#

Peace at home, peace in the world

Follow the ministry:

Speech Delivered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Ahmet Davutoğlu at the 28th Annual Conference on US-Turkish Relations Organized by ATC-DEIK: “Turkey-US relations: A Model Partnership, Global and Regional Dimensions” (Washington DC, 2 June 2009)


Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening.

I am honored to attend the 28th Annual Conference on U.S.-Turkish Relations organized by the ATC-(AFOT/TAIK)-DEIK.

I know it was two long days for you and you have just had a heavy dinner. Therefore, I am not going to read the text written for me, but I want to have a very informal conversation and consultation with you, because written texts are for official statements. We are here not as officials but as an ATC family-a twenty eight years old family. Therefore, I would like to share my views on Turkish-American relations; and on the background and the future of this relationship, which is one of the most institutionalized relationships in world politics.

Let me start with a question. President Obama came to Turkey in April and made a very good, indeed an excellent speech in the Parliament and he used a new terminology regarding Turkish-American relations. In the past, we were using terms such as “strategic partnership,” “strong alliance,” etc. But this time he preferred to use the term “model partnership.” From “strategic partnership” to “model partnership”; why did he need this change? This is an important question. It doesn’t mean that our strategic partnership relation has ended. No, it is continuing everywhere. But if you choose to use the term “model partnership;” when I interpreted this, I thought that President Obama wanted to underline the unique character of this relationship. Model means unique and prototype; not an ordinary relation, a prototype relationship between the two countries. Then, we should ask other questions: Why is this relationship a prototype for others? Why is it so unique? What is the factual real ground of this model partnership? If we understand this, it will be easy for us to make a future projection.

In order to understand this unique character, we have to understand two other unique characters as well: What is the unique character of the United States as a global power? And what is the unique character of Turkey as a regional power; while at the same time, becoming more and more active in global politics? If we understand these two unique characters of the two countries, then we can identify the uniqueness of the relations. I don’t want to go into a deep historical analysis, but let me give you, my understanding as to why the United States is special, unique in world history as a global power. World history has seen many global powers in the past, like the Alexandrian Empire, Roman Empire, Ottoman Empire, British Empire and the Chinese Empire. These were all large-scale political and military traditions, but the difference of the United States is its geography and its history.

As to the geographical difference, for the first time in history, a global power emerged far away from the mainland of the world, being Afro-Eurasia. The United States has emerged in a continent which doesn’t have geographical continuity with the mainland of human history. There are two big oceans, the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans between the American continent and the main Afro-Eurasian continent. This is very important and we have to underline it. The historical unique character of the United States is that it emerged maybe as a result of a historical adventure of European migration. But in the meantime, it became a real multicultural, harmonized population as a society of immigrants. It was interesting for me today, for example, in a meeting with an American delegation, there was one diplomat of Iranian background together with a Jewish diplomat. If they were not in the United States, if they were in Israel and Iran they would be different. I have the picture, but I don’t want to give names, many people may know them (laughs). I mean, this is a unique character.

This unique character of geography and the unique historical character regarding the formation of the United States bring with it some advantages and disadvantages. The history of the United States is a short history compared to (such as) Chinese history. As you may know, once a Chinese professor was asked what his opinion about the French Revolution was. He said it is too early to make a comment (laughs). If this is the case, in the long history of humanity, the United States is a very young formation, but very dynamic. The advantage is, a threat from the mainland of human history cannot reach the United States, except two: a terrorist attack or a nuclear capability. Therefore, throughout the American history there was no direct threat. Therefore, 9/11 was a shock, a trauma. For the first time there was an attack. Even during Pearl Harbour, during the Second World War, neither Japanese nor German armies were able to reach the United States. This is an advantage. But the disadvantage is, if you want be a global power in such a distant island continent, you have to have a very dynamic integrated foreign policy in order to survive as a global power. You cannot have a one-dimensional foreign policy like the Roman Empire, which emerged in the Mediterranean and spread, expanded in a very natural way to other parts in Asia, since there was geographical continuity.

The question is: How can the United States continue to be a global power if it wants to overcome these disadvantages of geography and the fact that it is a new historical formation? There are certain prerequisites to do so. When I read Admiral Mahan’s “Strategy” in order to understand American strategy in the early 20th century; he identified some preconditions on how to make turn the United States into a global power which was not such a global power in those days. He expressed needs such as to have a strong navy to reach Asia, Europe and Africa, and he also mentioned other prerequisites, I don’t want to give all the details. But today, there are three important prerequisites, conditions for the long term strategic vision of the United States as a global power. The first one is an inclusive approach. Really, today, there are so many small or big communities, almost representative of all human history; a Chinese town, a Muslim neighbourhood, a Jewish Synagogue or a Spanish background, they are living together in the same street in New York or in Houston. I was impressed when I went to Houston for the Annual Conference of Sociology as a keynote speaker where I saw an almost ten kilometres long Chinese town in Houston and in a Vietnamese Buddhist temple, I saw a mixture of Christian and Buddhist teachings were being practiced there. So, the domestic challenge is inclusiveness.

The second challenge is, in order to be a global power; there must be a multilateral approach which aims to use international organizations efficiently. For the Roman Empire the centre was Rome, for the Ottomans the center was Istanbul and if you had written a “ferman” to send to Hungary or to Yemen, it could have been implemented. But for American global power, you need to use international organizations efficiently in a multilateral framework, in order to have an influence in the regions far away from the American continent. Here multilateralism is becoming important.

Before going to the third challenge, let me give you an anecdote. I was asked to give a lecture at Princeton, immediately after the 9/11 incident. And during that conference there was a question: What should be the response of the United States to this event? What would be the challenge? I made an analysis and in the end, I told the audience: “Today the United States needs a Marcus Aurelius of the Roman Empire, not a Caesar.” And I think the New Administration’s and President Obama’s approach is more a Marcus Aurelian type of approach rather than a Caesarean type. Military power in international affairs can provide you with control but not legitimacy. Control can continue for some time, but legitimacy will prevail. This is important for international organizations. Therefore, the United States should, and, I see now as a member of the UN Security Council, is using the international organizations more efficiently. The response to the international economic crisis was interesting. Federal Reserve and others could take certain decisions and implement, but rightly, that was not the way they did. What did they do? They called for a G-20 meeting in Washington in November 2008 and another G-20 meeting in London in April in order to spread and share the responsibility and the burden. If you do not share the responsibility you cannot ask others to take the burden. This is important as the second prerequisite.

The third one is, there must be an understanding of regional or sub-regional orders in the Afro-Eurasian mainland. Without a regional order in the Middle East, without a regional order in Central Asia, Caucasia, the Balkans, Sub-Saharan Africa, the United States cannot be a global power by only having a strong economy in the American continent.

So, such regional, sub-regional approaches and implementations are very important. How can we do these? How can the United States do these? Only through a system, a network of alliances, not like the type of Spykman’s Cold War containment policy, but more through sharing these responsibilities with the regional powers and trying to create a consciousness that order is better and more functional than chaos. Tacticians may think of chaos and may try to get benefit out of chaos. But real strategic visionary thinkers and policy-makers think of order, how to establish order.

Now, if this is the fact regarding the unique characters of the United States, now let us come to the unique characters of Turkey and test whether they are compatible or conflicting/contradictory. What are the unique characters of Turkey? The geographical uniqueness of Turkey is the opposite of the United States. Turkey is right at the centre of Afro-Eurasia. We have territories in Asia and in Europe and we are a neighbour to Africa through the Eastern Mediterranean. This central character in Afro-Eurasia also gives us some advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that we are affected from all the instabilities around us. For example, for Argentine or Chile or Japan, the Balkan question may not have been a priority, because Bosnia-Herzegovina was far away. As human beings they were upset, but they did not feel the negative effects of the conflict inside the country. Similarly, the Palestinian question or Gaza or Iraq becomes a domestic issue in Turkey in one or two hours. This is a disadvantage, because it may produce risks and new burdens; but it is also an advantage, because through this geographical continuity, you can have an access to many regions at the same time. This is what I call “strategic depth”. Is it an asset? From my perspective, it is a great asset. And this asset can make Turkey a really important player in world politics. Is this compatible with the United States’ geography? Yes, it is compatible. Let me give you another example just to compare. If you sit in Ankara and make a circle with a radius of 1000 km, there are 22 countries. If you draw the circle with a radius of 3000 km, there are 77 countries. If you sit in Washington and do the same, I don’t know how many countries will be included in these circles. I am not saying this is something good or bad, but with such a geographical location and looking for the prerequisites of the unique characters of the global power of the United States, they are compatible.

What are our challenges as Turkey? One: the inclusiveness in domestic politics like the United States. The United States is a society of migration. Turkey is a society of migration as well. Not because we migrated from one continent to another, but because of the fall of the Ottoman Empire, many ethnic groups moved to Anatolia. Therefore, today we have more Bosnians in Turkey than in Bosnia, more Albanians in Turkey than in Albania. The biggest Bosnian city is not Sarajevo, it is Istanbul. We have more Abkhazians living in Turkey than in Abkhazia, more Chechens living in Turkey than in Chechnya, more or equal Georgians living in Turkey than in Georgia. This is because the Republic of Turkey, as a nation-state, emerged out of the legacy of a long imperial tradition, not imperialistic but imperial. Can you imagine, like what I said to the American delegation: Last week I was in Baku, I visited a cemetery of Turkish soldiers who were killed during the Caucasian Wars. You can see that there were soldiers from Kosovo, from Bosnia, from Yemen, from Mora. Now they are all different countries, I mean, somebody from Kosovo was in the Ottoman army to defend Azerbaijan. An Albanian in Kosovo and an Azeri does not have anything common today, after one century. But inside Turkey, an Azeri, an Albanian, a Bosnian, a Central Anatolian Turk like me, are living together.

What is the next stage? If you have such a mini model of the surrounding regions, you must have a very careful regional strategy; because whatever happens outside will affect you. Therefore, we tried to develop a zero-problem policy with our neighbours. We cannot afford continuous tensions with our neighbours. Otherwise, we will not be comfortable or peaceful or relaxed in the Anatolian landscape, working for economic development. We have to have a new paradigm in approaching our surrounding regions. We should not only have good relations with our neighbours, but also have to have a very proactive policy in our surrounding regions. We cannot wait in Ankara for the crises to approach us. We have to stop the crisis if it is in Palestine, if it is in Bosnia-Herzegovina or if it is in Georgia, Ossetia or Azerbaijan or Central Iraq or Southern Iraq. We have to be everywhere. We have to know what is going on in our surrounding regions. Because, as Atatürk said “Peace at home, peace in the world”, these are interconnected. Without having peace and order in the surrounding regions, we cannot have peace at home.

The third prerequisite, similar to the United States, is an active role in the international arena, an active role in international organizations. If you want to be influential in your region, you have to be respected in the global scene. If you want to be respected in the global scene, you have to be influential in your region. Why did we receive, last year, 151 votes in the UN Security Council election-which was a record? Not because of our cultural affinity with Turkic or Muslim Republics or not because we are a candidate to the EU. Assume that we received all the votes from the EU, all the votes from Turkic or Muslim countries, it would mean around 100 votes. We won 151, which means we got votes from Latin America, from the Pacific Islands, from everywhere. Why did they vote for us? Because, the image of Turkey has changed. Now everybody in every corner of the world believes that Turkey can contribute to peace not only as a peace-keeping force like in the past. And it is a must that we have to have a strong army as General Başbuğ mentioned yesterday. With all these risks and challenges surrounding us, we need that army. And we are committed to our mission in NATO. But, we got all these votes because we showed our soft power as well.

Turkey is a rising economy, and has an active diplomatic force. More importantly, wherever we intervened, wherever we made an initiative, the mission was to establish order. In the Middle East for example, nobody can accuse Turkey, saying that Turkey promoted or supported one ethnic group or religious group against another, or that Turkey intervened to create chaos or to create an unrealistic balance of power. No! All of our initiatives were for one basic principle: to achieve peace, to support order.

We established four basic principles of our regional politics in the Middle East and in Caucasia. First: Security for all. If we need security, others need it as well. If security is good for one nation, for one country, it is so for others as well. We have to respect the security and freedom of everybody. If security around us is threatened, we will be acting against this. Second political principle: All questions should be resolved through political dialogue and political interaction. We have to keep our channels open to everybody. In the Middle East, for example, there are certain compartmentalisations: Shiites, Sunnis, radical- moderate states, problems between Arabs and Israel or Israel and Iran, problems between individual countries, problems inside countries like Shiites-Sunnis in Iraq, or Fatah-Hamas in Palestine or Hezbollah and Hariri in Lebanon; but there is one country that has channels open to everybody and that has good relations with everybody. It is Turkey. And we will keep this position. Why? Because, we want to contribute to stability in this region and similarly in Caucasia and in the Balkans. This is a necessity for us, to survive and to have an active role. Turkey will continue to have a proactive diplomatic role everywhere in the world. Tomorrow, I will be going to New York on the occasion of the start of our chairmanship in the UN Security Council. And there, the issue will be North Korea, Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, etc. These are our issues as human beings, as citizens of the world. These are our concerns as a significant player of world politics.

Now when we bring these two, being the unique characters of Turkey and the US together, we see that because of these unique characters our relation is unique as well. We can work together for a global order in the economic and political sense. We can work together to ease the tension between East and West in the cultural sense, between North and South in the economic sense. It was surprising but also a very good message for us when we went to Tanzania in February with our President while we were preparing to go to G-20 Summit in April; the President of Tanzania, in our meeting, told our President, “You are in the G-20. There is no real representation from Africa, from the South in the G-20. Please be our voice. We have full confidence in Turkey and that Turkey will bring all our issues to the agenda of G-20”. This happened, because in 2005 we made an initiative in opening up to Africa and in four years, Turkey became the second rising donor country in Africa and we established a strong base there. Why did we do that? Because we think that Turkey should be active there.

The same thing applies to the global arena. We can work together and these assets will establish a foundation. Similarly, how can we make international organizations more efficient? During the Cold War, Turkey was a member of NATO, candidate to the EU even later, member of the OIC. In the last four years, Turkey became an observer country in the Arab League, became an observer in the African Union, established a strategic partnership with the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and expanded the ECO (Economic Cooperation Organization). Turkey is also trying to render the Black Sea Economic Cooperation more active. In all regional organizations we are and will be active and since these regional organizations are the basic instruments of the regional order, again the objective of the United States and the objective and facilities of Turkey are compatible.

For global and regional peace we need each other. Therefore, we should not only focus on the existing conjectural issues, but we have to have a long term strategic vision. If we are working for global and regional order and peace, Turkey and the United States should work together because of this unique character. Therefore, this relationship is a model partnership, because of this unique supportive character. What do we have in our hands to support this model partnership? As I said in the beginning, Turkish-American relations are among the most institutionalized relations. Yesterday, I am sure you realized that while Admiral Mullen and General Başbuğ were talking, another general was mentioning that they knew General Başbuğ for thirty years. Our military staffs have had a long experience together. And whenever we met with American diplomats, our diplomats and American diplomats have known each other for the last three decades, a long historical experience together during the Cold War. Of course, we appreciate and we should remind each other of the good memories of the Korean War, good memories of other joint efforts. But, it should not be nostalgia and it should not be just referring to these. Memory is good, but we have to be future-oriented. After the Cold War, the situation has changed and now there must be a new substance, there must be a new paradigm in our relations. Therefore, when President Obama used this term “model partnership” I said yes, this is a change of paradigm. Not just a strategic partnership, but a more comprehensive model partnership. That is what we need.

In the end of my speech, I would like to emphasize two issues: How can we develop this partnership for a better world and for a more stable regional environment? First, we should not forget the multidimensionality of our relations. Yesterday, I had meetings with the National Security Advisor, my great friend James Jones. Today, I met with Ambassador Richard Holbrooke; I had the chance to meet with some other American colleagues like Mr. Dennis Ross; and I will be meeting with Senator Mitchell, Secretary Clinton and will have several other meetings.

When we sit together and write down, assume like giving a test to two students, give one paper to me and another paper to Secretary Clinton and ask us to write down basic problems which we have to deal with everyday and then compare the results. I am sure the papers will be the same. Number one: Iraq, number two: Afghanistan-Pakistan, number three: Middle East, number four: Palestine, Lebanon, number five: Caucasia, Armenia, number six: Cyprus, etc. It will be the same. There would be only one different agenda since we were not dealing with North Korea before. Now we are chairing the North Korea Sanctions Committee (laughs). Even there, we have to work together. If this is the case, then this model partnership is not a matter of choice, it is a matter of necessity. We should sit together, establish all the contacts at every level from political leadership to the lowest rank of diplomats and work together. This should be the new understanding. This is the political side: multidimensionality. I don’t want to go into the details, why we need each other in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iraq, it is a long story. It will take all night, and I do not want to keep you here for long.

The second important dimension of our relations should be the comprehensive character of our “model partnership.” Nobody should make just one reference to our relations. For example, yes, we are members of NATO and it is a very important dimension of our relations. But nobody should limit our relations only to military or security bases. If there is no economic dimension, cultural dimension and diplomatic dimension, that military dimension alone will not be strong enough to develop a model partnership. Now, if we are so compatible and need each other, to be frank, it is not easy to explain why the total trade volume between Turkey and the United States is only around 16 billion US Dollars, while Turkish-Russian trade volume is 38 billion US Dollars, more than double. We can speak of Korean memories; but with Russia, throughout the Cold War, we were in different camps and we were seeing each other as enemies. However, after the Cold War, within 15 years we reached the level of 38 billion US Dollars in our trade relations. Now, how can we explain that our trade volume with our main strategic ally with whom we worked together for 50 years during the Cold War and defeated the Soviet threat together is just 16 billion US Dollars? This is not sustainable. This cannot continue.

There should be a new understanding that in all fronts we need to have a comprehensive strategy, a comprehensive character for our model partnership. But this is not a political choice. The multidimensionality of our relations is a political matter and we --as Presidents, Prime Ministers of our two countries, or Ministers or policy-makers-- are responsible to deal with this multidimensional character. But for the comprehensive character of our relations, we need the support of businessmen; we need the support of different sectors to work together in all senses. Without such a support from the public and businessmen, whatever decision we take, whichever good sentences we put, or strategies we write in Ankara or in Washington will not be helpful. Therefore, this meeting of ATC and DEİK is very important, because it brings policy-makers, opinion-makers, businessmen, NGOs together every year. These meetings should not be routine meetings that are just repeated every year. But, they should be like a session that takes account of the previous year as well. What did we do last year? What did we achieve? What are the missing elements to make this model partnership better? We should not just sit and listen to speeches but we should make, like every budgetary year, the budget of our relations. What are the assets, liabilities? How could it be developed? There, we need the support of businessmen and all the sectors of life. If we can establish this new paradigm, I am sure that in 10 years, the role of the United States as the global power will be strengthened and I am sure the role of Turkey, as the unique power in its surrounding regions and an important player in world politics, will be strengthened.

We need each other. We don’t have any prejudices in our past, we have good memories. Therefore, we have to re-establish a common future and a common vision for the future, not only for our countries but also for our regions and for the world. Not only our nations but also the humanity needs this relationship and we hope that we will contribute to human history in a positive sense together.

Thank you very much.