With its stunning vistas and former Ottoman palaces, the banks of the Bosphorus – the strategic waterway that cuts Istanbul in half and divides Europe from Asia – may be the perfect place to distinguish friend from foe and establish where your country's interests lie.
And sitting in his grandiose headquarters beside the strait, long the symbol of Turkey's supposed role as bridge between east and west, Recep Tayyip Erdogan had little doubt about who was a friend and who wasn't.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's radical president whose fiery rhetoric has made him a bête noire of the west? "There is no doubt he is our friend," said Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister for the last six years. "As a friend so far we have very good relations and have had no difficulty at all."
What about Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, who has led European opposition to Turkey's bid to join the EU and, coincidentally, adopted a belligerent tone towards Iran's nuclear programme? Not a friend?
"Among leaders in Europe there are those who have prejudices against Turkey, like France and Germany. Previously under Mr Chirac, we had excellent relations [with France] and he was very positive towards Turkey. But during the time of Mr Sa... >>>
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