Turkey is geographically located in the centre of Afro-Eurasia where both opportunities and risks interact profoundly. Because of its economic, social and cultural wealth, Afro-Eurasia has an extremely positive potential, not only for countries in this region but also for the entire world. However, this region is also a serious risk factor for the security of the world in terms of both the conventional disputes and asymmetric threats that are gradually increasing after the post Cold War period. In this setting where both opportunities and threats are stemming from the dynamism that is brought by globalization, the entire international community should exert active and efficient efforts to resolve current conflicts and to prevent potential disputes so that opportunities can overcome risks and globalization can be looked on the positive side.
Being one of the most important center of power of the region and being directly affected by any development in this geography, Turkey strongly feels this need and endeavors intensively so that long-lasting peace, stability and welfare can flourish in the region. Pursuing a more dynamic foreign policy in this direction in recent years and exerting great efforts to place cooperation and dialogue on solid foundation in Afro-Eurasian, Turkey attaches special importance to preventive diplomacy, pioneers a great deal of mediation attempts in a wide geography and endeavors actively for the peaceful settlement of disputes.
Turkey’s approach on this issue takes its basis not only from the fact that preventive diplomacy’s success is the most effective and economic method in terms of settlement of disputes, but also from the reality that reduction of potential disputes and conflicts will directly contribute to Turkey’s development. In other words, strengthening the basis of peace and stability will ease the environment of mutually beneficial cooperation that Turkey wants to create in her near abroad and will help the region to develop as a whole together with Turkey. On the other hand, if potential conflicts cannot be averted through detecting the core reasons of the problem, the crisis to emerge can necessitate much more costly and long-term measures for the region and for the whole international community. Furthermore, each conflict can trigger another tension.
With this understanding, Turkey has exerted in recent years active efforts for finding a solution to many problems in her near abroad and beyond. Our endeavors to bring about internal reconciliation in Iraq, Lebanon and Kyrgyzstan; two separate trilateral cooperation process we have launched with the participation of Serbia and Croatia so that lasting peace and stability can be ensured in Bosnia-Herzegovina; similarly, a trilateral cooperation mechanism we have implemented with Pakistan which is the key to ensure peace and security in Afghanistan; conciliatory attitude we have adopted for the peaceful resolution of Iran’s nuclear program issue through dialogue; and even our contributions to launch a resolution process with broad participation between the Government of Somalia and conflicting parties are concrete examples of our endeavors.
The most important experience we have gained in this process is that each problem has its own dynamics and conditions; and in this vein mediation efforts should be accordingly directed with an understanding that can safeguard differences and that is flexible and free from uniformity. However, it should not be forgotten that preventive diplomacy has some golden rules. Furthermore, it should be also borne in mind that there are some principles to be adhered to, no matter what the nature of the dispute is. For instance, any actor should be competent on all dynamics of the problem and any actor should present the long-term commitment that a solution requires from the beginning in order to be a successful mediator. Likewise, the mediator should propose a flexible but values-based strategy since the beginning of the process and present a common vision to parties of a dispute.
Apart from that, being able to earn the trust of parties of a dispute and demonstrating cooperation based on mutual will between all related actors in the process of finding solutions to a conflict are among the most important requirements of a successful mediation attempt. In this framework, a mediator’s ability to communicate with all parties of a dispute and maintain an even-handed attitude, provided that the values he/she put forward in the beginning are preserved, figure among the keys to success. This situation gains more importance especially in environments where a perception of contradiction exists between peace and justice. The main duties of a mediator are striking a balance between these two indispensible entities and the introduction of a resolution framework that will not require a sacrifice from one party at the expense of the other.
On the other hand, it is also of crucial importance for a mediator to comply with the negotiations’ confidentiality which are based on delicate balances and avoid actions that may leave parties in a difficult situation following a mediator’s statements about the process. By all means, this necessitates the implementation of a mediation process within a certain degree of confidentiality. This condition becomes more essential in environments where more than one mediator exist and it highlights the elements of coordination and leadership. In fact, although the implementation of mediation by a single actor or a team moving together is the most preferable manner under normal conditions, this is usually not possible nowadays. Moreover, it can be possible for many different actors, including non-governmental organizations, to make beneficial contributions to a mediation process depending on the nature of the problem. However, it is of key importance to ensure a healthy coordination under the circumstances where more than one mediator exist and prevent the abuse of this circumstance by conflicting parties.
Turkey continues mediation activities within the framework of these general principles. Depending on the value added that will be provided by mediation activities, she acts in mutual trust with all parties of a problem and on the basis of certain values. In this vein, provided that the confidentiality of the process is ensured, Turkey maintains her activities with transparency and pays strict attention to coordination and cooperation with all related actors. As a matter of fact, the “Mediation for Peace” initiative launched by Turkey with Finland in September 2010 in New York under the auspices of the UN also takes as a basis the principles of coordination and complementarity for the success of a mediation process.
This initiative, which is launched with a view to make the importance of mediation in preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution more prominent before the entire international community and thus in order to ensure that more endeavors and resources are allocated to mediation efforts, also aims at enhancing preventive diplomacy/mediation capacities of the UN , regional organizations and countries primarily. In this respect, the resolution adopted by consensus on 22 June 2010 in the UN General Assembly in line with these principles and objectives of the initiative is of special importance, since it is the first resolution regarding mediation adopted in the UN.
At this point, the aforementioned initiative has gathered significant interest and the number of members of the “Friends of Mediation Group” membership reached 42, with 34 countries and 8 major regional and international organizations including the UN. We have been able to keep the momentum with the UN’s Guidance for Effective Mediation prepared by the Secretary-General in June 2012 and the follow-up resolution adopted by the General Assembly in September 2012. The “Friends of Mediation Group” formed a network of mediation for an effective coordination and identified contact persons in the respective ministries as well.
On 24-25 February 2012, Turkey brought together the experts in the field of mediation in an international conference titled “Enhancing Peace through Mediation”. We intend to convene it regularly and evisage hosting the second “Istanbul Conference on Mediation” in March or April 2012.
In line with our efforts in the field of mediation, the visibility of Turkey’s profile in the peaceful resolution of conflicts is increasing. We are also in touch with the relevant departments in the UN for realizing our proposal for establishing a “Retreat Center” in Istanbul to be used for the UN’s mediation activities. . Under any circumstances, Turkey’s active efforts regarding the implementation of mediation in a more effective way, both in concrete areas of dispute and in international arena, especially in the UN, will continue.