Global Trends and Turkish Foreign Policy

Opening Speech

Distinguished Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to have this opportunity to address you on the occasion of the Ambassadors Conference, which is being convened for the first time in the history of the Foreign Ministry, and I welcome you all.
This event is being attended by our Chiefs of Mission serving in 103 Embassies and Missions spread around the world. So, this is also an opportunity for those who have not seen each other for perhaps many years and have not directly received news from each other to get together. Our principal aim in organising this Conference is both to provide a setting for a focused exchange of views and consultation in an atmosphere of free debate, and also to make coordination between the headquarters and our missions abroad more efficient and productive.
Turkey, in terms of its historical, geographical, cultural and geopolitical position, is among the countries in the world with the heaviest foreign policy agenda. We shall conduct over the four day span of the Conference detailed discussions on all of the major topics being followed closely by the Ministry. We shall consult. The Conference will give to our Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives, the implementers of our foreign policy, the opportunity to share with their colleagues the wealth of information, experience and perspectives they have gained during their service. I would sincerely like this Conference to turn into a tradition which will continue annually.
Distinguished Guests,
The diplomatic profession is not performed in a vacuum. It is not possible to properly conduct international relations in disregard of what is happening in our environment and in the world, with an indifferent attitude towards general and macro trends. Therefore I would briefly like to share with you at the outset some of my observations on general world conditions which are of close interest to Turkey as well.
We are currently passing through a timeframe in which the effects of the latest wave of globalisation are being felt as sharply as can be. Above all, globalisation has increased interdependence between countries at an unprecedented rate.
At the same time, international economic problems, with a domino effect, lead to chain reaction results in almost every country. In parallel, we are witnessing the world economic center of gravity gradually shifting from the Western hemisphere to the Eastern.
We also see that the uncertainties related to the future structure of the international system are continuing to make a mark on ongoing debates. The world in the 21st Century, according to some, is in transition towards a “multipolar“ system, and according to some, a “nonpolar“ system. In any event, it is becoming clear that no country, on its own, can establish hegemony over the whole system.

Distinguished Guests,
Whatever the name of the new system to define international relations in this Century, the kind of characteristics it should possess, in order to be just and long lived, is quite evident. A healthy world order, in our mind, can only be built on a foundation of multilateralism and international legitimacy. The new international system taking shape, should be able to unite humanity around common denominators, instead of dividing it into hostile camps, again. I believe it is our greatest duty to future generations to work actively towards establishing a humane and peaceful world order in which welfare is distributed equally.
However, clearly, the path to realizing global targets of this magnitude passes through reaching global agreements of equal strength. And only international institutions are capable of igniting such an intense spirit of solidarity. At present, the flagship of this system is the United Nations. If Turkey is elected to temporary membership of the United Nations Security Council in the next few months, it is this ideal, these approaches that she will derive strength from, in her efforts to have peace and welfare achieved on a global scale.
At this point, it will be useful to provide a little more detail on the course of action we will take if elected to the Security Council. At the same time, these are Turkey’s clear-cut commitments to international public opinion. We shall be actively engaged on the following issues if we gain the right to be represented in the Council:
We shall strive for the increased effectiveness of the organization internationally, by supporting the UN reform process.
In accordance with the UN Millenium Development Goals, we shall increase our contributions to international efforts aimed at eradicating poverty in the world by the year 2015, and to resolution of problems related to this goal.
We shall strive for the prevention of international political crises before they ocur, and in situations when this is not possible, we shall endeavor to the best of our ability for the peaceful resolution of conflicts without resort to use of force.
We shall be in the forefront of the struggle against dangerous tendencies such as xenophobia both within societies and between coutries, racism, discrimination, intolerance, extremism and violence. We shall strive for the opening up of doors of dialogue between different cultures and religions.
We shall exert efforts for the better understanding of the reality of how small and vulnerable our world really is, and for the widening of awareness of protection of the environment.
Of course, Turkey’s contributions under the roof of the UN Security Council to the resolution of global problems will not be limited to these areas. No one should doubt that we will fulfil all the responsibilities entailed by Security Council membership in the most appropriate manner.
As is known, Turkey, for many years, has also been making important contributions to peace keeping and support operations carried out under the United Nations umbrella in many corners of the world. Our support to the United Nations for this purpose will continue in the period ahead, and will be increased to the extent possible.
In the area of security, we shall continue to contribute to NATO and to the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) on the basis of principles to which we attach importance. The NATO Alliance will continue to be an important component of Turkey’s security and defense policies. We believe that the continuation of the expansion of the Alliance in the context of the “open door“ policy with new members which meet the criteria for membership, will have positive effects on the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic region. We also attach importance to the enhancement of the cooperation between NATO and the EU. However for this partnership to be productive, it is necessary to enable NATO’s non-EU member countries to effectively participate in the decision-making mechanisms of the ESDP, in conformity with previously reached agreements. Our endevours in this direction will be resolutely continued in the period ahead.

Distinguished guests,
The matter of Turkey’s effective participation in the ESDP is also closely related to our EU accession process. In this respect, at the root of current troubles lies the fact that Turkey, while continuing to make significant contributions to European security as a member of NATO, is at present outside of the EU, despite the largely convergent membership profiles on a European scale of NATO and the EU. Therefore, the realization in the shortest possible time of Turkey’s full membership in the EU, besides yielding many benefits in other areas, will be in the interest of all concerned parties from the point of view of the reinforcement of Transatlantic security.
On this occasion, I would like to particularly stress that there is no deviation from our full membership goal which has become a state policy, and that we are continuing to make efforts in this direction with the same determination.
However, everyone is aware that the perception of the European Union in the eye of Turkish public opinion has significantly eroded during the last few years and that injection of new confidence in our people in this regard has become a necessity which can not be delayed. And the biggest task in this respect falls on the European Union. Our public opinion has some fundamental expectations with regard to the EU. The first of these is that Turkey should not be subjected to discrimination and different treatment in this process. Secondly, the messsages coming from EU countries on the subject of Turkey’s membership should be of a consistent and encouraging nature.
We are pleased with and appreciate the support of the EU Commission in the negotiation process. But this support has to be reflected clearly in Summit decisions by member countries. If the principle of “pacta sund servanda“ is a fundamental rule of law, binding on all parties to an agreement, it is our most natural right to expect that EU leaders act in conformity with this principle with respect to Turkey’s institutional relations with the Union.
As we have shown many times in actual practice until now, in this process, Turkey will do what falls upon it and will continue with its reforms. There has not been the slightest change in the determination of our government in this respect. In fact, a large portion of the reforms carried out are of the nature of being a continuation of our modernization project with a long history, and also reflect the wishes and expectations of our people. I do not doubt that the standards Turkey will attain, at the end of the reform process to be pursued uninterruptedly, will invalidate most of the arguments used today by circles appearing to be against our full-membership in Europe, and will in fact open the path to full membership.

Distinguished guests,
Turkish-American relations rest upon a deep rooted history both bilaterally and within the alliance system, a comprehensive partnership of purpose and interest, and a firm geopolitical basis. It is necessary to further widen these relations in the economic, technological, social and cultural areas. Most recently, the cooperation and positive results realized in the struggle against the PKK terror organization has added new dimensions to the Turkish-American relationship.
We are also aware that it is necessary for Turkey to build a stable belt of peace and security in her region and to gradually expand it, in order to strengthen her position in the global system on the road leading to EU membership. As a matter of fact, Turkey is not content to only observe and react to developments in its region, but is taking concrete steps towards the resolution of disputes and is pursuing its constructive policies by taking new and innovative initiatives.
With the help of these effective policies, Turkey, in recent years, has begun to become a “center“ for diplomatic activity aimed at resolving regional conflicts. We are spending proactive efforts on a series of questions, ranging from overcoming the political crisis in Lebanon to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, from developing the Pakistan-Afghanistan dialogue to restarting proximity talks between Syria and Israel. Turkey has proved on innumerable occasions that it is a reliable partner for countries in the region. As a result of the trust we have gained, we are taking upon the role of a “facilitator“ in the settlement of disputes, and we are obtaining positive results. Our contributions to regional and global peace will continue on this basis.
In addition to the “strategic partnership“ relations existing between us and a few other countries, we are launching strategic cooperation processes at the regional level as well. Our regional partners, too, consider it important for Turkey to assume effective roles in the international area, and show this in practice. A concrete example of this is that the African Union Organization, to which we have “permanent observer“ status, proclaimed Turkey a “strategic partner“ during its meeting at the beginning of this year. We are also starting a strategic dialogue process with the six member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Similarly, we would like to enter into a closer working relationship with the Shangai Cooperation Organization which is becoming the most effective regional institution in the continent of Asia.
Turkey’s close interest in the Balkans, Black Sea, South Caucasus, Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean regions, in the midst of which it is situated, will continue in the coming years. Turkey has pioneered significant political and economic ventures in these regions, and desires to enhance in the coming years the constructive role it is playing in neighboring and near geographies with which it also has ties of kinship. In this context, one of our goals is to provide new impetus to our cooperation with Central Asian Republics, whose independence processes we have strongly supported from the beginning.
The maintenance of security and welfare of the Turkish Cypriot people and protection of balance and stability in the Eastern Mediterrenean constitute the two main strategic goals of Turkey’s Cyprus policy.
We will continue our support for the initiatives aimed at finding a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem within the framework of the established parametres of the United Nations.
With regard to Armenia, the only country among our neighbors with which our relations are problematic, we shall continue to be the party that is taking initiatives. When the steps we have taken elicit a response, we shall continue to exert efforts to raise our relations to the desired levels.


Distinguished guests,
Attainment of our goals in the field of foreign policy depends, to a large degree, on whether Turkey can maintain its rapid rate of economic growth and whether it can increase its weight in the global economy. I therefore consider goals in the economic field as having at least the same importance and priority as goals in the political area.
As Turkey consolidates its position in the global economic system, we have to try at the same time to bring down to the lowest level the certain negative effects which exposure to the outside could bring. If new global crises do arise, it is vitally important that we have an economic structure that will enable us to get over the shocks with the least damage. This can be possible only if Turkey becomes an economy that can produce high added value and possesses high competitive power.
As a matter of fact, our perspective for the period ahead in the economic area has been laid out in the 9th Development Plan encompassing 2007-2013; that is to make Turkey a country of information society, growing in stability and globally competitive, which has fully completed its coherence with the European Union.
Our goal in the longer term is to raise Turkey to a position of global power particularly in the economic field in the 2020’s. Turkey has more than the necessary dynamism and human resources for this purpose. In fact, it is expected that, in 2023, the 100th anniversary of our Republic, provided that we continue with the necessary structural transformation and preserve stability, Turkey will be one of the ten biggest economies in the world.
A member of the World Trade Organization since 1995, Turkey is integrated to a large degree with the global economy. The network of economic relations that we have formed at bilateral and regional levels, has been gradually expanding in recent years. The ratio of our trade with neighboring and close-by countries to our total foreign trade is steadily increasing. Since 1996, we have signed Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with 11 countries lying within the Balkans-Caucases-Middle East triangle. Our efforts to conclude FTA’s with 14 countries or multilateral organizations continue. Among these are Important regional organizations such as GCC, MERCOSUR and SACU. In this respect, we think that the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area, which is envisaged to be established by the year 2010, can provide new momentum to our regional economic relations. It is possible to add to this positive picture the new dynamics and synergy formed by the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization between regional countries.
The economic and political reforms Turkey has carried out in the last five years have undoubtedly augmented Turkey’s visibility to a great extent. In particular, you, the ambassadors, are closely observing this in the countries where you serve. Turkey is being hailed around the world as an example of success and is appreciated by many quarters in many countries. Political reforms are supporting economic reforms, which in turn support political reforms. It is extremely important for the two processes to move forward in parallel. A well functioning democracy achieving international standards in fundamental rights and freedoms, the supremacy, in the real sense, of the rule of law in Turkey are, at the same time, basic elements which guarantee our economic future. Turkey, last year, was the 17th biggest economy in the world with a national income of 659 billion dollars. If Turkey had been a member of the European Union, today it would have been its 6th biggest economy. It is certainly important for our country, for our ambassadors, in different corners of the world, to frequently emphasize this point and to make a special effort to draw attention to Turkey’s economic successes.
In this process, without doubt, we very much value our traditional economic and political relations with Europe, USA and neighboring and close countries and would like to further strengthen these ties. At the same time, it is clear that for us to reach our goals especially in the economic field, we should not contend ourselves with our nearby geography, but should expand our horizon and range. For this reason, our policies of opening up to geographies, where the potential for mutual cooperation has not been fully developed until now, will continue. However, these policies are not an alternative to our EU and transatlantic ties, but are complamentary to them.
The countries referred to as the “BRIC“ nations, Brazil, Russia, India and China, are currently the center of world attention from the point of view of their economic potential. In particular, China, which is the developing country with the highest growth rate in the world, has become one of the driving forces of the global economy in terms of both its large domestic market, the foreign investments it is attracting and its own foreign investments. In this respect, I believe that the expansion of the economic cooperation between China and Turkey will be to the benefit of both countries.
This year, Russia has become our biggest trading partner. Rapid increase in our reciprocal investments and success of our construction sector in Russia also demonstrate how our economic relations with this country have deepened.
Also, there is great value in establishing closer cooperation covering various areas between Turkey and India, which is attracting attention with its information technologies expertise and trained human potential. Both the visit I paid to India in February and the subsequent bilateral contacts have reaffirmed our opinion in this matter. In fact, our initiatives towards this country have already begun to yield results.
Furthermore, we attach high importance to our relations with Japan which continues to preserve its position as the world’s second biggest economy. The visit of our President to this country in June has shown that Japan too is desirous of and ready for cooperation at a raised level. We observed during this visit that prominent Japanese companies operating globally would like to make better use of Turkey’s geographical advantages. In this respect, we plan to gradually increase cooperation particularly in fields such as investment and technology transfer.
In the period ahead we intend to further increase the number of our missions in India and Brazil, through the establishment of new Consulates-General. We are also planning to establish new Embassies in Latin America, in accordance with the importance we give to our relations with that region.
We attach particular importance to Africa within the context of our new perspective policies. We believe that the time and ground are favourable to provide a new impetus to our economic and commercial relations with the African continent which has grown above the world avarage rate in the 2002-2007 period. Our target is to increase our total trade volume with the continent, which reached 13 billion dollars at the end of 2007, to over 50 billion dollars by the year 2012. In the next few years, the 15 new Embasssies we shall establish in the continent of Africa will further quicken this process. In the short term, the item in our agenda with the highest priority is the first “Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit“ to be convened next month in Istanbul. The Summit will be a milestone in our relations with Africa, and we are attaching great importance to its success. Many heads of state and government have been invited to this summit where we expect 53 countries to be represented. It will be a first in Turkish-African relations.

Distinguished ambassadors,
Despite all the progress made in the world towards developing agriculture, industrialization and global trade, poverty continues to be a major problem. The poorest 2.6 billion people on earth make up 40 per cent of world population. I do not think anyone can claim that this is a healthy situation.
The humanitarian and development aid provided by Turkey, officially and privately, to the least developed and developing countries is increasing annually at a steady rate, and the total amount of our public and private sector assistance has approached 3 billion dollars at the end of 2007. In this respect, Turkey is carrying out education and employment focused projects aimed at developing the human resources which will shape the futures of the Least Developed Countries.
The humanitarian and development aid we are providing in cash on the one hand, and the significant increases in the number of infrastructure facilities such as schools, hospitals and health centers we have built in developing countries, have turned Turkey into an “emerging donor country“.
I would like to particularly emphasize that our relations with the Least Developed Countries do not rest upon limited, short-term or narrow minded objectives. Our aim is to ensure that all the new partnerships we are in the process of establishing are durable, stable and long lived.

Distinguished guests,
Another subject which will gradually increase its weight in our foreign policy agenda in the years ahead, is global warming and its consequences. Turkey, due to being situated in a semi-arid region, is among the countries which will be affected earliest from the negative effects of global warming. According to estimates, in the event that the current trend of global warming continues, humanity will inevitably face grave existential problems.
Turkey while continuing its industrialization, ranks quite low on the list of carbon emissions in the world, with a share under 1 per cent. In spite of this, the negative projections concerning the future of the earth are a source of grave concern for us as well. We are conscious of the fact that a duty falls on every country without exception in preventing the projected scenarios of doom. It is with this understanding that we have taken the decision to join the Kyoto Protocol.
Another reality associated with the consequences of global warming is that the significance of fresh water resources will gradually increase in the decades ahead. Officials of the UN Environment Programme are stating that unless existing trends of consumption are not changed in favour of conservation, two out of three persons in the world will be faced with the problem of lack of water in 2025. The prevention of this result depends on creating a global collective consciousness of water conservation and management. In this regard, we attach great importance to the 5th World Water Forum to be held next year in March in Istanbul, which will bring together thousand of experts. The fact that it is being convened in Istanbul, in a period, when environment related topics figure prominently on the global agenda, will undoubtedly focus the attention of the whole world on Istanbul.

Distinguished guests,
The condition and progress of relations between cultures which were not considered particularly important in the past, have today risen to the top of the world agenda. Polarization between cultures and faith systems in the world, the signs of which are already seen, may give rise to new dangers and threats. Turkey is in a position to play a central role in preventing this, with natural advantages possessed by no other country.
On the basis of our geography and historical background, we have, in a sense, an important mission to carry the universal values codified and institutionalized in the West to the East, and to convey the cultural richness and certain sensitivities of the East to the West. In this framework, Turkey is striving for the establishment of a new paradigm that brings to the fore common points instead of differences between various cultures and faith systems, that institutionalizes mutual respect, and substitutes “empathy“ in place of the “other“ .
The convening in Turkey, in April of 2009, of the Second Forum Meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations initiative which was established under the leadership of Turkey and Spain, is from one aspect, an important opportunity, and from the other, a test that will enable us to measure the degree of success and impact of our efforts. I therefore think that it would be useful for us to start considering from today the fundamental messages of the Forum.
This initiative started under the co-chairmanship of our Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Prime Minister of Spain Jose Manuel Zapatero, and which has found a world-wide reception, has now become a UN initiative. A group has been formed under the name “Group of Friends“ and countries and international institutions having an interest on the subject are able to register themselves in this group. At present, over 80 countries and international institutions have joined the “Group of Friends“ of the Alliance of Civilizations. Ministers from 45 countries took part in the last Madrid Forum. We expect a much higher participation in the Istanbul Forum to be convened in April 2009.
Turkey is participating in an effective way in other international activities that have a bearing on the subject. Most recently, we made significant contributions to the preparation of the “White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue“ adopted by the Council of Europe in the month of May. In the same vein, I would like to particularly point out that the intensive efforts spent by Turkey played an important role in ensuring that the contents of the new Charter of the Organization of Islamic Conference better reflected such universal values as democracy, transparency, human rights, the rule of law, accountability and gender equality. The “new charter“ approved jointly by 57 countries has made more concrete Turkey’s contribution to the processes of change which the Organization of Islamic Conference countries may perhaps go through internally in the period ahead. In reality, these developments show that the factors that unite humanity are much more important and numerous than factors which divide.
One of the priorities of our foreign policy in the cultural field is the preservation of the Ottoman-Turkish cultural heritage outside of the country. Parallel to this, we have to exert efforts towards making the Turkish language, spoken in various accents by almost 200 million people in the world, a global means of communication. Turkish culture centers, research institutes, Turkish chairs and schools to be established in other countries will be milestones in this direction. The selection of Istanbul, at the end of our intensive efforts, as the 2010 European Capital of Culture provides an important opportunity.
When it comes to promotion, tourism is perhaps the area on which we should concentrate most. Tourists visiting our country are our honorary cultural ambassadors. As more tourists visit Turkey, the problem of wrong image that Turkey is unjustly subjected to, in certain countries, will be resolved by itself over time.
Actually Turkey’s share in the world tourism market is steadily growing. In 2007, we hosted more than 21 million tourists and in terms of tourism income, we advanced to the 7th place in the world. This year, we aim to attract more than 25 million tourists to Turkey. I would like to stress, in this regard, that our missions abroad will play an important role in making the planned tourism mobilization a success.


Distinguished guests,
We consider our nationals living abroad as the strongest guarantee of the political relations between the countries they are situated in and Turkey, as a natural bridge of friendship in the cultural field, and as actors in enhancing cooperation in the economic field. However, it can not be ignored that our nationals, in certain areas, face important problems, for reasons which mostly do not emanate from them. It is also a reality that mostly cultural factors lie at the root of these problems.
Similarly, we know that certain concerns and fears about immigrant communities in Europe are being artificially fanned, through exaggeration of rates of increase of population or outright use of misleading data. In this process we also unfortunately see that immigrant communities are frequently made an important object of internal political debates or election campaigns. We regret this. Objective, truthful studies reveal that fears about immigrant communities in Europe are in reality totally unfounded.
In this respect, as Turkey, we consider it very important that our citizens and nationals successfully adapt to countries where they work or whose citizenship they have acquired, and with a participatory attitude, assume prominent positions in all areas of social life. It is very important that our citizens and nationals in Europe, fluent in the language of the society they live in, working, producing, creating employment, paying taxes, respecting the laws, show at every opportunity that they conform to European culture. In doing so, it is of course their most natural right to preserve their core values which is an inseperable part of their identity.
Improving the speed and quality of our consular services through effective use of contemporary technologies is one of the main targets of our policies concerning our citizens abroad. Having transferred consular services into the electronic environment to a large extent, we are playing a pioneering role in this field. However, in order to increase the efficiency of the system, I think it will be useful for our foreign missions to make a renewed effort to encourage the wider use by our citizens of facilities such as the “e-consulate“ and the “consular call center“.
In this regard, I also think it is necessary for us to encourage the Turkish youth studying abroad to return to Turkey, after they complete their education

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Continents ( 5 Fields )
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TASAM Africa 0 149
TASAM Asia 0 236
TASAM Europe 0 44
TASAM Latin America & Carribea... 0 34
TASAM North America 0 9
Regions ( 4 Fields )
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TASAM Balkans 0 93
TASAM Middle East 0 62
TASAM Black Sea and Caucasus 0 16
TASAM Mediterranean 0 7
Identity Fields ( 2 Fields )
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TASAM Islamic World 0 147
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TASAM Türkiye 0 229

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