Op-Ed: Seeking Peace Needs an Enterprising Foreign Policy
by H.E. Mr Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairsof the Republic of Turkey
This week Istanbul will host two separate but related international conferences on mediation. One will be devoted to the state of play in the conflict map and capacity for mediation within the membership of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The second one will adopt a broad scope and discuss the connections between sustainable development, peace and mediation; the ways to increase gender and youth inclusion in mediation processes; and a thought provoking session on the role of big data and artificial intelligence in conflict and mediation analysis. It may be thought that conferences are conferences but the Istanbul Mediation Conferences have proven rather influential in cultivating a shared understanding of issues and an agenda for action in the field of mediation and peaceful conflict resolution. As the host of these conferences and the only country that co-chairs the Friends of Mediation Groups in three distinct important international organizations, namely the United Nations, the OIC and the OSCE, Turkey has the ability to share the findings of these conferences in these international organizations.
The fact of the matter is that humanity is facing a distinct challenge in the 21st century. Just when many people thought that the glass is half full in terms of the achievements in international law, institutions, democracy and the rule of law, accountability, free trade, gender equality and others, the empty half of the glass has begun to reassert itself. The symptoms are known to all of us and need no reminding. Trade wars, new forms of international exploitation, geopolitical competitions, great power proxy wars, disintegrating nation states, terrorism, xenophobia, animosity against Islam, raging inequalities and injustice count among the contemporary trends that make up the glass half empty. The challenges of humanity are eating away the achievements and opportunities of humanity. Which side will prevail? The answer depends on how we respond to challenges, including on how much we humans can work together towards positive outcomes. One point is clear: unless we take initiative and be enterprising and humanitarian, the bad will prevail. Wait-and-see attitude is no longer tenable. Policy options differ from mediation to actual use of force against terrorists.
Take the situation in Syria. Turkey’s enterprising and humanitarian approach cleared a total of 4000 square kilometers from two terrorist organizations, DEASH and PKK/PYD/YPG. Had we not intervened, our people would have been under continued assault from these terrorists and a political solution to the Syrian tragedy would have been unreachable. Turkey is doing utmost to relieve humanitarian suffering, hosting the greatest number of refugees worldwide, spending more than the biggest economy in the world as the world’s top humanitarian spender. Turkey is also brokering agreements that save tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives and promoting a political solution based on the territorial integrity of the neighboring Syria.
I gave the example of Syria for a reason. Syria demonstrates to us once again that prevention is important because once the fire of conflict engulfs a nation, then the only thing that remains predictable is that there will be unpredictable consequences on that state. One generation of citizens will be wasted in one way or the other; the future will also be bleak. Everyone, including those who are thousands of kilometers away will come to suffer, either in the form of terrorist threat, economic shock, irregular migration, or wounded human conscience.
If prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts are of paramount importance, then we must take it seriously. This appreciation is driving Turkey’s efforts in the field of mediation as the co-chair of the UN, OSCE and OIC friends of mediation groups and the host to a capacity building mediation training program and the two mediation conferences that we will organize in Istanbul this week.
Asia-Pacific takes stock of ambitious development targets
Op-Ed By Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana and Natalia Kanem
Ministers and senior policymakers across Asia and the Pacific are gathered in Bangkok this week to focus on population dynamics at a crucial time for the region. Their goal: to keep people and rights at the heart of the region’s push for sustainable development. They will be considering how successful we have been in balancing economic growth with social imperatives, underpinned by rights and choices for all as enshrined in the landmark Programme of Action stemming from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, or ICPD.
In the Programme of Action, diverse views on population, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, and sustainable development merged into a remarkable global consensus that placed individual dignity and human rights at the heart of development.
Truly revolutionary at the time, ICPD remains all the more urgent and relevant a quarter-century later, in this era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its Sustainable Development Goals.Without ICPD we would not have the SDGs, and indeed they go hand in hand. The ICPD is a dedicated vehicle through which we can – and will – address, achieve and fulfill the SDGs.
How well have we responded to trends such as population ageing and international migration? How successful have we been in ensuring optimal sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights for all, including the right to choose when or whether to get married and when or whether to have children, and how many? How well have we done in strengthening gender equality and women’s empowerment, and upholding the rights of the most vulnerable among us? Where should our efforts be refocused to leave no one behind?
Asia and the Pacific has much to celebrate. The region remains the engine of global growth and at the forefront of the global fight against poverty. It is now home to half the world’s middle class. The share of the population living in poverty has dropped considerably although it is still unacceptably high. People are living, longer healthier lives. Rights-based family planning has contributed to considerable economic success and women’s empowerment. And we are on track to achieve universal education by 2030.
Yet for all this growth, considerable injustices remain. On its current trajectory, the region will fall short of achieving the 2030 Agenda. In several areas we are heading in altogether the wrong direction. Inequalities within and between countries are widening. Some 1.2 billion people live in poverty of which 400 million live in extreme poverty. Lack of decent job opportunities and access to essential services are perpetuating injustice across generations.
At the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), we are keen to shine the spotlight on three key issues where regional commitment is vital.
First, we need to respond to the unprecedented population changes unfolding across the Asia-Pacific region. Many countries are facing a rapidly ageing population. The proportion of people above the age of sixty is expected to more than double by 2050. Effectively meeting the needs of an ageing society and ensuring healthy and productive lives must be a priority. This requires a life cycle approach – from pregnancy and childbirth, through adolescence and adulthood, to old age – ensuring that all people are allowed to fulfil their socioeconomic potential, underpinned by individual rights and choices.
Equally, there is a strong case for strengthening Asia-Pacific’s response to international migration. Migrants can, when allowed, contribute significantly to development. However, we know that migrants are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. So, our ambition is for discussions this week to build further momentum in support of safe, orderly and regular migration to fully harness its development benefits.
Second, there is clear evidence the region must spend more on social protection, as well as on health care and education. Today, social protection is the preserve of a few, rather than a right for all. As a result, 60 per cent of our population are at risk of being trapped in vulnerability or pushed into poverty by sickness, disability, unemployment or old age, often underpinned by gender inequality. The “Social Outlook for Asia and the Pacific: Poorly Protected”, which ESCAP will publish later this week, sets out why expanding social protection is the most effective means of reducing poverty, strengthening rights and making vulnerable groups less exposed. Many women, migrants, older persons and rural communities would also benefit. Our evidence suggests it could even end extreme poverty in several countries by 2030.
Third, we need to invest in generating disaggregated data to tell us who is being left behind to ensure our response to population dynamics is targeted and credible. Availability of data on social and demographic issues lag far behind anything related to the economy. Millions of births remain unregistered, leading to the denial of many basic rights, particularly to women and girls. Of the 43 countries which conducted a census between 2005 and 2014, only 16 have reliable data on international migration. With the 2020 round of censuses upon us, we will be redoubling our efforts to close these data gaps by strengthening new partnerships for data capacity and working with governments and other partners to translate data into policy and action.
The Midterm Review of the Asian and Pacific Ministerial Declaration on Population and Development as well as the Committee on Social Development provide the region with an opportunity to speak with one voice on population and development issues. ESCAP and UNFPA stand united in their commitment to supporting their Member States to build and strengthen a regional response to issues that will shape the future for generations to come.
We look to this week’s discussions to galvanize countries behind the ambition and vision that link ICPD and the SDGs and accelerate work to leave no one behind in Asia and the Pacific.
Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
Dr. Natalia Kanem is United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Op-Ed: Turkey: 95 Years of Humanitarian Foreign Policy
By Republic of Turkey’s ambassador to New Zealand, Ahmet Ergin.
On 29 October 2018, we celebrated 95th anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey. In these 95 years of the Republic, Turkey has managed to shape a humanitarian foreign policy in a much volatile region.
The changing political and economic environment in its neighbourhood has made Turkey more vulnerable to an increasing number of challenges; being located close to the volatile regions where intensive transformations are still taking place.
Despite the uncertainty in the parameters and dynamics of the international system in a changing world, Turkey, powered by its growing means and capabilities, strives to effectively respond to today’s challenges in a determined and principled manner, as a reliable and responsible actor guided by the principles of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, in his dictum: “Peace at Home, Peace in the World.”
With a view to adapt itself in a changing regional and international environment, Turkey adopted an enterprising and humanitarian foreign policy, aimed at promoting stability and prosperity regionally and globally.
New Zealand shares the same approach as a prominent contributor to the Pacific region and supporter of other countries that are currently experiencing humanitarian crises like Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Papua New Guinea.
Humanitarian aid, as one of the fundamental aspects of Turkey’s foreign policy, has been implemented with determination and success in all the countries where people face massive challenges. Turkey is a leading actor in the global responsibility of fighting extreme poverty, providing education for all, improving the lives of women and youth, as well as alleviating the challenges in conflict and disaster affected areas. The key element of Turkey’s humanitarian policy is the combination of humanitarian and development assistance, without discrimination.
Conflicts and natural disasters are the leading causes of human suffering. Today, more than 60 million people have been displaced from their homes due to conflicts. Since the World War II, this is the biggest number of people displaced. More than 200 million people have been affected by natural disasters and need aid. The gap between the needs of the people and aid provided to the people in response to humanitarian emergencies is widening. In order to find solutions to this problem, the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit was organised jointly by the United Nations and Turkey in Istanbul on 23-24 May 2016. Nine-thousand participants from 180 Member States, including 55 Heads of State and Government came together in Istanbul.
According to the OECD Development Assistance Committee, Turkey’s official development assistance (ODA) amounted to USD 8 billion in 2017. Humanitarian assistance has the biggest share in our ODA with an amount of USD 7.2 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’s humanitarian aid is delivered mainly through the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Turkish Red Crescent with development oriented humanitarian aid from Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA).
Another aspect of our humanitarian approach is Turkey’s open door policy for Syrians fleeing their country due to ongoing violence over the past seven years. Over 3.5 million Syrians are currently hosted in Turkey. Around 230,000 of them live in one of 21 temporary protection centres. Turkey has spent USD 31 billion on these refugees (including contributions of municipalities and Turkish NGOs).
According to the UN Refugee Agency, Turkey maintains its position as the biggest host country with 4.3 million refugees. 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 school leavers studying in Turkish universities is over 20,000.
Development-oriented humanitarian assistance constitutes the ultimate target of Turkey’s efforts. Turkey intervenes at the request of the host country with humanitarian aid for emergency humanitarian relief and continues with development projects, such as the construction of fundamental infrastructure, like hospitals and schools. This approach has been very successful particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Turkey’s policy to assist Somalia can be regarded as an exemplary case. All segments of Turkish society, from public institutions to NGOs and private sector, were mobilised to assist the people of Somalia following the severe famine in 2011. This approach has gradually evolved into a comprehensive policy, comprising humanitarian, developmental, as well as stabilisation efforts in an integrated strategy. Several projects were initiated, which consisted of human and institutional capacity building, construction of essential infrastructure, providing services such as education, sanitation and health. Humanitarian aid, such as delivering food and medicine is ongoing.
Whether it is an emergency resulting from a conflict or a natural disaster, Turkey extends its helping hand indiscriminately by responding to emergencies in its region, from the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar to Yemen; from Colombia to Vietnam; from Nepal to Libya and Sudan.
Turkey’s humanitarian contributions are not confined to bilateral assistance projects. Turkey aims to further increase its contributions to various international organisations. Turkey is working and cooperating closely with the UN and its related institutions.
In order to assist further and to offer guidance to the UN’s humanitarian efforts, Turkey became a member of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) donor support group, which brings together leading humanitarian donors.
Turkey also financially supports and continues to increase its financial contribution for humanitarian aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and has been actively working to raise awareness to solve the financial crisis of UNRWA in view of its recent budget constraints.
Through mediation, and in fostering mutual respect and common values, Turkey actively seeks prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts around the globe. These efforts transcend 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. “Friends of Mediation” formed within this framework has reached 56 members (48 states and 8 international/regional organisations). 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 Conference 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”. On 21 November of that year, as a summit chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Turkey hosted the first ever OIC Member States Conference on Mediation in Istanbul, with the theme, “Surge in Mediation: The Role of OIC”.
The UN Alliance of Civilisations 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 for strengthening the world now more than ever. We believe that one is not born with prejudices and discrimination but rather these are learned. These negative attitudes turn into hate speeches and even violence. Respect for social diversity and inclusive societies are crucial in our challenging world. We need to unite against all forms of intolerance, xenophobia, and discriminatory policies, including animosities against different religions.
To sum up, based on actions on the ground and the content of the policies, we call Turkish foreign policy enterprising and humanitarian; basically because it is a peaceful, creative and effective – a foreign policy able to utilise various elements of sway in a rational way, a foreign policy not hesitant of taking initiative, a foreign policy that takes into account peace and development.
Turkey is committed to shoulder its share of the burden in a multilateral framework, motivates to pursue these and further avenues of action believing that the international community needs to make a serious and concerted effort to achieve sustainable development and social justice globally.
LI Yong, UNIDO Director General and Mr. Hongjoo Hahm, Officer-in-Charge, ESCAP
The business case for making our economy more sustainable is clear. Globally, transitioning to a circular economy – where materials are reused, re-manufactured or recycled-could significantly reduce carbon emissions and deliver over US$1 trillion in material cost savings by 2025. The benefits for Asia and the Pacific would be huge. But to make this happen, the region needs to reconcile its need for economic growth with its ambition for sustainable business.
Today, the way we consume is wasteful. We extract resources, use them to produce goods and services, often wastefully, and then sell them and discard them. However, resources can only stretch so far. By 2050, the global population will reach 10 billion. In the next decade, 2.5 billion new middle-class consumers will enter the fray. If we are to meet their demands and protect the planet, we must disconnect prosperity and well-being from inefficient resource use and extraction. And create a circular economy, making the shift to extending product lifetimes, reusing and recycling in order to turn waste into wealth.
These imperatives underpin the 5th Green Industry Conference held in Bangkok this week, hosted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in partnership with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Royal Thai government. High-level policymakers, captains of industry and scientists gathered to discuss solutions on how to engineer waste and pollution out of our economy, keep products and materials in use for longer and regenerate the natural system in which we live.
The goal is to embed sustainability into industries which we depend on for our jobs, prosperity and well-being. Action in Asia and the Pacific could make a major difference. Sixty percent of the world’s fastmoving consumer goods are manufactured in the region. Five Asia-Pacific countries account for over half of the plastic in the world’s oceans. The region’s material footprint per unit of Gross Domestic Product is twice the world average and the amount of solid waste generated by Asian cities is expected to double by 2025.
If companies could build circular supply chains to reduce material use and increase the rate of reuse, repair, remanufacture and recycling – powered by renewable energy – the value of materials could be maximized. This would cushion businesses, manufacturing industries in particular, from the volatility of commodity prices by decoupling production from finite supplies of primary resources. This is increasingly important as many elements vital for industrial production could become scarce in the coming decades.
With these goals in mind, the United Nations is working with governments and businesses to support innovation and upgrade production technologies to use less materials, energy and water. UNIDO is engaged across industrial sectors, from food production to textiles, from automotive to construction. Over the past twenty-five years, its network of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production Centres has helped thousands of businesses to “green” their processes and their products. The Global Cleantech initiative has supported entrepreneurs to produce greener building materials. Industrial renewable energy use is being accelerated by the Global Network of Sustainable Energy Centres. New business models such as chemical leasing help reduce chemical emissions. And the creation of eco-industrial parks has contributed to the sustainable development of our towns and cities.
In Asia and the Pacific, the UN is intensifying its efforts to reducing and banning single use plastics. The Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy is implementing programmes to reduce plastics consumption, marine litter and electronics waste, and encourage sustainable procurement practices. UNESCAP is identifying opportunities in Asian cities to return plastic resources into the production cycle by linking waste pickers in the informal economy with local authorities to recover plastic waste and reduce pollution.
The 5t h Green Industry Conference is an opportunity to give scale to these efforts. The gap between our ambition for sustainability and many business practices is significant. So it’s essential for best practice to be shared, common approaches coordinated, and success stories replicated. We need to learn from each other’s businesses to innovate, sharpen our rules and increase consumer awareness. Let’s step up our efforts to build a circular economy in Asia and the Pacific.
World Economic Forum, Towards the Circula r Economy. Available from http:// www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_ENV_TowardsCircularEconomy_Report _2014 . pdf
Mr. LI Yong is Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
Mr. Hongjoo Hahm is Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
Economic and Social Survey for Asia and the Pacific 2018 – Mobilizing finance for sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth
OP-ED by Shamshad Akhtar
Asia and the Pacific remains the engine of the global economy. It continues to power trade, investment and jobs the world over. Two thirds of the region’s economies grew faster in 2017 than the previous year and the trend is expected to continue in 2018. The region’s challenge is now to ensure this growth is robust, sustainable and mobilised to provide more financing for development. It is certainly an opportunity to accelerate progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Recent figures estimate economic growth across the region at 5.8 per cent in 2017 compared with 5.4 per cent in 2016. This reflects growing dynamism amid relatively favourable global economic conditions, underpinned by a revival of demand and steady inflation. Robust domestic consumption and recovering investment and trade all contributed to the 2017 growth trajectory and underpin a stable outlook.
Risks and challenges nevertheless remain. Rising private and corporate debt, particularly in China and countries in South-East Asia, low or declining foreign exchange reserves in a few South Asian economies, and trends in oil prices are among the chief concerns.Policy simulation for 18 countries suggests a $10 rise in the price of oil per barrel could dampen GDP growth by 0.14 to 0.4 per cent, widen external current account deficits by 0.5-to 1.0 percentage points and build inflationary pressures in oil-importing economies. Oil exporters, however, would see a positive impact.
These challenges come against the backdrop of looming trade protectionism.Inward-looking trade policies will create uncertainty and would entail widespread risks to region’s export and their backbone industries and labour markets. While prospects for the least developed countries in the region are close to 7 per cent, concerns persist given their inherent vulnerabilities to terms-of-trade shocks or exposure to natural disasters.
The key questions are how we can collectively take advantage of the solid pace of economic expansion to facilitate and improve the long-term prospects of economies and mobilize finance for development as well as whether multilateral institutions, such as the World Trade Organization membership can resolve the global gridlock on international trade?
Economic and financial stability along with liberal trade access to international markets will be critical for effective pursuit of the 2030 Agenda.Regional economies, whose tax potential remains untapped, now need to lift domestic resource mobilization and prudently manage fiscal affairs.Unleashing their financial resource potential need to be accompanied by renewed efforts to leverage private capital and deploy innovative financing mechanisms. The investment requirements to make economies resilient, inclusive and sustainable are sizeable − as high as $2.5 trillion per year on average for all developing countries worldwide.In the Asia-Pacific region, investment requirements are also substantial but so are potential resources. The combined value of international reserves, market capitalization of listed companies and assets held by financial institutions, insurance companies and various funds is estimated at some $56 trillion. Effectively channelling these resources to finance sustainable development is a key challenge for the region.
The need to come up with supplementary financial resources will remain. Public finances are frequently undermined by a narrow tax base, distorted taxation structures, weak tax administrations, and ineffective public expenditure management. This has created problems of balanced fiscalization of sustainable development, even if the national planning organizations have embraced and integrated sustainable development agenda in their forward looking plans.
Despite a vibrant business sector, the lack of enabling policies, legal and regulatory frameworks, and large informal sectors, have deterred sustainability and its appropriate financing. The external assistance from which some countries benefit is insufficient to meet sustainable development investment requirements, a problem often compounded by low inbound foreign direct investment. Capital markets in many countries are underdeveloped and bond markets are still in their infancy. Fiscal pre-emption of banking resources is quite common. For those emerging countries which have successfully tapped international capital markets, a tightening of global financial conditions means borrowing costs are on the rise.
Our ESCAP flagship report, Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific2018 (Survey 2018) which has been launched today calls for stronger political will and governments strengthening tax administrations and expanding the tax base. If the quality of the tax policy and administrations in Asia-Pacific economies matches developed economies, the incremental revenue impact could be as high as 3 to 4 per cent of GDP in major economies such as China, India and Indonesia and steeper in developing countries. Broadening the tax base by rationalizing tax incentives for foreign direct investment and introducing a carbon tax could generate almost $60 billion in additional tax revenue per year.
But government action must be complemented by the private sector to effectively pursue sustainable development. The right policy environment could encourage private investment by institutional investors in long-term infrastructure projects. Structural reforms should focus on developing enabling policy environment and institutional setting designed to facilitate public-private partnerships, stable macroeconomic conditions, relatively developed financial markets, and responsive legal and regulatory frameworks.
Finally, while much of the success in mobilizing development finance will depend on the design of national policies, regional cooperation is vital. Coordinated policy actions are needed to reduce tax incentives for foreign direct investment and to introduce a carbon tax. For many least developed countries, the role of external sources of finance remains critical. In many cases, the success of resource mobilization strategies in one country is conditional on closer regional cooperation. ESCAP’s remains engaged and its analysis can support the planning and cooperation needed to effectively mobilize finance for sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
Shamshad Akhtar is the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
Headline: OP-ED: Turkey’s Foreign Minister Details Its Resolve in the Conflict Against Terrorism and DAESH
Article by H.E. Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs published in Le Monde entitled “Turkey: The best ally for the security of Europe”, 20 March 2018
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an unofficial English translation of the original French text.
Nowadays, the hardest challenges European countries confront are fighting against terrorist organizations such as DAESH and the management of migration flows. Turkey continues to hold an essential role within the context of international efforts in overcoming these challenges.
It is Turkey, who has enabled the European Union (EU) to regulate the Syrian migration flow. Turkey has not only hosted three and a half million Syrian refugees, but also saved the lives of thousands of people by halting their risky attempts to get across the Aegean Sea in order to reach Western Europe.
Turkey is one of the first countries to recognize DAESH as a terrorist organization. Moreover, our country is a member of the International Coalition, established to counter DAESH.
Whereas some Western countries have not been able to control even the transiting of jihadists through their airports, Turkey has denied the entry of more than four thousand suspected travelers on her territory; deported almost six thousand terrorists; arrested more than ten thousand DAESH and Al-Qaida members; and exerted great efforts to ensure the security of her 911 kilometers long land border with Syria.
While other coalition members have not gone beyond a very symbolic presence on the field, only Turkey has fought with her land forces against DAESH alongside with the Free Syrian Army since 2016.
Operation “Euphrates Shield” is an exceptional -even unique- operation to serve as a model in this respect, which was directed by the Turkish Army and ensured the liberation of Jarabulus, Al-Bab and surrounding cities, as well as the peaceful return of hundreds of thousands of Syrians back home.
In that case, could we say that Turkey, against which the Europeans lean their back in terms of their security, is understood correctly? Could we say that our country’s actions are conveyed correctly and that they are appreciated? Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Anti-Turkey discourse prevalent in the West today, is a partial reflection of the increase in xenophobia and Islamophobia, which are fed by Western extremists’ instrumentalization of migrant flows. Furthermore, some unscrupulous politicians, with the goal of satisfying their voters, have tried to conceal their anti-Muslim and xenophobic messages, disguised as their “political truthfulness” in their opposition against Turkey’s EU accession.
This discourse also stems from those underestimating threats faced by Turkey in recent years, and blaming its leaders of becoming authoritarian, and violating individual rights in an unfounded way. However, which European country could have further respected these rights in the face of violent acts by terrorist organizations such as DAESH and PKK/PYD/YPG that have taken control of the frontier areas; the bloody coup attempt by Fethullah Gülen and his terrorist organization on 15 July 2016; the threats and challenges Turkey has faced, such as the economic and social burden of Syrian refugees at Turkish taxpayers’ expense? Actually, no country except for Turkey could have better dealt with such various challenges simultaneously.
Turkey, which is a founding member of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights. This Convention guarantees that individual rights of all citizens are respected by also the Turkish Justice as in other European countries. Accordingly, no one could allege that these rights are less respected in Turkey than in any other country in Europe.
Thanks to its determination, Turkey today manages to prevent terrorist organizations such as DAESH or PKK/PYD/YPG from taking any action on her territory. Advances recorded in the fight against FETO will soon allow the Turkish Government to lift the state of emergency. One can recall that it took seven hundred and nineteen days to end the state of emergency in France.
Today, Turkey enjoys a sound political stability and has the highest economic growth rate among European countries. Turkey, welcoming nearly forty million tourists each year, also continues to be one of the world’s safest tourist destinations.
Turkey’s priority, as a country exerting every effort in finding a political solution in Syria, is to eliminate any terrorist presence on her border with this country, which also constitutes the border of Europe and NATO with the Middle East.
Operation “Olive Branch” conducted in Afrin against the PKK/PYD/YPG and their associate DAESH, will therefore continue until this goal is fully achieved. At all costs, Turkey will not allow this terrorist organization to occupy Syrian territory on her borderline and will do her best to demonstrate the gravity of their mistake to her allies who falsely think that using PKK/PYD/YPG terrorists as mercenaries in their so-called fight against DAESH is a good idea.
Our allies will realize that Turkey is, and will remain, their best ally for the security of Europe and the region.