Hamburg'daki Alman Silahlı Kuvvetler Akademisi'de verilen Türk Dış Politikası konulu konferans

Mehmet Fatih Ak 20.05.2015
Sehr geehrte Frau Warburg,
sehr geehrter Herr Brigadegeneral Thomas Hambach,
sehr geehrter Kapitän zur See, a.D Herr Prof. Dr. Souchon,
sehr geehrter Herr Generalleutnant a.D. Kurt Herrmann,
sehr geehrte Mitglieder der Führungsakademie,
sehr geehrter Herr Pfennig,
Liebe Gäste,

Ich möchte mich bei der Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr und dem Clausewitz Netzwerk für Strategische Studien bedanken, mir die Gelegenheit gegeben zu haben heute hier vor Ihnen sprechen zu dürfen.

Mit Freude habe ich erfahren, dass unter der Leitung von Generalmajor Göktürk Gökbayrak, eine Militärdelegation aus Schülern der Türkische Militärakademie, am Donnerstag in Hamburg eintrifft und einem Programm beiwohnen werden, welche die Führungsakademie vorbereitet hat. Die vorhandene Zusammenarbeit beider Akademien ist für die traditionell türkisch-deutsche Zusammenarbeit im Militärischen Bereich sehr zufriedenstellend.

Ein bekanntes Beispiel dieser ins 19’te Jahrhundert zurückreichenden Zusammenarbeit, ist der Sieg in Çanakkale (Gallipoli) vor 100 Jahren. Die Siege im See- und Landkrieg in Gallipolli haben auch die Geschichte Europas beeinflusst. Dieser Sieg ist nur ein Beispiel dafür, dass die Europäische Geschichte ohne die Türkei nicht geschrieben werden kann.
Bitte erlauben Sie mir nun in englischer Sprache fortzuführen.

Distinguished Guests,

I am glad to be here today to share with you, as Consul General of Turkey in Hamburg, my views on what and how Turkey try to respond to the many challenges that we are faced today.

As Turkey, we have both the advantage of our geographic disposition and close historical and cultural ties across a vast landscape promoting dialogue and interaction between civilizations at the heart of Eurasia and Africa.

As the 16th largest economy in the world Turkey is now much better poised to concretize its contributions to other areas which need this wider approach. Our G-20 Presidency for 2015 will be a very crucial platform for us to project and to practice this global approach.

Our 228 missions abroad, which makes Turkey the 6th country in terms of diplomatic representation worldwide, work around the clock in pursuit of our multidimensional and human-oriented foreign policy. Turkey maintains its position as a rising donor country, with its official development aid reaching 3.3 billion Dollars and its humanitarian aid of 1.6 million Dollars. We are the 3rd country in official development aid in the world.

Turkey has a pivotal role to play in Europe’s interaction with the Middle East, the Mediterranean basin, the Caucasus and the Black Sea region. It also makes it imperative for our friends and allies in Europe to take into consideration this wider role of Turkey. Turkey's unique geostrategic position inescapably led this very old country to be at the epicenter of the dynamics of change and transition. Sometimes the change was tumultuous, but whatever happened in this wide geography stretching from South Eastern Europe to the Middle East carried wider implications going much beyond.

This geography was under attack exactly hundred years ago. The Powers of the time believed that the final demise of the Ottoman Empire was imminent. After all, it had very recently ceased to exist in Europe, as a result of the Balkan Wars in 1912-1913, clinging only to Thrace and İstanbul. The assumption was that it will soon end in Asia as well.

Now, a century later, even a very cursory look at the region tells us how deep indeed, go the root causes of the present volatility. To our East and South, we see bankrupt states that have lost contact with the masses, hence their legitimacy in the eyes of their people. They have failed since long in responding to the demands for individual liberties, reform and, most importantly, a much fairer share of wealth buttressed by freedom from all sorts of corruption. Instead of trying in earnest to respond to these legitimate demands, the worn-out, outdated regimes in the region chose to employ the most unthinkable methods of oppression.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

When we look to our West, to Europe, we see ominous developments somewhat reminiscent of the Second World War Era: It is sad and as much scary to come across at this time rising xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism. We cannot, and we should not try to explain away this phenomenon by tying it solely to the economic crisis which had caused damage to the fabric of societies along with the consequent difficulties in maintaining the welfare state. This is precisely why, the mainstream parties in Europe, should disavow xenophobia and extremism, instead of paying lip-service to the rhetoric of extreme groups.

It is ironic that the new radicals in Europe use the examples of Deash (ISIL), Boko Haram and the like to further their own agenda and use these examples as a pretext for intolerance and hatred towards Muslim immigrants, whereas Islam is a religion of tolerance and compassion. Terrorist tactics and violence run counter to the core values of Islam.
And, when we look towards our North, we see developments reminiscent of the Cold War era precipitated by the annexation of Crimea. This is unacceptable for us. Turkey remains committed to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and supports a peaceful solution of the conflict through diplomacy. Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan from Turkey is currently leading the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine. This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a very grim picture.

However, we cannot afford just to fall into desperation and to limit ourselves to tackle with troubles on a day-to-day basis. On the contrary, we have a challenging task in front of us, even an obligation to recognize first and foremost, and the patterns that underlay these developments, which look merely chaotic on the surface.

We have to invent the ways to transform these negative patterns change their course towards a positive direction. We have to find the concealed advantages which might lie behind and turn these into opportunities for positive change. This is our task and responsibility. Hence we should be guided by our values and principles. In the case of Turkey, we feel the effects of this change taking place in several places in our vicinity simultaneously and at multi-layered levels. There is of course the humanitarian dimension which come into fore in the shape of the huge numbers of refugees who need to be taken care of. There is the inescapable security implications of Deash.

Since these multiple transformations will define the larger content that we all have to work within we need collective action. We must tread all of these issues very carefully. To devise a wholesome and working response is a challenge that is well beyond the capabilities of any uni-lateral action taken at the national level.

In this respect, a primary aspect of Turkey’s foreign policy today is its human-oriented nature. Striking a balance between national interests and universal values, such as democracy, pluralism, human rights and the rule of law, Turkey’s foreign policy seeks to affect a positive and transformative influence in its region and beyond. It has the ability to address challenges, seize opportunities and promote stability, peace and prosperity in and around the region with a global vision. Turkey, with its democratic standards and robust economy, pursues a dynamic and visionary foreign policy with a view to steering the multitude of developments in a positive direction.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Whatever the recently intensified efforts by some parts of the European media to depict Turkey under the wrong light, the informed public is aware that our government has been consistently principled in the face of the developments that are triggered by a certain Mr Bouzazi, a desperate, striving son of Tunisia who put himself on fire, fed up with corruption and increasingly difficult means to look after his family. What are these principles?

First of all, the legitimate demands of peoples for democracy and better living standards should be met. Violent oppression and military coups do not have a place in this quest.

Secondly, sectarian policies that inflame the situation both in the affected countries and in the region as a whole should not be tolerated. After all, we have been witnessing the worst results of sectarianism in Syria and Iraq.

And thirdly, the humanitarian needs of the victims should be addressed as comprehensively as possible.

Distinguished guests,

Facts speak for themselves: the loss of life in Syria amounts to more than two-hundred thousand. The number of displaced persons exceed 10 million. Imagine almost all the population of Greece or Belgium for that matter, had to escape from their country. Imagine their place is filled by violent radicals such as Deash. Indeed, Deash is nothing but the by-product of the power vacuum created under chaos.

Turkey has been pursuing an open-door policy from the very start of the exodus. Today, the number of Syrians who are accommodated in Turkey is more than 1,5 million. We have spent nearly 5 billion USD. Recently, two-hundred thousand people from Kobani (Ayn Al-Arab) and parts of Northern Iraq are added to this picture. Only this number exceeds the number of refugees the rest of Europe has accepted. As a matter of fact, Turkey has almost taken on the role of the United Nations in this huge refugee crisis.

On the other hand, a partial approach which singularly focuses on Deash and Kobani (Ayn Al Arab) cannot bear the desired result. The root cause of the problem, which is the regime’s violence, should be addressed first and foremost. This can only happen by a principled and a resolute approach that aims at replacing the current Esad regime through genuine political transformation that embraces the whole people. The developments on the ground attest to the Turkish argument.

The situation in Iraq also proved us right; we have been warning the previous Iraqi government under Maliki of the obvious outcomes of their sectarian and discriminatory policies. Now, the current El Ebadi government that took power by the end of 2014 recognizes these mistakes. However, they have to deal with the many negative consequences of these ill-conceived policies.

Distinguished guests,

In addition to efforts in the political sphere, Turkey also endeavors to improve its economic ties through free trade agreements, preferential trade regimes, stimulus packages and customs unions. The positive results of these efforts are best demonstrated by the economic data. In the last ten years, trade with neighbors has increased sevenfold, and its share in Turkey’s total trade has gone up from 14% to 24%. Through creating increased economic regional interdependencies, Turkey also aims to contribute to regional stability.

Another priority for Turkey’s foreign policy is to further strengthen its existing strategic relations with European and Transatlantic political and security structures.

Turkey sees NATO as the linchpin of Euro-Atlantic security. The changing security environment in the Eurasian geography over the past 20 years, has transformed Turkey’s role from that of a flank country to that of a central ally. Turkey’s contributions to NATO today are in line with this changing context; Turkey is a security and stability generating member of NATO, dedicated to furthering the objectives of the Alliance. Turkey has undertaken significant responsibilities in major NATO operations such as in Kosovo and in Afghanistan, and is continuing to contribute to three NATO operations and one mission.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Membership in the EU remains a strategic choice for Turkey. Turkey is determined to continue and successfully finalize its EU accession negotiations. Our accession process should not be compromised for short term political gains. The process of accession negotiations should run its course. In this context we expect to open additional chapters without delay.

It is important to keep the new momentum going in Turkey’s accession process. The signing of the Readmission Agreement and the launching of the Visa Liberalization Dialogue between Turkey and the EU in December 2013 are two parallel processes which make a positive impact in Turkey-EU relations.

Given the significant developments occurring in our common neighborhood, most recently as exemplified in Ukraine, there is now an even stronger case for effective cooperation on foreign/security policies between Turkey and the EU.

In conclusion, Turkish foreign policy aims at furthering peace and stability in its wider geography. Turkey’s means and capabilities to make progress in this direction are now commensurate with the widening horizons of its foreign policy. Turkey employs this enhanced capacity to actively promote cooperation and dialogue both at bilateral and regional levels.

Thus, Turkey today brings in a greater added value to the international community in its quest for peace and security through its growing network of relationships and a perceptive understanding of the complex dynamics of a wide region.

Thank you.

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