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Gul Rejects Criticism Of Turkey Over NATO Leadership

Gul received assurances from Obama at their Ankara summit
LONDON (Reuters) -- Turkish President Abdullah Gul has said criticism of his country over its objections to the appointment of NATO's new chief was dangerous, in an interview published in the “Financial Times.”

Turkey had put itself at odds with its European allies after threatening to veto Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as NATO head because of his handling of a 2006 crisis over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a Danish newspaper.

France and Germany had strongly backed Rasmussen. The “Financial Times” said Olli Rehn, European Union enlargement commissioner, and Bernard Kouchner, French foreign minister, had criticized Turkey's brinkmanship.

Turkey, a EU candidate, only backed down after U.S. President Barack Obama offered promises that one of Rasmussen's deputies would be a Turk.

Gul said the criticism worried him. "It's very dangerous and it's making us disturbed," he said.

"We neither engaged in blackmail nor did we have an irrational request. We acted in a rational, logical, and modern way within the compromise [of] European culture,” Gul said. “And indeed in the end we came to an understanding. Therefore I am surprised to see comments of that nature coming from certain countries. I don't find it terribly in line with the European spirit."

Turkey's objections to Rasmussen had threatened the image of unity NATO had sought to present at the military alliance's 60th anniversary summit.