Istanbul — When Turgut Ozal takes office as Turkey's prime minister next month, foreign policy will be his immediate priority. The focus of his attention will be Cyprus , thanks to the unexpected declaration of independence by the island's Turks.
In an interview Mr. Ozal said the timing of the declaration - one week after Turkey's Nov. 6 elections - was strictly the choice of Rauf Denktash, the Turkish-Cypriot leader.
Ozal emphasized that he envisages a federal solution for the island and expressed hope that intercommunal negotiations would resume soon. The southern portion of the island is Greek-dominated.
The declaration, he said, was not an obstacle for such a solution. On the contrary, it was the last chance to achieve ''a loose federation.'' If such a solution is not reached, he warned, northern Cyprus will remain independent and separated from the rest of the island.
''This is an irrevocable decision and we cannot think of a retreat,'' Ozal said.
The moon-faced, mustachioed politician said he does not believe Turkey's relations with the West - and particularly with the United States - will suffer because of Denktash's decision and Turkey's recognition of the new state.
''This is not a problem between us and the West,'' he said. ''The US or the West has no interest in (making) the Cyprus issue their own problem. . . . Greece is trying to use her influence in many spheres, including in the European Community. But I hope they will not themselves be carried away by such propaganda.''
Ozal said the West should understand that Cyprus, which lies only 40 miles from Turkey's southern coast, is particularly important for the nation's security.
''That island is like a dagger pointed at Turkey's belly,'' he said. ''If it is controlled by a hostile force, it can be extremely dangerous.'' He added that the United States should understand Turkey's security interest in Cyprus, in view of its intervention in Grenada and references to the Caribbean as its ''back yard.''
Ozal said there is ''a moral linkage'' between the Cyprus dilemma and the dispute between Greece and Turkey over territorial waters in the Aegean Sea. So far Turkey has tried to keep the two disputes separate. Ozal did not elaborate but seemed to be advocating a more active role by Greece and Turkey in finding a solution for Cyprus. He said it is essential that both nations guarantee its independence.
Ozal spoke in strong terms regarding the Aegean and warned that any move by Greece to extend the territorial waters from the present 6 miles to 12 would be regarded as a ''cause of war.''
Ozal said his foreign policy will be a continuation of what he called Turkey's ''national'' foreign relations concept. Turkey will maintain its close ties with the West and at the same time develop relations with the Islamic world. It will also strengthen economic ties with the Soviet Union and with developing countries.
Regarding Turkey's ties with the European Community, he said, ''We are not anti-marketeers, nor pro-marketeers at any price. We shall negotiate for membership in line with our interests.'' He said Turkey now enjoys credibility in financial circles and that his coming to power was welcome in those spheres. He believes his planned economic measures will enhance this credibility.
Explaining his party's spot in the political spectrum, Ozal said it would be misleading to describe it as conservative.
''We are conservative on moral issues, liberal on the economy, and progressive on social justice,'' he said. ''This is quite different from the conservative parties in the West. It shows also that we are a different society.''