11th President of the Republic of Türkiye Abdullah Gül's Address to the 26th Eurasian Economic Summit (End the Distrust, Build the Cooperation)

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Dear Presidents,

Dear Participants,

President of the Marmara Group Foundation and Moderator of our session Dr. Akkan Suver,

First of all, I would like to express my pleasure to be addressing you here today. The Eurasian Economic Summit, which has been held regularly with high-level participation for 26 years, continues to be an uninterrupted platform that brings us together. In this context, I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who contributed to the realization of this event in front of Mr. Akkan. In fact, the Summit's theme "End the Distrust, Build the Cooperation" reflects the realities of today. From natural disasters, to the war in Ukraine that has finished its first year, from the problems in economic development on a global scale to the negative effects of climate change, we are in dire need of ending distrust and building cooperation in every topic mentioned in this meeting.

As you know, this year we are holding this event under the shadow of great sadness and pain. Our country faced a great disaster due to the earthquakes that occurred in Kahramanmaraş on February 6. Dear Presidents, thank you very much for your messages of condolence and support. In these difficult days, these messages are a source of morale for us.

The two major earthquakes and the large and small aftershocks that followed deeply felt in 11 provinces of Türkiye, affected directly 15 million people and led to the loss of more than 48 thousand lives. In this regard, in an unprecedented manner, it damaged a waste territory and a large amount of population. After the disaster, I paid condolence visits to the earthquake-hit region and witnessed the indescribable pain on the spot. I met with governors and mayors. I made investigations in the areas destroyed by the earthquakes. I visited the tent cities. In order to alleviate their wounds a little, I met with the earthquake victims who lost everything overnight, I listened to their common problems and expectations for the future. The destruction is unfortunately huge. There are very important lessons to take so that we can stand up firmly. Earthquakes, disasters, they are not occurring only in Türkiye but take place all over the world. Disasters also happen in the format of flood as in the recent case of Balkans. We overcame all of them through solidarity as you may remember. On the other hand, we faced forest fires. In this regard, we have been unfortunately confronting disasters in different formats. With the latest earthquake disaster, we comprehended the necessity to render our country more prepared towards such kind of crises. This preparedness involves pre-disaster and post-disaster processes. In fact, we need to become prepared before the disaster so that we do not face a large scale of destruction and minimize its consequences. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to build cities in appropriate places and make our buildings resilient. It is very necessary to implement them rationally within the framework of a plan. In this direction, if we run our country on the basis of good-governance, render our institutions resilient, implement the rules properly in the framework of the high standards that are previously determined and control their implementation process in the best manner together with the sanctions to be applied when necessary, it would be easier to encounter any disaster that emerges.

At the end of the day, even if we cannot avoid any natural disaster, it is in our hands to quickly respond them and prepare the earthquake victims to their new life in the fastest way. As I underlined, preparedness is the key concept to this end. All these developments have showed us we need to make our states, institutions stronger and more resilient and we need to give timely and accurate reaction to the disasters when they occur. This can be either an earthquake or a flood. Therefore, this preparedness should be comprehensive. All of our countries have large scale armies. Why the states feed these armies and prepare them? Because they want to avoid any threat that would cause war. There is a chance that this threat would be never materialized. However, in order to remain prepared, large amount of budget is spent to military power. As we prepare armies, we should prepare our institutions for possible natural disaster. In such preparedness, we will be able to minimize pain.

As a result of this disaster, we have also caught again on the importance of civil society carries. Civil society organizations can respond in an elastic manner to these crises. Therefore, in all of our states, it is of utmost importance to empower civil society and render them prepared. Civil society easily materializes some works that cannot be done through state means.

The entire Turkish society showed inconceivable solidarity to heal the wounds caused by the earthquake disaster and lent its helping to the earthquake-hit region. Not only the Turkish society, but also international community displayed great solidarity in this disaster. The term of “solidarity” is the key. It is never forgotten when friends come to help in the most painful, fragile and difficult time. We saw that your shared our pain. The Turkish people witness that starting from our neighbours up to far away geographies, from Latin America to Japan, without distinction being wealthy or poor or having good or problematic relations with Türkiye, whole world rushed to the aid of our country in the day of pain. We closely observed the helping hand offered us that we will never forget.

In general, the international community acted sensitively in the face of this disaster that we experienced. Therefore, in this sad picture we faced, this solidarity revealed a "lesson of humanity". Such disasters show us once again that "goodness" is inherent in all of us within the scope of our common values.  If we can bring goodness to the fore in other and political issues and unite on positive agendas, then we can stay away from wars and fights, and if they still burst out, we can solve them through peace.Therefore, issues are handled easily when we all unite on positive agendas despite the disasters. For this reason, the main task falls to political leaders. Because drawing this path becomes the duty of political leaders and those who run the country. If a peaceful discourse and method is applied, from the way of speaking to the way of behaviour, this will also result in the education and guidance of people in this direction, so that positive outcomes in terms of world peace will be recorded.

Dear participants,

Unfortunately, as seen in the Russia-Ukraine war we are living, Russia, which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has targeted Ukraine's territorial integrity and political structure, despite being one of the countries most responsible for the implementation of all the articles of the UN Charter. This naturally constitutes a very painful development. All P5 countries have a responsibility to maintain world peace. It is very sad and worrying from the beginning that one of them started such a war by violating all UN principles.

My fellow President friends, here, you know very well the behaviour of this country, since most of you were in close contact with Russia, during the Soviet Union time or later. That is why we all benefited from the information and valuable ideas you shared in your speeches. On the other hand, it is a fact that in today's age, it is really sad that everyone is watching such a war. So much death, so much destruction, so recklessly destroying every place, it is a shame for humanity. This situation also dragged the world into a new fashion. The aggression faced has reached such dimensions that it has prompted many countries to strengthen their armies. While some countries within NATO could not have been persuaded to spend 2% of their GDP on defence, Russia almost provoked it with this war. Many NATO countries have declared that they will increase their defence spending. Germany, which were engaging Russia in world politics as an important component of its main foreign policy has decided to increase its defence expenditures above 2%. Not only Germany, but also Japan in the East decided to set up large armies again and allocate a huge budget for defence in this direction. These amounts to be spent within the next 10-20 years, may cause the possession of Germany and Japan’s strong armies equal to the situation before the Second World War.

Here, I would like to mention that; this war is not just a situation that occurs between the two countries or concerns their neighbours in the region, this war is a war that possesses a global impact and its results concern everyone. As a matter of fact, energy prices in the world were definitely affected by this negative situation. Some got richer from this development, some fell into more trouble. The issue of food security is again going through great tests with this war. I am sure you are all following that Türkiye, together with the UN, made great sacrifices for the establishment and operation of the grain corridor. Our government has made significant achievements and contributions in this direction. However, even these positive developments could not prevent the rise in food prices worldwide. Therefore, the issue of food safety emerges as a very important threat.

A German research institute recently announced that the Russian-Ukrainian war cost the world 1.6 trillion dollars. Now we need to think again what would happen if 1.6 trillion dollars were spent on health, education and other sectors with development content. Here, I would like to remind the esteemed participants of the UN's 2030 Development Goals. We have all been working on setting these goals. According to the expanded 2030 Development Agenda, which is a continuation of the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000, there should be no more hungry people in the world by 2030, including in Africa and other continents. It is aimed to eradicate poverty and at least make people live in the world. Again, within the framework of these goals, it is important to improve the health system even in the poorest countries, from Africa to other continents, to ensure that everyone has access to health opportunities, and to ensure that all children around the world reach a better education. Among these targets set for a better building of the future, it is aimed to take very important steps in the prevention of climate change and global warming. While there are such ambitious goals that we need to realize, we see that 1.6 trillion dollars, which is the cost of the Russia-Ukraine war, unfortunately has not been spent on these items.

If these sums were spent on these important goals, it is obvious that people around the world would be happier and prosperous. Therefore, we face a very sad situation for the world, for everyone, for humanity. Therefore, everyone should do their best to stop this war as soon as possible. It is necessary to support whoever takes the initiative, and there is a saying that "the sooner the situation is reversed, the better it is” and this must be ensured. All countries should do their part and make efforts to achieve peace between the parties as soon as possible. Türkiye is doing its best in this direction.

Before concluding remarks, dear friends, I would like to mention an issue of highest importance for our country. As included in the summit's program, this year, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Türkiye. Our Republic is turning 100 this year. As you know, our roots as Turks date back to Central Asia. We, the Turks who migrated to Anatolia, then lived through the Seljuk and Ottoman periods and established a new state 100 years ago. The founder of this state, our firstPresident, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, at that time stated our goal of ensuring peace both within the country and in the world by stating "Peace at Home, Peace in the World". The domestic and foreign policies of the Republic of Türkiye have always been built on this basis. In this sense, we have made significant progress in the last 100 years. We have had ups and downsfrom time to time. However, Türkiye has been always determined to democracy, prioritized to remain in the democracy bloc and be a democratic country. It considered applying the highest standards of human rights as an attempt to honour its own people. By protecting the concept of social justice, without neglecting the quality of being a social state, in the light of the articles in our constitution, within the framework of the free market economy, our country has come a long way on the path of development.

These goals I mentioned have always been considered above party politics in Türkiye. Today, these are the points on which all of our parties agree. In this direction, on one hand we obtained progress from time to time through taking faster measures, on the other hand, there were times when we slowed down and went back in 100 years on some issues. However, our goals are essentially resolute principles and we will go further to this end, this is the desire of all Turkish people. Looking back to the steps taken in this context, Türkiye became a founding member of the Council of Europe, where the basic standards of the rule of law, democracy and human rights are set down. Again, Türkiye has always applied all the basic agreements of the UN, of which it is a founding member. It became a member of NATO, where democracy has been a necessary condition for inclusion. We started negotiations for full membership to the EU. Whether we will become a full member to the EU or not is obviously a separate topic of discussion. The negotiation is a very complicated process for us, and it involves also some limitations for the EU. Thus, the membership of a country with a population of 85 million and a large economy is concerned. The positive and negative reflections of this on the EU are already discussed. However, it is important for us to reach EU standards and to be a country that applies those standards in its own country. Norway and now England are non-EU members, but they apply these standards. Therefore, we have a strong determination in this direction. I believe that we will make further progress towards this goal within the framework of a non-partisan understanding. In the history of the Republic of Türkiye, 100 years, that is a century, has passed. In this process, civil society, business world, statesmen, politicians and political parties contributed greatly to the strengthening of the Republic. I believe that this strengthening will continue to develop in the next century.

While concluding my speech, I would like to once again express my pleasure to see all of my President friends and all the participants here, and convey my gratitude to the Marmara Foundation for bringing us together, and offer my regard and respect to all.

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