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Peace at home, peace in the world

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Speech Delivered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu to EU Ambassadors On the Occasion of Europe Day, 8 May 2009, Ankara

Distinguished Ambassadors, distinguished members of the press

We are honored to host you today with the Minister of State and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış to celebrate Europe Day.

It is a distinct pleasure for me subsequent to my appointment as the Minister of Foreign Affairs to get together for the first time with all of the EU and candidate states’ Ambassadors, who are old friends as well as colleagues of mine and will continue to remain as such in the upcoming period, on a day that also corresponds to the anniversary of the EU, which has brought about peace, welfare and stability to our continent.

The EU is the exceptionally successful result of the culmination of a dynamic process. The EU has transformed itself into a union of freedom, stability and peace through a success story after long decades of wars and internal struggles. However, we should not forget that the EU is a dynamic process and this dynamism is continuing. Today, I will invite you to share our common vision rather than to discuss existing problems.

The Republic of Turkey also continues its own historical path. This is an exceptionally dynamic, vivid and vision oriented process. At present, we need to pose the following question to ourselves: How do we approach this vision that will determine our future? Please make the following comparison: This long process, which has commenced with the signing of the Rome Treaty in 1957, has completed its maturation period and has reached a certain stage. However, it is still experiencing a big transformation within itself.

Not only as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of a candidate country but as a European, I feel the responsibility to evaluate what kind of a Europe we will be inheriting to our children and grandchildren in 2057, after a century the EU has started this historical path. As I have stated, I would like to invite all of us to undertake this evaluation not as a negotiating party but as a community which believes that we share a common continent, common history as well as a common future.

In the same vein, within the framework of this vision we as Turkey as a powerful state situated in this geography and embodying a rich history,  have to confront a similar responsibility to assess what kind of a state, nation and political, economic structure we will be leaving behind to our children and next generations in 2023, the 100th anniversary of our Republic.

Today is not the right moment to discuss the past, to debate previous conflicts, to display problematic areas, to delineate the borders of Europe that has never existed, to construct a new “Berlin Wall” around these borders or to come up with new divisions with internal or external concepts of Europe. However, this is the moment to share our visions. This is the moment to think positively. On Europe Day, we should be looking to the future with a positive agenda.

At last, we need to make good use of the period leading up to 2013, the 50th anniversary of the Ankara Agreement in order for Turkey to become a natural and strong member of the EU. We, as the incumbent government, definitely do not want to celebrate the Europe Day in 2013 as a candidate country. We will give impetus to this process by using our political will in order to complete this process much earlier. We will undertake whatever is necessary. However, we also believe that it is our right to expect the same understanding from the EU.

What kind of Europe do we envision for the future? What is the sense of “Europe” in our minds as Europeans, as Turkey part of the EU and as an active subject that is incorporated in almost all sorts of problems associated with the EU? I would like to share its three main elements with you:

The first is the cultural aspect. We need to put to the forefront the consolidating rather than the dividing nature of cultures. We imagine a Europe that communicates well with the whole accumulation of human culture that unifies the principle of plurality with “common good” and “ethics of coexistence”. In the period ahead we imagine a Europe of 2057 that is not based on an “egocentric illusion” as conceptualized eloquently in the “Study of History” of Toynbee nor as a monolithic cultural understanding but a Europe that is cognizant of the idea that the history of civilizations is indeed a history of borrowing from one another as underscored in “The Grammar of Civilizations” of Braudel. Europe imagined as such is commensurate with the “unity in diversity” approach of Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman. Europe as such will be a part of a culture that is intermingled and amalgamated with universal and human accumulation.

This understanding of culture might require Europe to encounter various internal problems as well as confrontations. However, Europe this time stemming from its own experience will be a Europe that has transformed the understanding of identifying the 19th century history with European history into an understanding of integrating with world history. Europe that is integrated with real global culture can only be realized in this manner. We imagine a Europe that can confront and that is intermingled with all cultures, that circumvents human culture with all these elements rather than a cultural understanding which is single-dimensional.

Secondly, I would like to discuss the economic dimension. When we examine the economic history of the last 200/300 years, Europe has been the driving force of the global economy since the Industrial Revolution. Except the minor period, in which all of Europe was devastated after the Second World War, Europe has been able to attain its prior economic power as a result of the EU. However, the recent economic crisis has demonstrated that even the most powerful economies of the world could fall into a situation where they are affected the most if they cannot assess their status accurately within the global economic system. This situation poses an important challenge for Europe and the EU. In the aftermath of the global economic crisis, we confront the problem of thinking about the future of Europe’s economy. The EU can only maintain its viability and its attraction in the globe through preserving its economic dynamism. The EU can preserve this economic dynamism by utilizing its human capital accurately. Strong technological knowledge can only be triggered if it is integrated well with human capital. In 2057, we would still like to see Europe, where Turkey is a member, as a driving force of the world economy. Otherwise, the EU carries the risk of losing its ability to become a centre of attraction not only for candidate states and the states that follow the model of Europe but also for the members of the EU.

The third aspect involves the political dimension. We would like to see Europe as an influential actor of the international system.  Instead of an ordinary actor following the events of the international system and trying to canalize those events after they occur, we would like to see a European Union that takes an active position, and reflect the powerful political accumulation based on democratic values and individual rights and freedoms.  The European Union as such should be able to transfer security, peace, stability and prosperity not only to the surrounding regions of Europe but also to the entire world.  Now, we live in such a global system that prosperity in Europe is not sustainable if there is hunger in Africa. We live in such a world that the security we enjoy in Europe is not a sustainable understanding of security as long as there are crises and big massacres and injustices being carried out in the belt from Morocco to Indonesia through to Latin America.

We look at Europe with this vision. We would like to be part of a Europe that is integrated with the culture of humanity, able to lead the global political economy and finding its deserved weight and place in the international system.

Then, what is our vision of Turkey? We can consider our vision of Turkey around the same principles. The cultural perspective of our vision is to make Turkey a country where all historical-cultural fluidity is integrated with today’s universal culture.

Yesterday, we were together with the Honorable Ambassadors at an important ceremony. The Yunus Emre Foundation was established. With this foundation we will be in endeavours to integrate our culture with the universal culture. I also tried to emphasize this point there; the culture of Turkey is so rich that the main reference source of the language of this culture; Divan-i Lügat-ı Türk written by Kaşgarlı Mahmud falls into a region that today is within the Chinese borders. The architectural climax of this culture is Taj Mahal and the literary classic Baburname emerged in India, Nizamülmülk constituting the basis of the political culture in the Selcuklu was written in Iran and Mesopotamia; powerful public culture established in Anatolia including the great literary richness of Mevlana and the moral aspect of Yunus Emre;  literary and traditional Turkish music “musiki” taste is seen at Itri and Baki in Istanbul;  architectural taste seen at Mimar Sinan have constituted an influence uniting that architecture with the physical understanding which also affect the European art in Europe. Thus, Orhan Pamuk who won the Nobel Prize was found eligible for the prize because he described Istanbul very well, through a very smooth and good usage of Turkish. The Europe without Istanbul will not be a real Europe.

As one of the most rooted cultural communities, we have the cultural richness to be able unite the heritage coming from these local cultures with the European culture. In this context, Turkey is not only a bridge to transfer this local cultural richness from India, China to Europe but will also become a centre of powerful cultural mobility that can make synthesis of all. This is the kind of Turkey which we imagine. It is the Turkey where a unique culture is emerging where freedom of thought has roots, where every subject can be discussed easily, where every cultural subject can find a place. Such a Turkey can contribute to Europe. Otherwise it is not a Turkey that turned into a derivative of European culture. Instead, we would like to see a Turkey that is able to contribute to the culture of humanity through integrating with the European culture.

Second dimension of our vision for Turkey is related to the economy. Again, as Turkey we want to maintain our ambition to rank as one of the most powerful economies of the world with our powerful human resources,  with a new understanding of technological revolution, science, and project of sustainable economic development. This geography cannot maintain weak economies. Such an economy entails instability as well as distrust in this region. Being aware of this, in the period ahead we hope that Turkey will rank among the top ten economies of the world.

Third and for us one of the most important elements of the vision is our political and strategic vision. Turkey desires to start the period ahead with a new vision that involves integrating with European values, putting to the forefront individual rights and freedoms, which has consolidated its strong, democratic and political system and attained unequivocal political stability.

Turkey confronts the necessity of establishing this democratic system in the strongest sense possible as a country that has adopted the Constitutional system much earlier than many European countries and granted its women the right to participate in politics and that embodies a political history which involved confronting and realizing the idea of political elections perhaps much earlier than many European countries.

We are cognizant of the fact that our democracy is our biggest soft power. We are aware that Turkey will stand firm, remain strong and obtain the right to accede to the EU as it establishes a triangle of freedom, security and prosperity. During the process leading up to 2023 and having in mind the threshold of 2013, we are in a longing for Turkey where everyone is free, secure and partakes in prosperity. And we will not undertake this for our own ends, we will embrace a strategic understanding that spreads this to our vicinity and surrounding regions as well.
  
These two visions; vision of Europe and vision of Turkey do not contradict one another. On the contrary, these visions are entirely consistent and compatible with each other. If we realize our vision of Turkey, this will provide a main contribution to our vision of Europe. If Europe pursues this direction, it will always see Turkey as an asset.

It is not enough to put forth these visions but we need to define what needs to be done for them. As Turkey, we are cognizant of our homework. Of course, we know very well that it is not the EU that will integrate with Turkey, but Turkey with the EU. So we know very well that Turkey confronts many serious exigencies for reform.

I assure you that we do not perceive the EU process solely as a foreign policy process. On the contrary we see the EU process as a part of our endeavors to reform Turkey and harmonize with necessary international standards during the last 200 years, i.e. as a part of our domestic political, social and economic reform process. For this reason we are aware that Turkey needs to be rejuvenated in all areas ranging from environment to economics, law to industry, competition to the employment problem. Due to this reason, no one should have any doubt in their minds about the following: Is Turkey slowing down reforms, will Turkey delay these reforms? No, we are aware of the necessity to undertake these reforms not only because of our EU vision, but also our vision of Turkey. We believe that all of you are aware of the serious impetus given to the reform process after the appointment of my distinguished friend from the cabinet, Mr. Egemen Bağış as the Chief Negotiator. We are determined to elevate this internal reform process forward to the highest level by working together.

Secondly, I would like to continue my talk by reminding you of earlier discussions especially before 2002 and 2004. During that period, some have objected to Turkey’s membership on the basis that “If Turkey becomes an EU member, Europe will be a neighbour to very risky regions”.  During the last 5 years, a reality has emerged that has probably been recognized by everyone: This is the fact that Turkey never brings instability and insecurity to any place she enters. On the contrary, Turkey with its geopolitical position at the centre of Eurasia brings peace not only to the EU and to our neighboring regions such as the Caucasus, the Balkans, Central Asia, and the Middle East but also to the global system. Last year, our ability to obtain 151 votes for our membership to the UN Security Council non-permanent seat is an outcome of this. 151 countries voted for Turkey because they considered that Turkey can bring peace to the international system. And finally we are aware that we need to be in a compatible stance with the EU in all these global forums. If the EU approaches us one step, then be sure that we will approach the EU five, ten steps. However, the EU is distancing itself away from this strategic vision by continuing to suspend critical chapters including the energy chapter. In this framework, regardless of how much we approach the EU, it will be hard to achieve any result.

Within this framework, our expectations from the EU:  As Turkey, we are ready to continue doing our homework. However, we expect from our European friends few very basic things, which are in fact compatible with Europe’s main moral principles. First is the loyalty to commitments, i.e. “pacta sund servanda”, which is not only a European value but also a value of humanity. Powerful states and communities can only retain their power by realizing a single criterion: By upholding their promises. In 2004, the EU has promised Turkey full membership. In the aftermath of this, bringing forth the idea of alternative forms of membership is not being disrespectful to us but to European culture. We will continue these endeavors with the vision of full membership. We demand only one thing from the EU: respect for its own values and “pacta sund servanda”.

Our second expectation is also a very simple reality. We also have to do this but what we expect from you is not to get stuck with the past. Let’s not get stuck on areas regarding conjunctural internal politics. Let’s adopt a vision for the future. Turkey should no longer be the subject matter of the internal political discussion of the European countries. The political discussions in every country should be related to their own internal economic, political and cultural problems.  Political parties and leaders should not engage in domestic political debates using Turkey in order to obtain political leverage. This is also what we expect from our European friends within the framework of political consistency. We do not wish to see Turkey to become part of the political discussions especially in the period leading upto the European Parliament elections.

And finally our third expectation is for the EU to remove the issues that are unrelated to our EU process and whose requirements we have already fulfilled from being obstacles in our EU membership. None of our European friends, especially the ones who have experienced the Burgenstock negotiations with us, can express that “Turkey did not fulfill what is required of it regarding Cyprus”.  On the Cyprus issue, Turkey has made everything that was required of it thoroughly to make Cyprus an island of peace. Turkey has made sacrifices on all issues that necessitated such a sacrifice. However, I would like to share this with you, Honourable Ambassadors, that none of the promises made to the Turkish Cypriots during the last 5 years have been fulfilled. I was in Cyprus 2 days ago. If there is now a much more sceptical approach in Northern Cyprus compared to 2004, this is not because of the Turkish Cypriots’ loss of belief regarding Europe but the decline in their trust towards the EU. The responsibility to re-establish this trust belongs to the EU. Turkey will continue to support the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to the end in these negotiations. However our expectation is that the Southern Cyprus Greek Cypriot Administration does not use Turkey-EU relations as an argument in order to obtain leverage in Cyprus. If they indeed do engage in such behaviour, we expect from our European friends and leaders to adopt a common stance against this.  We hope that the negotiation process in the upcoming period will yield positive results through the encouragement of both sides so that finally Cyprus drops from being an issue that we continue to discuss but becomes an island of peace and stability, and a focal point that transforms the East Mediterranean. But if this does not happen no one should blame Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots. Today all of us, all parties including international courts confront the responsibility to use this chance for achieving peace in Cyprus by putting aside short-sighted calculations.

As a summary, I would like to say that as Turkey in the period ahead we see and will continue to see the EU as the most important issue of our foreign policy. We should work together with a common vision that will render Turkey and the EU as the primary actors of the global economic-political and international political legal system and which will put forth Turkey as adding value to the EU rather being a burden.

In this regard, my Ministry and I, my dear friend and colleague Mr Egemen Bağış as Chief Negotiator and the European Union Secretariat General will exert all our efforts in this area. We will review any demands made at any moment and take all necessary steps. But what we expect from you is to transmit the sentiments and the vision oriented stance prevailing in Turkey to your headquarters in a compelling manner and to contribute to establishing a value rather than a problem regarding Turkey in Europe.

Again I thank you for accepting this invitation and coming here.