ANKARA, June 5 (Xinhua) -- Turkey's top general said Thursday if the status quo in Iraq becomes permanent, the country would be a center of instability, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.
Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit made the remarks while addressing the opening ceremony of the international symposium on the future of the Middle East, according to the report.
"If the status quo in Iraq continues and becomes permanent, this would cause instability in the Middle East. Problems in the Middle East would then severely affect the world peace and stability," Buyukanit was quoted as saying.
During the past 17 years, Iraq has experienced two wars. A struggle to control energy sources could be considered the most important element which made the region instable, Buyukanit noted.
He added that energy needs have been increasing gradually and the Middle East possesses 55 percent of the world's oil and 40 percent of the world's natural gas.
"Policies that would prevent the escalation of new problems in the region and keep it free of nuclear weapons are highly important for peace and stability in the Middle East," Buyukanit said.
Attaching great importance to the developments in the Middle East, Buyukanit said "Iraq's territorial integrity and stability are highly vital for Turkey. With its secular and democratic characters, Turkey is a source of stability in the region in the post-Cold War era."
Moreover, there have been new threats and risks which appeared as regional and ethnic clashes, political and economic instability, weapons of mass destruction, fundamentalism, drug smuggling, weapon smuggling and international terror, said the general, adding that Turkey, located in the region where Europe and Asia meet, was in the center of these issues.
The international symposium on the future of the Middle East, kicked off on Thursday in Istanbul, is organized by Turkish General Staff's Strategic Research and Study Center in Ankara. More than 124 experts from 52 countries are attending the symposium.