Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to address the Aspen Ministers Forum for the first time.
I thank the Bertelsmann Foundation for sponsoring this event.
Berlin is a very proper venue to hold this year's meeting, since our host country, Germany, is playing an important and responsible leadership role in tackling many of the challenges of our time.
I am pleased also for being among many old and dear friends: Madam Albright, Joshkau Fischer and many other distinguished colleagues…
This takes me to the memories of the recent decades when we, as former foreign ministers or in other capacities, worked all together for humanity to make a better beginning for in the 21st Century.
Today's gloomy atmosphere should not make us forget or ignore the diplomatic achievements to which, many of us present here today, had personally contributed. For example during that period:
Russia had become a NATO partner for Peace;
East European countries were integrated with the European Union and were stabilized.
Scars of the tragic collapse of Yugoslavia have been gradually erased;
Turkey had began accession negotiations with European Union. She was the first country with predominantly moslem population, to do so. Turkey thus emerged as a vibrant democracy and economy inspiring some others;
Turkey and Greece came to better terms after decades of rift.
A peace plan for Cyprus was finally drafted (although not implemented) increasing hopes for the East Mediterranean to be a basin for peace and cooperation.
We achieved keeping Irans's nuclear dossier on a diplomatic track and bringing it to an agreed solution. (I hope we can witness the ''happy end'' in a few days time.)
Madrid Middle East Peace Conference, Oslo Accords and Camp David were all steps establishing the basis of a negotiated settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In Afghanistan, Taliban was toppled and replaced by elected governments.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I referred to certain achievements of the past decades in order to show that we can as well contribute to producing solutions to a new set of complex issues we are faced with since some years.
These are issues related to each other, and affecting all of us seriously, in this or that way, like the chaotic situation in some Arab countries, conflict in Ukraine, migration and refugee issues, terrorism and violence, racial and religious tensions and economic crises.
Actually, this year's Aspen Ministers Conference has been deliberating on many of these issues in a timely manner and under a very pertinent theme which is: ''Challenging Assumptions''.
Indeed, problems of our time require fresh and courageous responses.
Therefore I will also focus my statement to discuss certain assumptions related to the Middle East only, since the situation there is getting more and more complicated with serious overflow effects.
Francis Fukuyama, in his last book actually challenges a well-known assumption:
He argues that geography is not destiny and history is not fate.
He insists that countries do well or badly according to the political choices they make.
Fukuyama thus expresses confidence in the capacity of smart leaders to find a way out of dilemmas.
This approach is, I think valid to some extent with regard to the Middle East.
In discussions related to the Middle East, it is an habit to begin, continue and end with making references to various aspects of its very peculiar history and geography.
I think this is a habit that needs to be changed.
Because, it conceals the importance of leadership and governance issues which I think are equally, and sometimes more important, underlying factors of the maladies of the region.
I believe that more responsible attitudes and smarter policies adopted by the leaders of the region and other interested actors as well, would make a great difference in the fate of the Middle East.
Many of you would remember the warnings I had conveyed to my counterparts on the eve of the Iraq War at the beginning of 2003 , that Iraq was a miniature of the entire Middle East: a ''Pandora's Box'', that once opened, could be closed again only with great difficulty.
I had urged my American and European interlocutors to be very careful in considering ''how'' to conduct the occupation of Iraq.
Because, I said, if this box were opened carelessly and without foresight, we would come face to face with totally unintended results.
I had also written a letter to Saddam Hussein signalling "a looming massive and devastating military conflict which would effect the future of Iraq and the region very negatively."
I asked him to stop wasting time with rhetoric for a moment and take the opportunity provided by the UN then.
He proved to be not only a cruel dictator but also most inadvisable, least to say...
The Pandora's Box is not only wide open today.
It seems that, the box contains other smaller boxes of Pandora, like a Russian Doll.
The problem which was once limited to Afghanistan has now spread across a wide area stretching until Yemen and Nigeria with spillover effects in a wider geography from Paris to Mumbai, from Boston to Sydney.
I believe that, the current power vacuums and chaos in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen are essentially results of political miscalculations, delusions and blunders by both local leaders and outside actors.
As expected, many fringe elements are benefitting from the vacuum and chaos creating unprecedented mayhem, looting the resources, erasing traces of civilized life…
In the absence of state authority, helpless local people are trying to protect themselves through smaller structures of authority.
They are sometimes lured to enter the dictate of DAESH because of despair, frustration and lack of hope.
We sometimes see that former middle class moderates are being transformed to be complices of extremists out of grudge against ıncapable central authorities.
They can only be persuaded to turn away from DAESH by the offer of credible, resilient, and comprehensive political 'smart power' solutions.
Unless the power vacuum created by the chaotic environment in these countries is filled, proxy wars will inevitably continue on a sectarian and ethnic basis extending farther afield.
The coalition formed against DAESH may have certain military successes in the field.
However I do not think "hard power" alone will be a solution.
While using hard power to get rid of the terrorist ringleaders is necessary, the ultimate solution lies in patient and inclusive political solutions which will help convince the local people and leaders.
Political transition and exit strategies must be considered now.
Mistakes once committed in Iraq and Afghanistan should not be repeated.
We should not forget that, these are not like the defeated states of post-war periods that we can impose monolithic solutions.
Possible solutions should take the political and socio-economic imbalances of states into account and must be morally superior.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is clear that the DAESH-Qaida threat and its side-effects damage the interests of all the parties in the region and across the world.
I cannot understand why the leaders of the major actors of the region like Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, which are also neighbours to Syria and Iraq, do not try coming together around an agenda in search of a way for a better fight against current threats.
I believe that it is high time to leave aside mutual accusations, scepticisms and egoistic calculations of interests.
Replace them by efforts to create a sincere and serious working atmosphere, with broad horizons for the future of the region!
The current situation has shown once again the need for a comprehensive framework of regional cooperation and security in the region similar to the OSCE.
This idea may at first seem hasty and unworkable in the existing circumstances.
I am aware of the difficulty of forging such a framework at a time when even legitimate borders of certain countries are under discussion and a type of Balkanization is in effect.
However, if the countries of the region could be wise enough to situate their common struggle against the DAESH and Al-Qaida into such a perspective, they will be able to carry on this struggle in a more consistent and permanent framework.
Such a long-term strategy will provide a perspective and an anchor for efforts geared towards the solution of other problems.
A prospective framework might decrease the perceptions of threat by, be it Iran, Israel or Saudi Arabia.
It would also help to prevent emergence of new revanchist and irredentist currents in the region.
Actually, this is not a new idea but a vision that has been around since the 1980s and worked out intellectually and politically.
It must be revived and kept alive to be part of the agenda despite the current unfavorable conditions.
A strong dimension for economic and humanitarian cooperation that encompasses refugee, energy and water issues should be part of it.
I believe that, in this context UN agencies, such as UNDP, UNESCO, World Bank and Islamic Development Bank should begin planning how to compensate the socio-economic and cultural damage caused by the armed conflict and terrorism especially in the areas occupied by Da'esh.
Once carefully thought through, these plans should be made public and promoted in order to inject hope and optimism to the depressed people of the region.
An agreement on to the nuclear programme of Iran, may be a first step in this direction by leading Iran to be more motivated about the resolution of political problems in the region and to opt to use its soft power henceforth.
A new push for the resumption of the talks between Israel and Palestine and progress in the settlement of this core issue would be another element of relief which would contribute to a wider cooperation in the region.
Following the First Gulf War in1991, UN Security Council Resolution 687, stipulating the disarmament of Iraq, had became operational. Let me remind you that this resolution also included a perspective and a provision on freeing the region from weapons of mass destruction. This provision which had secured Arab support in the Gulf War still stands solely as a promise that is far from being fulfilled creating one of the sources of frustration in the region.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would also like to touch upon the Arab Spring.
Although the first wave of the Arab Spring has been disrupted, I believe that the expectations, yearnings and concerns of Arab peoples' are still alive and valid.
I believe that the demands raised during the Arab Spring, such as democracy, good governance, human rights, transparency, gender equality, social justice and freedom of thought will come to the agenda under different names and forms.
To make an analogy, I would remind that the ideals and principles of the 1789 French Revolution were disrupted by the restoration of the monarchy in 1815.
However these ideals were revived decades after the revolution not only in France but universally and kept alive until our times.
However, it is very important that the frustrations of the young generations are not exploited by non-democratic political forces.
And, their reaction are not channalized in to violent and oppressive ideologies as it has happenned elsewhere in the history.
Finally, achieving the Security Council Reform, as well as fighting poverty, illiteracy, health, and environmental problems, fighting against preaching of violence and hatred of all kinds in the media and politics and promoting a culture and education of peace and tolerance at global scale, will also have most positive impacts on the Middle East.