11. Cumhurbaşkanı Abdullah Gül'ün Brüksel’de London Speaker Bureau’nun 2018 Yılı “SpeakFest” Toplantısında Yaptığı Konuşma

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to address the Speaker fest of this year. I thank the London Speaker Bureau for bringing us together, thus connecting people and ideas globally once more. Brussels is a proper venue to hold this meeting. Because, I believe that Europe and its institutions will continue to have an important role and also a responsibility in tackling the serious challenges of the international order, in spite of being preoccupied with Europe’s own internal challenges. Indeed, a bigger intellectual and political role to be played by Europe in facing universal challenges would energize European institutions, thus increase its self-confidence in tackling its internal problems. Europe may have lost its centrality in geo-politics. However, it has a tradition and valuable experience in reaching out to emerging actors in other continents. European experience in reaching consensus through dialogue, consultation, debate and compromises is an important asset. This is an important asset which can be instrumental in addressing serious global conflicts of our time. Display of real leadership based on European values by the European politicians (as Mrs Merkel has been doing) would make a real difference in the field.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Four years ago, on the occasion of the centenary of the ‘’beginning’’ of the First World War, many analysts and historians tried to review the origins of the war. They put most of the blame on the arrogance and narrow sightedness of the political leaders of the time, signaling certain parallels between circumstances of now and then. This year is the centenary of the ‘’end’’ of the Great War. However, the same analysts and historians now sound much more concerned of the similarities between the atmosphere of the post-war period and the current international situation. It is of course, one of the duties of the historians to draw lessons from bitter pages of history for future generations. But it is the duty of politicians and citizens to benefit from these lessons. This is exactly where we are these days. I am not going to make a comprehensive description of the global situation.

There is already an immense literature on its many dimensions such as:

-growing inequality at national and regional and international levels,

-stagnation in the efforts against poverty, -mass migration and climate change issues,

-populism and extremism versus democracies, -controversial effects of technological progress on our lives….

And more:

-loss of credibility and misfunctioning of the multilateral political and economic arrangements,

-lack of transparency in governance at a variety of levels,

-excessive corporate concentration and spiraling trade wars,

-a shift from value and rule based international and national orders to the contrary, that is anarchy or tyranny…

And resulting from all these, a growing tendency to violence and conflicts (military, economic or cultural) fueling arms trade…. The fact that most of the above elements are related to each other makes the situation more complicated. I must urge you that what I outlined above is not politics as usual. It is an existential matter for the international community. Therefore, it requires multi-dimensional remedies: Moral, spiritual, political, cultural, strategic and socio-economic remedies….. I know that a new breed of politicians on duty here and there do not like to hear calls to moderation, restraint, reason and wisdom. Because they benefit from the contrary, which is extremism, demagogy and folly. Therefore, moderates all over the world need to be more daring and courageous than the populists and extremists. Our responses should be fresh, inclusive and thoughtful. We should keep our confidence in the ultimate wisdom of citizens, We should be diligent in investing in people through health and education, We should be able to deliver our resolve to promote common values of human solidarity in a vigorous manner, I already observe examples of good practice in this direction: Europe is already conscious of its challenges. There are popular and political moves , although insufficient, to address them. American intellectuals, media and some politicians and citizens have already launched a lively debate and battle against what they see as a looming threat to American democracy. In Russia, China and elsewhere there are modest indications of similar activism. Ladies and Gentlemen, Instead of getting into a whole series of global issues, I will confine myself to making some observations on certain issues and propositions based on my observations.


Trump Administration’s weakening commitment to liberal values while strengthening its global military role has created a new situation. President Trump’s neglect of rules, regulations the traditional allies of the US has created doubts about the purpose of the US. USA should see that history may not be on her side as it has been during the last century. USA may be in need of Transatlantic alliance more than ever 2020 Presidential elections will be important for all of us. I pray no global accident occurs until then….


I already expressed some of my expectations from the EU in my instruction. To this, I would add the need of a comprehensive auto criticism by the European leaders and bureaucrats on certain issues: For example, how much their (EU’s) share of responsibility in the traumatic Brexit decision by the United Kingdom? Why Turkey accession was delayed artificially while now problematic East European counties were favored although their democratic maturity was at a lower stage than Turkey? This was a serious mistake which harmed both EU and Turkey.


I regret to see that a reform of the United Nations Security Council is still being delayed, after thirty years of consultations! Whereas, such a reform would have meant making the Security Council more democratic and representative, thus more transparent. Especially the five permanent members need to be warned that this delay creates a serious risk for the future of international peace and security. A more democratic and inclusive Security Council would lend the United Nations the credibility and efficiency it is craving for. Those further delaying the UN Reform would be responsible of dilemmas of the future.


In spite of its rich cultural heritage inspired by the sublimity of Islam, human power and resources, the peoples of this region have not been restored to the place they deserve yet. Since long, issues related to the Middle East are having serious overflow effects globally. I believe that, the current armed conflicts, power vacuums and chaos in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, in addition to Afghanistan and some regions in Africa, are essentially results of political miscalculations, delusions and blunders by both local leaders and outside actors. Because of the absence of a formal authority, local people are forced to protect themselves in despair through other structures of authority including terrorist organizations like ISIS (Daesh). There are alarming independent reports that ISIS (Daesh) continues to be resilient despite billions of dollars spent in the fight against it. I do not think "hard power" alone will be a solution. Ultimate solution against terrorist organizations like ISIS (Daesh) lies in patient and inclusive political ‘smart power’ solutions which will help convince the local people and leaders. While using hard power to get rid of the terrorist infrastructure is necessary, the political transition and exit strategies must be considered now. Possible solutions should take the political and socio-economic imbalances of states into account and must be morally superior. Astana and Geneva Talk on Syria is an example -although without much result yet- of such an approach. 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. 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. I very well know that this idea is far away from being workable in the existing circumstances. However, I would like to remind you that the United Nations was conceived during the second World War and OSCE during the Cold War. A long-term strategy in this direction would provide a perspective and an anchor for efforts geared towards the solution of problems of the region. This 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. A dimension for economic and humanitarian cooperation that would encompass refugee, energy and water issues should be part of it. Plans should be drawn to compensate the damage caused by the armed conflict and terrorism on the health and education infrastructure. On the other hand, long-term consequences of violent conflicts in the region on the “lost generation” of children and youth without schooling should be a great matter of concern for all of us. UNICEF rightly urges us that many of them can be prey to extremists, armed groups or crime organizations.


I regret that the implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran is facing a very serious difficulty because of the American position. This deal was achieved as a result of years long diplomatic work in which I also personally contributed. An agreement on to the nuclear programme of Iran, might be a first step in leading Iran to be more motivated about the resolution of political problems in the region. I would expect the signatories of the deal to continue their efforts to uphold the deal. A final failure of the Iran deal carries the risk of encouraging proliferation in the region.


Occupation of Palestine by Israel continues to deeply affect the psychology of the region and the world. Resumption of the talks between Israel and Palestine and progress in the settlement of this core issue would be an element of relief which would contribute to a wider cooperation in the region. However, recent moves by Trump Administration has favored Israel in an unbalanced way. This continues to be a source of frustration in the region with possible global consequences.


I strongly believe that essentials of Islam fully conform with the modern concepts of democracy, state of law and good governance. Although the first wave of the Arab Spring has been disrupted, I think Arabs’ expectations, yearnings and concerns such as democracy, good governance, human rights, transparency, gender equality, social justice and freedom of thought continue to be alive and valid. The demands raised during the Arab Spring, may revisit the region in the future. However, it is very important that the frustrations of the young generations are not exploited by non-democratic political forces. And, their reaction is not channelized in to violent and oppressive ideologies as it has happened elsewhere in the history.

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