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 41st Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, 18 June 2014, Jeddah

Mr. Chairman,
His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine,
Mr. Secretary-General,

I would like to thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for successfully hosting this meeting. I congratulate my distinguished brother His Royal Highness Prince Saud Al Faisal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as our new chairman. I would also like to thank His Excellency Lounceny Fall, for his able leadership as the chairman of our past session.

The Muslim world is experiencing extremely challenging times. Yet, our best-intended words do not always readily mold into practical action. So, how are we going to convert our words into deeds?

I suggest three ways:

First and foremost, we need vigilance and commitment in upholding our basic values, when faced with toughest crisis circumstances. Secondly, we need to improve our institutional capabilities for acting collectively. And finally, we pursue a project-minded approach to deliver tangible results.

Let me first address the need for vigilance and commitment in our shared geography and beyond, ridden by crisis and conflict, from Syria to Myanmar and from Iraq to Central African Republic.

Today, we need to focus on Iraq. We are extremely concerned regarding the recent developments in Iraq, which carries the risk of turning into a sectarian conflict. This would constitute a grave threat for the security and stability of the wider region.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) recently extended its attacks into Iraq, causing a mass displacement of civilians from the area. I wish to emphasize three points:

- Firstly, all civilians abducted must be released immediately including our citizens, diplomats and their families in our Consulate General in Mosul. This situation constitutes a clear violation of all humanitarian values. I also urge our fellow Muslim nations to join our call to all armed groups and militias to refrain from harming civilians.

- Secondly, we need a new beginning in Iraq to prevent ethnic and sectarian strife. All people of Iraq regardless of their ethnic, religious and sectarian background should be united. The last election was a good opportunity for this new beginning.

- Thirdly, I want to make a call from here to all Muslim scholars, opinion leaders and responsible statesmen to join in making a united call to prevent sectarian strife which could harm not only the historic cities, but also the very essence of Islamic solidarity and identity.

We also call on the Muslim world to reject all extremist and terrorist groups, regardless of their belonging. We need to be in closer coordination and cooperation in fighting terrorism and extremism in our region.

The developments in Iraq should not let us forget what is happening in Syria. Unfortunately, the appalling situation in Syria remains unchanged. The regime uses every means available, including chemical weapons to kill more Syrians and suppress the legitimate demands of the Syrian people. We cannot turn a blind eye to this century’s worst tragic humanitarian situation. This crisis, which made 4.5 million refugees and 6,5 million IDPs is not sustainable. This is the time for solidarity. We must help our brothers and sisters both in Syria and Iraq.

Mr. Chairman,

Our vigilance and commitment should also be kept high on the protection of the holy city of Al Quds and Masjid Al Aqsa. We strongly support the call by President Abbas on the preservation of the Islamic character of the city of Al Quds and it is a duty for all of us to respond to that call and visit Masjid Al Aqsa. Turkey’s efforts to preserve the historical and Islamic character of Al Quds will continue now as a member of the newly established OIC Ministerial Contact Group. Turkey’s membership in the OIC Al Quds Committee will also further strengthen our solidarity. In that vein, in May, we hosted the International Conference on the `Question of Jerusalem` in Turkey and at that conference we supported the call of President Abbas for visiting Masjid Al Aqsa by Muslim masses.

Meanwhile, we hail the establishment of the Palestinian national unity government and we congratulate President Abbas for his wisdom and leadership.

Mr. Chairman,

We regret that our noble religion Islam is referred to in conjunction with terrorism like the tragic developments in Nigeria. We must reject this and all kinds of sectarianism. We must do everything to protect and promote Islamic values. Rather than the sub-identities, we must work for Islam as a whole. The Shia and Sunni Ulema should issue fatwa against the ethnic and sectarian divide, not for internal conflicts among us. All holy shrines must be protected. We must all act in a historical responsibility. We must all work for the unity of Islam. Today, we witness a fire in many locations. It is time to put out this fire once and for all. While we fight Islamophobia and the conflicts in the Islamic world today, we should aim to build our Islamic civilization stronger for the 21st century.

Mr. Chairman

A comprehensive settlement process in Cyprus finally resumed last February. We expect all OIC Member States to continue to support the Muslim Turkish Cypriots to help them overcome the inhuman isolation.

A negotiated solution is also needed to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan.

The OIC should act in unity to help our brothers in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

Regarding the Muslims in Greece, interference in the religious autonomy of the minority continues. The situation for the Muslims of Turkish descent living in Dodecanese is far worse. The Muslims are not allowed to pray behind an imam they trust.

The crisis in Ukraine should be solved peacefully, on the basis of territorial integrity of Ukraine and through dialogue between Ukraine and Russia. The Crimean Muslim Tatars are trying to maintain their basic rights, including the right to practice Islam as their only religion. I hope that as OIC we will send a message of solidarity to Crimean Muslim Tatars, by adopting the resolution before us.

We appreciate the Secretary General taking prompt action to help ending the calamities occurred recently in Central African Republic.

Regarding Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar, we are ready to host an inter-faith dialogue meeting.

We need to show stronger solidarity with our brothers in Jammu and Kashmir. We should actively support transition processes in Afghanistan, Mali, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, in their endeavor in strengthening democracy, peace and development.

In the Southern Philippines, the OIC should assume its role by uniting all Moro groups toward creating a Muslim Bangsamoro by 2016, based on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in March.

Distinguished Colleagues,

My second suggestion entails improvement of our institutional capabilities for collective action. Here, I must thank our Secretary General in his efforts to use effectively the OIC Ministerial Contact Groups, missions and special representatives from Mali to Myanmar, and lately from Al Quds to the Central African Republic.

As Ministers with political mandate from all Islamic world, we should support our Secretary General in his initiatives and throw our weight behind our words and values.

Mr. Chairman,

Lastly, I suggest a project-minded approach and hard technical work for practical results in our cooperation. In this context, I can proudly report that, following the adoption of its new strategy in 2012, COMCEC has proved to be an excellent tool for the OIC Member States to serve their own common needs.

This year, the COMCEC is celebrating its 30thAnniversary. I would also like to invite all our fellow Member States, in particular those in the African group, to participate more effectively from the COMCEC.

As I conclude my address, I would like to reiterate our appreciation as we count on your valuable support on Turkey’s candidature for the United Nations Security Council for the term 2015-2016 at the elections to be held this October.

Thank you.