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Bush: Iraqi sovereignty defeat for resistance

Calls on EU to admit Turkey

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George W. Bush

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- President Bush on Tuesday delivered a wide-ranging speech extolling what he described as a rise of freedom in the Middle East and the Muslim world; asserting that the return of sovereignty in Iraq is a clear defeat for terrorists; and lauding Turkey as a model of democracy.

Speaking at Galatasaray University in Istanbul on the last day of the NATO summit, Bush reiterated his support for Turkish membership in the European Union, a controversial issue.

Earlier such statements by Bush prompted French President Jacques Chirac to chastise the U.S. president, saying it was not Bush's place to make such a call. (Bush rebuff to Chirac over Turkey)

Bush praised the handover of sovereignty in Iraq and asserted that "freedom" is the future of and can bring peace to the broader Middle East. (Lawmakers welcome Iraqi transfer, but stress unfinished work)

"In just fifteen months, the Iraqi people have left behind one of the worst regimes in the Middle East, and their country is becoming the world's newest democracy," Bush said.

"The world has seen a great event in the history of Iraq, in the history of the Middle East, and in the history of liberty." (Poll shows doubts about Iraq)

He said "a free and sovereign Iraq is also a decisive defeat for extremists and terrorists -- because their hateful ideology will lose its appeal in a free, tolerant, successful country." (Gallery: Iraq's interim government)

The president said the "rise of Iraqi democracy is bringing hope to reformers across the Middle East, and sending a very different message to Tehran and Damascus," referring to Syria and Iran. (New Iraqi prime minister: Elections will go ahead)

Bush pointed to people he names enemies of democracy. Along with terrorists in Iraq, he included "discredited and tired autocrats" in Iran; the Kurdistan Workers Party, which abandoned its cease-fire in southeastern Turkey; and terrorists "setting back" the cause of Palestinians.

He praised reformist efforts in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan and Morocco.

Bush asserted that "freedom is the future of the Middle East, because I believe that freedom is the future of all humanity"

"And the historic achievement of democracy in the broader Middle East will be a victory shared by all," he said.

"Millions who now live in oppression and want will finally have a chance to provide for their families and lead hopeful lives."

Bush rebuked negative rhetoric aimed at the West in the Muslim world and toward Muslims in the United States.

He said democracies should not allow religious cultures to impose their views on others

But at the same time, he said, freedom of religion is a right and "all democracies are made stronger when religious people teach and demonstrate upright conduct -- family commitment, respect for the law and compassion for the weak."

"Democratic societies should welcome, not fear, the participation of the faithful."

Turkey and the EU

As for the European Union, Bush made his case for Turkey's membership in the association, saying the country, which bridges Europe and Asia, is a "strong secular democracy, a majority Muslim society and a close ally of free nations" -- a model of the future in the Middle East.

"Now the European Union is considering the admission of Turkey, and you are moving rapidly to meet the criteria for membership. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (the founder of modern Turkey) had a vision of Turkey as a strong nation among other European nations.

"That dream can be realized by this generation of Turks. America believes that as a European power, Turkey belongs in the European Union," said Bush, adding that membership would constitute a "crucial advance" in the West and the Muslim world.

Such membership, he said, would prove that the European Union was "not the exclusive club of a single religion," referring to Christianity.

Concerns over Turkey's human rights record has been an obstacle to EU membership, but the country of late has been making reforms.

"Turkey has found what nations of every culture and every region have found: If justice is the goal, then democracy is the answer," Bush said.

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