Turkey has dropped its strongest hint yet that it will sign up to the Kyoto Protocol on combating climate change, and will join in international efforts aimed at cutting greenhouse gasses.

Turkish President Abdullah Gül said he supports the UN plan for the two year negotiation process agreed in Bali last year, and added “Turkey is now preparing to undertake its responsibilities. Very significant work is currently under way so as to enable us to take important steps in the period ahead.”

Speaking at the opening session of this year's WWF Annual Conference in Bodrum, President Gül said climate change affects all of us. “Today, the effects of global climate change are felt in every corner of the world'” he said. “While people are fighting with drought and water shortage in some regions, other regions are witnessing pain and destruction brought about by the effects of tornadoes and floods causing large scale disasters.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its priority first step, the Kyoto Protocol, are considered to be the most effective tools for sustainable development.” But President Gül warned that Turkey's economic and social development must not be put at risk, and that industrialised countries must also do their bit. “International cooperation in this field is not a one way street, but one that is two way. Industrialized countries should take into account the concerns and expectations of developing countries. Also, developing countries should draw lessons from the mistakes that were made during industrialization and progress on the path of sustainable development with the awareness of their responsibilities to future generations.”

The President's words were echoed by Turkey's Environment Minister Veysel Ero?lu who told the audience of more than 200 delegates: “Climate change is one of the most important agenda items in the world, and Turkey will be one of the countries most impacted by climate change. We are committed to our development but at the same time we are committed to fighting the the negative impacts of climate change”.

WWF Director General James Leape welcomed the Turkish President's hints that Turkey could soon ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

“The UN climate negotiations represent our best hope of mitigating the worst effects of climate change,” said Mr. Leape.

“WWF is honoured that President Gül has chosen to address this critical issue here at our annual conference, and I am delighted that Turkey appears to want to play its full part in reaching a global agreement to combat global warming. It is crucially important that Turkey now act on that commitment, sign on to the Kyoto protocol and become a full participant in the international effort to solve this problem.”


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