Speech at the 22th Eurasian Economic Summit

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I would like to thank Mr. Akkan Suver and the Marmara Foundation which brought us together for the 22nd time. To be able to hold these meetings for 22 years in a row and to gather the most valuable guests to Istanbul is a truly extraordinary achievement. So once again I welcome everyone. Of course, just like every year, you have very carefully determined the topic of discussion. This ye-ar's topic is really up to date. It is as much a matter of concern as it is up-to-date, all over the world: Populism. We all see that in the recent years valuable books, articles, and papers have been published on this issue. Important thought leaders of the world, opinion leaders, politicians say a lot of things and warn about the spread of populism globally. Therefore, my dear friends have expressed their opinions about such a topic. They evaluated populism from different aspects.

I would like to contribute to this as follows: While populism develops, it does not merely decline liberal democracy. It undermi-nes the basic principles and qualities of democracy. This is dangerous. It's worrying in this regard. And we all know that after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 the prolonged Cold War ended, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, democracy and liberties began to spread over a wide geography. People began to benefit more from basic rights and freedoms. Under the rule of law principles, states were restructured, constitutions were rewritten. When writing the constitutions, very important steps were taken in regards to "how to be a democratic country with a rule of law". We all witnessed these. Unfortunately, the sad thing is that in this second de-cade of the 21st century, things began to go back a bit, and the populist movements seem to rise in many parts of the world, and as I said it before, this has downgraded democracy. Whereas, many developing countries, while struggling to raise their democratic and leg al standards and implementing substantial reforms, they suddenly started to decline. This is a highly distressing development.

When we look at important reports, we see how democracy is declining all over the world. We all witness that the first winds of populism first blew up in Latin America and then stopped there. In this decade, it began to spread all over the world, especially to Europe, and later the US, with the current American administration, starting with the election campaign of its current president, his management style, language and rhetoric. This is very worrying, certainly there will be consequences for influential countries be-ginning to prefer such policies and attitude. In that respect, when you put this title, you are very right to ask will populism, natio-nalism, extreme racism prevent the dialogue, and what it will do to peace? There's really something to worry about.

The worst populism in history took place before World War II. Populism at that time appeared in the form of fascism and people have paid the cost after having suffered a great deal of pain in their own countries and then on the whole continent. But populism that we see today, is emerging in the form of an authoritarian government. I suppose there can be no fascism in today's world nor can it be possible to have such brutal dictatorships like communist regimes. But in another way, it began to emerge this time as aut-horitarian administrations. And their common feature is; they began to consciously exploit the disappointment and frustration of societies with their governments, in this sense their weakness. This is actually what populism is. My friends here in this panel also gave various other definitions for it as well.

We must recognize the great many injustices in economic and political thought, people's disappointments with these. But for lea-ders to purposefully and consciously exploit these is very sad and of no good. We see that this trend is developing further. Such po-pulist styles are contained in discourse, rhetoric, and valour when voiced as opposition, and yet are still terribly harmful as it educates the masses and ignites their senses. But the danger is much greater when populist political movements come to power. Because when in power, the discourse, the rhetoric is now combined with practice and exercise which results in major problems and nega-tive impact on societies and countries.

It can be argued that populism can win results in the short term with people. Political leaders and movements can benefit from it in this sense. But in the long run them and everyone will lose. Populism is, without a doubt, unsustainable. What is important is that those who take responsibility for their societies should bring happiness and prosperity to their people via healthy and sustainable policies. And not for a short while, but in the long run in a sustainable way. Populists only give fish to the people, but they never teach how to fish. For that one day when the fish runs out troubles and disasters start to occur.

Therefore, there are many important lessons to be taken. The biggest problem today is that we see populist movements in coun-tries such as the United States, Europe and even European countries whom we assume have fulfilled the European Union Copen-hagen political criteria. What this movement is doing is that it primarily targets the basic qualities of democracy. It consumes it. It targets the separation of powers, the independent and impartial distribution of justice, public transparency, accountability, and free press. All these values are in decline in countries where populism is progressing. We see this happening in every continent. So the biggest destruction of populism is that it targets pluralism and restricts fundamental rights and freedom. While doing this, it takes advantage of xenophobia, hostility against minorities, hostility against immigrants, islamophobia in some countries, antisemitism in others. It uses these to allegedly address the feelings of the majorities. But it incites the flames of a very dangerous fire.

Whether all this brings dialogue, peace within the country, region or the world must of course worry all of you. Populism is also a major economic disaster. We see the best example of this in Venezuela, which is being discussed today. A country with the largest oil, gas and gold reserves in the world; how much suffering its people are facing, how it has become the toy of all countries, where everyone is saying something, how it is being divided. Whereas, such a country could have been one of the most prosperous coun-tries in the world. Had all the good elements of the system that we call "good governance", such as rule of law, separation of powers, transparency, accountability had been applied, the country with such resources could have been the most prosperous, happiest co-untry. For that reason, what has been tried before must not be tried again. We always have to take lessons from these.

Populism in foreign policy is something very dangerous. The national interests of countries cannot be compensated for. For that reason, populism always treats the traditions of diplomacy and the language of diplomacy with disrespect and neglects them. But heroic sayings, rhetoric language are so dangerous in politics that you will eventually become its captive and will be driven into the mistakes unwillingly. Today we see this again. Especially when big countries and big powers of the world tries to do this, it brings instability, disaster and mistrust to the world, not peace.

In fact, you can clearly see the contribution of populist tendencies in the process from the invasion of Afghanistan, the war there, to the invasion of Iraq and the beginning of the war in Syria.

Today, what the president had done during the US presidential campaign was considered temporary, but today a great state which is the largest military force, the center of the economy of the world and politics, if the most sensitive topics can be made via twitter, this situation is hard to comprehend.

The unpredictable consequences of this can always come out, but what has emerged from now on has already created a huge cri-sis of confidence in all allies, democratic countries and the free world. As the United States refutes its own values, it polarizes itself, pulls Europe, its allies, the free world and democracies down. It is completely shaking the foundations of world security architec-tures. Now, if these are done institutionally by knowing the measured exit strategies, you can say a policy. But if it excludes the ins-titutions completely and only the behaviour of one or two people do these things, I say clearly, it is not known where it will take the world and itself.

One example of this, again, in view of the consequences of the influential countries which turn populism into politics, is the de-fection of Great Britain from the European Union: Brexit. If you remember the referendum decision as well as the referendum pro-cess, we see how much populist people and movements are costing them, and how it makes the state miserable today. Hence, populism, which especially only has done to gain power in a conscious way, is always causing great disasters.

I'd like to recap the topic this way;

Now political history is so full of the rise and decline of nations. How the nations rose and how they declined. For this regard, there are many examples, stories. Everyone is open to all sources in today's world. In today's world, the mistakes of the past should not be repeated again. State executives, political movements and parties, who have done so, cause great suffering to the societies they take responsibility for and cause great harm to their countries.

Populism inside a country polarizes its society. It damages plurality and harmony in living together. It makes it difficult for pe-ople with different ideas, identities, ethnics or beliefs to live together. Today, no country is a city-state. There are very few city-sta-tes in the world. All countries have pluralistic structures. No matter what country you look at in Europe, not only in America, but also in the Middle East, in Eurasia, we are always pluralist.

The important thing is to make this pluralism and the differences live together. To live the differences together is never possible with populism, on the contrary populism decomposes that. It injures the human dignity. Therefore, they do great harm to their co-untries. Foreign policy history again showed us that such nationalist, racist political leaders, after the parties consolidate themsel-ves into their countries, engage in conflict of interest in the region and always fight and wars show up in the region. There are many examples of this. Now what does this bring to humanity and countries.

It doesn't bring anything. It brings back pain. After all these experiences, it would be a shame for people to live the same thines again. For this, we know that, we need to perfect the democracy again despite all its flaws and defects. Injustices in incomes or other neglect, all this disappoints people.

We need to fix this. The way to resolve this is not populism, but rather the empowerment of democracy, democratic values, human rights, the rule of law, and the basic universal criteria in every country.

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