Peace at home, peace in the world

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Address by Foreign Minister of Turkey H.E. Ahmet Davutoğlu at the 133rd. Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Member States of the Arab League, 3 March 2010, Cairo

Mr. Secretary General,
Honorable Chairman,
Distinguished Colleagues,
Dear Brothers,

I would first like to convey my appreciation to His Excellency Amr Moussa, the distinguished Secretary General of the Arab League, for giving me the opportunity to salute and briefly address the esteemed Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Member States of the Arab League. It is a great honor for me to participate this meeting second time in six months.


The Arab League Ministerial Meeting is convening at a critical time. This Meeting and the Arab League Summit to be held in Libya at the end of this month are set to discuss issues of vital importance to all of us. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to outline briefly our vision towards the region and touch upon several topics which will figure prominently on our common agenda in the coming period.   


Turkey enjoys deep-rooted historical, cultural, religious and traditional ties with the Middle East and the Arab world. We live side by side in the same region, are affected by the same problems and share similar perspectives on various issues. Our common objective is to transform this region into one of peace, harmony, stability and prosperity and to build a brighter future for our future generations.


To this end, we are trying to help create a regional synergy through enhanced political dialogue, increased economic inter-dependence which would lead to economic integration, and intensified cultural interaction. In our endeavors, we neither seek prestige, nor self-interest. Our aim is to promote regional ownership and a unified regional approach. This is particularly important and essential to achieve viable solutions to ongoing problems in the Middle East that affect us all.


We believe that through concerted efforts, we can change the image of the Middle East; a region which is still perceived to be at the heart of disputes and instability in the world. However, it is a fact that unresolved problems in the Middle East still continue to impede socio-economic development and thus present a fertile ground for violence and instability.


Above all, reaching a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Palestinian question would pave the way for development and welfare for all peoples in the region.


In this framework, let me emphasize once more our appreciation for the Arab League’s efforts to finding a lasting peace. We believe that the Arab Peace Initiative provides a sound framework for a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict and constitutes solid evidence for the determination of the Arab countries for finding a peaceful solution to the problem. I hope this meeting will give a strong message of solidarity in this direction.


As it stands, we need to exert maximum efforts in terms of achieving unity and reconciliation in Palestine and addressing the humanitarian tragedy in the Gaza Strip. We should also redouble our endeavors to mobilize the international community to put an end to Israel’s practices that are altering the demography, status and character of Jerusalem, a city sacred for all three monotheist religions. The Islamic character of Masjid Al Aqsa, Bilal Mosque and Ibrahimi Mosque in el-Halil should be respected and preserved.  


Distinguished Ministers,


Iraq remains high on the agenda of the region and the international community. The forthcoming general elections would constitute a turning point in the determination of Iraq’s future. Therefore, all of us should do our utmost to help Iraq to have fair and transparent elections with the participation of all segments of the Iraqi society. This is how we can help build Iraqi ownership and national reconciliation. We should all support Iraq before and after the elections in its efforts to build a secure, stable and prosperous country at peace with itself and her neighbors.   


In a similar vein, recent developments with regard to the Iranian nuclear program, and the ongoing delicate situation in Yemen require our full attention as well. It is also important that we render our support and assistance to the newly formed national unity government in Lebanon.


I want to underline once more that we can achieve our common goals only through closer regional cooperation, consultation and coordination. Therefore, it is only natural that Turkey actively seeks to enhance her cooperation with all Arab nations and with the Arab League as an institution.


With this understanding, we have stepped up our cooperation with the Arab League within the framework of the Turkish-Arab Cooperation Forum. Our goal is to enhance and diversify our cooperation in all fields, including economy and culture.


We are preparing to host the third meeting of the Forum in June this year. The meeting is going to take place within the framework of a “Turkish-Arab Cooperation Week”, which would include different meetings and conferences with the participation of representatives of governments, civil society, private sector and media.


A further proof of our serious commitment to the development of our cooperation with the Arab League is the “Turkish-Arab Forum Regional Security Workshop”, which will be hosted by Syria in May 2010.


Last but not least, I would like to express our pleasure for the opening of the new Arab League mission in Ankara. We are confident that this mission will bring considerable added value to the strengthening and institutionalization of our cooperation. 


Dear Colleagues,


We are happy to see that our political will to develop our relations is also shared by our Arab brothers. I believe that our close cooperation will be to our mutual benefit and will contribute to lasting peace and security as well as prosperity in the region.


I am confident that your deliberations here today will be successful and contribute concretely to our common objectives in our region.     


Thank you.