenia should give access to its archives and let investigators do their research so that we can reach a solution. Simple as that. But Armenia is not doing this, and since this is the case, they do not have the grounds to accuse Turkey. We will never accept blame for such a thing," Erdogan said.

Responding to a question on Turkey-U.S. relations, Erdogan said the two countries working together on many issues together
"We are together on the issues of Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon. Apart from that, of course, we are also working with the U.S. in the Balkans and in Kosovo and everywhere else where NATO is present. Turkey is alongside the United States, especially in terms of military. As for politics, there are also areas where we cooperate within many different international organizations and commissions," Erdogan said.
"Currently though ? and I will be very frank with you ? if we look at economic cooperation, our primary partner is the Russian Federation, with a $38 billion turnover as of the end of 2008. That is predominantly in the field of energy, where we have very intensive cooperation. Our turnover with the United States is around $12 billion. We definitely need to further our economic cooperation with the U.S. I am not saying that there is competition between the U.S. and Russia in this respect. What I am saying is that we are open for cooperation, and we want to expand it. Actually, we need each other."

AA