Posted on 18 September 2009
Turkey’s presence in the world is growing as it becomes known as force for change and peace within the region and a bridge between the Middle East’s Muslim population and the western world.
This is making the news now; with turkey reaching out to normalise relations with Armenia, with Obama visiting Turkey to assure the Muslim and wider world that the US is not at war with Islam, and now with the US Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner travelling to İstanbul at the beginning of October for the G7 meeting.
However, it has been happening for the last seven years, since the Turkish people voted for and elected the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
As was explained by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at a meeting in Jordan last week: this new force that Turkey is becoming is because of the government’s mission, which is built around its core principles, including:
First is the acknowledgement that no foreign policy can be active unless peace and harmony have been achieved at home. The government has had a difficult job trying to achieve this; to strike a balance between freedom, justice and build a strong economy at the same time.
This has also led the government into taking action to try and solve some of the concerns harboured by its Kurdish population, so that the two peoples can live in peace and harmony.
Another core principle and mammoth task undertaken by the Turkish government has been to normalise relations with all of its neighbours. This is such a mammoth task because Turkey is a vast country that shares borders with three different regions and many different cultures.
Nonetheless the government is doing well. It has normalised relations excellently with almost all of its neighbours including Syria and Iraq. Currently the hand of peace is outstretched to Armenia.
Maintaining good relations with neighbours serves the goal of speeding up regional economic integration and interdependence in the view of Davutoglu, thus fulfilling the grand objective of achieving peace and prosperity for all.
The third core principle is to use its vast variety of cultures and ethnicity to act as a major force in the region, to assist where possible in conflict resolution, and attempt to bring all the countries in the region together in harmony.
As a result the fourth principle necessitates that Turkey maintains a proactive role in all the alliances, associations and groups that it belongs to. It does not sacrifice one at the expense of the other, nor does it value one over the other. As such Turkey’s strategic objective to become a full member of the European Union does not mean that it forgoes its relations with Asia and the Middle East. Its alliance with the United States, through NATO, has not damaged its relations with Iran, and by the same token Turkey’s sympathy and support of Palestinian rights has not turned Israel into an enemy.
The fifth principle that Davutoglu outlined is Turkey’s pursuance of an active role in all regional and international forums with the aim of reflecting the country’s growing political and economic roles.
And the sixth principle is to change negative perceptions of Turkey around the world and to remove stereotypical associations.