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Turkey’s vision

Tuesday 12 December 2006, by Ekrem Dumanli

Source : Zaman, 10-12-2006

Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s agenda, squeezed into last week, reveals an important reality in Turkey. First the Jordan visit; then the meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at Ankara’s Esenboga Airport, which had a high symbolic value…

During the half-hour meeting held to send a message to world public opinion, the engines of the plane for the [NATO] summit in Riga had already started. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and his aide-de-camps did their best as well. Prior to the leaders summit that was sure to affect Turkey-EU relations, the prime minister and the foreign minister exerted immense efforts. They met with US President George W. Bush, Italian Prime Minister Romani Prodi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac and explained what Turkey’s views were to each and everyone of them.

Erdogan conveyed Turkey’s recommendations and concerns over the Middle East to Bush, because both leaders were flying to the Middle East after the summit. While Bush left for Jordan, Erdogan embarked upon a trip to Iran.

The Turkish delegation first met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and then with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Naturally, the most important topics on the agenda were the turmoil and threat of a civil war in Iraq, the chaos in Lebanon and Arab-Israeli relations, which are not only important for the region but also for the whole world. As the Turkish prime minister returned from Iran on Monday, his suitcases were again being packed for the trip to Romania. After Romania, he was scheduled to travel to Syria and then to New York to attend a United Nations meeting.

A very busy Turkish diplomacy

To tell the truth, for a very long time Turkish diplomacy has not been so busy on many fronts nor has it been so effective. Not only Erdogan, but also Gul, Ali Babacan and other officials have been extremely busy with very tight schedules due to innumerable international commitments that it is impossible for them to make new appointments. Turkey has never been as exuberant as it is now. On the one hand we are having close contacts with our neighbors, and on the other hand we are holding very serious and important meetings with EU leaders. In the meantime, ties with the US and Russia are not being neglected…

In this respect, what King Abdullah told Erdogan in Jordan carries added importance: “There is no country in the Middle East that is not at loggerheads with one another. The country only on incredibly good terms with all states in the region and in the world is Turkey.” A very accurate and appropriate assessment as Turkey continues to enjoy various advantages on all fronts.

Stop and think for a second: The country we are talking about is both a Muslim and democratic country; its economy is developing at a rapid speed; it is making unprecedented progress and is also involved in many global activities… On the one hand, the heart of Islamic civilization is beating in this country, and on the other it has secured itself a safe position in the Western world and a place on the Western cultural map. Turkey is also as indispensable for the United Nations as it is for the European Union.

Frankly speaking, the biggest problem facing Turkey, which is a great world power candidate, is surrendering to internal strife and bickering from time to time. For this reason, we sometimes swim across oceans in this country but drown in shallow streams… Maybe those who are anxiously and excitingly looking forward to the possible vital roles Turkey will play, want the country to be predominantly introverted rather than extroverted; they also want Turkey to play the “blind man’s buff” rather than push the boundaries by creating new horizons, and are acting accordingly. As long as domestic politics lacks vision, there can be no political esteem on the international arena.

Internal bickering

However, domestic political bickering can relegate reason, logic and plans and programs to the background. In fact, so many precious years in Turkey have been wasted as a result of this. We only came to realize the severity of the situation when developments abroad came knocking on our door and coerced our internal politics into taking shape. The painful prices still being paid today are the “works” of yesterday’s prodigal sons, the blood suckers who are concerned with only saving the day and those fond of swallowing morsels gotten without effort. To predict the future is the responsibility of politicians, scholars and intellectuals — not soothsayers… To embrace the future does not mean tumbling into your own reality; it means being able to find the right points of intersection amongst the social and political changes in the macro world.

When Turkey is able to extricate itself from the false agendas of daily politics and purify itself of the passionate joy of internal squabbles, it will take the place it deserves among the world’s most powerful states. Turkey has to establish a vision, which would befit its stance both in the region and in the world, in light of its rich subconscious, dynamic human power and the pluralistic structure of the cultural values it possesses. This is important not only for us, but also for the entire region…

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