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Peace at home, peace in the world

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Transcript of the address by H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, at TRT World Forum, 4 October 2018

Ladies and Gentlemen, Excellencies, Dear Minister Blok,

I am honored to address this forum once again this year. I had the pleasure and honor to be here last year as well therefore I congratulate TRT WORLD for this excellent traditional organization. And I am pleased to be speaking along my dear colleague, Minister Blok. We had very fruitful discussions yesterday in Ankara and we agreed to work harder to fill the gap in past two years and look forward. And it is indeed now time to look forward.

Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

“Exploring a Just Peace in a Fragmented World” is a very timely topic. The world is indeed very much fragmented. And most of the institutions in the world and we are member are under risk. Terrorism, irregular migration, humanitarian crises, poverty and xenophobia and hatred are on the rise. And inequalities are everywhere.

Without addressing inequalities, we cannot talk about social justice anywhere neither in Turkey nor in neighborhood or beyond. And international organizations fail to deal with the actual threats. Geopolitics is back. Prevention is weak, and conflict-resolution is even weaker.

It seems that the country who was the pioneer in establishing the current international system is now attacking it. That country is even attacking its own friends and allies. I am very much disappointed to see that the trade wars have become a reality. Unilateral and protectionist measures harm free and fair trade, and rules-based trading system in the world. And these affect all countries, particularly the developing ones. Unilateral measures also increase the inequality gap.

Failed states, instabilities, lack of resources help radicals and terrorists in recruiting particularly youth. Peace and prosperity in developed parts of the world cannot be sustained when the rest of the humanity is suffering from hunger and poverty. That’s why we need to ensure “Peace for All” and “Prosperity for All”. That means there is the need to adopt a “win-win” approach and reform the rules-based international system.

Strengthening international institutions is an important aspect of this agenda. And the UN must fulfil its global role to serve humanity. And the UN’s structure, working methods and as well as procedures, rules of procedures must be reformed to better respond to global challenges. That is the expectation of our societies today. And we support UN Secretary General’s pledge in that respect. And the reform should also include the UN Security Council system. That’s why my President has been emphasizing and underlining that world is bigger than five. It’s not an empty motto. And the UN should reform itself, and UN is not meeting the expectations of today’s world.

Forget about the UN, our regional organizations are also not meeting the expectations of our societies in Europe particularly. And European Union is one of them. Therefore EU and the Council of Europe and the OECD and the others should also reform themselves.

When I was president of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the reform was my priority. It was the priority at the same time of the Secretary General, who is still Secretary General of the organization (Thorbjorn Jagland). And we didn’t reform only the Parliamentary Assembly well even the European Court of Human Rights, which is more effective right now. Therefore reform is an ongoing process, we need to continue reforming this organization. And while we are facing all these problems, in our neighborhood, Turkey cannot just sit back and watch.

Therefore the principle of today’s Turkish foreign policy is enterprising and humanitarian foreign policy, and we must take initiatives and employ hard and soft instruments of power to implement the enterprising and humanitarian foreign policy in our neighborhood and beyond.

We take active roles in prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Syria is one example and the immediate example. The deal, the memorandum that we signed with Russians on Idlib didn’t only prevent the humanitarian catastrophe, but also prevented another mass flow of migrants to Turkish border as well as towards Europe.

And now there is another window of opportunity for political solution. Without Idlib deal we wouldn’t be able to do that. Because otherwise there will be no opposition, and there will be no negotiations between the opposition and the regime for constitution or for political solution, which is the best solution for Syria. Now we have been encouraging all our partners to pay more attention to the political process.

I’m going to see Staffan after this meeting, he is trying to establish the constitutional committee, there are three lists of opposition, regime and civil society. And it has to be a balanced one. I know some countries are trying to change this balance in favor of the regime, but it doesn’t work like this. We are talking about the future of a country. Therefore this is, I mean last window of opportunity in my mind for the political solution in Syria and we have to take the advantage of that.

And now what’s happening in Iraq, to my mind I think they are on the right track. They have elected their speaker. They have elected their president recently. And now it is time to form the government. But after the formation of the government we should continue supporting this country in their fight against terrorism, including PKK and DEASH and others. But we need to rebuild this country. And Turkey is the biggest sponsor now. We pledge five billion US dollars during the Kuwait Conference.

But Syria and Iraq are not only the problematic countries in our neighborhood, look what happened in Yemen. And what will happen in Libya. And I have been trying to convince my European friends that anytime of impact of the situation in Yemen to continent will be more than it is on Turkey. Therefore we should continue supporting the efforts of the UN. Salame is doing great job. But he deserves more support and concrete support from ourselves.

But in our region also look at the north, Crimea, eastern part of Ukraine, and we have so many fragile regions like western Balkans, now after the referendum in Macedonia, we are at the eve of elections in Bosnia, and the recent tension between Kosovo and Serbia are source of concern for all of us.

And we have also so many frozen conflicts in our neighborhood. Nagorno-Karabakh is one of them, South Ossetia, Abkhazia also became two another frozen conflicts, even Crimea and Transnistria.

And Cyprus is another problem, that the solution has been frozen, we tried last year our best in Crans-Montana and Geneva, it didn’t work. Now we are talking with everybody all the actors, including the Greek Cypriots informally to find out what we are going to negotiate next, and the framework of the negotiations of course, because we cannot afford another failure.

Therefore, Turkey has been doing its best to strengthen the stability in western Balkans through our trilateral mechanisms between Turkey, Bosnia and Serbia, Turkey, Bosnia and Croatia.

Now we need, we are planning to have the quadrilateral one, Turkey, Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia.

And in the Caucasus as well through trilateral and quadrilateral mechanism between Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran between Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan and Turkey, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, now maybe Kazakhstan as well.

It’s not about just meeting between these countries. You have seen the concrete projects that we have realized all together. And helping us not only strengthen the stability in the region, but also economic development through all these pipelines and also railway projects.

So besides these mechanisms, mediation for peace is another initiative of Turkey and with other partners. We have been co-chairing Friends of Group of Mediation together with Finland at the United Nations and the OIC. And now as the term presidency of the Organization Islamic Cooperation the mediation initiative has been also enhanced and we had our first ministerial meeting during the UN General Assembly last week in New York.

And friends of both all these three groups are increasing, they are very grateful to all the countries and the NGO’s and international organizations supporting such initiatives. Of course peaceful solution of all the conflicts is essential. But we need to focus on also the root causes of the problems and the conflicts.

Therefore to deal with the root causes of the problems humanitarian assistance and the solving the problems of the people where they are living is so essential. And Turkey has been very successful in that regard. And I am, you know so honored to repeat that Turkey is the most generous country in the world right now. Our humanitarian and development assistance reached 8.1 billion US Dollars in 2017. And second is United States, and their humanitarian and development assistance amounted 6.7 billion US Dollars. In 2016 they were at the top. And with 6.3 billion Dollars. And our humanitarian assistance was 6 billion Dollars in 2016. So you can see the achievements and the progress that we have made.

And we will continue supporting the vulnerable people in all over the world. And we have spent 32 billion Dollars for the Syrian refugees. Only Syrian refugees living in Turkey not the others. And we have another more than 500 thousand refugees and migrants from different part of the world, from Afghanistan, from Pakistan, from African countries and even beyond. Now we are signing the readmission agreements with the source countries, that is another story.

But here what I am trying to say that migration is one of the challenges that we are facing today. Even though we don’t have world war today, more than 65 million people had to leave their homes for this reason or that reason, forcibly, some of them. But, now they face other problems where they are living now. Anti-refugee and immigrants sentiments are also on the rise.

So, we witness negative, hostile and misguided sentiments towards migrants and refugees in all over the world, not only in the transit countries, I mean the Eastern European countries or Western Balkan countries or Greece, but in all over Europe and all over the world I can say.

Of course it is a security issue, but if you look at this issue only from the security point of view, we will be misled. We should also look at this problem from the humanitarian point of view.

Only then we can understand. Nevertheless we have to deal with this problem. And no country can alone solve this problem. Therefore, full cooperation is essential. That is exactly what we are doing right now with EU and European countries and the transit countries, with Greece.

And it has three aspects, we need to prevent irregular migration, to do so first we have to fight smugglers, and we have made a lot of achievements there and more than 26 thousands smugglers we have captured in Turkey, in İstanbul, in İzmir, also along the coast, Aegean coast mainly and also Edirne region.

And we should promote, control migration, this is exactly what we are doing with the EU, control migration.

And despite all these problems, and the opposition of the many leadership in Europe, thanks to Madam Merkel’s leadership and also Prime Minister Rutte, we sign this agreement during the Dutch presidency of the European Union Commission, EU has resettled almost 20 thousand Syrians in return to what we receive from Greek island. Now Greece has some problems to send them back, that is their own problem but now it’s also affecting the other host countries. Nevertheless we need to deal with this.

But we shouldn’t forget that even today and tomorrow and particularly in next ten years, twenty years European countries will meet more, more, more migrants. Because of the aging problem. Therefore, we should continue our cooperation.

Well, ladies and gentlemen I need to leave some time for my friend. So to sum up, we have been, by the way, late, sorry for that. It is not our fault, we left Ankara on time, we landed in Istanbul on time. And the traffic from airport to here was ok, but the traffic at the airport was terrible. That’s why we need the new airport, the biggest airport desperately. So it’s also related to migration problem, but it’s not limited with the migrants, we need to deal with another big challenge in our countries, in Europe, which is xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, any sort of phobia I mean. They are all on rise, and maybe Stef can tell us more because one political party in his country is increasing its support at every elections, and they have to deal with that. But the problem is even we see the shift of the position of the mainstream political parties, I mean even social democrat parties or conservative parties in many European countries, and if you don’t you pay at the elections, you pay the cost like Madam Merkel did, and like the coalition partner like the social democrats in Germany did. And AFD is increasing their support. Let’s see how many seats they will get at the European parliament elections in May.

Well this is the problem that we need to deal with. That’s why to face all these problems I think we need better Turkey-EU relations. And to do so, we need to create more positive atmosphere. This is exactly what we are doing now. Particularly after unilateral acts and decision of the United States, we defend more multilateralism, but effective multilateralism. For effective multilateralism we need better cooperation, and now we have better opportunity, more opportunities, new opportunities to strengthen our ties with European Union, and the EU member states, including the Netherlands. And I’m very happy that we are normalizing our relations and we look forward, and we have been working together with Netherlands in many areas, particularly in counter-terrorism. And we co-chair counter-terrorism forum as well as the forum in anti-DEASH coalition, the forum of foreign terrorist fighters because we need to deal with this issue as well, and we need better intelligence and information sharing and the timely one to actually prevent foreign terrorist fighters’ flow to the destination where there are civil wars, or the way back to source countries. Therefore, I would like to thank Stef here in front of you for his good visit and the good talks we have been having since he arrived.

Thank you very much.