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Turkish President: Democracy In Mideast Is Inevitable

14 June 2004 -- Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer told Muslim countries that democracy is inevitable in the Middle East and that each nation must determine the pace of its own democratic reforms.

Sezer's remarks were addressed to the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) meeting today in Istanbul. He said the group's members need to consider the future of the Islamic world.

"We have observed that recently the attention of the international community has been directed towards the Islamic world. Discussions that have intensified over the question 'What went wrong?' should not only be limited to scholars. We have to bear in mind the answer to this question concerns the past as well as the future of the Islamic world. Therefore, it has become imperative that the leaders in this area -- in other words, we -- make a sincere and frank appraisal without delay."

OIC Secretary-General Abdelouahed Belkeziz drew delegates' attention to what he described as the poor record of Mideast governments on a wide range of policies, including education and economic issues.

Earlier, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed to OIC countries to support Iraq's new interim government.