Turkey’s vision for peace

Turkey is a proud republic, the foreign policy of which was founded on the motto of “peace at home, peace in the world.” Its foreign policy is nothing else but an extension of that motto.

October 27, 2014 23:11
2 minute read.
kerry erdogan

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) and US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) leave a meeting in Ankara September 12, 2014. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

I read the article “Turkey’s elusive promised land” by Mr. Amotz Asa-El published in Jerusalem Post on October 24. I see in its parade of contradictory allegations a fundamental difficulty in coming to terms with the fact that Turkey is a democratic and secular country, very much integrated with the rest of Europe, the 16th largest economy in the world, with individual right to apply to the European Court of Human Rights since 1987 and more than 35 million tourists visiting every year.

Turkey’s vision for the region is a peace based on inclusiveness, development of democratic institutions, human rights and economic integration. Turkey’s support of the Palestinian unity government and the Middle East peace process emanates from the same principle. The reason for the terrible developments in the region is not the demand for basic human rights and freedoms but the absence of these.

Turkey has been sending one clear message consistently since the beginning of the Syrian conflict more than three years ago. An inclusive, unified and democratic Syria should be built and the international community should act together to stop the ongoing massacres of the regime. Islamic State emerged with the purpose of hindering the moderate opposition and became a direct threat to the national security of Turkey.

Turkey has a 1,295 km. border with Syria and Iraq. There are many cities in the vicinity of the Turkish border, Aleppo with 2 million inhabitants and Kamisli with 400,000 being the largest. Turkey keeps its borders open to all ethnic groups as a legal and humanitarian duty. Hence 200,000 people from Kobani came to Turkey. Actually we can say the people of Kobani are in Turkey now. They joined over 1.5 million Syrians that escaped the Syrian regime’s artillery shells, missiles, barrel bombs and chemical weapons. Thousands of Yazidis from Iraq are also hosted by Turkey. On the other hand, Turkey’s calls as Turkoman cities Çobanbey and Tel Abyad fell to ISIS a few months ago couldn’t find much of a response.

Since the start of the conflict more than 200,000 persons have been killed. It’s the responsibility of the international community to protect all Syrians. Selective interest is no remedy. Turkey approached the developments in Kobani with utmost sensitivity, including facilitation of peshmerga forces to enter for support, and will continue its contribution to the efforts toward saving Kobani so that its residents can return home. There is an urgent need for the establishment of no-fly zones and safe areas for the delivery of humanitarian aid and for the protection of the Syrian people, within Syria, from the atrocities of the regime and ISIS.

It should be understood that security and stability in Syria cannot be attained without an end to the regime. A joint strategy with a clear endgame is required. The Syrian regime should see that there is no military solution to this conflict and the only way out is negotiations for an inclusive political transition that will bring the real political change foreseen in the Geneva communique.

Next October 29 will mark the 91st anniversary of the Turkish Republic. A proud republic, the foreign policy of which was founded on the motto of “peace at home, peace in the world.” Turkey’s “Zero problems with neighbors” policy is nothing else but an extension of that motto, to which all countries should adhere.

The writer is the Charge d’affaires and the Second Secretary of the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv.

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