Since the end of the Cold War, the global political, economic and social context has been going through significant changes. These changes bring challenges along with opportunities.
Situated at the center of a geography where massive transformations take place intensively, Turkey is directly affected by these dynamics.
Powered by its growing means and capabilities, Turkey strives to effectively respond to today’s challenges, in a determined and principled manner, as a reliable and responsible actor guided by the dictum: “Peace at Home, Peace in the World.”
Currently, we are facing with major humanitarian crises, unlike anything since the last World War, thus, Turkey pursues an enterprising and humanitarian foreign policy, which has a worldwide view of all the regions and partners around her. Turkey takes concrete initiatives to promote stability and prosperity in its region and beyond.
Turkey is an actor aiming to enhance its ties and cooperation with all partners for peace, security, stability and prosperity. Turkey has a cooperation-oriented understanding based on mutual respect and a win-win approach.
While major natural disasters continue to be a significant cause of death and displacement, what is most alarming today is that a great majority of humanitarian crises are conflict-related and of a recurrent or protracted nature. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Syria, where mass murders and massive displacements became common practices.
The Syrian conflict is now in its 8th year. It has claimed more than half a million lives, created more than 5 million refugees and more than 6 million internally displaced persons. It caused terrorist organizations like DAESH and PYD/YPG to find fertile ground. Turkey would like to see a stable, prosperous and democratic future-Syria, which is able to preserve its political unity and territorial integrity and is governed in line with its people’s legitimate aspirations.
Turkey continues its efforts to calm the situation on the ground and to end the ongoing conflict through a political solution. Turkey supports a political solution to the Syrian conflict based on established UN parameters. Through Astana meetings, considerable progress has been made on the consolidation of the ceasefire, implementation of the de-escalation memorandum and adoption of confidence-building measures between the conflicting parties.
Beyond Syria, whether in the Middle East, Asia, Africa or elsewhere, humanitarian crises are transcending borders. Today, 134 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance around the world. Every two seconds, someone in the world was forcibly displaced in 2017, according to a new report by the U.N. Refugee Agency. Due to wars, violence and persecution, 68.5 million people were forced to flee their homes by the end of 2017 — a record high and a trend that has continued for five years. More than half of those displaced, which included refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people, were children, many unaccompanied or separated from their parents, the UNHCR’s Global Trends report found. Even as 5 million people returned to their country of origin, 16.2 million people were newly displaced around the world last year.
These numbers stand as testament to the human suffering caused by the growing complexity of humanitarian crises, our inability and unwillingness to tackle them, and the widening financial gap between increasing needs and limited resources. Something has to be done and Turkey is leading the way, not only in terms of setting an example, but also in working to galvanise the international community towards action.
Regarding the enterprising policies, Turkey aims to strengthen its existing strategic ties and establish new ones. To enhance political dialogue and cooperation with its neighbors and countries in its wider region, Turkey has established High Level Strategic/Cooperation Council mechanisms with 24 countries including Central Asian Countries. These mechanisms have invigorated bilateral relations in many substantial areas. Trade with HLCC countries increased from USD 14.8 billion in 2002 to USD 96.7 billion in 2017. Also, volume of the trade with neighbors arose from USD 13.32 billion in 2002 to USD 72.5 billion in 2017.
Regional ownership is of key importance in overcoming problems and enhancing relations. With this understanding, Turkey has also set into motion a series of trilateral/quadrilateral mechanisms and regional initiatives to bolster intra-regional trust and cooperation.
In addition to our political efforts, we endeavor to improve our economic ties via free trade agreements, preferential trade regimes and stimulus packages. Currently, 20 Free Trade Agreements are already in force.
Today’s global challenges can be most effectively countered through collective efforts and effective multilateralism. As a responsible global partner, Turkey undertakes active roles in a range of international and regional platforms.
Over the past few years, Turkey has spearheaded various international initiatives and assumed presidencies/chairmanships of a number of international organizations. Chairmanships/presidencies include Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, OECD, BSEC, ECO, G20, MIKTA and BSEC.
Turkey currently holds the Chairmanship/Presidency of the several organizations including Summit Chairmanship of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Summit Chairmanship of D-8, Asian Parliamentary Assembly, Presidency of the Council of Administration of the Universal Postal Union and Co-chairmanship of Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process.
Turkey also hosted numerous summits/meetings in 2017 and 2018 including Turkey- SICA 2nd Foreign Ministers Forum, Turkey-CELAC 4th Quartet Meeting, Atlantic Council 8th Istanbul Summit, BSEC 25th Anniversary Summit, 5th Istanbul Mediation Conference, UNDP 5thNational Evaluation Capacities Conference, 9th D-8 Summit, 1stOIC Member States Conference on Mediation, Extraordinary Session of the OIC Islamic Summit Conference and Extraordinary Meeting of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, MIKTA Meeting of Foreign Ministers and Turkey-Africa 2nd Ministerial Review Conference.
Turkey assumes active roles in prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts, including through mediation, and in fostering mutual respect and common values around the globe.
Turkey’s efforts to highlight the importance of mediation in prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts transcends into the multilateral sphere. In 2010, Turkey spearheaded, jointly with Finland, the “Mediation for Peace” initiative within the UN in order to raise awareness for mediation. The Group of “Friends of Mediation” formed within this framework has reached 56 members (48 states and 8 international/regional organizations). The Group has facilitated the adoption of four General Assembly resolutions on mediation so far. A similar group is co-chaired by Turkey-Finland-Switzerland at the OSCE.
As part of its leading role in the field of mediation, Turkey also hosts “Istanbul Conferences on Mediation”. The three conferences held in February 2012, April 2013 and June 2014 brought together representatives from various institutions, NGOs and experts. The 4th “Istanbul Conference on Mediation” was held on 30 June 2017 under the theme “Surge in Diplomacy, Action in Mediation”.
Turkey, as a Summit Chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), hosted the first ever OIC Member States Conference on Mediation on 21 November 2017 in Istanbul, with the theme “Surge in Mediation: The Role of OIC”.
Prejudices and discrimination are not given at birth but are learned. These negative attitudes might turn into forms of hate speech and even violence. Respect for social diversity and inclusive societies are crucial in our challenging world. We need to stand up against all forms of intolerance, xenophobia, and discriminatory policies, including animosities against different religions.
The UN Alliance of Civilizations Initiative, co-sponsored by Turkey and Spain, (currently with 146 members) represents the strongest response to the scenarios of the so-called “Clash of Civilizations”. Thus, boosting this global initiative is essential, now more than ever, for strengthening the “immunity system” of the world.
Humanitarian diplomacy is indispensable aspect of Turkish foreign policy. Turkey has been a leading actor in humanitarian diplomacy with its focus on the human cause and through its official development and humanitarian aid.
According to the OECD Development Assistance Committee, Turkey’s official development assistance (ODA) amounted to USD 8.142 billion in 2017. Humanitarian assistance has the biggest share in our ODA with an amount of USD 7.208 billion. Turkey was the biggest humanitarian aid donor worldwide in 2017 and the most generous donor when the ratio of official humanitarian assistance to national income (0.85%) is taken into consideration.
Turkey has been pursuing an open door policy for Syrians who had to flee their country in the past seven years due to ongoing violence. Over 3.5 million Syrians are currently hosted in Turkey. Around 230,000 of them live in one of 21 temporary protection centers. Turkey has spent USD 31billion (including municipalities and Turkish NGOs), whereas the total contribution we received from the international community is far from meeting the expectations.
Turkey maintains its position as the biggest host country according to the UN Refugee Agency figures. More than 600 thousand Syrian children continue their education in Turkey. The schooling rate among Syrian children in the age of primary education is 97 percent. Furthermore, the number of Syrian teenagers studying in Turkish universities is over 20 thousand.
Our humanitarian diplomacy is not limited to our immediate region however. Having received vulnerable persons, irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity as far back as in the late 15th century, Turkey today is responding to all manner of humanitarian crises from Haiti to Nepal, Guinea to Somalia and the Sahel to Indonesia and Rohingyas of Myanmar.
Our humanitarian efforts seek not only to relieve symptoms but also to treat the disease. This holistic approach covers humanitarian and development assistance, but also seeks to address the root causes and push factors of humanitarian crises. This approach is demand-driven and can best be seen in the countries of the Sahel or in Somalia, where Turkey has pursued an integrated policy conducted with a multi-stake holder approach. It has combined official aid with the active involvement of the business sector and civil society, and has managed to dramatically improve countless lives.
While individual efforts like these of Turkey are crucial, the international humanitarian system is being deprived of available funds and the clock is ticking for those affected by the many crises we are witnessing globally. There are simply too many lives at stake, and inaction is not an option.
At this critical juncture, Turkey hosted the first ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in May 2016 which helped better address today’s complex humanitarian challenges. It constituted another indication of Turkey’s determination to pursue a leading role in the humanitarian field. One of the key achievements of the WHS was the recognition that the old debates on humanitarian and development divide should be transcended through a New Way of Working. In this context, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the WHS, Turkey hosted a high level event and a New Way of Working Workshop in Istanbul on 18-19 May 2017, which aimed at further unifying and strengthening collective efforts to assist the people in need.
Immensely growing Turkish diplomatic outreach in the recent years (currently totaling 240 missions abroad) made it possible for Turkey to pursue such assertive foreign policy across the globe. With the planned 29 new missions in the upcoming period, we aim to increase the total number of our missions abroad to 269.With the current figure of 240 missions, Turkey has the fifth largest global network all over the world. When we add up the populations of countries, where Turkish missions are already present, we have reached almost 96% of the total population of Africa, 95% of America, 73% of Oceania, 99% of Asia, and 99.8% of Europe. Likewise, the number of foreign missions in Turkey has grown correspondingly and reached 269 missions.
We call it enterprising foreign policy because we pursue a Realist, Independent, Peaceful, Creative and Effective foreign policy. A foreign policy able to employ various elements of power at the same time in a rational way. A foreign policy not hesitant oftaking initiatives. A foreign policy that takes into account peace and development correlation.
Our foreign policy is at the same time humanitarian and virtuous because we are the representatives of a fair national culture that loves humanity as a whole. This culture envisages that all policies must serve humanity and life. It sees serving peace, harmony, security and prosperity of all humanity as serving its own. We extend our helping hands to the Rohingya people, and would do the same for all suffering people in the world.
To sum up, this action-oriented, innovative and principled foreign policy is what we call Enterprising and Humanitarian Foreign Policy that Turkey pursues with its growing means and capabilities.
nCa, 7 October 2018 [material provided by Turkish Embassy in Ashgabat]