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Peace at home, peace in the world

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Address by H.E. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, at the OIC Donor Conference in Support of The City of Al-Quds, Baku, Azerbaijan, 11 June 2013

Mr. Chairman,
Brother Elmar Mamedyarov,
Secretary General,
Colleagues, Excellencies,
Brother Riad Malki,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a distinct pleasure for me to be with you today in Baku. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to our colleague and brother His Excellency Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan for hosting such an important event and for the warm hospitality extended to us in this beautiful city.

I would also like to thank His Excellency Professor Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, our Secretary General for the excellent work done in preparation of this conference.

We have gathered here to discuss a topic with utmost significance not only for the Islamic world, but for all humanity. Indeed, after all, support to the holy city of Al-Quds and to the state of Palestine has been the founding stone and a top priority for the OIC.

Since its establishment, our resolve has manifested itself in numerous resolutions taken by our Organization in this regard. It is my sincere hope that this conference will pave the way for a more solidified collective action toward this end.

But today, we want more than that. Today, in marking our solidarity yet again with our Palestinian brothers, we want justice, tolerance and solidarity, as three guiding tenets to peace commanded to all humanity under all three faiths of the script.

Firstly, when talking about justice, we mean a just, comprehensive and lasting peace that would allow our Palestinian brothers to live in peace and dignity in their own state side by side with its neighbors. Justice, therefore, calls for an end to occupation.

Universal values and human conscience dictates each and every member of the international community to resist against the illegal practices and restrictions by the occupying power to the detriment of fundamental rights and freedoms of our Palestinian brothers. This involves their basic and legitimate aspiration to statehood on the basis of 1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

The international community partly honored its belated obligation to the Palestinians by granting them the status of a “non-member observer state” at the UN on 29 November 2012.Our bid will not be accomplished until a full international recognition is granted to the State of Palestine. And a just, comprehensive, lasting solution is achieved to end the occupation.

Secondly, we want tolerance and harmony. The inscription engraved on the Old City's main gate built in the 16th century indicates “Ibrahim Halilullah”. As such, the city of Al-Quds is a testament to our shared faith in the unity of God. Harmony and tolerance, therefore, require that the rights and freedoms of all belonging to different faiths be secured and respected.

Unfortunately, due to Israeli aggression and restrictions we are far from the vision of Al-Quds becoming again a city of tolerance, peace and stability. Israel’s persistent policy of Judaization in total contravention of international law seriously threatens the multi-cultural identity of the city.

This policy manifests itself in several forms such as expansion of settlements, tampering with Islamic religious sites, excavations underneath the Al-Aqsa complex, construction of the Separation Wall, further confiscation of Palestinian land, forced eviction of Palestinians and revocation of their residency rights, demolition of homes and application of severe restrictions to movement isolating the city from the rest of the Palestinian territory.

As Turkey, we have always been sensitive in the preservation of the heritage in Al-Quds city. We have been a member of The Jerusalem Committee in the UN, which needs to be re-activated. President Abbas and we have already shared this with our Palestinian brothers. In 2007, a Turkish team of exports prepared a report on the excavation works in the vicinity of Haram al Sharif. We then shared our findings with the international community; including OIC member countries.

Only in three years between 2009 and 2011, Israel revoked residency of over a thousand Palestinians in the Eastern Al-Quds. Israeli government also systematically blocks international efforts in UNESCO and the UN Human Rights Council to assess and register its detrimental actions.

Colleagues,
Excellencies,

Injustice and intolerance can be overdone through a prudent strategy. Here, I would argue yet again for solidarity, as my third point, as I did in our previous meetings.

Turkey has always been in the forefront in contributing efforts to preserve the historical character and heritage in Al-Quds. The Turkish International Cooperation Agency (TICA) supported renovation and restoration work in cooperation with our Palestinian brothers in the Al-Aqsa complex.

We will continue to exert every effort to maintain the Islamic legacy in Palestine. I am pleased to inform you that TICA has already programmed to spend around 30 million dollars this year in support of Palestine on our bilateral projects; including Quds al Sharif. If there is a need to contribute more, we are ready to do more.

Turkey sees the Strategic Plan as a timely initiative. We fully share its objectives. If implemented fully, it will undoubtedly contribute to efforts to protect Al-Quds and develop priority areas that have been hit hardest by Israel’s destructive policies.

We are ready to coordinate with the OIC Secretariat and PECDAR (Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction) for the realization of selected projects in education, health and housing sectors.

Here I should stress that the need for prudence in our strategy again. Our solidarity must involve a carefully crafted implementation mechanism to overcome many impediments that the occupying power is expected to put before us. Our strategy should allow flexibility and room for alternative implementation modalities, which may involve bilateral arrangements directly from donor agencies to recipient institutions.

Mr Chairman,
Excellencies,

Our struggle in defending Palestine and the Islamic heritage on the occupied territory including in Al-Quds Al-Sharif will continue unabated.

Within this context, we welcome and support the Strategic Plan as a major step in mitigating detrimental consequences of occupation on the demographic, religious and cultural identity of the city.

Finally I want to thank my dear brother Minister Malki for echoing the call for Quds al Sharif. And on behalf of the Turkish nation I would like to emphasize that Turkey will never let Quds al Sharif down. The Palestinian people will never be alone.

Thank you.