Dış Politika – Foreign Policy (Vol. XXXXIII- No.1, 2016) FROM CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS TO DIALOGUE AMONG NATIONS AND CULTURES – Numan Hazar

FROM CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS TO DIALOGUE AMONG NATIONS AND CULTURES

 

Numan HAZAR

Ambassador ( R ) [1]

 

In the recent times, the idea of civilizations was suggested by American social scientist Samuel P.Huntington in 1990’s as a factor having a particular role in international relations. As a matter of fact Huntington, in an article published in 1993 in the Foreign Affairs magazine, suggested that root-causes of conflicts in international arena were stemming from the different particularities of various civilizations existing in the world. He said that there were clashes of civilizations among various cultures and he posed the question whether conflicts between civilizations would dominate the future World politics following the end of the superpower rivalry due to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. [2]

After this article, Huntington published in 1996 his book on the subject which was entitled as ‘’ The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order ‘’.  In his book Huntington underlined the following views:

‘’ In this new World, rivalry of the superpowers is replaced by the clash of civilizations. … The most pervasive, important, and dangerous conflicts will not be between social classes, rich and poor, or other economically defined groups, but between peoples belonging to different cultural entities. Tribal wars and ethnic conflicts will occur within civilizations. Violence between states and groups from different civilizations, however, carries with it the potential for escalation as other states and groups rally to the support of their ‘kin countries’  ‘‘ [3]

Before Huntington an internationally acclaimed scholar of Islam and Middle East Bernard Lewis mentioned the idea of clash of civilization within the context of Middle Eastern conflict in 1957 in a paper he presented to a Conference at Johns Hopkins University [4]  and later in his book  ‘’ The Middle East and the West ‘’ published in 1964.[5]

On the other hand, Professor Lewis put into perspective, on the light of historical experiences, the existence of a clash of civilizations between Christian and Moslem Worlds in his article entitled ‘’  The Roots of Muslim rage,  Why so many Muslims deeply resent the West, and why their bitterness will not easily be mollified ?’’. The article was published in the Atlantic Monthly  in the September 1990 issue.

Even well before Bernard Lewis and Samuel P.Huntington, prominent British historian Arnold J.Toynbee referred to a clash of civilizations within the context of the Turkish-Greek War of 1919-1922 in his book ‘’The Western Question in Greece and Turkey, A Study in contact of Civilisations’’ published in 1922. He underlined, on this subject, that  ‘’ The fundamental truth was that a number of Near Eastern Christians and Middle Eastern Moslems were bearing the brunt of one particular clash in a vital interaction between civilisations’’.[6]

At this point, I believe, the concept of civilization needs to be clarified.

It is said that the concept of civilization ( and culture ) is best described by Edward Burnett Tylor, British antropologist and founder of cultural anthropology, in his most famous work two-volume ‘’Primitive Culture’’ . The First Volume ‘’The Origins of Cultures ‘’ deals with ethnography, social evolution, linguistics, and myth. The Second Volume ‘’Religion in Primitive Culture’’ deals mainly with his interpretation of animism. On the first page of ‘’Primitive Culture’’, the definition provided by Tylor is as follows:

‘’ Culture or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. ‘’ [7]

What is noteworthy in this definition is the fact that Tylor sees no distinction between civilization and culture. We will come back to this point at a later stage, since at the present time this is the widely accepted view. It means that civilization and culture is the same concept. They are used synonymously.

The civilization is a large concept. It comprises everything created by a society. It can be roughly characterized as civilization all material and intangible things and values created from the very early times by the humanity. We observe that material elements of the civilization had the purpose to ensure the survival and a better life for human beings in an effort to dominate the nature. In realizing this, there is no denying that various techniques, science and technology have played a predominant role.  Airplanes, ships, automobiles, telephones buildings, ports, airports, railways and highways linking one country to another, bridges over big rivers and maritime areas, agriculture, industrial complexes, all these are developed thanks to science and technology. Technology of arms and weaponry used by armies also were developed throughout history depending of the level of advancement of a civilization.

Undoubtedly, there is also an intangible aspect of the civilization: fine arts, (painting, sculpture, architecture, musics), literature, philosophy, governance, laws, science and technology, transition from the nomadic life to sedentary life, religion, language and various social values. These intangible elements are generally called as culture.

Within this context and in the light of the foregoing details, it can be said that the view prevailing in some circles to link the idea of civilization to the religion is not supported. At present, the religion is considered by the social scientists as one of the ingredients of the civilization (or culture).

As a matter of fact, there exists the concept of Christian Civilization, Islamic Civilization, Budhist Civilization, Hindu Civilization, Orthodox Culture and Civilization and Judeo-Christian Civilization. On the other hand it is customary to say German Civilization, French Civilization, American Civilization, Russian Civilizatiıon, Chinese Civilization, Arab Civilization, Persian Civilization, Turkish Civilization and Culture, Greek Civilization, Hellenic Civilization and Culture etc.

Nevertheless, in certain periods of history religion and civilization are considered synonymously.

As far as the religion in the sense of civilization is concerned, in the history, civilization incorporated various populations of different ethnic origins which adopted not only shared beliefs, practices and characteristics, but also social, economic and political organization of the society and cultural values as well. This was the case of Islamic civilization.

As a matter of fact, Abbasid Caliphate or Empire, which reigned from 750 to 1258 combined the whole Moslem World for five centuries. Abbasid Empire extended from the Atlantic coast of North Africa into the Chinese border including almost the totality of Moslem lands.

For that reason, it was traditional in the West to call everything related to this entity as Islamic: Islamic culture, civilization, science, history etc. Nevertheless, it was not a monolithic entitiy. Some of the Islamic countries have different historical experiences, cultures and state-building capabilites. According to Huntington Islamic civilization has also different sub-civilizations such as Arab, Malay, Persian and Turkish civilizations.

On the other hand, it is widely accepted that, there exists also a universal civilization the elements of which are shared by all civilizations. Technology, sciences, certain political institutions, economic and social systems as well as many values are of that nature. Nevertheless, some values can not be easily adopted by other civilizations or societies. British historian Eric Hobsbawm said on the subject, inter alia, the following:

‘’Democracy and Western values and human rights are not like technological importations whose benefits are immediately obvious and will be adopted in the same manner by all who can use them and afford them.’’ [8]

As referred to above, Huntington alleged that after the end of the Soviet Union future wars will be between civilizations. He also mentioned some cases or issues as examples. Nevertheless, his views led to a large debate all around the World.  A host of critics were directed against his views in consideration of the fact that major wars in the history were not between civilizations such as First World War and Second World War. It is also indicated that root causes of wars could be explained with various reasons rather than clash of civilizations.

In the history there were wars on the grounds of religious differences even inside a given religion such as War of Religions in Christian Europe from 1524 to 1648 following the onset of the Protestant Reformation.

Huntington was also accused of a deliberate effort to create a new enemy for the West to replace communism after the distintegration of the Soviet Union. This new enemy was Islam.

In the history, however, there were resentments even clashes based on religion between Christian Europe and Islamic World. Crusades consist of reminiscences of divergences and clashes based on religion.  I will come back to that issue at a later stage.

Notwithstanding these divergences or clashes, it is also a fact that in the history there were many alliances between Christians and Moslems against a common enemy. The past is full of such experiences. Alliances from time to time between the Ottoman State and Byzantine Empire, a variety of alliances between Arabs and Christians, Crimean War of 1853-1855 against Russia by the multinational Alliance which included British Empire, France and Italy (Piemonte)  and Ottoman Empire. In the First World War Ottoman Turkey joined Central Powers which included Germany and Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Indeed there are many other examples. [9]

In the 1402 Ankara battle between Tamerlane and Ottoman Sultan Bayezid-I, both rulers of Turkish descent and Moslems,  there was a 10-thousand strong Serbian auxiliary squad under the command of Serbian Prince (and later Despot) Stefan Lazarević. Lazarević was fighting together with Ottoman Sultan Bayezid against Tamerlane’s forces until the last moment. He was the son of the Serbian Ruler Lazarević killed in the 1389 Kosovo battle against the Ottomans. Prince Lazarević, an Ottoman vassal was also commander of Serbian auxiliary forces in the Ottoman army at the 1396 Nicopolis Battle against allied Crusaders army of Hungarians, Bulgarians, Croatians, Wallachians, Burgundians, French and Germans.

Despite many alliances and friendships between Islam and Christianity that included the alliance relationship between Ottoman Emperor Suleiman the Magnificent and François-I, King of France, it seems that there was, in the history, a long and continuous war between Islam and Christianity starting with the birth of Islam as a new religion.  It continues until now.   [10]

Evident facts throughout human history relating to the interactions between Christian and Moslem World are as follows:

The expansion of Islam, defeat of Arab forces in 732 at Poitiers (France) by Frankish ruler Charles Martel, Crusades and Christian attacks against Islamic Middle East, the rule of Abbasid Empire as a dominant Islamic power until 1258, La Reconquista and the fall of the last Islamic state Granada in Iberian Peninsula (Spain) in 1492,  the rise of the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman expansion in Europe, the Fall of Constantinople (Byzantium) in 1453, the sieges of Vienna (1529 and 1683), the rise of the West (after geographical discoveries, Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution), decadence of the Islamic World as a result of decline in science and technology), Western colonialism and imperialism (Western and Russian imperialism), humiliation of Moslem lands under colonial rule, Palestinian question, Cyprus issue, Nagorno-Karabagh problem, Bosnia, Chechenia, Kosovo, the rise of the so-called Islamic terrorism.  It could also be added to this list Armenian efforts to ensure the recognition of the so-called genocide allegedly occurred in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War by parliaments of Christian countries.

After the thesis of Huntington on clash of civilizations, there was a strong reaction against his views. As a matter of fact, efforts were spent in international forums in particular at the United Nations with the aim of promoting the idea of dialogue among civilizations or cultures and dialogue among religions.

In international organizations the idea of dialogue was taken into consideration as early as 1980’s to contribute to peace and stability in the world. In various activities of UNESCO the idea of dialogue was emphasized.

In 1998, the United Nations’ General Assembly adopted a Resolution declaring 2001 as the Year of Dialogue among Civilizations referring to the fact that 1995 was also adopted as the Year of International Tolerance. [11]

On the other hand in 2001 UNESCO adopted a Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and in its Medium-Term Srategy of 2002-2007, agreed that one of its objectives is aimed at protecting cultural diversity and promoting dialogue among cultures and civilizations. UNESCO also indicated in its Medium-Term Strategy Report that the protection of cultural diversity and the promotion of dialogue should be conducted hand in hand.

Again the UN General Assembly adopted in 1999 and 2000 two Resolutions on United Nations’ Year of the Dialogue among Civilizations[12] By virtue of these resolutions, a Personal Representative of the UN Secretary General was appointed in charge of the UN Year of the Dialogue among Civilizations. Members of the Islamic Cooperation Organization have played a leading role in the adoption of these resolutions.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in the United States, the UN Security Council strongly condemned these terrorist attacks and called for international cooperation to combat terrorism. [13]

UN General Assembly adopted on 21 November 2001 a ‘’ Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations’’.[14] The resolution contained a host of measures to promote dialogue and adopted an Action Plan. Within this context, UNESCO was entrusted by the General Assembly a key role to promote dialogue among cultures and civilizations.

At this juncture, I believe, we should go back to history. As we will remember at the end of the First World War and years later after the Turkish War of Independence, Turkey and Greece were able to create, bertween them, a climate of mutual confidence, peace and friendship. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who led the Turkish independent War declared that the basic tenet of Turkey’s foreign policy was ‘’Peace at Home, Peace in the World’’. Indeed a climate of mutual dialogue was created between the two countries, by leaving aside memories of the tragic events of the past. Prime Minister of Greece Mr Eleftherios Venizelos who was indeed behind the idea of landing Greek armed forces of occupation in the Turkish mainland, paid an official visit to Turkey in 1929 after he became again the Prime Minister of Greece. Mr Venizelos also nominated Atatürk for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1934.[15]

Thus, it seems that the idea of dialogue is not new in international relations. Dialogue is possible.

On the other hand, as far as the dialogue among religions is concerned, it goes back to 1964. As a matter of fact, the Vatican established that year ‘’the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue’’ aimed at a better understanding, tolerance and respect for other religions. At this point a great difficulty should be underlined that there is no single authority representing Islam as a whole in order to become the right interlocutor of the Vatican.

In addition to the United Nations several other international or regional organizations and some countries have also been involved in various events to promote the dialogue among civilizations.

The European Union, the Council of Europe, the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Islamic Cooperaion Organization (OIC) have also been actively involved in various events related to the dialogue among civilizations.

Iran, Algeria and some Western European countries as well as some other regional organizations also supported the idea of dialogue and organized various events. Personal efforts and intellectual contributions of the former President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Seyed Mohammad Khatami should be appreciated.

Turkey also has been very active to promote the dialoge among civilization, cultures and religions. As a matter of fact, Turkey has a very particiular and unique position in this respect being a country with a majority of Moslem population and on the other hand a member of European institutions. She experienced a long process of modernization through Ottoman enlightenment and Turkey’s republican reforms by adopting Western values in political, social and economic lives.

In 2001 in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 11 September Turkey organized in Istanbul, at the level of Foreign Ministers, ‘’Joint Forum between the Islamic Conference Organization and the European Union’’ which produced Istanbul Declaration adopting several actions for dialogue, peace, stability and understanding. The Follow-up meeting of the Joint Forum, however, could not be realized in 2004 due to the Greek and Greek Cypriot opposition regarding the participation of the Turkish Cypriot delegation.

In 2004 Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodrìguez Zapatero and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan co-sponsored the initiative of ‘’the Alliance of Civilizations’’ within the context of the United Nations. The Alliance of Civilizations is very much active carrying out various projects with the participation of the UN member states.

All these efforts are very much sincere and they are aimed at contributing to the peace, stability, tolerance and understanding in the World. In spite of this state of affairs we should admit that there are several impediments for a successful and result-oriented process of dialogue.

Let us now look at existing obstacles or road blocks on the way of a dialogue among cultures and civilizations.

In the light of all past events referred to it is possible to understand the fact that a significant part of today’s problems is linked to the events of the past.

Nevertheless, there are also, at the present time, some Global problems that may threaten peace and security in the World. We can enumerate these major problems concerning human community in the following manner:

-Prejudices existing in particular in the Christian World against Islam,

-Islamophobia, xenophobia and racism in industrialized countries, intolerance, all kinds of discrimination,

-Under-development and poverty,

-Demographic explosion, migratory movements and several issues related to it, illegal migration, human trafficking,

-Drug trafficking and illegal arms trade,

-International terrorism,

-Problems linked to the fact of globalization emerged particularly as a result of computer technology; despite the fact that globalization is an inevitable process, there is a necessity to focus on the benefits and positive aspects of this phenomenon which also requies pluralism and cultural diversity. Adverse social effects of the globalization have been criticized by various social scientists and philosphers. For this reason social dimension of globalization merits a significant attention.

It is also observed that among civilizations there are mutual lack of confidence and divergence of views as well. For example, there is no agreement between the West and the Moslem World on democracy and human rights’ concepts that are developed and reached their supreme norms today in the West.

In view of all these there is a necessity to see the picture as a whole for a successful dialogue and mutual understanding.

As far as existing obstacles on the way of dialogue are concerned various examples could be cited. Evidently, some conflicts presently give the impression that Huntington is right or he can be justified in his view for future conflicts to be clash of civilizations between different cultures. When we refer to the Middle East conflict and the Palestinian question, the Cyprus issue, the Nagorno-Karabagh issue and illegal occupation of 20% of the national territory of Azerbaijan by Armenia and even the Kashmir problem, these specific issues have, in appearance, an inherent characteristic of a clash between civilizations.

Indeed, these are frozen conflicts since there exists unconditional support by the West to one of the parties belonging to their so-called civilization, whether or not they are right. For the simple reason that, according to their view, they belong to the Christian World or Western and Judeo-Christian civilization. The other party involved in the conflict belongs to Moslem World. Logical conclusion of such an attitude is that the conflict should be resolved in conformity with the views and interests of the side which belongs to the Western, Judeo-Christian civilization. Obviously, we can say that as a result of such an approach, these problems will continue to become frozen, thus constituting serious threats for the regional and international peace and stability, since justice, equality and equity are not taken into account.

Nevertheless, despite their appearances, it is not easy to say that these conflicts are betwen civilizations. As a matter of fact, Turkish Cypriots for example are not supported in their struggle by all Moslem countries. The same thing could also be said for the conflict beween Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The solution of these frozen conflicts will contribute to a better understanding and dialogue among peoples as well as Global peace and security.

Some statements by the former Pope Benedict XVI humiliating Islam, publication of cartoons in Danish and some other Western newspapers depicting Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam as terrorist as well as films denigrating Moslems caused strong reactions in the Moslem World. No strict measures are taken by the Western governments against perpetrators on the pretext of freedom of expression.

Reactions of Moslem extremists and their terorist acts have been qualified as Islamic terrorism. Obviously, Moslem world has not a monolithic structure. Such a characterization is, undoubtedly, based on existing prejudices in the West against Islam and Moslem countries. This state of affairs may strengthen Islamophobia and racism as well.   In fact, prejudices and intolerance are root causes of xenophobia and racism which constitue a real hurdle on the way of a healthy dialogue among civilizations. To identify Islam and terrorism is not related only to prejudices, but also to the lack of information. The West should recognize the difference between the Islam as religion based on peace on the one hand and fanaticism or extremism on the other.

Obviously, dialogue would pave the way for a better mutual understanding among the peoples.

There are some other sensitive factors for a better understanding between Moslem countries and developed democratic countries of the West. I should remind that when democracy and human rights are put on the agenda by Western countries, there is always a strong reaction by most of the developing world or Moslem countries.  They consider the efforts of the West as an initiative to destabilize their countries. Certainly, the concept of human rights can not be used for political and economic interests in order to harm or divide countries on the basis of ethnic particularities.

Obviously, the lack of trust originates from the bad experiences of the colonlal past as well as some double standards such as strategic alliance relationship of some western countries with non-democratic states due their energy needs.

A just World order is an undisputable ideal. Nevertheless, in the face of the present economic and social order prevailing in the World, the idea of dialogue alone proposed by international organizations is not sufficient.

Developed countries have to spend efforts in order to find solutions to actual Global problems referred to above. Otherwise threats arising from under-development and poverty will be directed against them.

On the other hand there are serious problems and injustices in international trade. The developed countries exert pressures on developing nations for the elimination of obstacles on the way of the free international trade, also suggesting privatization and liberalization.  Nevertheless developed nations themselves they do not respect all these suggestions with a tendency to protect their own advantages.

In this context another important issue to be underlined is the fact that the quality education is necessary for the elimination of fanaticism. In this area UNESCO has a particular role to play.

As we said, there is no single type of Islam. Although Moslem World did not have, unlike the West, the experiences of Renaissance, Reformation, enlightenment, French and American revolutions as well as industrial revolution, many Moslem philosophers sincerely believe that Islam is compatible with democracy and human rights. A secular society is a must for a well functioning democracy based on human rights and the rule of law. It is widely admitted that the great Moslem philosopher Averroes (Ibn Rushd) has greatly influenced through his secular ideas the enlightenment in Europe.

In the final analysis, it can be said that the dialogue is always useful.  Nevertheless we should keep in mind existing political, economic and cultural difficulties and obstacles. The humanity, however, has the maturity to solve all outstanding problems.

[1] Ambassador Hazar served as Turkey’s Permanent Representative to Council of Europe and UNESCO.

[2] Samuel P.Huntington,The Clash of Civilizations, Foreign Affairs, New York, Volume 7,No.3, 1993.

[3] Samuel P.Huntington,The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order,Simon&Schuster UK Limited,London,1996,p.28.

[4] Bernard Lewis, The Middle East in World Affairs, From Babel to Dragomans Interpreting the Middle East, Phoenix,London 2004,pp.287-296.

[5] Bernard Lewis, The Middle East and the West, Indiana University Press,Bloomington 1994, p.135.

[6] Arnold J.Toynbee, The Western Question in Greece and Turkey, A Study in the Contact of Civilisations, Constable and Company Ltd., London-Bombay-Sydney,1922, pp. 107-148.

[7] In his work which is entitled as ‘’Primitive Culture’’ Tylor provides this definition on the First Page (See Encyclopedia Britannica).

[8] Eric Hobsbawm,  Globalisation, Democracy and Terrorism,Abacus, London, 2011, pp. 10-11.

[9] Almond, Ian, Two Faiths, One Banner: When Moslems Marched with  Christians across Europe’s Battlegrounds, I.B.Tauris&Co.Ltd.London,2009.

[10] Jean-Paul Roux, Un Choc de Religions, La Longue Guerre de l’Islam et de la Chrétienté 622-2007, Librairie Arthème Fayard, Paris,  2007. (A Clash of Religions, The Long War of Islam and Christianity 622-2007)

[11] United Nations General Assembly Resolution 53/22, 4 November 1998.

[12] United Nations General Assembly Resolution 54/113, United Nations Year of the Dialogue among Civilizations, 10 December 1999 and Resolution 55/23 United Nations Year of the Dialogue among Civilizations, 13 November 2000.

[13] UN Security Council Resolution 1368 (2001) 12 September 2001 and 1373(2001) , 28 September 2001.

[14] UN General Assembly Resolution 56/6,Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations,21 November 2001.

[15] ‘’Nomination Database-Peace’’, Nobelprize.org.

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Dış Politika – Foreıgn Polıcy (Vol. XXXXIII- No.1, 2016) Notes on Recent Events and Thıs Issue – Oktay Aksoy

This issue of the Turkish Foreign Policy Institute journal was in the process of preparation when many challenges in the international scene and more so in the region increased as well as ambiguities remained. Furthermore, forthcoming Presidential elections in the US keep on hold many important decisions needed for an alliance in which Turkey is a staunch member struggling with many threats from the South and East.

Future of EU

The future of EU-UK relations after the referendum in the UK resulting in favour of UK leaving the Union is a complex process the results of which will have  ramifications not only for countries already members but also for those like Turkey seeking membership. The result will also be indicative on how far the members are prepared to compromise on their sovereign rights for a presumably value based but uncertain future, how far they are prepared to realize the European project of working together for peace and prosperity where many cultures, traditions, languages in Europe are a possible asset for the continuation of a “unified in diversity” Europe.

The Turkish Prime Minister Prof. Davutoğlu had concluded an agreement with EU in March 2016 on curbing the flow of illegal immigrants and  regularizing Syrian refugees aiming to reach Europe and on receiving financial assistance to meet part of the burden on Turkey of the close to 3 million refugees Turkey had been hosting. This was regarded as a positive development in Turkey’s relations with EU. The conclusion of this agreement facilitated the opening to negotiations on June 30, 2016 of a new Chapter, Chapter 33 on financial and budgetary provisions and re-energizing the accession process in line with the outcome of the EU-Turkey Leaders’ meeting on November 29, 2015 and EU-Turkey Statement of March 18, 2016.

 

Change of Government in Turkey

Meanwhile, in Turkey we had a change of Government after Prof. Ahmet Davutoğlu resigned in May 2016 and Mr. Binali Yıldırım replaced him as AKP  (Justice and Development Party) leader and was assigned as the Prime Minister. However, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu remained in his office in the new government. Since the Party in power remains the same, it was more of a change of leadership. However, change of government has provided the opportunity to revise the Turkish foreign policy practices and to accommodate it to the realities of its region. As the new Prime Minister emphasizes his government will make every effort to reduce the number of enemies and increase the number of friends, it is expected that the foreign policy pursued will be based on realpolitik and Turkish interests, rather than on an ideological factors.

Amelioration of Turkish-Israeli Relations

Signs of change in approach to problem issues in foreign policy were imminent. An agreement was reached with Israel to normalize diplomatic relations strained since a Turkish ship “Mavi Marmara” carrying humanitarian assistance heading to the Israeli blockaded Gaza Strip was raided by Israeli navy commandos in international waters killing 9 Turkish citizens in 2010. The memorandum of understanding signed on June 28, 2016 by the Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry of Turkey, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Israeli Prime Minister’s  Special Representative Joseph Ciechanover did not only aim at reviving bilateral relations but also emphasizing the importance of cooperation on regional political, economic and humanitarian crisis and fight against terrorism.

Overcoming Tension in Turkish-Russian Relations

Coinciding more or less with this development was the normalization of relations with Russia which had been strained after the downing of a Russian bomber by a Turkish Air Force fighter jet near the Turkish-Syrian border on November 24, 2015 whose nationality was unknown at the time of the violation of Turkish air space several times despite several warnings. Since the military engagement rules on that frontier had been changed and very strictly implemented after a Turkish plane was shot down by the Syrian Air Force earlier in 2012. The downing of the Russian plane was hoped not to negatively affect its bilateral relations. However, Russia immediately imposed economic sanctions restricting imports from Turkey, making difficulties for Turkish business active in Russia and prohibiting tour operators organizing touristic visits to Turkey.

While the Turkish Foreign Minister right after the incident had expressed regrets to the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs when they briefly met on the sidelines of an OSCE meeting in Belgrade, this was not deemed satisfactory at that time. However, 6 months later, when Turkey had suffered enough economically, a letter sent by the Turkish President Erdoğan to his Russian counterpart President Putin expressing regret and sorrow over the downing of the Russian war plane created the conditions for the resumption of cooperation and bringing end to tension.

Russia had immediately imposed sanctions, in particular restrictions on touristic visits to Turkey, on Turkish business active in Russia and on importation of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as some products from Turkey. Russia must have realized that the strain in relations was disadvantageous for both countries and preferred opening of a new page in relations which Turkey was prepared to respond. Earlier, after the Second World War, when relations with the Soviets had soured, it had taken much longer to return to the initial warm days in their relations.

Warsaw Summit of NATO

NATO held a Summit meeting in Warsaw, Poland on July 8-9, 2016. The focus was still on Russia as the threat on Eastern members of the Alliance. Russian illegal annexation of Crimea and aggressive policies it pursued over the Ukraine have prioritized the Alliance to shift its strategy from small mobile reinforcements as decided at the Wales Summit in 2014 to more autonomous formal presence and deployment of four battalion sized battle groups that can operate in concert with national forces in the Baltic States and Poland in order to meet Russian military capabilities. While augmentation of Turkey’s air defense capabilities was considered and it was decided to make available AWACS surveillance aircrafts to monitor also the Turkish skies to support the counter ISIL Coalition, many people in Turkey argued that the Alliance was a bit shy to sufficiently consider the many threats Turkey was facing and fighting 3 different types of terrorist organizations, ethnic, sectarian and ideologically oriented.

 

Two Important International Meetings

While the attention was focused more on these issues two important international meetings were held in Turkey. One was First World Humanitarian Summit held in Istanbul on May 23-24, 2016. The other was the high level mid-term review of Istanbul Program of Action for the Least Developed Countries held in Antalya on May 27-29, 2016.

Contents of This Issue

            In this issue of our journal we have articles on these two important international meetings. The one on the First World Humanitarian Summit is written by Ambassador Hasan Ulusoy, Director General for Multilateral Political Affairs at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs entitled “Embarking on a Historic Journey for the Future of Humanity”. The other one is by Ambassador Emre Yunt, Director General for Multilateral Economic Affairs at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs entitled “UN Least Developed Countries Mid-Term Review”. We have also included in our “Documents” section Chairs’s summary of the First World Humanitarian Summit “Standing up for Humanity: Committing to Action”. As well as the Political Declaration submitted by the President of the mid-term review.

We have an essay by Seyfi Taşhan, President of the Foreign Policy Institute on factors impacting Turkish foreign policy. He discusses how these factors, international conditions and conjuncture, as well as major power policies influence the formation and execution of Turkey’s foreign policy.

An article by Ambassador (Ret.) Numan Hazar entitled “From Clash of Civilizations to Dialogue among Nations and Cultures”. At a time when we witness tensions not only between different cultures but also within cultures, you will find it interesting to read how Ambassador Hazar foresees amelioration of relations through dialogue.

At a time when private security companies are widely utilized there has not been sufficient debate on what kind of national and international legal infrastructure is needed. In the article “Privatization of Security and Its Impact on National and International Security” Prof. Hüseyin Bağcı from the Middle East Technical University and PhD Candidate Mr. Murat Kaymakçılar               focus on this important subject.

Followers of our journal know well that we have been interested in Turkey’s opening to Africa and many articles have appeared in our previous issues on this subject. This time the Turkish Ambassador to Moputo, Mozambique, Ms. Aylin Taşhan has contributed an article on Turkey’s emergence as a global actor in Africa with a special focus on its relations with Mozambique. This will provide an insight on how  Turkey perceives its relations and  what it has achieved so far.

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Dış Politika-Foreign Polıcy (Vol. XXXXIII – No.1, 2016) An Essay on the Factors Impacting Turkish Foreign Policy-Seyfi Taşhan

An Essay on the Factors Impacting Turkish Foreign Policy

                                                                                  Seyfi Taşhan

There are a number of factors that impact the foreign policies of a country including that of Turkey. These factors may be summarized as history, geography, security, economy, culture, including religion, tradition, and ideologies. One should not say that these factors are determinants of a policy. They carry different weight at different times in consideration of international conditions and inclinations of major powers. In this essay, we would like to discuss how these factors, international conditions, and major power policies have influenced the formation and execution of the foreign policy of Turkey.

The Weight of History

In its history the vast Ottoman Empire was comprised of different ethnic and religious groups. People from the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Arab world were dominated by the Turkish, Arab and Persian cultures. What we call the Ottoman language (Osmanlıca) was basically Turkish with a significant number of important words acquired from Persian and Arabic. Anatolia and Thrace, the heartland of the modern Turkish Republic founded after the First World War by Kemal Atatürk adopted a largely unified Turkish as its official language. Yet, some of the ethnic groups within the Ottoman Empire like non-Muslim Turks and Kurds continued to use their mother tongues in private. With the establishment of the Republic the non-Muslims were in a privileged position as they were conferred a minority status with the Treaty of Lausanne, 1923.

Modern Turkey being the primary inheritor of the Ottoman Empire both geographically and strategically, faced similar problems as far as its political geography is concerned. For example, the position of the Turkish Straits connecting the Black Sea with the Mediterranean, the position of Turkish speaking minorities left outside the present borders of Turkey, and the people who adopted Islam in the Balkans during the Ottoman era: The foreign policy-makers of Turkey had to deal with these problems as was the case in Cyprus, which led to a military intervention. Turks’ nationalistic feelings, in the face of occasional oppressive treatment of Turkish minorities in the neighboring countries, had to be harnessed and Turkey always advised them to be loyal citizens of the countries where they lived. From time to time such oppressive measures by Greece and Bulgaria led to serious political disputes. In each of these case of such oppressions and Turkish attitudes towards them can fill volumes to explain.

Additionally, Turkish diplomacy faced irredentist claims from such neighbors as Armenia and Syria. All these issues are derivatives of the historical and geographical context of Turkey. In fact, some of the geographic borders of Turkey in the Aegean are still the subject of political hackling and sometimes can lead to dog-fighting of Greek and Turkish aircraft. The situation is similar in Cyprus where the Turks of the Island have established their own Republic, yet they have failed to secure recognition from Western Powers. As a result, other countries have also refused to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus despite the fact that the UN sponsored solution for a united Cyprus has been rejected by the Greek Cypriots in the referendum, while it was accepted by the Turks of the Island. As negotiations still continue between the two communities on the Island to find a lasting solution, Turkey must continue to provide security for Northern Cyprus.

International Conjuncture

The changes in international conditions continue to influence Turkish foreign policy. One major example is the end of the Cold War and the breaking down of the Soviet Union.  Until then, Turkey’s diplomatic activities towards the Soviet sphere, including the Middle East, which was a contested arena during the Cold War, were limited. Yet beginning with the Détente Turkey began to open its economy to the world economy by abandoning its autarchic implementations. Diplomatic and economic possibilities, and practices, began to flourish with Eastern Europe, Russia, Caucasia and Central Asia. So successful was this opening was that Turkey not only began to expand its economic and political visions to these areas, but also to Africa, Latin America, and the Far East.

Security dynamics are also of great significance. In this respect, we can consider not only Turkey’s security interests, but those of other countries as well. For example, the transforming security perspectives in Europe and US led to auspicious occasions such as Turkey’s acceptance as a NATO member as well all other European institutions, including a partnership with the EU. These conditions also increased Turkish influence in the Arab World, which was albeit short lived as political Islam took over or destabilized regimes in most of the Arab countries. Among other things, this led to coups d’etat in Egypt, turmoil in Libya and Syria, as well as divisions within Iraq. Arab Sheikdoms in the Gulf still firmly grasp their power. In contrast, Syria has invited Russia to help against Islamic revolution and to restore its territories, thereby inviting Russia to become an immediate neighbor of Turkey, which was pushed from its borders with the end of the Cold War, thus creating problems between Turkey and Russia.

Turkey’s own understanding of what constitutes security is also very important. Ever since German troops occupied Bulgaria during the Second World War security concerns became the dominant concern of Turkish foreign policy. During this period Turkey became a neutral country, inviting the ire of the Soviet Union despite its alliance with Britain and France, even though this was a benevolent neutrality towards the West. Despite serious pressures from Allied powers Turkey was successful in postponing its entry into the war against Germany practically until the end of the War. This dampened the spirits of the Soviet regime, which had high hopes of ‘liberating’ (!) Turkey from a possible Fascist German occupation and attaining access to ‘warm waters’; a dream of the Russian Czars since Peter the Great. Meanwhile, the Soviets also expressed demands to join the control of the Turkish Straits and territory in the East of the country for Armenia. Refusal of these demands by Turkey caused the Soviets to refuse the renewal of the non- aggression pact that was signed in 1925. For Turkey this constituted a major threat from the biggest military power in Europe and Turkey was not in a position to counter this threat with its insufficiently equipped army and First World War vintage weapons.

Therefore, Turkey needed the support of, and therefore an alliance with, Western Powers. More specifically, Turkey needed an alliance with the United States as Britain had abandoned its responsibilities for Greece and Turkey. Tremendous diplomatic effort was spent by Turkey to obtain US involvement in Turkey’s defense. The Truman Doctrine in 1947 was an important step in this direction, but it was a non-committal support for Turkey in the form of military-economic assistance. This was followed by Turkey’s membership in several European organizations such as the Council of Europe. NATO had refused to have Turkey as a member despite demands of membership by Turkey in 1950. Possibly this was one of the leading factors for Turkey to send a military brigade to the war in Korea to become a comrade-in-arms with the US. The US had begun to change its position towards Turkey and bore enough pressure on NATO countries to make Turkey an equal member in 1952. And this was a significant diplomatic and military achievement for Turkey. Stalin’s death provided a slight change of Soviet attitude towards Turkey. Even though Cold War continued, the détente process with the Soviet Union began in early 1960’s. Yet from the military point of view the Soviets continued to increase their military expenditure until the end of the Cold War. Against the Turkish attitude, Western European members of NATO began to reduce their military spending extensively after the official beginning of the détente process in 1965. In that sense, Turkey’s interpretation of Détente was different from that of its West European partners. Consequently, Turkish foreign policy continued to regard security as the most important factor in the formulation and conduct of its foreign policy until the end of the Cold War.

Occasional military interventions in its political life led to increase the role of the National Security Council in the formulation of Turkey’s foreign policy. It was only after the end of the Cold War that this role of the military in the guidance of the Turkish foreign policy was gradually reduced to an advisor status, as military came more under the political authority. Hence, the responsibilities of the Turkish diplomacy grew towards enlarged area of the world.

However, in recent years, security concerns were revived both because of Russian military interventions in Georgia, as well as the invasion and annexation of Crimea, and the ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine. Moreover, Russia’s increasing military presence in Syria, under the pretext of being partners in the fight against Islamic terrorism, has disturbing omens for Turkey. With the exception of five small countries, the great majority of the European Union are also members of NATO. Different conceptual attitudes of NATO and EU have reduced Turkey’s dependence on West European allies in NATO and their role in NATO has also created suspicions regarding the effectiveness of the Alliance for Turkey’s security and defense.

In the worst years of the Cold War the value of NATO was a strong alliance. This served as a deterrence against Soviet threats until the end of the Cold War. Since then, for Western Powers, Russia is no longer perceived as a source of military threat and NATO’s deterrent value is highly reduced against aggression of Russia, the successor state of the Soviet Union.

The revival of expansionism in Russian foreign and military policies, together with the rise of China, which is developing as the biggest military power in the world, have led NATO strategists to rethink the nature of the post-Cold War climate. Added to this, the increasingly transnational nature of terrorism has forced Europe and the US to rethink the role of NATO for defense against rising new threats. The Russian attitude towards Turkey has prevented Turkey’s effective participation in the alliance combating the turmoil in Syria because of a minor border incident that seriously damaged economic and political relations between the two countries. However, both counties have realized how much harm this friction has negatively impacted their economies and decided to repair relations. However, this is hardly reassuring for Turkey and the NATO alliance’s concerns over Russian expansionism.

Economics

As noted above, economics is another significant contributor to Turkish foreign policy. In the 1980’s Turkey engaged itself in a major economic reform process by reducing its autarkic economic practices and opening the country’s economy to the world; paving the way for Turkey’s full participation in the global economic system and the prevailing market economy. The developments of the end of the Cold War became a boon for Turkey as the improving economic climate and the strengthening position of Turkey led to new openings in Africa, Latin America and the Far East. For example, today Turkey has diplomatic representations in most countries in the world (more than 200 representatives in 136 countries).

The boon in the economy resulted mainly from increased foreign trade and tourism, privatization of state property, as well as the rapid growth in real-estate investments and construction industry. The lack of industrial reforms and meager investments in high-tech industries made the overall economy fragile, as we have seen during the recent friction with Russia and the crisis in the Middle East.

Conclusion

There is a tendency to assess Turkish foreign policy through the lens of domestic politics by highlighting the immanence of domestic factors such as the ideology of decision-makers and public opinion that underscore historical and cultural discourse. While mindful of the significance of these determinants, Turkey has often conducted a Realpolitik foreign policy wherein the international conjuncture, especially Turkey’s security and economic priorities, have played a greater role in shaping Turkey’s foreign policy. Moreover, Turkish foreign policy has been most successful when it has acted in a manner consistent with the principles of Realpolitik, and conversely unsuccessful when it pursued ideological policies.

We see the examples of such utterances from describing Turkey as a most important country influencing the affairs of the countries between the Adriatic and Pacific, and sometimes their utterances made Turkey not only a central-power in its region, justifiably, but extended its desired, but not substantiated leadership role in the world. Sometimes there is a divergence between the Realpolitik requirements and ideological utterings of leaders for political purposes. Such utterings have time again created difficulties for Turkish diplomacy, which has occasionally waivered from its Realpolitik course and supporting the utterances of leaders and public opinion. These ideological, or political, utterances have caused serious damage to Turkey’s Realpolitik practices, and could sometimes hardly correct it by diplomacy.

Visits: 194

Dış Politika-Foreign Policy (Vol. XXXXIII – No.1, 2016) Turkey’s Emergence as a Global Actor in Africa: A Special Focus on Mozambique

*The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey.

 

 

Turkey’s Emergence as a Global Actor in Africa: A Special Focus on Mozambique

Aylin Taşhan

 

Turkey’s relations with Africa have gained new impetus recently as a result of Turkey’s multi-faceted foreign policy and the Continent’s growing importance in the 21st century. As the successor to an Afro-Eurasian state, Turkey has always retained close political, economic, and cultural ties with the Northern part of the Continent. Gradually, increasing and deepening its relations with the Sub-Saharan Africa became one of the main targets of Turkey’s foreign policy objectives.

By adopting the Action Plan for Africa in 1998, Turkey’s interest toward Africa has increased immensely. During the period following the declaration 2005 as the Year of Africa, Turkey opened a new page in its relations with the Continent and put more emphasis on economic, cultural and human dimensions as a part of its foreign policy orientation. Turkey has been given the observer status in the African Union in 2005.  In 2008 African Union has accepted Turkey as a strategic partner of the Continent, which paved the way for more substantial relations. In the same year Turkey was accepted as one of the non-regional partners of African Development Bank.

One of the hallmarks of Turkey’s strategy towards Africa consists of organizing, hosting, and participating in bilateral or multilateral meetings, conferences and summits. Some notable conferences Turkey hosted or co-organized in İstanbul include the Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit in 2008, the High-Level Officials Meeting in 2010, the Ministerial Level Reviewing Conference in 2011. The Second Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit was held in Malabo in 2014.

In terms of multilateral gatherings, Turkey hosted the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, in Istanbul on 9-13 May 2011 and organized the Mid-Term Review Conference of the Istanbul Programme of Action on 27-29 May 2016.  In addition, Turkey co-chaired with Egypt “International Donor’s Conference for the Reconstruction and Development of Darfur” in Cairo, on 21 March 2010 and hosted twice the Istanbul Somalia Conferences organized within the UN framework on 21-23 May 2010 and 31 May-1 June 2012 consequently. In the framework of its G20 Presidency, Turkey organized the High Level Conference on Access to Energy in Sub-Saharan Africa on 1 October 2015. Turkey was also the host country to the sixth High Level Partnership Forum for Somalia on 23-24 February 2016.

Enlarging its level of representation constitutes another important pillar of Turkey’s new strategy towards Africa. In 2009 Turkey had only12 Embassies on the Continent, 7 of which were in the Sub-Sahara region. Today, the total number of the Turkish Embassies in Africa has reached 39. The number of trade offices also reached 26 in the Continent.

During that period, Turkey’s soft power instruments such as the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA) as well as the Turkish Airlines (THY) have enhanced Turkey’s existence in the Continent.  TİKA has opened new offices in Africa and currently has 15 coordination offices in Africa, including the one in Hargeisa, Somaliland. It has also intensified and increased its humanitarian, technical, and developmental assistance to Africa in fields such as education, health, agriculture, infrastructure and capacity-building. In addition to TİKA and other Turkish institutions, Turkey provides assistance to the Continent through international organizations.

Turkish airlines, being one of the most preferred leading European air carriers with a global network coverage is currently flying to 48 destinations in Africa.

The number of African students studying in various Turkish Universities, through scholarships provided by the Turkish Government is increasing every year.

In this process, to develop its relations with African countries on a more concrete basis, Turkey gives utmost importance to concluding bilateral agreements, establishing business councils and joint Economic Commission mechanisms. Every day, the number of Turkish investors and businessmen in Africa is increasing. Turkish brands are growing in popularity on the Continent. Turkish companies are actively taking part in African markets and they offer high-quality Turkish goods that are among the most coveted on the Continent.

A positive impact of this process can also be seen on the trade volume figures between Turkey and the Continent as a whole.  In this respect, while Turkey’s trade volume with Africa was only 5.47 billion Dollars in 2003, in 2015 Turkey’s total trade volume with the Continent has exceeded the amount of 17.5 billion Dollars, representing a threefold increase in this period.

Today, Turkey’s policy of opening to Africa has been completed and transformed into a partnership relation.

Mozambique: A case study

As an element of Turkey’s policy of opening up to Africa, I was tasked with the duty of opening the first ever Turkish Embassy in Mozambique. Without mentioning the physical difficulties of opening an Embassy in an African country, in this article I will try to share my experiences as the first Turkish Ambassador in Maputo, as a person who observed, and experienced the transformation period of Turkey’s opening up policy towards Africa to a partnership that gradually deepened, by taking Mozambique as a sample case.

In what follows, I provide a brief overview of Mozambique, before sharing my observations about the country.

A brief history of Mozambique

During the eighth century Arab merchants reached the south eastern costs of Africa.  In 1498, the Portuguese sailor and an explorer Vasco da Gama’s fleet reached the Eastern coast of Africa, which was at the time dominated by Muslim traders, and later colonized by Portugal in 1505. By 1510, the Portuguese had control of all of the former Arab sultanates on the east African coast.

 

By the end of the First World War, colonial control is established over the whole of Portuguese East Africa. Portugal designated Mozambique an overseas territory in 1951.

 

During the years following the Second World War, thousands of Portuguese settlers immigrated into Mozambique to take advantage of opportunities of the colonial economy. During that period, the Salazar regime was ruling Portugal.

 

While these developments were taking place, a team in exile headed by Eduardo Mondlane formed a group in 1962 in Dar es Salaam, and adopted their name as the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique/Frelimo). Frelimo began its campaign in northern Mozambique in 1964, launching a ten year bitter struggle and fought for the independence of the Portuguese Overseas Province of Mozambique. One year after the assassination of Eduardo Mondlane, Samora Machel, a pragmatic military commander, became head of Frelimo. The fight for independence lasted eleven years.

 

Meanwhile in Portugal, the junior army officers swept away a four-decade dictatorship, which at the same time signaled the end of Portuguese colonial rule in Africa. Almost one year after the Carnation Revolution in Lisbon, negotiations with the Portuguese administration resulted in an agreement and the Lusaka Accord was signed on September 7, 1974, which provided for a complete hand-over of power to the Frelimo party. Mozambique succeeded in achieving independence on  June 25, 1975 and Samora Machel became the first President.

 

Two years later, at the Frelimo’s 3rd Congress, the party declared itself as a Marxist–Leninist political party and Mozambique a one-party state.

 

 

Mozambique Resistance Movement (Resistencia Nacional Mocambicana/Renamo) on the other hand, was formed in 1976, as an anti-Communist rebel group backed by neighboring white minority regimes. Renamo opposed the central Government and the Mozambican Civil War began in 1977, two years after the end of the war of independence, affecting the lives of millions. The fighting ended in 1992 with the signing of the Rome General Peace Accord.

 

Mozambique abandoned its Marxist stance after the end of the civil war. Burdens of maintaining the war and the damage wrought on Mozambique’s economy and infrastructure were severe. As a result of these difficulties and the discrediting of Communism following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Frelimo Government decided to enact political and economic liberalization. This was achieved through a new constitution that signaled a shift to a multi-party system.

 

The first elections were held in 1994. Frelimo won all the elections in the history of Mozambique and Renamo remained as the main opposition party. After adopting the market economy the Frelimo Government has begun intensive work for improving the investment environment and rebuilding Mozambique’s economic infrastructure.

 

Mozambique in transition

 

The Republic of Mozambique is situated on the southeast coast of Africa and enjoys a privileged strategic location with its 2750 km long coastline.  Its harbors constitute natural gateways for its landlocked neighbors Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Malawi, and the Northern part of the Republic of South Africa, thereby connecting these countries to the sea. Mozambique facilitates easy access to the markets of SADC member countries. The country has three main harbors namely, Maputo in the south, Beira at the center and Nacala in the north, as well as five international airports.

 

In addition to civil war, Mozambique has long suffered from famine and diseases. More than half of the population lives in rural areas; a large majority of its citizens do not have access to clean water, and cannot benefit from the education and health services. Mozambique, with its damaged infrastructure as a result of the civil war, a fragile economy that suffers from devastating floods as well as drought, as a country most vulnerable to climate change, and struggling with infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, is among the least developed countries in the world.

 

However, against all these negativities, Mozambique has started to grow rapidly after its civil war. The Government embarked on a series of macroeconomic reforms designed to stabilize the economy and encouraged foreign investments. Its average annual economic growth rate reached 7-8 percent. Mozambique has become the fastest growing economy in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, without depending on oil. Mozambique is seen by donors as a success story of post civil war reconstruction and economic reform. The country has benefited from debt relief initiatives and its development partners have substantially contributed to the budget of Mozambique.

 

The country has abundant natural and hydro-resources as well as large mineral deposits such as iron ore, gold, bauxite, graphite, marble, limestone, and tantalite.  However the discovery and exploitation of these resources have been constrained by the civil war, poor infrastructure, and economic difficulties.

 

Until recently aluminum was one of the main sources of income for the country. The Mozal aluminum smelter that was opened in 2000, in Matola near the capital Maputo, became the country’s only mega foreign investment project as aluminum became the most valuable export item. Nevertheless, due to low global prices, aluminum exports did not provide sufficient benefit to the economy.

 

However, with the recent discovery of large natural gas fields in the Rovuma basin and coal in the Tete region, Mozambique has become one of the most promising countries in Africa in terms of natural gas and coal resources.

 

Africa’s second largest hydropower plant Cahora Bassa is located in Mozambique. Coal deposits at the central part of the country and natural gas explorations at Rovuma basin in the northern part give hope for brighter days to the citizens of Mozambique. The amount of high-quality coal discovered in Benga and Moatize situated near the city of Tete reaches 28 billion tons.

 

The quantity of natural gas explored so far in the northern Rovuma sedimentary basin of the country reaches around 7.5 trillion cubic meters. Some reports mention that Mozambique has the world’s one of the richest natural gas reserves and predicts that if Mozambique starts producing liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2020 and begins selling it by 2022 as projected, Mozambique will become the  third largest LNG exporters in the world.

 

As a result of these developments, Mozambique has quickly become a center of attraction for foreigners and foreign direct investment started to flow in the country. Major companies of many countries have emerged in Mozambican markets and have increasingly started to invest, especially in mining ventures.

 

Although Mozambique has vast areas of arable land, only 10-15 percent of its cultivable land is being used for agriculture. So, the country needs investment in agricultural field and agricultural modernization.

 

Besides, having a long coastline and fresh water of 13.000 km. square, 1200 different species of fish inhabit Mozambique’s exclusive economic zone and rivers of 586 thousand square kilometers size. The climate of the country is well-suited for fishery.  Moreover, with its long coastline, sandy beaches, and tropical islands Mozambique has a great tourism potential. The Island of Mozambique (Ilha de Moçambique) one of the fastest growing tourist destinations of the country is registered on the UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

 

 

Turkey is opening up to Mozambique

 

Turkey was one of the first countries that recognized Mozambique just after its independence and has been maintaining good relations with Mozambique. However, the extent of the cooperation between the two countries remained much below its real potential.

 

The opening of the Turkish Embassy in Maputo has coincided with the beginning of the period of great progress in Mozambique. In March 2011, when I arrived in Maputo for the purpose of launching a new Embassy, the deleterious effects of the civil war were still visible on the streets of Maputo. However, day-by-day, we noticed an incredible economic transformation, first on the roads, then the quality of construction, goods sold in the markets, and a rise in internet service providers etc.

 

Concomitant to these developments, by the opening of the new Turkish Embassy, relations between the two countries gained such pace that Turkey became one of the main foreign actors in the country, where it had once been relatively unknown to Mozambicans.

 

Just to give few examples, the two countries have been diligently working on concluding more than 20 agreements in various fields; some have already been signed and many others are ready to be concluded soon.

 

In May 2014, three military ships of the Turkish navy visited the Port of Maputo, which was an indication that Turkey attaches great importance to the development of its military relations with Mozambique.

 

The Turkish Deputy Minister of Economy has visited Mozambique twice in 2015. In the same year the first Business Forum on the Construction Sector was organized in Maputo with the participation of 15 prominent Turkish construction companies. During the Forum, an agreement was signed for the establishment of the Turkish-Mozambican Business Council.

 

In August 2015, 20 Turkish companies from various sectors such as energy, food, and electrical appliances have participated at the national level in the Maputo International Fair/ FACIM.

 

In February 2016, a delegation from the Ankara Chamber of Industry has visited Mozambique. In this framework, 8 Turkish companies met their 42 Mozambican counterparts. In March, a delegation from the Istanbul Mineral and Metals Exporters’ Association visited Maputo. During this visit, 11 Turkish companies met more than 90 of their Mozambican counterparts. In April, 30 member companies of the Turkish Exporters Assembly met 120 Mozambican firms in Maputo.

 

All these meetings have provided great opportunities for Turkish and Mozambican companies to share their views and experiences, and to take firsthand information, which paved the way for more enhanced cooperation and new partnerships. Some of the companies participating in the meetings have already taken concrete steps for establishing partnerships. Moreover, prominent Turkish companies from the energy and construction sectors, well known with their high quality of labor, trustworthiness, and punctuality, have opened their offices in Mozambique. Every day new Turkish companies arrive in Mozambique for the purposes of starting businesses or investment.

 

While in 2003 trade volume between Turkey and Mozambique was only 5 million Dollars, in 2015 this figure reached 120 million Dollars. Turkish companies have taken their place among top ten countries in Mozambique according to investment applications received.

 

The Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency/TİKA, extends assistance at different levels to Mozambican institutions and NGOs.

 

On October 28, 2015 the Turkish Airlines has started scheduled flights between İstanbul and Maputo. This has significantly contributed to increasing the number of tourists and businessmen. Furthermore, with the organization of cultural events, remarkable progress has taken place in the cultural field as well. Last year, Ankara and Maputo became sister cities.

 

 

Each year Turkey awards around 15 Government scholarships to Mozambique. Currently more than 80 Mozambican students are studying in various Turkish universities.

 

Conclusion

 

With its policy of partnership, Turkey is entering even remote destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa as rather new, but strong and durable partner. It is for sure that Turkey’s new strategy of partnership policy towards Africa highly contributes to the development of the Continent.

 

Those are some concrete examples of how Turkey’s opening up policy have evolved in Mozambique and gradually resulted in a partnership. Similar steps by Turkey were taken in other African countries as well. Depending on the local and international conditions, Turkey’s new partnership strategy yielded more effective results in some African countries, while less in others; but has always been progressive.

 

 

Mozambique today is facing some major challenges like continuous clashes inside the country, severe economic problems such as enormous amount of public debts, as well as undisclosed debts, depreciation of its currency, the Metical, against the Dollar, and high inflation rates. However, with its rich natural resources, great economic potential, and political will, Mozambique will soon be on the right track. During its journey of transition, Turkey, with its Government, NGO’s, and the private sector will accompany Mozambique as a strong and a reliable development partner. Indeed, the same applies for the whole Continent!

 

Visits: 193

Dış Politika-Foreign Policy (Vol. XXXXIII – No.1, 2016) THE FIRST-EVER WORLD HUMANITARIAN SUMMIT : EMBARKING ON A HISTORIC JOURNEY FOR THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY

THE FIRST-EVER WORLD HUMANITARIAN SUMMIT :

EMBARKING  ON   A  HISTORIC JOURNEY FOR   THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY

BY DR.HASAN ULUSOY [*]

 

The first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) was hosted by Turkey, on 23-24 May 2016 in Istanbul, upon the  initiative of Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) Ban Ki-moon, amid the current challenges facing the global humanitarian system.

The Istanbul Summit, in line with its inclusive structure, brought together for the first time in history all stakeholders of the world  humanitarian community, including representatives of affected populations.

The participation at the summit  exceeded earlier estimations, by reaching a record level  with 9.000 participants from all stakeholders . 173 Member States, including 55 Heads of State and Government, more than 60 Ministers, as well as some 40 Secretaries/Directors   General from different  international and regional organizations were present therein. According to the UN figures,  it was the highest number of  the United Nations members who  have  ever come together at this scale in one single time outside its headquarters in New York.

The aim of this article is to provide insights on the whole WHS process, from its inception to the present and beyond, with particular  emphasis on the role and position of Turkey, as a leading country in the humanitarian field, in this historic process.

 

THE WHS PREPARATION PROCESS

 

It is true that the global humanitarian system has made considerable progress throughout history, to the common benefit of peoples in need. The omnibus UN resolution on humanitarian assistance of 1991 [1]  had laid the foundation, through which the present system was set to function.

Yet, given the scales of humanitarian crises today, it has become undeniable that the international community face tremendous challenges in the humanitarian field.  In addition, the current  humanitarian system can no longer adequately address today’s humanitarian crises. In fact, contemporary humanitarian crises worsen  in number  and complexity. Moreover, such crises are transcending borders as the recent tragic exodus of refugees and effects of pandemics like Ebola and Zika have bitterly reminded the international community once again. What is more distressing is the ever-growing dichotomy between  increasing needs at   unprecedented  levels and limited available resources in financing which marks  the underlying problematic facing the present humanitarian system.

Today, 80 percent of humanitarian crises are caused by conflicts, with most being recurrent or protracted ones  lasting years long. The number of people forcibly displaced worldwide is likely to have surpassed a record 60 million, half of which are children, mainly driven by protracted conflicts.

Natural disasters also cause loss of lives of millions and leave severe economic damages as a consequence. Natural disasters have affected 218 million people on average and caused over an economic damage of some 300 billion USD  per year for the last 20 years.  In brief,  as the UN Secretary General stressed once, there is a record number of people,  130 million, who   need aid to survive.[2]

As a whole, the foregoing  realities form altogether the pressing background that led to the World Humanitarian Summit  process initiated by the UN Secretary General in 2013.

The process was led by the UN, notably the WHS secretariat,  the establishment of which was supported by Turkey. It was  of a multi-stakeholder nature  where all interested stakeholders of the world humanitarian community were able to participate in the spirit of  consultation, in contrast to  the customary intergovernmental process requiring negotiations.  The stakeholders included civil society, international and national aid organizations, private sector, academia, youth, faith groups,  along with member states, UN specialized bodies and persons affected by crises.   Through three years of consultations which brought together 23,000 people in more than 150 countries,  the WHS Secretariat organized eight regional consultations, along with technical, sectorial ones and  online discussions and submissions,   as well as a thematic consultation which took place  in Berlin, September 2015 as a follow-up to the former ones. The consultative process was finally completed with the global consultations in Geneva on 14-16 October 2015 concluding on a synthesis report as the outcome of the process.  [3]

Following this consultation process, the UN Secretary-General articulated his vision and recommendations for the future of the global humanitarian system in his report, entitled  “One Humanity: Shared Responsibility” which was  issued on February 9, 2016.[4] In  this report, he identified five core responsibilities : Securing global leadership to prevent conflicts, respecting international humanitarian norms, reaching the most vulnerable and furthest behind, changing people’s lives and ending the need, and investing in humanity. The annex to this report, Agenda for Humanity,  included concrete areas of action and  provided the framework under which all stake holders including Member States could  announce their commitments at the Summit.

 

TURKEY’S ROLE AND POSITION IN THE WHS PROCESS

When the above-mentioned process was initiated by   UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2013,  he   declared  Istanbul as the   host of the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit,    during the 68th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on 26 September 2013. In his statement, the Secretary General drew attention to Turkey’s position as one of the world’s leading humanitarian donors, as well as to Turkey’s own experience in directly responding to humanitarian emergencies.

 

The designation of Turkey  by the UN Secretary General, as the host of the World Humanitarian Summit in the face of two other candidate cities, New York and Geneva,  can be seen as the sign of international community’s acknowledgement  for the  role and position  of Turkey in the humanitarian system. It also indicates the evolving realities  in the humanitarian field,  to seek new balances between not only  the traditional donors and emerging actors, but also  the donors and affected ones.

In fact, Turkey has a strong tradition of responding to those in need. Situated in a disaster-prone geography, Turkey’s land has historically been moulded with humanitarian  efforts.  As early as in the late 15th century, the Turkish rulers  provided sanctuary  to several hundreds of  thousands of exiled populations fleeing persecution in their homelands. Since then Turks have embraced countless peoples in dire needs, regardless of their religious, ethnic or linguistic backgrounds, throughout history. Based on such heritage, modern Turkey has continued to  provide humanitarian assistance to such peoples in need,   by either hosting them in its territory or helping them in their own or third countries, to the extent of its resources and capacities.

Built  on its own  experiences, in recent times, this humanitarianism  has been vividly  reflected in Turkey’s humanitarian diplomacy. This diplomacy  has a broader meaning than mere humanitarian assistance which   is yet  an important  tool of  it.  Humanitarian diplomacy as Turkey applies is a human-centered and conscience-driven policy having particular attention, in  its efforts,  on human   dignity and development,  in countries where humanitarian crises of all sorts  occur.

Today,  Turkey is long considered as the world’s “most generous” humanitarian donor as  the ratio of official humanitarian assistance to national income is taken into consideration.[5] Beside the humanitarian assistance  directed to the Syrians sheltered in Turkey, the  amount allotted for overseas humanitarian assistance by Turkey   has also been  in steady increase.  As the figures  show, almost 70 percent of  Turkish development aid has been used for humanitarian assistance purposes. [6]

While extending its  humanitarian assistance globally, Turkey also hosts   millions of affected people who fled in despair from their homelands, notably Syria and Iraq.  This is a unique but rather bitter experience, through which  Turkey can be better positioned to  see the current issues prevailing in both sides of the system, as a donor and a refugee hosting country.

Turkey’s humanitarian response is directed today to all types of crises ranging from conflict situations to natural disasters and pandemics,  such as Ebola. It is  conducted  through different formats via either   emergency relief operations or   more comprehensive ones, while always observing all related law, such as international humanitarian and refuge norms and regulations.

 

The system    has institutionally three major pillars operating under the general coordination of   the Turkish Foreign Ministry, namely, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), the Turkish Red Crescent and the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA), the latter focusing on social and economic development through technical cooperation projects, whereas the former two focus more on humanitarian relief. They all  operate also  in close coordination with civil society organizations as appropriate. Naturally, specialized Ministries, such as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, as well as the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs,  substantially  contribute to the programmes in  their areas of expertise.

 

All these institutions  play roles in distribution of humanitarian aids in kind, fulfilment of development aids and evacuation of injured people. Moreover, Turkey has relatively  a flexible humanitarian assistance system as regards to regulations, budget and decision-making process. These characteristics facilitate  making humanitarian assistance promptly.

 

Currently, the main components of the Turkish humanitarian policy can be summarized as follows:

As manifested in today’s cases around the globe, humanitarian crises appear  in fact to be  symptoms of  bigger maladies. It is thus of great importance to address the root causes in order to treat the malady, rather than relieving only the symptoms. This is the main approach that drives Turkey’s policies vis-à-vis humanitarian crises of the present  era.

It is an undeniable fact that humanitarian crises can be alleviated by humanitarian aids but never eliminated without a sustainable and holistic approach. This requires  a series of different tools to be deployed in  tackling humanitarian crises through a more comprehensive and encompassing approach which complements crisis response policies  with preventive ones.

Humanitarian crises caused or triggered  by conflicts lead to   serious impacts not only in the country of origin, but also in its neighbors. Turkey in its humanitarian policy has certainly had experience in both cases.

The major case in respect of the latter is   hosting millions of Syrians fleeing the conflict in Syria.  This is the biggest humanitarian crisis of a protracted nature in the present era which severely affects also the neighboring countries both financially and security-wise.

In line with its humanitarian responsibilities and its humanitarian diplomacy, Turkey has developed a multi-fold strategy, from the very beginning of the humanitarian crisis, to help the Syrians fleeing in exodus from their country.

Turkey has maintained an open border policy since the outset of the Syria crisis which is regarded as the worst human tragedy since the Second World War.  More than 50 percent of the displaced Syrians found shelter in Turkey.  “Turkey has become the biggest refugee-hosting nation in the world”, to quote the UN High Commissioner for Refugees when launching  the annual Global Trends  Report on 18 June 2015.

As it is widely recognized, this policy has been conducted in the absence of a meaningful  international support. While Turkey has spent more than 10 billion USD, the financial support coming from the international partners remains rather  symbolic to this date, corresponding to only 5 percent of this amount[7].

In this process, Turkey has tried to provide   best possible living conditions for the Syrians and mobilized all institutions of the state, first and foremost, the  Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD)  and the Turkish Red Crescent.

Affected persons  fleeing the conflict in Syria have been able to recreate in a user-oriented atmosphere,  to the maximum extent possible, the previous lives and livelihoods they had to leave behind. In this regard,  the innovative use of cash based assistance model in Turkey, the “e-voucher” programme, needs to be  mentioned.  This  has been implemented in temporary protections centers (TPCs) housing Syrians since October 2012.  The e-voucher program, as a human-oriented method, has not only enabled Syrian beneficiaries to do their shopping with these  magnetic cards  profiting the right to choose and to prepare their meals based on their traditional taste and preferences, but has also helped increase interaction and socialization through the provision of a marketplace. By eliminating the need for public aid institutions to provide three daily meals, the e-voucher program  also proves   cost-effective.

 

As to the humanitarian assistance policies directed to countries of origin stricken by humanitarian crises in conflict,  Turkey’s policy to assist  Somalia can be regarded  as a exemplary case.

Somalia is in fact the most striking example of countries affected  by protracted crises which are triggered by both conflicts and natural disasters. The country was hit   by a severe famine in 2011. Following the visit of the then Prime  Minister of Turkey, all segments of the Turkish society from public institutions  to NGOs and private  sector   were  mobilized to assist the people of Somalia. This process  has gradually resulted into a comprehensive policy, comprising  humanitarian, development as well as stabilization efforts in an integrated strategy.   In a relatively short span of time, several projects were put into action which consisted of human and institutional capacity building, construction of essential infrastructure, providing services such as education, sanitation and  health  etc. while humanitarian aids such as delivering food  and medicine continued.

In this multi-stakeholder process, in addition to TİKA, AFAD  and the Turkish Red Crescent, the Turkish  business sector,  civil society as well as municipalities   have also been heavily engaged with fund raising and undertaking humanitarian and development assistance projects.   While the projects on humanitarian aid and development assistance are  carried out in a concerted way,  political efforts of Turkey contributing to  stabilization efforts have  also been put into action  through bilateral and multilateral channels. Naturally, all these have become possible with a holistic and  integrated approach under a strong political leadership.

As can be seen from the foregoing, the development-oriented humanitarian assistance constitutes the core of Turkey’s policies in its  humanitarian response. Given the complexity of the present crises, the humanitarian-development nexus needs to be strengthened to increase the resilience and capacity of recipient actors to respond to humanitarian crises themselves.

This is crucially important to address the humanitarian crises of recurrent and  protracted nature. Both have one underlying fact in common: severe negative impacts of a destructive nature on the country in question, including refugee plights.

In such cases,  humanitarian crises are triggered as the negative impact of insufficient development, environmental issues, conflicts, poverty and lack of infrastructure. For example, in many cases in sub-Saharan Africa, there exists a vicious circle entangling the countries. Food crises mostly resulting in famine repeat themselves in circles, due to either drought or flooding which are aggravated by climatic degradation such as deforestation or desertification. Limited agricultural capacities are ruined by either droughts or floods every season due to the limited basic infrastructure (water storage or drainage systems etc.) or  lack of human or institutional capacity to tackle such disasters.

This vicious circle is hard to break. Why?  Because there is a huge problem on the development side. Such vicious circles might risk even causing  or triggering conflicts leading to refugee crises as well.

In such cases, humanitarian crises cannot be remedied fully without developmental tools.  This makes also the SDGs ( Sustainable Development Goals of the UN)  crucial both to tackle humanitarian emergencies and to enhance peace and security. In fact, to ensure peace and security lasting and   enduring, the humanitarian action  needs to be  supplemented  with sustainable development along with democratic structures.

In order to break such vicious circles it is needed  to intervene with various  tools. At the first stage, Turkey intervenes with humanitarian aids for emergency humanitarian relief and continues with development projects to support resilience, in tandem or simultaneously as appropriate.

This is the main philosophy behind the Turkish  policy in such cases, which is marked with the combined use of humanitarian and development financing along with various  tools in a concerted way.

This is not an easy task but the result is rewarding for all.

The combined use of humanitarian and development tools turns to be cost effective for donors in the longer run as affected countries become more resilient increasing their level of development, thanks to development aids on basic infrastructure, human and institutional capacity-building. This development assistance enables affected countries to resist to such humanitarian shocks, which in turn would reduce their need of humanitarian aids in future. Thus, it is a win-win approach.

This model is also applied to conflict-driven protracted crises. In these cases Turkey’s  humanitarian and developmental efforts are complemented  with political and stabilization efforts. This approach is also applicable to neighboring countries hosting refugees in a protracted case because of the severe impacts on such countries.

Today, such an approach  is increasingly recognized as an effective way to overcome humanitarian-development divide. In the related literature, there is a classic analogy to describe development-oriented humanitarian policies: Give the needy  fishes to eat, but  teach them also how to fish. Yet, Turkey’s policy in this regard goes far beyond this as it aims to assist  the country in need to manufacture fishing tools and  help for the creation of  its   fishing industry. This naturally requires a holistic approach.

These policies are always carried out in cooperation with the  authorities of the host country in need, taking into account its  demands.  In this process, TIKA, Turkey’s hand abroad along with all agencies and institutions such as AFAD and Turkish Red Crescent, as well as NGOs, act together in coordination with respective Ministries towards this end.

Naturally, there are certain conditions for the success of such combined use of different instruments and financing. Making different bureaucracies work together is not an easy task.  For the success, the main key words are : case-specific but holistic approach, joint and integrated  strategy and planning based on shared analyses, context-based and tailor-made programmes, concerted actions through better coordination avoiding duplication, overlapping and flexible budgeting. All these need an enhanced culture of collective labor which definitely requires a mentality change. There comes the important role of strong political backing and leadership.

Another area in responding to humanitarian crises where Turkey has developed its own policies is related to emergency responses to disasters, be they natural or man-made. Turkey  is in fact a disaster-prone country   subject to the destructive impact of such  disasters.  During the last century, around 50 big earthquakes, numerous floods and landslides, forest fires, mining accidents and more hit  Turkey. Not only common sufferings but also common experiences along with them are embedded in the memory of Turkey. Thus, Turkey has enhanced its capacity for disaster response with its NGOs and public institutions, notably  AFAD, Turkish Red Crescent and TIKA, and has taken an active role in humanitarian field.

Just like in its other activities, Turkey considers humanitarian assistance in response to disasters as a moral obligation and an international responsibility, too.  With this understanding, Turkey extends a helping hand to all disaster regions in its neighborhood and beyond, which essentially  contributes to  the stability of international community as well.

These abovementioned  views, practices  and experiences of Turkey, in  particular on the joint use of humanitarian and development  assistance in areas affected by protracted and recurrent crises and financial support to refugee hosting countries on a basis of effective, genuine and fair burden sharing,  were extensively shared with the international community during the WHS preparation process to which Turkish stakeholders actively contributed in substance. In this process, they were also  submitted  by Turkey   in a compact manner as  the  National Position Paper[8] to the Summit Secretariat as early as in June 2015. In addition to the aforementioned policies, Turkey also underlined in its position paper,

  • Need for stronger coordination not only among the relevant UN bodies operating in the field, but also  between them  for better field effectiveness,
  • Need for new financing mechanisms and new  global pooled funds in order to ensure the predictability, sustainability and reliability of humanitarian financing,
  • Need for effective and genuine burden-sharing in financial terms to neighboring countries that host displaced populations.
  • Need for close consultation and cooperation with local authorities and affected populations in needs assessment and delivery of in kind and cash assistance.

 

ISTANBUL SUMMIT AND THE WAY FORWARD

As stated earlier, the WHS process reached its culmination in Istanbul on 23-24 May 2016 with the summit.  In accordance with its format the Istanbul Summit evolved into a high level global platform where all interested stakeholders of the world humanitarian community announced their   commitments to the future of the humanitarian system, while sharing their experiences and views,  in view of the UN Secretary General’s report and  its Agenda for Humanity which was released in February 2016. In this context, likeminded countries and stakeholders also  made joint commitment, statements, or launched initiatives as well.

As formally stated by the UN, the Summit had three main goals[9]:

To re-inspire and reinvigorate a commitment to humanity and to the universality of humanitarian principles.

To initiate a set of concrete actions and commitments aimed at enabling countries and communities to better prepare for and respond to crises, and be resilient to shocks.

To share best practices which can help save lives around the world, put affected people at the center of humanitarian action, and alleviate suffering.

The summit comprised of the following events: Leaders’ Segment, Announcement Plenary, 7 high level roundtable meetings, 15 special sessions and more than  130 side events, not to mention the exhibition fair and innovation market place which brought hundreds of  stands and exhibitors. In two consecutive days, these events took place simultaneously in a rather busy environment where stakeholders practically rushed  from one to other meetings, cognizant of their common ownership for the future of humanity.  [10]

During the countdown process started a year ago by the UN Secretary General, around 2-3 thousand people were envisaged to attend the Summit. Later,  the expectations were updated  to 5-6 thousand people in view of  increased engagement of the stakeholders in the preparations in the lead up to the Summit. However, as mentioned in the introduction,  the summit ultimately ended up in 9.000 participants who were  physically present.

As regards the donors world,  Chancellor of Germany was the only Prime Minister who participated in  the summit from the G7 countries at that level and Japan was represented by the former prime minister as the special envoy of the Japanese PM. Other G7 countries  participated at ministerial level or below.[11] Nevertheless, donor countries other than G7 countries participated at the level of Minister and above. Likewise, all the EU countries attended  the Summit at high levels ranging from the heads of state or government to the ministers.

It was also welcoming that the members of the G77 and LDC’s, who represent  in general the recipient side in the humanitarian system, were mostly present at ministerial level or above. It would not  be wrong to argue that hosting of the Summit, which was not assumed by a traditional donor country but by Turkey as a leading donor and an affected country which conducts an active humanitarian diplomacy, had an impact on this active engagement.

The record level of participation from the UN member states was attained despite the reluctance shown by these member states in general  towards the non-intergovernmental structure of the WHS process.  This  can   be attributed to the growing interest of the world humanitarian  community in the alarming challenges transcending borders such as refugee flows. It is with no doubt that the selection of Turkey as the host country as well as the active role Turkey has assumed in the humanitarian domain in recent years has  also contributed to the increasing level of engagement of the stakeholders to be present in Istanbul.

During the Summit, Turkey’s views and positions, which are summarized above, were extensively voiced by the President of Turkey,  H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and several  members of the Governments, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, as well as by other high level national bodies such as AFAD at several meetings [12]. President Erdoğan inter alia  co-chaired with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the Leaders’ Segment where all heads of state and government attended sharing their ideas about the future of the system in  support for the Agenda for Humanity.

Turkey also announced its support to the commitments in the five responsibility areas of the “Agenda for Humanity” document and made numerous national commitments. The commitments Turkey made during the Summit mark in fact  both Turkey’s achievements in the humanitarian domain and its commitment to improve the  collective response  to humanity in line with the spirit of shared responsibility and common ownership.

The Turkish public stakeholders and NGOs also marked the priorities of Turkish humanitarian policy through 21 side events[13] and several exhibitions they held during the Summit.

Furthermore, Turkey as the host country organized an international academic forum on 21 May 2016 in Istanbul,   in contribution to the Summit where members of academia from various parts of the world gathered to discuss good practices in responding to most pressing types of humanitarian crises.  [14]

The formal conclusion of the Istanbul Summit was marked by the Chair’s Summary of the UN Secretary General, which in brief  reflected announcements and commitments declared at the Summit as well as his initial views about the way forward. As can be seen in the document, the pressing issues of the humanitarian system, such as the importance of political leadership to prevent and end conflicts, the need for avoiding development-humanitarian divide and  better handling forced displacement as a consequence of humanitarian crises, as well as the needs for more engagement in humanitarian financing and  upholding humanitarian principles and law were all discussed at length during the summit and several ideas and commitments were presented  with a view to their improvements. In the Chair’s Summary, Secretary General’s proposal for a possible review process in the post-summit era was  also noteworthy. He stated “We should collectively assess progress made in taking forward the Agenda for Humanity and the commitments we have made at this Summit by 2020. We owe it to all people affected by crises, and we owe it to ourselves in the name of our common humanity and our shared responsibility. Let us now turn the Agenda for Humanity into an instrument of global transformation.” [15]

As the UN Secretary General mentioned in his Chair’s Summary, the way forward in the aftermath of the Istanbul Summit is of crucial importance for the future of the humanitarian system.  According to the agreed timeline, all the commitments which were made at the summit will be complied in a document entitled “Commitments to Action”. Announcements of commitments were gathered online through an online Commitments Platform at the summit. The platform allowed Member States and other stakeholders to register commitments to action or to join existing initiatives. Based on these commitments and views announced  at the Summit, the UN Secretary General will report to the UN General Assembly in September 2016 which will likely be setting possible directions and orientations  for the post-summit process. As the UN Secretary General   comes to the end of his tenure in the end of 2016,  whatever the post-summit process would be, will be  the responsibility of  his successor.  The two basic questions will be pending in the period ahead: what would be the eventual channels for furthering the process for the betterment of the humanitarian system and how would all these commitments materialize to translate them into  concrete actions in the post-summit process?

The WHS has served as a unique and historic platform to address the alarming challenges of the humanitarian system and express commitments for sustainable solutions in order to improve the lives of millions of crisis-affected people. The initiative to organize the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, and also the growing interest of the global community in the preparations of the Summit were testimony to  the urgent need acknowledged  to address the alarming challenges in the humanitarian system.

The global humanitarian community should assume the responsibility to follow up the Summit outcomes and take the commitments forward through various channels, including intergovernmental and inter-agency platforms together with all the stakeholders. It is hoped that the Istanbul Summit has set the seeds for a transformative change in the system encompassing a mentality, if not a paradigm,   shift as well. The Istanbul Summit was not a destination, but departure point of a historic journey for the future of the humanitarian system. With this understanding, President Erdoğan called indeed on all the stakeholders  at the opening   session of the Istanbul Summit, stating “we  should  never forget our   responsibilities vis-à-vis the people who locked their eyes and hearts to the messages and commitments that will arise from Istanbul”[16].

From its inception Turkey has vocally advocated that the summit should not be a one-time  event but entail  a process with a clearly defined follow-up. Now, it is of crucial importance to build on the global momentum which the Istanbul Summit has generated and to work in close and genuine partnership with all stakeholders to improve our   collective response to humanity in line with our shared responsibility. This should be the common responsibility of each and every member of the world humanitarian community, at least to alleviate the suffering of those in need, if not to end it,  so that the future of our common humanity could be secured in a sustained manner.

 

[*] Ambassador Dr. Hasan Ulusoy is  currently serving as Director General for Multilateral Political Affairs at the Turkish MFA.  The Directorate General which he is in charge was  responsible for the preparations of the WHS.   Ambassador Ulusoy is a PhD holder in international relations with several articles and one book published in his areas of expertise.

 

ENDNOTES

 

 

[1] UN General Assembly Resolution 46/182/19 December 1991  on Strengthening of the coordination of Humanitarian emergency assistance of the United Nations.

 

[2]  Secretary-General’s opening remarks at World Humanitarian Summit, http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=9723.

 

[3] See for details http://worldhumanitariansummit.org/consultation-reports

[4] The report is available at https://  www.worldhumanitariansummit.org.  Prior to his report, the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing which was commissioned by him earlier, submitted its report on the proposed ways and means on how to better finance the humanitarian system. Its recommendations were instrumental  to shape the preparations  of the Istanbul Summit, which mostly correspond to the views of Turkey, such as on the importance of joint use of humanitarian  and development assistance ( the report is also available at  https://consultations2.worldhumanitariansummit.org/whs_finance/hlphumanitarianfinancing.   )

 

[5] See the global humanitarian assistance reports at http:// www.globalhumanitarianassistance.org

 

[6]  The overseas humanitarian assistance of Turkey reached  2, 4 billion USD in 2014 .  See for details http://www.tika.gov.tr/tr/yayin/liste/trky_raporlari-24

 

[7] See the web page of AFAD, www.afad.gov.tr

 

[8] The paper is available  at  http://whsturkey.org/turkey-and-the-summit/key-documents-for-turkey

 

[9] See https://www.worldhumanitariansummit.org/faq

 

[10] For detailed information, see www.worldhumanitariansummit.org.

 

[11] The G7 Summit was held in Japan on May 26-27, just after the Istanbul Summit, which  seems to have affected the participation level from these countries. This was criticized at the Istanbul Summit. To show their support to WHS, the G7 leaders expressed their welcome for  the organization of the WHS summit in their final communique of the G7 Summit, see G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration at http://www.mofa.go.jp/files/000160266.pdf.

 

[12] The texts of  the speeches made by the President of Turkey and the Minister of Foreign Affairs are available on the official web site of Turkey for the WHS ,  see http://whsturkey.org

 

[13]  For detailed information, see http://whsturkey.org/side-events

 

[14] For detailed information, see http://sam.gov.tr/world-humanitarian-summit-academic-forum

 

[15] The Chair’s Summary is available at https://consultations2.worldhumanitariansummit.org/bitcache/5171492e71696bcf9d4c571c93dfc6dcd7f361ee?vid=581078&disposition=inline&op=view

 

[16] see http://whsturkey.org/turkey-and-the-summit/statements

 

Visits: 185

Bundestag Resolution: Is it a show of “I am better than You” – Seyfi Taşhan

                                                                Bundestag Resolution:

                                        Is it a show of “I am better than You” – Seyfi TaşhanSeyfi Tashan.jpg

            What may be the cause or causes of the German attitude as reflected in the approval of the recent Armenian resolution in the German Bundestag?

There may not be a simple explanation to this attitude because it would under-rate the philosophy that dominates the German polity. It is also difficult to find an economic benefit to Germany to the detriment of Turkey or the Turkish Community in Germany. It cannot also be a reflection of a psychological advantage in Turkish-German relations.

Then, what cause or causes we may look for? Is it the result of a demonstrative political attitude to let the Turks  know their place against Germans reminding the attitude of Danny Ayalon,  Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister that set himself on a higher chair while forcing the Turkish Ambassador on a lower chair? Can it also be a reflection of their anger while the Turkish Community in Germany that still maintain their Turkish identity without becoming full Germans reminding the historic position towards theGerman Jews?

Maybe it is due to the German idea of solidarity with other European partners most of whom approved a similar resolution. Thus,  using this resolution as a quid-pro quo to Turkey’s growing interest to integrate with the European Union without prejudicing its own identity.

One more thought comes to mind. Maybe that Germans, ineffective in the Middle East affairs, want to penalize Turkey for not following common European policies for the area.  All of these factors need to be analyzed in detail but one factor have been effective that the Germans with their recent history cannot prosecute Turkey  or their ancestors in the Ottoman Empire. As when these events occured during the First World War, German Generals and German Government were allies and close friends of the Ottoman Generals. One wonders the current wisdom as shown in the Bundestag resolution which did not come to  the  minds of German Generals who constantly advised their counterpart leaders in the Orttoman Empire on all matters of war and were also party responsible for  German actions against Jews. It is, therefore, highly surprising that German civilian authorities remember and qualify  actions committed in the First World War while absolutely erasing from their minds what happened in the Second World War.

Visits: 165

Seyfi Taşhan Awarded

Seyfi Taşhan, President of the Foreign Policy Institute, has been honored by the International Relations Council for his contributions to the think tank culture and international relations studies in Turkey at a ceremony held on April 28, 2016 on the sidelines of the 7th International Relations Studies and Education Congress held in Çeşme, İzmir. The International Relations Council is composed of academic staff of international relations departments of six universities.

Visits: 189

Presentations at METU Panel “International Relations and Area Studies” June 17 2015

Presentations at METU Panel “International Relations and Area Studies”

June 17 2015

– Introduction to the Panel Discussions

Seyfi Taşhan

In this panel we will be studying part of the efforts of the Foreign Policy Institute in the field of area studies. According to US academic circles area studies are a form of translation and particularize seeking through analysis  of conditions and developments in the cultures  ans policies of other countries through a multi-disciplinary lense. Indeed this description of area studies will be quites relevant for the academic and government needs of such globally importtant countries like the US for develeoping their policies. In the case of Turkey, there is a different outlook. The need for area studies has changed both according to international conjuncture as they affect Turkey and for foreign policy needs.

During the Cold War years, Turkey was a marginal country in the mids of continents and Turkey’s main concern was how to secure its indeefendence and and bounderies. While it was threatened by a global power, it succeeded to establish an alliance with Europe and US through memberships in Council of Europe and NATO. During this period academic area studies were not much needed as Turkey’s  need for development of policy relied on its diplomatic network and alternative sources were looked upon.

However, the end  of the Cold War highly increased Turkey’s need for knowledge in newly created former Soviet countries and renwed interest in the Middle East and the Balkans. Particularly with regard to new Turkic Republics who looked  upon thşis country for friendship, assistance and guidance, the need for knowledge was highly critical for policy function. All through the Cold War, the Foreign Policy Institute was the unique private think-tank engaged in policy and area studies. Following the end of the Cold War, many new centres became involved in strategic and area studies.

During the Cold War and immediately before,Turkey’s main concern was security. Turkey was encircled by hostile group of nations all around. That was the Soviet Bloc that had territorial aims on Turkey and Turkey had sought alliance links to balance the Soviet power and succeeded  through  cooperation with the U.S. and eventually  an alliance with NATO. So, during the  Cold War if we look at our immediate neighbourhood we have  Greece and Bulgaria in the West. Bulgaria was dominated by Soviet Union and Greece we had problems. In the East we had Iran with which we had correct, serious but not necessarily warm relationship that has come through history. Moreover, developments in its Southern neighborhood also necessitated  particular focus on them.Relevant states,  Iraq and Syria were dominated by other factors that prevented good relations with Turkey as Baath parties were conducting policies close to the Socialist camp. Baath nationalism was also an obstacle to develop friendly relations with Turkey. On the other hand, the everlasting conflict  in Cyprus had negative impli,cations   on our rwelations with Greece. Regional problems when they up now and than, we look them from a reginal perspective. We could deal with developments in Greece through contacts within the European security arrangements. Beyond this immediate neighbors we reach  Russia itself, and than Moldova,Ukraine and Romania and in the south, to Eastern Medittarrenean  and certainly to North Africa.

The rest was coceived within the European context covering mainly 2 groups. m One is The Council of Europe when we became members in 1949 it was only 12 members and then the start of Turkey’s EU membership process  when we signed  the Ankara treaty in 1963  there were only 6 members. It was such an area fairly hostile, fairly unknown and we did not know what to focus our studies on. Ambassador Oktay Aksoy will deal with area studies we have conducted at this region. But let me tell you, this neighborhood now  numbers  20 which is fairly large for Turkey’s capacity to handle  the know-how required at the time and what we can study in these areas. And I say from the academic point of view that there practicaly was no sufficient contact with most of those countries. Academically they were living in another world, we were living in another world. We were more pro-european, our education system was  pro-euro-oriented  and  our main sources of study originated from Western University and Western think-tanks. Well, under these conditions Turkey relied on knowledge from these sources. Fortunately, we have an excellent diplomatic service. This diplomatic service provided ambassodors  such as  Mr.Hazar who was part of this diplomatic service until recently. They both can tell you their experiences much better than I do and this diplomatic service provided the Foreign Ministry and also the policy makers of Turkey with detailed reports about countries, their economies, their policies, their cultures where ever they served, their daily living, their education systems and every area they covered and send reports to Turkey. One regretable situation is that these reports, by nature, were confidential and could not be reached by the academia. Moreover, high government officials did not colloborate with think-tanks, in fact during Cold War years there were practicaly no think-tanks except the Foreing Policy Institute which started to function in early 1970s and this situation changed after the end of the Cold War. When we look around we see at least 20 countries that were suddenly opened to us. And then opening of our economy to other parts of the world provided need for Turkey to obtain wide ranging  area studies.

Central Asia was included in addition to our immediate neighbourhood. Relations with European countries was carried through EU and Council of Europe which increased its membersip opening to new countries in the European copntinent and the Eurasian geography. Later on, we started to look at Africa and  even to Latin America and Far East Asia. There are other areas that we will discuss. Ambassador Hazar will speak today on the ECO countries.  Now we have think-tanks dealing with Africa, that deal individually with Europe. One regretable thing is that these studies do not rely themselves on the excellent reports of our diplomatic representations in many parts of the world.They study these reports as they interest the Turkish foreign policy. They are not communicating it to the academia, unlike the Americans who cooperate with the think-tanks. In the U.S. I see when we have a round table meeting focused on a certain area, on a certain subject we see a diplomat sitting in those discussions, member of the State Department or Defence Department as the case sitting there explaining what the official point of view is  and how they can help the think-tanks organize their studies. Unfortunately, in Turkey it is not habitual to  benefit from this valuable source of activity and compilation of information.Well, I do not want to delve into this any further. It is a short introduction to our panel discussions. But all I can say to you is, during the Cold War we have organized seminars over specific area subjects, we have done a lot. I will request  Ambassador Aksoy to tell us what the Foreign Policy Institute have been doing.

Area focused activities of Foreign Policy Institue

Oktay Aksoy

Curiosity is behind the urge to discover new lands, to find out the other peoples and to get hold of the riches others possess.The rulers of empires have sent envoys, encouraged and even financed travellers to other lands.You need to have strategic objectives or ambitions to go beyond your own limited borders.That is how Marco Polo was financed by the Venitian Doge to reach the lands of Kubilai Khan, ruler of the East at that time.That is why countries like Holland, England, France, Russia, Poland and Hungary have established Oriental Studies Centres. That is why King of Sweden was presented by the dragoman at the Swedish Embassy in Constantinople,  Mouradgea d’Ohsson (nee Muradcan Tosunian) who later became the Swedish Envoy to the Sublime Court with a two volume book, “Tableau General de l’Empire Othoman”  narrating in detail the state of the Ottoman Empire in late 18th century, the habits and social structure of the Turks.

You may call these as early attempts for area studies, even though in some of them  it may not be easy to distinguish myth and reality.It has become more of a multidisciplinary research and study effort with the US getting more and more involved with the rest of the world, becoming more of a global power after the Second World War. They must have realized their ignorance of the developments in other regions and other countries. With the establishment of international relations departments in many universities they were also preparing the cadres for their foreign service, for their intelligence institutions, sometimes even for the media trying to feed the hunger of the public in world affairs.

Contrary to this curiosity and strategic ambitions of the Western powers, rulers in the Orient were hardly interested to know what the rest of the world was doing or even to learn more about the vast geography they were ruling. They were content with their possessions envied by the others.Ottomans were no exception. They were interested to learn of the  designs of the other rulers threatening their security. But not so much about  the other countries beyond their reach. Rare incidents are in 16th and 17th centuries when we see Evliya Çelebi (1611-1682) with his “Seyahatname” (travel book) telling in detail the cities and peoples the Sultan ruled. There was a famous scholar, Katip Çelebi (1609-1659) with his “Cihannuma” (a geographical ensyclopedia) writing about the other countries. And of course,  Piri Reis (1465-1554) with his “Kitab-ı Bahriye” narrating the many ports and cities he had reached and also drawing a world map including the newly discovered Americas. Rumour is that when he presented this map to the Sultan, the Sultan tore the map into half and kept the part of the map of the lands he was ruling for himself and strangely the other half, including the Americas was discovered in the Topkapı Palace library only in 1929 by a foreign scholar (Paul Kahle). We also have reports of the envoys, “sefaretname”, but not sufficient to be called an early area study.

Turks had more or less isolated themselves from the rest of the world until restructuring  eventually as a republic.And even than Turkey was more interested with its immediate neighborhood – leading to the Balkan Pact and the Sadabad Pact. Soviet Union was also a main interest and concern.

During the Cold War years Turkish interest beyond its borders were limited. It relied more on the studies made by its allies to whom it depended for its defence and security.After the Second World War choosing the side of the adversary of the Soviet Union for understandable reasons, Turkey felt the comfort of being a NATO member and closely following the general line of politics of the Western Powers during the Cold War years to the extent of spoiling relations with Egypt, lacking understanding of their nationalistic fervor and also not showing sufficient solidarity with the Algerian and Tunisian peoples’ strugle for independence from a colonial power.

Some academics and concerened intellectuals (including Mr. Seyfi Taşhan) had been publishing the journal “Dış Politika-Foreign Policy”, at first in Turkish and English since 1971 to increase awareness for international developments. But in 1974 the Foreign Policy Institute was established in an attempt to bridging the world of the academia and the policy practioners in foreign and securities policy and strategic issues.

When established, the need for area studies was not a priority and that would have required enormous funds beyond the Instute’s means. The aim was not to start an ambitious area studies programme but more so  to provide information from Turkish perspective to those foreign institutes, politicians and media interested in developments in Turkey. However, over the years it has prepared works on its neighborhood, it has organized round table meetings on specific issues related with Turkish foreign policy and included articles in its journal on countries and regions Turkey needed to focus.

With the Turkish intervention in Cyprus to defend the rights of its ethnic kins and as a result of being confronted with an arms embargo from the US, its chief ally, Turkey realized the urgency to get into closer contact with other countries beyond its alliance partners and explain its differing policy priorities.

Even then, as Mr. Seyfi Taşhan just mentioned, it was not to start programmes to study these countries but to convey the message that Turkey should not be considered on the same line with its allies who had a colonial past and have a role in power politics.

End of the Cold War opened a vast geography for Turkey previously under Soviet rule – the immediate neighborhood to the East, the Caucasus and Central Asia.And the configuration in the global scene provided new vistas for Turkey as its industry had been developing and need to expand its trade was urgently felt.

Therefore, our Institute started to organize new meetings and made publications focusing on Turkey’s new interest areas. In the 35 th anniversary issue of our Journal we had a selection of articles we had consentrated over the years. During the Cold War years our relations with the US was most important. Developments within the Atlantic Community, as well as strengthening the political cohesion in the Atlantic Alliance was of priority interest. Also relations with the EEC, developments in the Middle East and as always relations with Greece, particularly with the dispute over the Aegean were highly valued subjects. On Cyprus we had articles by the late Nihat Erim who had been involved in the preparations of the Zürich and London Agreements reminisceing the early efforts to overcome the dispute, by the late Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktaş presenting his views on the conflict and by Prof. Haluk Ülman narrating the Geneva Conference proceedings after the Turkish intervention in the Island in 1974. During the final years of the Cold War we had articles focusing on the policy of detente aand future of the Atlantic Alliance, reflecting on Turkey’s international status changing from marginality to centrality and also proposing a federal solution for Cyprus. Post-Cold War years we see articles on effects of the ending of the Cold War on Turkey’s intertnational position, on Turkey’s military doctrine, on Turkey’s stand on the Gulf crisis, on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, on the Caucasus and Central Asia, as well as on the effects of the progress in Cyprus-EU relations to the search for a solution. In a more recent period the articles are again on developments of Turkish-US relations, on the beginning of a new conjuncture after September 11, on the impact of globalization on Turkey’s security, on Turkey_EU relations, as well as the Middle East and of course Cyprus.

I will just point out at some of our important activities and publications during the last 15 years.

“Turkomans of Iraq as a Factor in Turkish Foreign Policy: Political and Demographic Perspectives” by Tarık Oğuzlu, when published in 2001 it was one of the first studies on our recent discovery of the Turkomans of Iraq. It was  published at a time of brewing turmoil in Iraq.

We organized a symposium on March 22-23, 2004 on what should the new Iraqi constitution contain with participants not only from Turkey but also from the US, England and Germany as well as academics from Iraq who undertook the many difficulties reaching Ankara partly by bus! The proceedings of the meeting was published as “Iraq on the way to its new constitution”. The Institute was also asked by the Foreign Ministry to prepare a draft constitution, which we did, emphasizing  a secular and cantonal structure to avoid dismemberment of the country but the US led politicians in Iraq came out with a religiously based constitution with  all its present day deficiencies.

Cyprus has always been of interest for us. One publication was “Cyprus and International Law” in 2002 tackling the conflict from different perspectives of international law and a booklet in Turkish “Cyprus: from Independence to Present Day – with documents” printed in 2010.

“Turkey and the European Union – 2004 and beyond” was a book we published in colloboration with the Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies in 2004.Another book published also in 2004 was “The Europeanization of Turkey’s Security Policy: Prospects and pitfalls”.

We had a special issue of our Journal on a EU related Conference we had organized in 2006.Another publication was “Turkey’s Neighborhood” we did in collaboration with the Polish Institute of International Relations in 2008. We focused on Ukraine, Bulgaria, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

“Caspian Energy Diplomacy since the end of the Cold War” by Tuncay Balanlı was printed in 2006.A book on “Transatlantic Relations: A Political Appraisal” by Gökhan Akşemsettinoğlu published in 2005 studied this important relationship at a time of crucial changes in international politics.

“Eastern Mediterranean” published in 2009 covering Israeli-Palestinean conflict, Cyprus, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Greece and Turkey’s maritime issues as well as contributions on US policy in the Eastern Mediterranean, Europe and the Mediterranean and also Russia and Eastern Mediterranean.

NATO’s new strategic concept was thoroughly tackled in our special issue of 2010. And we had a special anniversary issue for Turkey’s 60 Years in NATO both  in English and Turkish.

Lately in our Journal we have had some articles on Turkey’s relations with Africa by different authors as the focus on that continent has increased.

 

 

 

– Growing interest of Turkey in ECO region

Numan Hazar

Turkey has always had a particular interest, throughout the Republican history,  in the regional peace and security. The Sadabat Pact signed in 1937 by Turkey, Iran,Irak and Afghanistan  is an example of this Turkish approach in its foreign policy.  The Sadabat Pact was a treaty of non-agression. It is meaningful that it was concluded at the time of Atatürk. We observe a continuity in Turkish approach when the Baghdat Pact was concluded in 1955. The Baghdad Pact was formed by Turkey,Iran and Irak due to security concerns at that time in view of a perceived threat from the Soviet Union. The United Kingdom joined the Organization at a later stage. The US did not participate as full member taking into consideration sensitivities of Arab countries in the region. It took its place in the organization,however,with observer status. The Baghdad Pact had its place in the chain of alliances namely NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organization) created by the West within the context of the containment policy against the Soviet threat.

 

The headquarters of the Baghdad Pact was in Irak. Nevertheless,  the Republic of Irak was withdrawn from the Pact  following a coup in 1958 against the royal régime. In 1959 the Pact changed its name to Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) and its headquarters moved to Ankara.

 

Regional members of the CENTO, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan, decided  to develop economic and technical relations and cooperation among themselves and they created in 1964 the Organization of  Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD). As a matter of fact, RCD realized some technical, economic  and cultural projects. During the Cold War period in the bipolar era, the leaders of these countries believed that historical,cultural, religious and geographical bonds will be enough to realize closer cooperation among the member countries to contribute to their efforts to ensure economic development and to raise their living standards. This plan was supported by the West in general and by the US in particular in order to prevent Soviet influence in a strategically important region.

 

Nevertheless, in 1979 after the Islamic Revolution in Iran all activities of the Organization were suspended. RCD was dissolved in 1980 and it ceased to exist as an international organization.

The member states of the RCD which have been aware of the significance of the organization taking into account great potentialities already existing in a number  of areas, decided to reactivate it. Thus,in 1985  the Organization was renamed  as Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) when the Treaty of İzmir was concluded. In 1992 the Organization was expanded to include Afghanistan,Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.[1] Since that time ECO has become an international organization with 10 member states and acquired international recognition and prestige.[2]

 

It is meaningful that Afghanistan and the new independent states joined the organization following the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

 

After this  historical introduction we can explain why the ECO is an important grouping by referring to various advantages the Organization has possessed. [3] We can summarize advantages of the ECO as a significant organization with great  potentialities and particular characteristics as follows:[4]

 

-The ECO comprises an area of 8 million square kilometers with a population of 450 million people. It is geographically  vast and also a contiguous territory.

 

-In addition  to human resources , it is a region rich in natural resources , for example  the existing oil and natural gas reserves.

 

-The ECO region is situated centrally among three continents of the Old World -Europe,Asia and Africa (collectively known as Afro-Eurasia)- and thus it has great strategic value , as put forth by the well known theorist of strategy Sir Halfort MacKinder, within the context of his view to dominate the world through the domination of pivotal area. As a matter of fact, it was an area of competition for big powers throughout history.

 

-The ECO also symbolizes a region functioning like a bridge between the East and the West: Asia and Europe.

 

-The possibility of having access to the Indian Ocean,the Persian Gulf,the Mediterranean Sea  and the Black Sea exists.

 

-Another significance of ECO is the proximity to big powers such as the European Union, Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.

 

-There are highways, maritime routes and railways linking one country to another.

 

-More important than all these factors, there is a historical and cultural affinity among member states.

 

As regards the cultural and historical particularity of the ECO member states as  a whole, it is possible to compare it with the European Union. This particular character of ECO has even drawn the attention of Samuel P.Huntington who put forth the thesis of the clash of civilizations.When he explained that countries with similar cultures were choosing the option of economic integration, he mentioned also the ECO as an example.Huntington refers to regional economic organizations as an indicator of civilizations’ strengthening against  nation-state and claims that precondition of economic integration is cultural affinity. He underlines the fact that ”the success of these efforts has depended overwhelmingly on the cultural homogeneity of  states involved.”[5]

 

Together with the cultural affinity and close cultural interaction among member states, historical ties are also significant. In the ECO region there exists thousands of common words even with those which are linguistically different. As Professor Halil İnalcık, the dean of living Turkish historians indicates, historical researches confirm the fact that cultural affinity between Turkey,Iran and Pakistan is much closer and stronger than cultural affinity of Turks with Arabs.[6] Obviously, when we take into consideration all member states of ECO this fact becomes more apparent. On the other hand, prominent Turkish historian Professor İlber Ortaylı underlines the influence of Iranian civilization on Turkey and Turks.[7]

 

After the recognition that ECO represents an organization based on cultural affinity, we must also underline that all these elements are indicative of an Organization which has  a significant infrastructure and important potential to deliver a successful performance.

 

At this point, however, I would like to emphasize that the ECO is a technical organization. In this respect it is different from the European Union. As is known, the EU had the purpose to reach political union at the final stage through economic integration at the beginning. Nevertheless, this particularity of the ECO does not constitute an obstacle for an exchange of views on actual political and global affairs during summit meetings or meetings of the Council of Ministers. On the contrary,an opportunity is always created for such  consultations.

 

Before entering into details of what ECO has been doing, I would like to provide some information about its organizational structure:

 

-Summit meetings which are held every two years (Heads of state or government).These meetings give opportunity for consultations and general guidelines at highest level.

 

-Council of Ministers is the highest policy and decision making body at the level of Foreign Ministers,

 

-Council of Permanent Representatives which is composed of diplomatic representatives of member states accredited in Tehran, headquarters of the Organization. It is responsible to carry out policies and to implement decisions of the Council of Ministers.

 

-Regional Planning Council which comprises heads of the Planning Organizations It evolves programmes of action along with a review of past programmes and evaluations of results achieved to be submitted to the Council of Ministers.

 

-Secretariat which is headed by the Secretary Gcneral and his staff.

 

-Specialized Agencies and Regional Institutions in specific fields of cooperation.The number,nature and objectives of the agencies and institutions are determined by the Council of Ministers such as Cultural Institute,  Science Foundation, Educational Institute, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Trade and Development Bank, Reinsurance Company, Consultancy and Engineering Company etc.

 

-ECO also have expert committees in a host of areas: Economy and Trade, Agriculture,Transport and Communications, Science,Culture and Education etc. They summit reports to Regional Planning Council.

 

On the other hand ECO realized various agreements to promote economic cooperation and integration. ECO Trade Agreement is aimed at reducing tariffs among member states. Member states also concluded a Transit Transport Framework Agreement.There are also various agreements formulated by the ECO such as Encouraging and Protecting Investments, Cooperation among Cooperative Sectors, Establishment of ECO Smuggling and Customs Offences Data Bank etc.

 

Before trying to make an evaluation of ECO’s performance, we should go back to RCD, its predecessor. Despite the fact that RCD carried out some important projects, it is stated as root of its failure  in general  ”unwillingness of the member states to comprise their own individual interests as one of the requirements of the development of regional cooperation. This was the main obstacle for the implementation of RCD plans”. [8]

 

As far as ECO is concerned it is observed that it could not deliver a successful performance, despite already existing potentialities. There have always been painstaking efforts and various positive initiatives.Nevertheless, the Organization could not produce good results as compared to expectations.

 

In order to give an example, it could be indicated that there has always been an ambition to increase trade between the member states. In 2005, intra-trade was 6 per cent of all trade  and in 2010 it  increased to 7 per cent. This state of affairs could be characterized as a failure. As a matter of fact, in the ECO Vision 2015 document prepared by independent experts  of the member countries, the goal of internal trade for the year 2015 was indicated 20 per cent of all trade. When we take into consideration that the internal trade of the European Union is 65 per cent of all trade, we can see a low performance from the point of view of the ECO’s success. Undoubtedly, it will be useful to eliminate all existing obstacles in this area. Nevertheless, principally, it is important that all member countries first sign  the ECO Trade Agreement and implement  it.

 

There are also several structural or institutional difficulties which prevent the ECO to become a well-functioning international organization.

 

Turkey has always attached particular importance to a well-functioning, efficient and dynamic ECO. In the eyes of Turkey, a successful and more active ECO would best serve  interests of all member states.

 

In light of this evaluation, during the Summit Meeting  held in Istanbul in 2010 where Turkey assumed the task of Chairman in Office of the Organizaiton, the then President of the Republic of Turkey, Abdullah Gül proposed the establishment of an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) to provide recommendations to enhance the dynamism, efficiency and visibility of the Organization. This proposal, approved by Heads of State or Government, was included in the Final Declaration of the Summit Meeting. [9]

 

The Eminent Persons Group (EPG) was established in-mid 2011 and it started its works towards the end of the year. The EPG was composed of ten independent experts from each member states. It was assisted in their works by the Secretary General and his staff.

 

This EPG was the third EPG created up to now by the ECO, The Second EPG prepared ”2015 Vision Document for the ECO” and proposed a host of measures in this context. This Document was approved by the Council of Ministers in 2005. In this Document Foreign Ministers declared that they wish to adopt a vision of ECO taking into account opportunities and challenges of the globalization process, the rapid social,economic,political and technological developments in the world and prospects in the decades ahead which need to be addressed adequately through a common and collective approach. With these aims, Foreign Ministers agreed on many commitments for a better functioning organization. [10]

 

The Third EPG  carried out intensively its works in 2012. According to its terms of reference, the EPG, was given the task to examine all documents  and the 2015 Vision Document in order to  propose amendments to basic agreements, to  interview the staff of the Secretariat, Specialized Agencies and Regional Institutions in order to submit its recommendations contained in a Report  to the Council of Ministers. It was decided that the EPG would remain, if need be, in contact with the Council of Permanent Representatives (CPR) composed of  Ambassadors of member countries in Tehran. The Secretariat would be providing facilities and services for EPG meetings for its well functioning. [11]

 

The EPG accomplished its mission in 2012 and the Chairman of the EPG presented the Report of the EPG to the Council of Ministers  on the occasion of the ECO Summit Meeting held in October 2012 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The EPG Report which contained in detail several recommendations including  the strengthening of the Secretariat, selection of the staff on the basis of merit, increase in the budget, amendment in the decision-making mechanism which created some difficulties in the past for well functioning  of the Organization.

 

Turkey did not only propose the establishment of the EPG, but also provided the necessary financing.

 

The submission of the EPG Report  has a particular significance, due to the fact that in 2015 ECO Vision Document prepared by the Second EPG should be revised and a new Vision Document for  the next Decade 2016-2025 is to be worked out. In this regard, the EPG Report is very much timely as a guide. The results of the works of  EPG, as of 2013, would furnish basic elements of a new Vision Document. This new document was also expected to be prepared by the  EPG .

 

As it is referred  above, according to the decisions of the 20th Council of Ministers’s Meeting held in Baku in 2012, the Ministers, asked the Secretary General to prepare a roadmap for the implementation of the EPG Report, and to submit it to the Council of Permanent Representatives. The Paragraph, in the decisions of the Council of Ministers, related to the EPG’s Report is as follows:

‘’  20) The Council appreciated the Report of the 3rd Eminent Persons Group (EPG), established pursuant to the Istanbul Declaration 2010 (Istanbul, 23 December 2010) and the decisions of the 19th Council of Ministers Meeting (Istanbul, 22 December 2010) to study  and review the work of the Organization  including the ECO Vision 2015, and asked the Secretary General to prepare a roadmap for implementation of the  recommendations of the EPG and submit to CPR for consideration. The Council also authorized the CPR to take action on behalf of the COM in this regard. ‘’

Right after the Meeting of the Council of Ministers the Final Communiqué of the Summit Meeting of Heads of State and Government held on 16 October 2012 included the following Paragraph on the EPG Report:

 

‘’ 31. Appreciated the work done by the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) established on the initiative of the Republic of Turkey, which undertook performance appraisal of the Organization, identified major challenges and recommended ways to improve ECO’s efficiency, dynamism and visibility.’’

 

The EPG, proposed in its Report, the organization of  national conferences in each member state  with the participation of government and private sectors representatives, members of the media, think tanks and academicians. In these conferences, views, assessments and expectations of the member countries would be presented . The results of these conferences would be reviewed in a meeting of the EPG and at the end its evaluation will be considered in the preparation of the new ECO Vision Document for 2016-2025.

 

As unequivocally indicated by the instructions of the Council of Ministers, some of the recommendations of the EPG are to be implemented by the Council of Permanent Representatives on behalf of the Council of Ministers. It means that these recommendations do not need the approval of the Council of Ministers. Some others, by their very nature  require the approval of the Council of Ministers. Certain recommendations can be implemented in short term. Some others have inevitably a long term perspective.

 

As identified by the EPG Report main impediments and shortcomings are as follows:

-Lack of efficient decision-making mechanism,

-Minimal participation by Member States in the activities of the Organization.

-Non-implementation of the decisions adopted by the decision-making bodies.

-Lack of financial resources and insufficient budget.

-Inadequate capacity of the Secretariat due to existing recruitment measures.

 

Turkey, supported all recommendations made by the EPG to overcome these impediments.

 

On the other hand, the Communiqué of the Tehran Ministerial Council held in November 2013 referred to the reform process of the ECO on the basis of EPG’s Report in the following terms:

‘’ ( Foreign Ministers and Heads of Delegations ) Building on the two decades of experience, decided to take forward the reform process of ECO on the basis of recommendations of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) and instructed the ECO Secretary General to arrange, in cooperation with the Member States, the timely conclusion of  the said process for enhancing the dynamism, efficiency and visibility of the Organization. The Council instructed the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) to finalize and approve the roadmap for the implementation of the recommendations of the EPG by August 2014 with a view to its earliest implementation. ‘’

 

They also agreed that the reform process shall address, inter alia, the regulatory, institutional, budgetary and other requirements of the organization putting in place a reliable and durable cooperation framework for ECO region.

 

Despite the fact that  three years already passed, the Organization has not yet unfortunately been able to realize the implementation of some recommendations. It is now three years that the Third EPG completed its works. As a matter of fact, Third EPG’s Report containing recommendations aimed at enhancing dynamism,efficiency and visibility of the Organization was presented to the Council of Ministers in 2012.

 

As explained above, the Council of Ministers gave instructions to the Committee of Permanent Representatives to take action on its behalf concerning the recommendations of the EPG. The Summit Meeting, the highest body of the Organization has approved the decision of the Ministers. Nevertheless,  works of the Committee of Permanent Representatives for the implementation of the EPG’s recommendations, have not yet been completed.

 

On the other hand, interestingly, a new rhetoric started to the effect that the Organization needed a more comprehensive reform process. Apparently, it may be an effort aimed at  diluting EPG’s recommendations.

 

At this point, we must also once again draw the attention to the fact that every effort made to enhance the dynamism, efficiency and visibility of the Organization will only serve best interests of all member states.

 

The Secretary General and the Secretariat of ECO are making sincere and painstaking efforts in order to start the process for the implementation of the EPG’s recommendations. Within this context an in-depth analysis of the EPG’s recommendations has already been realized by the Secretariat.

 

The Council of Permanent Representatives of the ECO is also involved in expediting the finalization of efforts aimed at the implementation of the EPG’s Report.

 

It is hoped that a substantial progress concerning the implementation of EPG’s Report could be made before the next Meeting of the Committee of Ministers as well as the Summit Meeting.

 

The EPG Report underlined that all member states should have a high level political will in order to adopt necessary dispositions aimed at ensuring the ECO to become a well functioning international organization. It seems, at present, a strong political will is still needed to have a well functioning ECO.

 

In the Millenium Goals of the World Summit held in 2005, a special importance was attached to regional organizations. This is something that may encourage all member countries to demonstrate the necessary political will aimed at realizing a well functioning ECO.

 

[1] Economic Cooperation Organization, ECO at  a Glance, ECO Secretariat, Tehran, 2012 p.5 .

[2] Elaheh Koolaee and Hormoz Dawarpanah, The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Achievements and Prospects, University of Tehran, Tehran, 2010,  pp.2-8.

[3] Numan Hazar,  The Future of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), ECO will have a bright future when it gains dynamism, visibility and efficiency, Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM), Report No. 108, February 2012, Ankara, pp. 8-10.

[4] Numan Hazar,  ”ECO: a significant regional organization for economic development and integration”, Today’s Zaman, 27.01.2013.

[5] Samuel P.Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the New World, Simon&Schuster UK Ltd, London,1996,p.351.

[6] Halil İnalcık, Rönesans Avrupası Türkiye’nin Batı Medeniyeti ile Özdeşleşme Süreci Renaissance Europe and the Process of Identification of Turkey with Western Civilization), Türkiye İş Bankası Yayınları, Istanbul,2011, p. 351.

[7] İlber Ortaylı, Türklerin Tarihi (History of Turks),TİMAŞ Yayınları Istanbul, 2015, pp. 91-97.

[8] Elaheh Koolaee and Hormoz Dawarpanah, The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Achievements and Prospects, pp. 10-11.

[9] Numan Hazar,Economic Cooperation Organizaton (ECO) and Eminent Persons Group (EPG),  Uluslararası Ekonomik Sorunlar Dergisi (Review of International Economic Issues-an unofficial publication of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs), July 2012 Year 12, No.44,Ankara, pp.11-20.

[10] Economic Cooperation Organization Treaty of Izmir ECO Vision 2015, Tehran 2009,pp. 21-32.

[11] Numan Hazar,Economic Cooperation Organizaton (ECO) and Reform Process,  Uluslararası Ekonomik Sorunlar Dergisi (Review of International Economic Issues-an unofficial publication of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs), August  2014 Year 14, No.47,Ankara, pp.25-32..

Visits: 157

EuroMeSCo General Assembly and Annual Conference held in Brussels

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EuroMeSCo General Assembly
and Annual Conference held in Brussels

 

EuroMeSCo General Assembly was held in Brussels at the Egmont Palace on April 13 th, 2016. The participating members were informed that with arrangements finalized with the European Commission, the network would augment research and dialogue activities with partners which would be co-financed by the IEMed. The topics of the Working Packages to be developed in 2017-2018 will be defined by the Academic Secretariat upon proposals from members. The General Assembly also discussed applications from different countries to become full members or observers and among other applicant think-tanks, ORSAM  (Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies)  from Turkey was admitted as full member to the network.

During the next 2 days, April 14th and 15th,2016, the Annual Conference of EuroMeSCo was held with the title “Towards A Security Architecture for the Mediterranean: A Challenge for Euro-Mediterranean Relations” which was aimed to contribute to the preparation of the EU Global Strategy  expected to be released in June. Mapping the security threats in the Mediterranean and current security framework in the Mediterranean were discussed at the plenary session, and parallel working  groups discussed the papers prepared on “terrorist threat in the Euro-Mediterranean Region”, “Migration and Refugees: Impact and Future Policies. Case studies of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Greece”, “Youth Activism in the South and East Mediterranean Countries since the Arab Uprisings: Challenges and Policy Options”. During the debate on the paper prepared on “Terrorist Threat in the Euro-Mediterranean Region”, FPI Board Member Oktay  Aksoy  emphasized  that the paper was focused solely on the ISIL threat and ignored the fact that Turkey was fighting 3 kinds of terrorist  groups, one ethnic (PKK-PYD),  the other sectarian (ISIL) and yet another,  the so-called ideological (DHKP-C) and all these had spillover effects on the whole region. But since the EU preferred to be focused on the ISIL which had been targeting the EU member countries as well, the other threat groups had been ignored, whereas that also needed to be sufficiently diagnosed.

Moreover, parallel working sessions were held on “Hard Security Challenges in the Euro-Mediterranean Region”, “Socio-Political Challenges in the Euro-Mediterranean Region”, “Energy and Environmental Challenges and Geopolitics in the Mediterranean”. The last day, parallel meetings were held to kick off the subjects to be handled until the next Conference in 2017 which were identified as “Future of Syria”, “Transformation in Tunisia: the First Five Years” and “Mapping Migration Challenges in the EU Transit and Destination Countries”.

The Conference was concluded with a plenary session on the role of EU for the new security architecture for the Mediterranean which was chaired by the former Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Angel Moratinos. At that session,  Pierre Vimont, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Europe pointed out that in the early 2000 the issue of security was dealt with hesitation and reluctance when it was brought up informally by the then French President and later at the Valetta Summit last year the issue was dealt very differently with the Sahel countries more interested but North African countries not much enthusiastic and the Europeans thought that they could go ahead on their own. So far the issue had been tackled piecemeal. Therefore, the problem was how to define a shared vision of what is needed for security and where it would fit in the Euro-Mediterranean partnership framework, what would be the geographical limits, what would the priorities be, where to place the terrorist threats, the radical groups, even a more broader perspective to include proliferation of WMDs, even further the support to provide for nation states like Libya to overcome their disintegration . He concluded that for a possible framework arrangement the Union for the Mediterranean was an economic organization, the African Union needed more time to gain sufficient experience, for the League of Arab States  it was a difficult issue, the success of the coalition fighting pirates at the Horn of Africa may not always be repeated and the Helsinki process which had brought nations to cooperate in the Cold War atmosphere. Therefore, partners in the network needed more time to discuss the issue.

On the other hand, at the end of the session, the former Spanish Foreign Minister Mr. Moratinos summed up that there was need for a political strategy, many countries were prepared to discuss security cooperation, would it be met piecemeal or would  a holistic approach be more suitable, should there be a prioritization of the threats posed, in assessing security arrangements taking into  consideration of a wider geography was a necessity, a global approach and a more comprehensive security system may be discussed and that soft security issues, economic elements, etc. may be utilized to foster peace in the region and that Europe should be a more visual player in the resolution of conflicts in the region.

As one of the founding members of EuroMeSCo, the Turkish Foreign Policy Institute participates at the meetings of the General Assembly and the annual Conferences. This year Amb. (R) Oktay Aksoy, Board Member of the Turkish Foreign Policy Institute (FPI) participated. Other participants from Turkey were Prof. Mensur Akgün, Director of Global Political Trends Center (GPoT), Dr. Sylvia Tiryaki, Deputy Director of GPoT, Assoc. Prof. Şükrü Erdem, Akdeniz University Center for Economic Research on Mediterranean Countries (CREM), Prof. Ahmet Evin, Senior Scholar at Istanbul Policy Center (IPC), Prof. Başak Kale, METU Center for European Studies and also Prof. Şaban Kardaş, President of Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM).

Visits: 174

Is there a move towards a change in the international system? First,US-Russian relations RESAT ARIM

Is there a move towards a change in the international system? First,US-Russian relations

RESAT ARIM

The Summit meetting between President Obama and President Medvedev  in Moscow has signalled a change in the relations between the US and Russia.But we are hesitant to see it  as a move towards a change in the internatonal system;because we experienced such a good start before,just after the September 11 attacks on the US in 2001.At the time,US-RUssian relations took a big uplift,then slowly melted down to a point where relations came to a period of “dangerous rift”. President Obama is taking now a fresh start.We will see to what degree these relations can improve.We have to monitor the steps.

The  important step was the determination shown by both Presidents when they met in London on April 1 and decided to”resetting” relations by creating a “Bilateral Presidential Commission”.The work of the Commission mly interested of anyade it possible to achieve many things during their summit meeting in Mocow.First was the signing of a  Joint Understanding to guide the work of negotiators on a follow-on agreement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty( START) to be signed before December.It will be recalled that START 1 which was signed in   1991   before the demise of the Soviet Union had foreseen the reduction of nuclear warheads from 10.000 to 6.000 in each country.In Moscow, also proliferation trends in North Korea and Iran were discussed.Second, both Prsidents mede commitments to deepen securrity cooperation,to work to defeat violent extremists and counter transnationl threats,including piracy and narcotics trafficking.They also decided that Russia would help transit ISAF related personel and material for Afghanistan.Political,military and economic cooperation was also taken up.

Of course,this is a good beginning. Let us see how the third interested party,Europe,evaluates this raprochement. Firstly, we have to look at how the improving relations beteen the US and Russia will affect European –Russian relations. It is well known that these relations have been tense because of the natural gas crisis, Kosovo nd South Caucasus. Also Russia objects to the advancement of the Euro-Atlantic structures  to its “priviledged interests zone”. Both US and Europe are being criticised by Moscow over Georgia nd Ukraine.In the face of such a situation President Obama’s moderate stand on NATO’s enlargement and US antimissile depleyment in Europe is probably welcomed by Germany and France,but viewed with suspicion by the old communist countries of Europe.

China  is the other party directly interested in changes in the US-Russian relations.We have to see what her reaction will be.Then, we may start making an overall judgment.We can only hope that such good signs in relations between major powers  proliferate in the future so that stabiliity prevails on all corners of the World.

Visits: 162

Peace Support Operations[1] HASAN GOGUS

Peace Support Operations[1]

HASAN GOGUS

Let me start by welcoming our foreign guests to Turkey for this important conference jointly organized by Bilkent University and the Centre for European Security Studies. I am grateful for the opportunity to address this gathering of eminent academicians and senior officials. The subject matter of the deliberations today and tomorrow is a critical issue for the international community as a whole; how to conduct effective peace support operations in the 21st century, at a time of growing demands for international action in the face of instability and conflict in many parts of the world. I am especially pleased that the conference will have the benefit of the presence and active contribution of our friends from Groningen; an ancient city with a university dating back to the beginning of the 17th century.

There has been a substantial amount of academic and policy activity over the past decade to identify the best means for conducting an increased amount of peace support activity with essentially limited military and financial capabilities. Peacekeeping is a delicate and expensive undertaking, requiring a robust mandate, adequate force protection, deployment of scarce military capabilities and sustained political engagement. The major international organizations with specific responsibilities in this area, such as the United Nations, NATO, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, have all invested a considerable effort to review and revamp their procedures for executing their respective, and often complementary, field activities.

Naturally, Turkey fully supports these efforts. As Director General, in the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for international organizations, I have daily oversight of all UN activities in this respect. We are confident that the establishment of the UN Peace building Commission, the restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the formation of a separate Department of Field Support will serve to provide the international community with a higher-quality service. It has been 61 years since Winston Churchill called for equipping the United Nations with an international armed force, in the famous Iron Curtain speech. The world organization certainly has some military clout now; it is conducting 17 operations with more than 100.000 personnel.

Turkey is keen to sustain and enhance her contributions in this respect. The UN’s own data, as of September 2007, declares that Turkey is the 25th largest contributor to UN operations, with nearly one thousand troops on active duty, while, in terms of police contributions, we are ranked 14th among UN member states. We are, of course, also taking part in all NATO operations, with some 2.500 troops, and a further 2.750 troops on call in the NATO Response Force. We have commanded ISAF twice, and still have some 1.200 troops in Afghanistan, as well as a Provincial Reconstruction Team. Furthermore, we have supported the development of the European Security and Defence Policy from the outset and taken part in every EU operation to which we were invited. In fact, we are the leading non-EU European ally in terms of contributions to ESDP missions.

I see that there is an impressive congregation of experts here to deliberate the important topics on the agenda of the conference. Perhaps I should briefly touch upon one of those topics, namely national approaches to peace support operations, as Turkey has collected a considerable amount of experience in this field. As I said, we led ISAF twice; once as a UN operation and again as a NATO-led force. We also currently have nearly a thousand troops in UNIFIL in Lebanon. This body of experience makes it possible for me to make certain observations, especially with regard to political engagement between the peacekeeping force and the host country. This is a critical relationship for the success of any mission, in terms of ensuring force protection for our men and women on active duty in foreign lands, allowing timely exit from the host country and preventing a subsequent recurrence of hostilities.

The first of these observations is that the task of securing and maintaining the trust of our hosts is the most crucial aspect of peacekeeping work. Naturally, military planners will insist on the right mix of combat and support elements and the availability of critical enablers, but without this mutual trust, the endeavor will almost certainly fail in attaining its objectives. Experience has shown that remaining equi-distant to the ethnic and religious groups in the host country is essential. The Turkish military commanders and personnel also avoid any involvement in the domestic affairs of the country. Transparency in dealings with all local leaders, whether in government or not, helps to sustain a constructive two-way dialogue. Full respect for the customs, cultural values and religious beliefs of the local population is also essential.

We would probably all agree that local ownership of the responsibility for peace and stability is highly desirable. However, this will not be possible if local officials, community leaders and military commanders do not have a culture of working together, as is often the case. This may well be due to a lack of trust among those players because of past behavior. The commanding officers of a peacekeeping force will find it easier to persuade their local counterparts to cooperate with each other and thus facilitate the establishment of a broad-based national consensus in the host country, if they have already won their confidence and respect.

Friendly patrols on foot, rather than an excessive use of armored vehicles driven at high speed, are likely to win the hearts and minds of the population. Sensitive treatment at control posts, for example by ensuring that women are only searched by female officers, is also essential. Joint patrols with local forces or police officers may remove any grounds for suspicion by the population and government officials as to the activities of what is essentially a sizeable and well-armed group of foreigners. Conspicuous display of arms and weapons should be discouraged. Where such simple practices are not followed, the peacekeeping force may quickly resemble an army of occupation.

Regarding the composition of peacekeeping forces, I note that roughly ten percent of uniformed personnel in current UN peacekeeping forces is made up of police officers. This trend should be encouraged further, as the evolving nature of peacekeeping tasks requires a greater amount of conventional police work in post-conflict societies. We should also endeavor to get the right ratio of combat troops and support personnel, as many countries prefer not to provide combat forces or critical enablers like transport assets or intelligence units, which are all in short supply.

As a final remark, I would like to emphasize the need to integrate the political and socio-economic dimension of peace building into our peace support operations, in order to create societies that can sustain peace on their own long after peacekeeping forces depart their country.

 


[1] The text of a statement made by Ambassador Hasan Göğüş, Director General, Multi-lateral Political  Affairs Ministry of Foreign Affairs  during the conference on “Peace Support Operations” organized by Bilkent University and CESS of Netherlands on 12-13 November 2007.

Visits: 142

A Transformed NATO: Delivering Security in a Dangerous World, Lord Robertson, Secretary General of NATO Washington, 22 October 2002 Speech by the Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson at Brookings Institution

A Transformed NATO: Delivering Security in a Dangerous World

Lord Robertson, Secretary General of NATO Washington, 22 October 2002

Speech by the Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson at Brookings Institution

The subtitle for my speech today is delivering security in a dangerous world.  It’s easy to say.  It’s harder to do.

The virus of insecurity and terrorism seems to be spreading.  From New York, Washington and Pennsylvania barely more than a year ago to attacks on US marines in Kuwait, a synagogue in Tunisia, a French oil tanker in the Indian Ocean and a nightclub full of tourists in Bali.  Geography is no barrier to terrorists.  Race, colour and creed are no protection against their attacks.

Yet it would be wrong to paint too bleak a picture.  Last week, CIA Director George Tenet wisely urged us to take the threat very seriously.  He reminded us all that further outrages are inevitable.  Even with the best intelligence, the best countermeasures, the best defences, the lesson of decades of terrorism in Europe is that you cannot hope to foil every attack.

Al Qaida is evil.  It is brutal, fanatical.  It can kill innocent people.  It can damage our free societies.

But it is a loose coalition of extremists.  It is not now, nor ever has been, a threat comparable to fascism or Stalinism.  It can only hope to defeat us if we connive in our own destruction.

So I say to you with some deliberation that we cannot allow a small, unrepresentative network of criminal extremists to believe that by exploiting the openness of our free societies they somehow have us licked.

They are not invincible.  They will be defeated in any war where freedom loving people are united against evil.

Just consider what has been achieved in the past year, since September 11, 2001.

We have built the largest, most powerful coalition the world has ever seen.  A coalition based on a global consensus that terror must not and will not be allowed to succeed.  That consensus was enshrined in an extraordinarily robust UN Security Council resolution.  A resolution which is being implemented across the world.

That coalition has enjoyed a year of extraordinary success.  The Taliban have been toppled.  Bin Laden’s bases have been destroyed and his fighters killed, captured or on the run.  Afghanistan has been stabilised.  Two million Afghan refugees have already gone home.  Terror cells across the world have been crushed.  Financial support to terrorists has been cut.  Their communications have been disrupted.

Look too at the spin-offs.  Russia is working as an equal partner with the United States and 18 other Allied nations in the new NATO-Russia Council.  An international consensus has been forged that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of rogue states such as that of Saddam Hussein must be dealt with, and we are now near agreement on how to do so.

What is the common factor in all of these successes?

International cooperation.  International action.  Not one of the blows struck at terror and insecurity since September 11 could have been launched without countless nations working closely and effectively together.

Sometimes this cooperation has been bilateral.  Sometimes it has been multilateral, in ad hoc coalitions of the willing.  Sometimes it has been channelled through multilateral institutions, such as the United Nations, the European Union and NATO.  There is no single blueprint.

Take Afghanistan.  US diplomacy assembled a series of political and military coalitions, but it was able to do so quickly and successfully because Secretary Powell was not working in a diplomatic vacuum.

The UN Security Council passed a uniquely powerful resolution against terrorism.  NATO nations had declared that September 11 was an attack on them all, and stood ready to provide assistance, political and military.  President Putin offered to open Russian airspace.  The Central Asian states, conditioned to working with the West through years of cooperation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace, quickly offered the bases without which the campaign could not have been won.

Militarily, the United States also worked at the centre of a multinational campaign.  Pakistani troops hunted Taliban and Al Qaida fighters along the Afghan border.  Soldiers from 14 NATO countries fought alongside US soldiers clearing caves in the Afghan mountains.  In parallel, 11 NATO countries sent troops to bring peace and stability to Kabul.  Overhead, British and French aircraft flew combat, reconnaissance, air defence and tanker missions.  Supplies for coalition operations flowed through European ports and airspace.  And, of course, NATO early warning aircraft patrolled America skies so that US aircraft could be deployed elsewhere.

Some have argued that European Allies could have done more.  Almost certainly they could have.  Some other critics say that the United States could have taken up European offers earlier.  And yes, they should have.  But both kinds of critics forget that we are still in the early stages of the war against terror.

We may perhaps have seen the end of the beginning, to quote Winston Churchill almost exactly sixty years ago.  However, this will be a long haul and many more troops from both sides of the Atlantic will be needed on the ground in Afghanistan, the Balkans and elsewhere if we are to completely win our war.

Some have argued that the lesson of Afghanistan is that the future of multinational cooperation lies in ad hoc coalitions rather than permanent alliances such as NATO.  Perhaps these are the same experts who argued after Kosovo that all military operations would in the future have to be undertaken by NATO.  As Secretary General, I am not sure which prospect fills me with most dread.

The fact is that Kosovo and Afghanistan, and Bosnia and Desert Storm before them, show one thing clearly:  that you cannot conduct either diplomacy or military operations on your own, and that you need different options for different circumstances.

But they also show that acting together strongly crucially needs preparation and a habit of working together which comes only from having a core of permanent allies you can trust and who share your values.

That is why Europeans recognise the continuing necessity of a close transatlantic security and defence relationship enshrined in NATO.  The Europeans needed you in Europe for 40 years of Cold War.  They still need you now after a decade or more of post-Cold War instability.

Unlike the Cold War, I do not have to spend my time arguing the public case for NATO in Europe.  It is a paradox that the Alliance is on firmer ground over there against today’s complex, multi-dimensional, often ambiguous risks than it was against the clear, overwhelming Soviet threat.

Al Qaida and the prospect of endless Balkan civil wars focused European minds in a way SS-20 missiles could not.

Recent opinion poll evidence suggests that the same is true on this side of the Atlantic, that the divide is in attitudes is far less marked than gloomier pundits have accepted.

I hope that is so because the case for NATO from a US perspective is in my view as strong today as at any time since 1949.

Imagine, if you will for a moment, the world today without the Atlantic Alliance.

No Article 5 on September 12.  No AWACS aircraft sharing the burden of defending your cities.  No NATO forces smashing Al Qaida cells in the Balkans.  Indeed, no end to the instability in Bosnia, Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

True, there would have been shared values and a flood of bilateral offers of help.  But no North Atlantic Council meeting weekly  sometimes even daily  to concert political and military cooperation.  No single focus for US diplomacy in Europe.

Remember too that without NATO, there would have been no successful coalitions in Desert Storm or Afghanistan.  That is because NATO provides the planning framework, the training, the common standards and the interoperable equipment that enables our forces to work and fight together.  Without that glue, our troops, aircraft and ships could do nothing together.  The political will may have been there.  The military capacity certainly would not.

So NATO gives the United States access to a permanent coalition of 18 like-minded, militarily effective Allies.  In addition, you get another 26 Partner countries from Ireland through Switzerland to Russia and Uzbekistan, all modernising their armed forces so that they too can work side by side with us.  As Lithuanian and Romanian soldiers are now doing in Afghanistan.

And since May 2002, NATO gives the United States a forum for mould breaking cooperation with Russia on key topics from terrorism to missile defence to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  That’s real cooperation, not rhetoric.

My conclusion?  If NATO did not exist, the United States would be working round the clock today to build something similar.  Or, more likely, it would be thrashing about ineffectually in a morass of bilateral links that provided fine words but precious little else.

But I recognise that it is not enough for NATO simply to carry on doing what it has always done, no matter how successful it might have been.  No organisation can take itself for granted, especially in the post-9/11 world.

NATO has to meet the contemporary needs of its members, on both sides of the Atlantic, if it is to remain at the core of our security and defence policies.  That was the message in the Administration’s new National Security Strategy, and that message was spot on.

We can still argue about what this means and how high you set the bar.  For me, the equation is simple:  relevance equals roles that matter today plus the political will and capabilities to implement them.

Thankfully for the Alliance, we are not starting from scratch.  We have achieved much since the Cold War ended.  Remember NATO’s legacy in 1990.  A strategy designed to deter a threat that has since completely disappeared.  Plans focused solely on defence of Europe.  Heavy metal forces equipped to fight a short defensive war on home soil against overwhelming odds with no prospect of conventional success.  European Allies who were urged to look only at the Fulda Gap, not the extravagancies of power projection.

Today’s NATO is already unrecognisable from this legacy.  For a decade we have been shifting inexorably towards flexibility, deployability, sustainability; forces to be used, not simply to deter; forces to win, not to gain time.

The results were demonstrated in Bosnia, where NATO brought peace and stability after a bloody civil war; in Kosovo, where we pre-empted ethnic cleansing and the spread of instability across the region; and now in Afghanistan where European troops trained and equipped to NATO standards form the bulk of forces engaged on the ground.

Politically, we have three new members, a Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, a NATO-Russia Council and a NATO-Ukraine Commission working on substantive issues and building a robust habit of cooperation.

But 9/11 was as great a galvanising force as the end of the Cold War or the disintegration of Yugoslavia.  NATO’s member governments know that NATO needs yet again to transform to meet a new security environment.

The Prague Summit in late November was always important for the Alliance, with the prospect of a further round of enlargement.  Now it is the focus for major changes across NATO’s agenda.

You know the issues.  Rather than list them, let me give you a glimpse of work in progress as we head towards Prague.

First, enlargement.  No numbers, no names for the moment.  But I am happy that a sound consensus is emerging.  A consensus that will strengthen NATO and contribute to the final end of artificial divisions in the Old World.

Next, theology.  Since our spring meeting of Foreign Ministers in Reykjavik, the in-area/out-of-area debate is dead.  NATO may decide on a case-by-case basis not to operate in particular circumstances.  But there is agreement at last that there is no bar should it decide to field forces wherever they are required.

Third, terrorism.  NATO is not set to transmute into the world’s counter-terrorist organisation.  The challenge is too complex for any single body and there are other tasks which NATO still needs to do.  But at Prague we will unveil a major enhancement in the Alliance’s capacity to contribute to the war against terror.  Some measures may not appear glamorous: concepts of operations and collective planning rarely set the pulse racing.  They are, however, as essential to our ultimate success as the new capabilities that will also make up the package.

Linked to terrorism is the threat from weapons of mass destruction.  No one now disagrees that we must act robustly and urgently to prevent these weapons, whether nuclear, biological or chemical, being used against our soldiers or our cities.  At Prague, NATO will take a significant leap forward in enabling our forces to defend themselves and civilian populations should the need arise.

Next, capabilities more generally.  We are not there yet.  But here too the picture is improving.

The US proposal for a NATO Response Force, a cutting edge capability for high intensity operations at short notice, wherever required, has gained great support and is now being developed from a national idea into multinational reality.  In parallel, we are close to agreement on a further radical streamlining of NATO’s command structure to make it better suited for running and supporting missions in the post 9/11 world.

The third leg of the capabilities triad is the successor to the Defence Capabilities Initiative, DCI.  DCI was not a failure.  It delivered real improvements.  But we can do better.  Much better.  And I am delighted that we are now doing so.

At Prague  through what we call the Prague Capabilities Commitment  the NATO nations will commit themselves to acquiring a spectrum of those capabilities which make a real difference in today’s operations:  heavy lift, air tankers, precision guided weapons, chemical and biological defences, ground surveillance radars and so on.

Not every NATO country will contribute to every capability.  Some solutions will be national, some multinational.  Some equipment will be bought nationally, some leased jointly.  We are at last showing the same flexibility and innovation in acquiring and fielding capabilities that we expect from the service men and women who operate them.

As we near Prague, I am continuing to browbeat all NATO governments on capabilities, capabilities, capabilities.  In Europe, the message is modernisation or marginalisation.  Here in Washington the message is:  remove the alibis.

Europeans have for years complained that they would like to do more, but the United States was unwilling to transfer the necessary technology.  Sometimes it was buy American, not European.  Sometimes it was a refusal even to sell US equipment.

Today, that simply will not do.  If the United States wants Europeans to share the responsibilities and risks of dealing with today’s threats, it must be prepared to transfer the technology needed to modernise European armed forces.  We can deal with concerns about onward proliferation and industrial competition.  We cannot deal with soldiers unable to communicate with each other, aircraft unable to use precision weapons, commanders unable to see the battlefield.

Last weekend, former soldiers from the World War II alliance met in the Egyptian desert to commemorate the Battle of El Alamein.  An army of British, Commonwealth, French and Greek soldiers won that turning point battle because the United States released its highest technology equipment, M4 tanks, to its friends ahead of its own troops.  You took away our alibi for failure and created the conditions for success.  A lesson from history with real relevance today.

And today that means fast tracking projects designated at Prague as critical NATO capabilities through the American defence trade control process, just as the United States has done with Allied requirements for Operation Enduring Freedom.  I am pleased to see the Administration is tackling this issue seriously.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I will end by returning to my subtitle.  We do indeed live in a dangerous world.  But our enemies are not ten feet tall.  They can be defeated.  They are being defeated.

More importantly, we are defeating them together.  You cannot deliver security in isolation.  A Maginot Line mentality and a Maginot Line strategy are no more effective against today’s threats than they were in past wars.

As a result, this will not be an easy conflict for future generations of military historians to describe.  The front lines are blurred.  Victory will come as much on the computer screen, in the courtroom, behind the desk as it will on the traditional battlefield.  And there is no single institutional vehicle for mobilising allies and friends and directing their collective energies.

But four themes will be clear.

First, this is a war being fought and won by freedom loving nations working together on an unprecedented scale.

Second, this global coalition is underpinned and made possible by the permanent transatlantic coalition that is NATO.  Without this permanent foundation, we would have good intentions, but precious few achievements.

Third, NATO needs to change and is changing.  Prague will set the seal on a profound transformation that will confirm the Alliance’s value to the United States, and to all of its member countries, in the very different strategic landscape of the 21st century.

Finally, effective cooperation in security and defence must be the sum of political will plus the right capabilities.  At Prague, NATO will silence the siren voices who have repeatedly told us that the transatlantic capabilities gap is too wide to bridge.

I have built something of a reputation as Secretary General for telling NATO ministers hard truths about what needs to be done.  I am delighted to tell this audience that they seem to be listening.

We are all now working together toward common goals, and as a result, Prague will be a major turning point in NATO’s ability to deliver the security that we all need.

Visits: 159

US Policy and the Iraq Time Bomb Prof. Dr. Hüseyin BAĞCI – 25 March 2002, Turkish News

US Policy and the Iraq Time Bomb

Prof. Dr. Hüseyin BAĞCI – 25 March 2002, Turkish News

When Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote his three consecutive articles in the National Interest in 2000 under the titles ‘Living with a New Russia,’ ‘Living with a New China,’ and ‘Living with a New Europa’ he was actually setting the new imperatives for U.S. foreign policy on how to deal with ‘those NEW power centers’ in a new security environment.

As one of the most well known and influential strategists in the United States together with Henry Kissinger during the Cold War years and in the post-Cold War period, Zbigniew Brzezinski appears now right in his definition of the hegemon United States, the likes of which history has never before experienced. Indeed, when Henry Kissinger published an article just a few months before Sept. 11, 2001, with the title ‘Does America need a Foreign Policy,’ he created many discussions as to the first signs of an anti-American coalition of some of the great powers starting to emerge. China, Russia, the European Union and India seem not to be very happy with U.S. conduct of international politics.

As the ‘exceptional hegemon’ in the new world order, the United States is recognizing terrorism as a global threat and finds it necessary to fight it with every means. It believes that liberal democracies are challenged by terrorism and terrorism must be fought on a global scale alone or with an ‘international coalition.’ Of course, the United States needs a global coalition to fight terrorism and this is why President Bush is sending Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to different parts of the globe to seek allies. It is not the year 1945 or 1989, or even 1991; Sept. 11 was a turning point where Henry Kissinger’s question can be answered. The United States needs a foreign policy, and this will be not easy.

Euroasia is the future of international politics. The security of the Eurasian landmass is solely America’s responsibility according to the U.S. administration. Indeed, Eurasia is the future, but poverty in Asia is the biggest challenge for all international actors. Usama bin Laden and his al-Qaida is only one among the expected challenges to the international and global order. To define some countries as ‘the axis of evil’ does not solve the problem. Look at what Russia, China and India have done following Sept. 11. None of them can openly take an anti-American position, therefore, they do not stress that the United States is doing wrong. China in particular is on good terms with the United States because China is bowling from inside [sic]. Unemployment is a big problem for all the countries in Asia and if China has bad news to spread that means it is bad for all the others too. How to contain China is indeed an ‘American problem’ now. Russia is also unhappy with the American presence in Central Asia and the Caucasus but has to appease the United States, like Britain and France did to Germany before World War II. Russia’s new alliance with China and India is a tactical one and Russia will further impose its policies over Eurasian just as before, though it will be not so easy.

Russia’s view that ‘failed states are not necessarily rouge states’ is important because Russia supports Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Therefore, Russia is not alone in this case. The EU is also having similar views and in particular in the last few years EU countries follow more and more ‘pro-Arab policies.’ The result is that Russia is more and more a reliable partner for the EU in global politics and no doubt the U.S. administration is not happy with this. In particular, French Foreign Minister Huber Vedrin leads this view and the gap between the United States and the EU on the definition of the meaning of international terrorism is widening and NATO has already been declared a ‘corpse.’ NATO enlargement has also lost speed and this will create some new discussions in Europe in November when NATO enlargement will be the main issue at the Prague summit.

Within this global context, discussions in Turkey on EU membership and the U.S. search for an international coalition dominated the political agenda over the last few weeks. Indeed, the ‘anti-EU block’ in Turkey gets intellectual support from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose book will be published in April. In her book, as some excerpts were published in several newspapers, she favors more U.S.-oriented policy than the EU and sees the EU as a ‘vanity of intellectuals.’ In her words, the EU is finished and will not be successful. No doubt, this view will be very much used in Turkey for domestic consumption and Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yılmaz will face stronger opposition. The different views of the Motherland Party (ANAP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) also prove that the coalition is still not harmonious and Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit is barely managing the existence of the coalition. The good old days for the coalition are over.

The visit of U.S. Vice President Cheney also showed that Turkey is part of U.S. global politics and the United States in security issues is more reliable than the EU. The meeting between Cheney and the Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Kıvrıkoğlu with Foreign Minister İsmail Cem and State Undersecretary Uğur Ziyal is a unique one and it shows what the United States is interested in.

Turkey is a key country for any U.S. intervention in Iraq and Turkey’s many interests are at stake and Turkey cannot remain indifferent to regional developments. Cheney left Turkey with a positive view, leaving behind it ‘a reliable ally’ in regional and global politics. The Turkish government’s view that it is against U.S. intervention in Iraq is not so important! None of the 11 other countries that Cheney visited also said yes but this ‘no’ means yes if the United States intervenes. Which country or countries can prevent it? Obviously none.

It was a fact-finding tour to tell countries what the United States is intending to do. It was not asking for their permission for such an operation. Next week, the conference in Lebanon of the Arab League will take place and let’s see what will come out of it. U.S. policy is this time very different from the Cold War and Iraq has limited time to meet the expectations of the United Nations. Saddam Hussein and Iraq have gained time, but how long it can go on like this an open question. There is a time bomb in the Middle East and it is ticking faster than ever.

Visits: 212

Aegean: Renewed Turkish – Greek Dialogue Seyfi Taşhan – 13 March 2002

Aegean: Renewed Turkish – Greek Dialogue

Seyfi Taşhan – 13 March 2002

After many years of refusal to talk with Turkey on the Aegean issues, the first encounter on these issues took place yesterday between Turkish and Greek diplomats in Ankara and will continue next month in Athens . Certainly this development is an achievement of the foreign ministers of the two countries whose policy of rapprochement brought the Greek diplomats who refused to talk nothing about the Aegean except taking the issue of the delimitation of the continental shelf in the Aegean to International Court of Justice. Until 1997 Turkey categorically rejected going to international arbitration on the continental shelf unless there were negotiations on all the contentious issues in the Aegean Sea. Basically, these issues were Greek initiatives taken over many decades upsetting the balance established between the two countries with the peace treaty of Lausanne signed in 1923.

It is true that in 1960s and 1970s these problems were discussed between the two sides under the shadow of the major Cyprus dispute that concerned not only the Turkish and Greek Communities in the island but also the two mainland. After 1980s with advent to power in Greece of the father Papandreu, all dialogue between the two countries were terminated, and people of Greece were led to believe that there was a Turkish military threat against Greece. Two points of view were advanced in the Greek public opinion. One the view argued that  Cyprus formed the crux of the dispute between the two countries and before its shadow was removed Greece could not discuss anything in the Aegean. The second was even more chauvinistic and defiant in simply refusing to discuss anything on Aegean which they considered was Greek.

The dialogue and contacts that began between the two countries several years ago and the initiation of direct talks between the two communities in Cyprus may have created the necessary atmosphere for renewed dialogue on the Aegean. Yet, it might be too soon to expect speedy solutions to all the problems on which the two countries and public opinions have hardened views and attitudes.

Let us take the continental shelf which the Greeks still consider as the only contentious issue that could be solved through resort to the International Court of Justice. Had the only problem in the Aegean been only the continental shelf delimitation it could have been possible to accept immediate joint recourse to international arbitration. However from the Turkish point of view other issues of dispute are directly or indirectly related and inter-linked with the continental shelf issue. Take for example, the question of territorial waters in the Aegean, a semi-closed sea dotted with many islands. Currently, territorial waters are limited to six miles.
This breadth of sovereign area leaves a substantial part of the Aegean as international waters (see map). Under the Law of the Seas Convention of which Turkey is not a signatory , the territorial waters of the islands may be extended up to 12 miles.
If Greece decides to use this right generally applicable in open seas it will take most of the Aegean under its sovereignty and Turkish and other flag ships will have to pass through Greek waters to cross the Aegean. In case of Turkey passage from one Turkish port to the other will also have to pass also through Greek waters. Greece currently reserves the right to extend their territorial waters to twelve miles. If she chooses to do so before or after arbitration on the continental shelf there will be no case to go bring to arbitration because there will be no international continental shelf to be divided. It is for this reason that Turkey declared the possible extension of the territorial waters in the Aegean  a “causus belli” in order to assert the vital importance of this issue and to demonstrate that he such a move could prejudice other issues of contention in the Aegean. Among other issues such as the current air space of 10 miles is an odd Greek practice recognized by no one. The fate of the rocks and uninhabited islets in the international waters is also an issue linked with the delimitation of the continental shelf and of the territorial waters. The sheer violations by Greece of the Lausanne Treaty that demilitarized the Greek islands in the proximity of the Turkish coast and of the Italian Peace Treaty that transferred the Dodacanese islands Greece but kept them disarmed are also very important security concerns for both Turkey’s coastal regions and also for the safety of the sea traffic and cannot be ignored on the basis of the Greek claim that this is a matter that concerns only the Greek sovereignty.

Since the dialogue has begun several years ago between the two governments and the civil sectors of both countries,  many  statesmen  as well as significant portions of public opinion in Greece have come to the conclusion that Turkey can no longer be considered a threat to Greece, and that the two countries have significant interest in bilateral cooperation not mention their common interests in the Balkans, the Black Sea region and in the Mediterranean.

If we recall that in 1930 the treaty of alliance and friendship between the two countries gave the right to each party in international conferences to represent the other if he could not attend that meeting, it would not be terribly difficult both for the Turks and the Greeks to adopt the liberal European integrative approach in their bilateral relation.

The international conditions are quite suitable for the success of this newly begun dialogue on the Aegean and we have practically no reason to be pessimist for the eventual outcome.

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