29.11.2010. Address to the THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION
THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION
PERSPECTIVES ON TURKISH FOREIGN POLICY
AN ADDRESS BY H.E. AHMET DAVUTOĞLU, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF TURKEY
Washington, D.C. Monday, November 29, 2010
Welcome and Moderator:
Nonresident Senior Fellow
The Brookings Institution
Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy
The Brookings Institution
H.E. AHMET DAVUTOĞLU
Foreign Minister of the Republic of Turkey
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P R O C E E D I N G S
MR. INDYK: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Brookings Institution. I am Martin Indyk, the director of the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings.
We are greatly honored today to have the opportunity to host Dr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, the Foreign Minister of Turkey, for a statesmen’s forum here this evening under the auspices of the Center for the United States and Europe. I think that the foreign minister is very well known to all of you. In fact, he has established a reputation around the world now as a global thinker No. 7 with a bullet, as we say now, on the foreign policy list of a hundred — the leading thinkers in foreign policy. Just the most recent example of the kind of swath that he is cutting on the world stage for Turkey as it emerges as a power with influence both in its region and beyond its region.
So, we’re very honored to have you here this evening to address us.
Dr. Davutoğlu has a distinguished academic career at a variety of Turkish universities. He worked most recently at Beykent University in Istanbul before becoming, after the November 2002 elections, chief advisor to Prime Minister Erdoğan and the ambassador-at-large for the government of the Republic of Turkey. On May 1, 2009, he was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs to the 60th Government of the Republic of Turkey.
After Dr. Davutoğlu speaks to you this evening, he will join in a conversation with Ömer Taşpinar. Ömer is a senior fellow in the Center for U.S. and Europe focusing on Turkish affairs and a professor of National Security Strategy at the U.S. National War College and director of our Turkey project here at the Center for the U.S. and Europe. ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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So, Mr. Minister, thank you very much for joining us, and the podium is yours.
DR. DAVUTOĞLU: Thank you very much, Martin, for this excellent introduction.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honor for me to be here at Brookings Institute. Again it became like a tradition. I give several speeches. I had chance to attend many meetings in this very esteemed institution, and it’s always great pleasure, and whenever I meet with the esteemed audience in this institution I always learn something new. I hope today I will have this chance again.
The topic is Turkish Foreign Policy. But are you not focused on foreign policy only, because — let me start with a methodological critic. When we speak on foreign policy, usually we may do two methodological mistakes. One is we may — if we only concentrate on foreign policy, ignoring other elements — like domestic politics, like economics, like cultural developments — you may not understand what is going on in foreign policy. So, you cannot isolate foreign policy from the general transformation of a society. This is about the content of foreign policy. Therefore, I will try to present Turkish foreign policy within such a context of transformation rather than just focusing on certain detailed individual cases and issues.
Secondly, if this is about the substance, about the time framework — if you just concentrate on only one year, one incident, one month, or even one decade and try to understand the transformation of a foreign policy paradigm, you may do another mistake. Unfortunate today, when I read some of the articles published in Washington, in Brussels, or sometimes, you know, in the Middle East, about Turkish foreign policy, I realize that these two methodological mistakes. ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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For example, some might say the foreign policy paradigm of the poor Islamic AK party government, even itself, gives an impression that it is just a foreign policy choice of one group based on some ideology or a foreign policy based on new Ottomanism.
For those who do not know anything on Ottoman history, they may think that Turkey is trying to revive Ottoman state, and this literature now emerging does not reflect the picture.
In my book, when I wrote Strategic Depth, in the introduction I made a methodological analysis, and I said the most dangerous methodological mistake of foreign policy analysis is picture analysis. You have a picture in your mind and you develop a theory based on your picture in your mind — just one picture — while the correct methodological approach in foreign policy analysis is process analysis, not picture analysis.
If you want to have a healthy or a comprehensive analysis, you will need to have several pictures, in your mind — several. It will be as comprehensive as possible if you have many pictures from different time frame in your mind and try to understand the process how this foreign policy has been transformed. Turkish nation has an old history, but I will not go back to 1,000 year ago. I will make an analysis of 200 years of Turkish transformation, transformation of modernization, and I promise to do this in half an hour, not more than that, so you can see my difficulty.
I can see what we are having today is a restoration. This concept is important. Restoration, not paradigm shift. Not revolution, but a restoration of Turkish society, economics, politics, and foreign policy. And I can mention four important restorations — three important restorations in the past and this, the fourth restoration, in ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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our modern history.
The first — and I will make some analogies with the American restoration in my presentation as well.
The first big restoration is a response to the challenges of industrial revolution and colonialism, which are two bones — back bones — of the rise of European hegemony, European order. The first restoration occurred in the beginning of the 19th century in Ottoman society, which was Tanzimat — which was called Tanzimat. It was such a restoration that Turkish politics has been reformed, and many people do not know, and they may think that Turkish democracy — at least not multi-party democrats but participation, politics, elections — is something of a new phenomenon in Turkey. In Turkey, elections in local administration go back to the early decades of 19th century. 1820s, ’30s we started to have elections in local administration.
And there was a constitutional monarchy, and the first Turkish constitution was adopted in 1876. And the transformation of the society was — especially important transformation was to include non-Muslim population of Ottoman state to the system as citizens, not in the modern sense, but equal to Muslims. Therefore, we had several reforms. And the foreign policy orientation was Europeanization of Turkish foreign policy as a reflection to the balance of power in Europe.
The purpose of this restoration was — after the congress of Vienna, we became part of the European system — the purpose of this restoration was to defend Ottoman state and to prevent the decline of Ottoman state. This is purely an academic approach, which I don’t want to give an impression — don’t give an impression that I am talking on new Ottomanism and trying to be wise, but this is the background.
And the first time we had a multi-party election in 1912 — real multi-party ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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election. Not in 1950s — 1912, 1911. We had many parties, political parties, throughout the Ottoman territories, not only in Anatolia and Istanbul, but in Balkans, in Iraq, or in Lebanon.
The second big restoration was the establishment of Turkish Republic. It was parallel to the developments in Europe, the end of the traditional imperial structures in Europe and Turkey after the War of Liberation — First World War and War of Liberation. We had another restoration. A new system did emerge: Republic of Turkey, republicanism. And a new concept of citizen emerged.
Because of the migrations from Balkans, from Caucasia, from Middle East, from Yemen, a new nation even emerged, and this concept of nation comprised not only ethnically Turkish people but Bosniaks from — Albanians, Bosniaks from Balkans, Chechens, Abkhazians, Georgians, Azeris from Caucasia, Kurds, some Arabs from the Middle East. This second restoration had its own economic dimension, national economy. This is the second restoration.
The third restoration was after the second world war. The international environment had changed and Turkey responded with a new restoration, multi-party democracy, free-market economy, and membership to NATO. What we can call is security-oriented democratization in Turkey.
The first incentive was security, because there was a threat from Soviet Union, and we tried to protect military integrity of Turkey. And Turkey became member of NATO, had a strong strategic alliance with the United States and other members of Europe, and we had a huge transformation of economics from the villages to the cities — a new democratic wave that was economic, political transformation — and the new North Atlantic — Transatlantic Alliance, which emerged. We became part of it. ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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The fourth restoration was needed after the collapse of the Gulf War. In fact, what we have today was supposed to be done in 1990s. And economic reformation was ended in 1990s. And political democratization was needed, and new foreign policy orientation was needed. We were not able to do it, because of basically coalition governments, political instability, economic crisis — Mr. Derviş knows it very well by his own practice — and terrorist activities.
Now, just keep this in mind, and I will make a short comparison with the American restoration. Turkish restoration in the 19th century was parallel to the American restoration after the Civil War, the consolidation of United States.
Turkish restoration during the Republican Era was parallel to the Wilsonian principles and the emergence of United States as a new global power. But not bi-polar yet. But the Wilsonian principles, which let power to the establishment of Turkish Republic — before Turkish Republic — was in fact the emergence of the new American consolidation restoration.
Mahan strategy, geopolitical strategy, and all this — when you look at it — the United States started to become not a continental power but a player in the global scene. And Turkish third restoration was parallel to the formation of the bipolar international structure, and the United States was the leader of one pole. Therefore, these restorations were parallel to each other and, in fact, after end of Cold War, both United States and us — we needed a new restoration, and therefore we are still in this process.
United States is a global power of course. That redefinition of the foreign policy during Clinton administration afterwards 9-11 and many other. Still, this search is continuing. But in our sense, we are living in the center of Afro-Eurasia, and we need to ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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have a new restoration.
What did we try to do in eight years with this process analysis during AK party governments?
First, we wanted to consolidate our democracy as this time not security-oriented democracy but freedom-oriented democracy. After every military intervention during the Cold War, the new military regime are saying we are loyal to NATO, and we will restore democracy. These two things work together. This time, of course, we are strong member of NATO, but we want our democracy — freedom-oriented democracy. Therefore, we have reference to European Union parallel to NATO, because European Union reforms are the only guarantees to have more democracy, more freedom, more liberty, more open society.
The second aspect of this restoration is economic development. In last eight years, Turkey had an economic change. In 2001, when we had economic crisis, Turkish economy became 26th biggest economy in the world in 2002. And now Turkey is 16th biggest economy. In 8 years, we passed 10 countries, and today we are 16th. After the economic crisis, we are sorry that some of our friendly countries faced problems, but Turkish economy showed this strength starting with Mr. Derviş reforms. Then our government took over and continued these reforms in a very strong, political way, political power, and therefore today we have a strong financial system, a dynamic economy, a rising entrepreneurship. There’s an economy.
Without economic restoration, political restoration cannot be successful. These two restorations, like two legs of a strategic restoration. Strategic restoration is our foreign policy orientation. Nobody should link our foreign policy to another reason. But we need to have a restoration in domestic, regional, and global environment because ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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we are paying the bill if there is any instability or cause in our surrounding regions.
Now, this is the framework. How can we connect this political and economic restoration with a new foreign policy paradigm? That was the challenge. And we formulated a new foreign policy. Yes. But this new foreign policy is neither turning face to east. We don’t mind to have this. I’m not trying to be apologetic here. Of course we would have Eastern background. Or not shift — paradigm shift. But what we want is what we need for political economic consolidation, which type of foreign policy orientation we need.
For example, we need to have zero problems with our neighbors. When I became chief advisor in my first one of the first terms, I declared this policy. I remember those days. Many observers and artists. They made joke from — regarding my background. They said, “Typical utopic academician.” Poetic language, “zero problems with neighbors,” that cannot be translated into a foreign policy — realistic foreign policy.
Why did we declare this? Why did I declare? I know, knowing human history, even knowing family history. Brothers and sisters, they may have problems. I mean, human want history — of course there are problems with the neighbors. But what I tried to do is to make a transformation of mentality, because throughout the Cold War the basic teaching we learned in our schools were Turkey has three sides of seas, four sides of enemies. All this was around us — were taught to us as enemy. Russians, because we had so many wars in the past, Greece they are archenemy: Bulgarians, enemy; Arabs, of course, ideological enemy; Iran is historical rivalry. As if you are living in a neighborhood and you are being isolated. Now we had to make a transformation. They are saying — some people are saying this is an indication that Turkey — this government being given an suspicious — I mean emotion — wants to develop — wants the — let’s talk ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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to me. You are very clever. You are hiding your agenda, secret agenda, through this type of terminology “zero problems with neighbors”. In fact, you want to develop your relations with Iran and Syria, the axis of evil, and in order to cover this, you are using this terminology. This question was asked and I said do you know Turkish geography? Anybody who knows Turkish geography knows very well we have four Muslim neighbors and eight non-Muslim neighbors, including Black Sea. And in last eight years our relation with Georgia, a Christian neighbor, developed much more than our relation with Iran. Or our relation with Greece has developed as our relation with Syria. Our relation with Russia has developed like our relation with Iraq.
And today I don’t want to give details if there are questions I can give, only just one example. Turkey and Greece in 87 years of our relations signed only Turkey five agreements until last May. Last May, in one day we signed 23 agreements. In one day. And if it is Neo-Ottoman policy, first Greek friends would rebel, because they didn’t accept this. They wouldn’t accept this. Or if it is pro-Islamic, then Orthodox Serbs would be — would not accept it, but today we have excellent relations with Serbia. Yes, we abolished visa with Syria, with Azerbaijan we are trying, with Libya, with Lebanon, but we abolish with Serbia, with Russia.
So, why do we need these? Because we need a restoration, consolidation of peace and stability around us.
Yes, about regional politics let us continue. Why Turkey’s proactive really ambitious foreign policy we are following? And they’re even saying, can you continue this policy with this dynamism? I am saying this is a necessity. It is not a matter of choice. But we are living in a neighborhood that every day we have to take care of all events around us in Balkans, in Middle East, in Caucasia, in Central Asia. We need to ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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have political order. We need to have stability, because — therefore I mention Republican restoration. Because of the First World War, although we left Balkans, Balkans has been Anatolized — let me say this is a new concept — Anatolized, because many Balkan nations migrated to Anatolia.
Although we left Caucasia, Caucasia became Anatolized because Caucasian peoples migrated to Turkey. Whatever happens in Caucasia is our domestic issue. Therefore, I know WikiLeaks in these days — there was — I was asked just now in Washington Post about my speech in Sarajevo last year. It was called as a bit of indication that we are following Ottoman — new Ottoman policy. Yes, I made a speech. There I said Bosnian issue is like our domestic issue. Why did I say this? Why? Because there are more Bosnians living in Bosnia than in — in Turkey than in Bosnia. There are more Bosniaks living in Turkey than in Bosnia. There are more Albanians living in Turkey than in Albania. And if something happens in Sarajevo, we cannot say it is far away. Next day there will be a big demonstration in Istanbul asking our government to help Bosniak brothers and sisters.
Last year there was unrest in Shenzhen in Runchi far away. And it was not part of Ottoman territory anyway. But 300,000 — we were living in Turkey. There were demonstrations in Ankara and Istanbul and in other cities and asking government to help. And we have very good relations with China. How can you do this?
What do we want? Nothing more, nothing less: equal relations with all nations around us and political stability and security around us. And therefore we have to have an assertive — therefore, we said from the first day we said proactive peace diplomacy. Proactive peace diplomacy is needed in order to prevent crisis. Therefore, we are active in Iraq, because if Iraq is divided, if Iraq is in chaos, Turkey will pay the ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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price. Therefore, before coming here, a few days ago we were in Lebanon, and our prime minister met with all the leaders of Lebanese politics just to control the crisis there. We don’t have any national interest there, and I talked once to one Bosnian Serb politician. I said — you may criticize us, but we don’t have any national interest in Bosnia. Bosnia doesn’t have a — we are not here to — what we need is just political strategy. Do not repeat the same mistakes of 1990s. Then we will help. We have now excellent relations with Serbia, and we have trilateral relations with Serbia, Bosnia, Turkey — Turkey, Bosnia, Croatia.
Therefore, we were really active in order to restart — in order to have indirect talks between Syria and Israel. Therefore, we are vocal in regarding Palestine, because without solving Palestinian question, there cannot be political stability in the Middle East. There cannot be democratization in the Middle East as well. Because of that political crisis. All Middle Eastern societies are in a psychology of extraordinary situation.
When my book was translated into Arabic a few months ago, Strategic Depth, in the launching, I made this — they asked me to give a speech. I gave a speech, and I said what is — the question was, what is the purpose of the book? I said the purpose of the book is normalization of history. Just this is the simple formula of our foreign policy. Normalization of history. Because Cold War was abnormality. Abnormality. Because of Cold War statical polarization, we became isolated from Syria. Our border at Syria is not natural. Our border with Georgia is not natural. Our border with Iraq is not natural. What we want to do without changing the borders, with full respect to the borders, we want to have full integration with all the neighbors, with all the surrounding regions. ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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What is the economic reflection of this policy? The economic reflection is clear. Let me say, just imagine map in your mind and put in the West, in Europe in the West, Germany, France, Italy; in the North, Russia; in the East, China and Japan and India. In the rest of all Afro-Eurasia, the biggest economy is Turkish economy. The most dynamic economy is Turkish economy. We don’t want to have sanctions, isolations, trade barriers, visa barriers in these regions. We want our economy to be integrated with all.
Last year one of my colleagues from Europe, minister, asked me a question. You can imagine even debts is becoming an issue. He said we are in international economy crisis, and we are thinking to close our embassies in Africa in order to make some saving. And when we are doing this, you are opening 18 embassies in Africa in one year. Eighteen? yes. In 8 years, we opened 12 embassies in Africa; in last 2 years — in 1-1/2 year we opened and even completing next 6 months, 18 embassies. He said, why? The question is what Turks want to do in Africa. Turks want to do something very simple, because in Africa — in Cameroon, for example — Turkish business industrialists — industries, entrepreneurs are working there, and they are demanding us that they want to have an embassy in order to do their business.
This is economic relation. Wanting one more thing we want to do, that Africa is our continent. We are not far away from Africa. And this is the global dimension of our foreign policy. Today there is a transformation in global politics, global economy, global culture; and we don’t want to have global divides between East and West in cultural sense, between North and South in economic sense, and between transatlantic and others in geopolitical sense. Because in all these divides, Turkey’s in the middle, and we are suffering. ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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After 9-11, if there is a tension, a global cultural tension like clash of civilizations between East and West, Turkey will be affected negatively. We would have to make a choice. We don’t want to. We have a choice that we want to integrate with all the environment. If there is a clash between North and South, Turkish economy will be affected. We want to defend the rights — economic rights of African people.
Therefore, next year in May we will be hosting the least developed country summit in Turkey. Around 6,000 people will come to Istanbul. We are a member of OECD, yes. We are from the North, yes. But at the same time, we are from the South because of our historical links, because of our big demography, huge demography, and because of our economic characters. And as a global power, we are a member of NATO, yes. We are a member of Transatlantic Alliance, yes. But we don’t want NATO to have any confrontation with other nations or group of nations or other regions.
Therefore, we were very careful in NATO summit not to declare an enemy front, because we suffered enough during Cold War because of this polarization. You don’t want a new geopolitical polarization in our world, so this restoration what we need. Economic-political-strategy restoration needs a foreign policy formulation based on regional and global peace, and Turkey is a force of peace. We will not be a party or side of any conflict. We will be pioneering of the peace around us, peace at home as it was declared by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Peace at home, peace in the world. This is the field of our foreign policy.
Thank you very much. (Applause)
I prefer to stay here. Yeah. Throughout of my life, academic life, I never give lectures when — I don’t want to give lecture but — when I am sitting. I prefer to have eye contact here. Yes. ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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MR. TAŞPINAR: Minister, we now know why they refer to you —
DR. DAVUTOĞLU: But you can sit if you want.
MR. TAŞPINAR: Okay, I’ll prefer to sit.
We now know why they refer to you as professor all the time, and you have a very lecturing style, and I think you gave us a very rich summary of Turkey’s strategic vision. However, mortals in this city usually think about Turkey in the framework of three major polarizing issues, and they have nothing to do, unfortunately, with the larger strategic vision and the historical depth that you provided us.
The image of Turkey in Washington I think is being shaped by the divergence that we have currently with the United States on the question of Iran and the nuclear agenda, especially the fact that Turkey voted no in the United Nations Security Council. That, I think, fueled the image of Turkish foreign policy’s axis shift so to speak.
The other one is basically Turkey’s relations and the deterioration with Israel. So, Turkish-Israeli relations also fuel a certain negativity in Turkey’s image.
And, finally, relations with Armenia.
So, those are the three areas where I would kindly ask if you could say a few words before we open it up to the Q & A.
DR. DAVUTOĞLU: I didn’t mention enough these issues during my presentation, because I was sure that this question would come. (Laughter) So, I didn’t want to waste my time in presentation about this.
These — all these three let me implement the same methodology which I made in my presentation. If you made a picture analysis — for example, in your question — of course, you didn’t have this intention. You said no words in your answer to the context . Typical picture analysis. There’s a picture, Turkish permanent representative is ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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voting no to sanctions against Iran. What happened before? What happened afterwards? It is not being discussed. This is again —
MR. TAŞPINAR: That’s why we have WikiLeaks. (Laughter)
DR. DAVUTOĞLU: Yes, not — not you, but this is very — you didn’t mean that, of course.
MR. TAŞPINAR: Of course not. (Laughter)
DR. DAVUTOĞLU: But today I was telling in another meeting — I said if all the official cables and other dictums are being disclosed, we will be very happy. Really. Turkey will be very happy, because we follow the foreign policy of principles. We didn’t use broad language. We didn’t say something in Tehran and different in Washington and other different in New York or in another place. We already is challenged. Open all these archives. Our foreign policy was sincere, principle oriented, honest, candid. Therefore, we follow it. Because of these principles, we wanted to suggest a country which — to region and global peace.
In all these three issues, let us implement not the picture analysis but process analysis. About Iran — from the very first day, we declared that from the basic principles of Iranian policy four years ago that Turkey’s against any nuclear proliferation, wherever it is. By which country is not important. We are against it. Turkey’s against any nuclear power in our region. Whichever country has war, we are against it. And Turkey’s in favor of nuclear peaceful capacity if that country is a partner or a party in NPT and IAEA. These are important, and Turkey has been, yes, very active.
Just to make a picture analysis again, in 2007, the most successful meeting between P5+1 and Iran was held in Ankara. Last year, 1st October, another successful meeting by Jalili and Solana was arranged by us on 12th of September during ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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my visit to Tehran. I called from Tehran, so — and Mr. Solana said first of October was fixed.
In the first of October meeting, there was a suggestion that there is an exchange proposal of uranium TRR, for TRR, the Tehran reactor. This was not our idea. We didn’t produce — creatively produce such a policy just to defend Iran. No. It was the idea of Mr. ElBaradei consulting with P5+1. Since there was no mutual trust for each other by both parties, he bought this idea to us that since both parties trust you, can you help us. Therefore, we started the democratic process. And until May, we worked very closely with our allies. And whether they were in agreement I don’t want to go into because it’s a long history. Maybe one day WikiLeaks will make this all public. (Laughter) But we worked in a very close coordination with our allies, and at the end we had a Tehran declaration.
So, that’s the background of everything. And as I said, to be frank and we are telling this here, because of this restoration, of economic restoration, we don’t want to have sanctions or tensions — military tensions — around Turkey. We want stability and security, because sanctions against Iraq harm Turkey more than Saddam regime. Therefore, we work very hard not to defend Iran or another country or to act in another country. We try to defend our national interests, that to prevent any source of tension or isolation or sanction. So, this the background, that ’no’ did not occur one day in one hour. In order to keep Iran on the ground, on the negotiation ground, we had to vote no in order to keep that negotiation continued. Because Iran declared that if Turkey and Brazil has abstained or yes, then it missed the end of TRR deal. It means the end of negotiation.
Therefore, we continue to work very hard, and 15th of July this year ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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Iranian — Iran, Istanbul — Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs declared that they are ready to freeze, to stop enrichment if Tehran agreement is being implemented. So, these are all process — part of the process. Even still now, today, unless two, three months.
Turkey has been working very hard. Together with our allies, P5+1, and our neighbor, Iran, in order to restart the talks and we will continue to work very hard. So, nobody can blame because of just one incident. This is a long process we need to understand.
About Israel. Same thing. If somebody reads a critic from Prime Minister Erdoğan or from me regarding Israeli policies and just take that picture and say Turkey — Turkish authorities are attacking Israel, okay, did it happen? And, again, the same terminology is coming: pro-Islamic government in Ankara is attacking because they’re allied with Iran against Israel. If this was true, why in 2008 Turkey was mediating between Syria and Israel? Why Prime Minister Olmert four days before the attack against Gaza stayed in Prime Minister’s Erdoğan’s house, room, six hours. There is only one person who stayed in Prime Minister’s Erdoğan’s house six hours. It is Prime Minister Olmert. Just to make fifth round of talks by phone, and I was translating. I was carrying the message between President Bashar al-Assad and Olmert in another room through Prime Minister Erdoğan. Why did we work if we had this intention to be against Israel or just to attack? Why did we work so hard? Again, make it process analysis. Yes, we were upset. We were angry, because that Monday the direct talks would have started. We agreed. We saw that only one part was missing to the agreement. Saturday, when there was a planned telephone conversation between Prime Minister Olmert and Prime Minister Erdoğan at 11:00, they, in order to finalize and just to specify the venue to start direct talks, 10:30 Israel attacked us. Who is supposed to be blamed? ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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Again, afterwards, they — against all the civilized protocols and manners, conduct, code of conduct, they insulted our ambassador. Despite of this, we had — we tried to restore the relations. But the most shocking event came when Israel attacked and killed eight Turkish, one American civilian in international waters. Although this did not violate Israeli territories, did not harm any Israeli interest, they killed these people. That’s the first time Turkey citizens were killed by a regular army of another country.
Throughout history, nobody can say that Turkey had an anti-Semitic background. No one. Again, looking at the process analysis. Turkish history is so clean regarding to relations with Jews, the Jewish people. There are four categories of nations regarding to this issue: some countries who oppress Jews in history: ghettos, genocide. Some countries, second, had war against Israel after the establishment of Israel. Some countries didn’t have such a close relation with them. But there is only one country didn’t have any history of oppression. Just the opposite, became safe haven for all Jews throughout history and didn’t make any war against Israel as a state, it is Turkey, and a close relation. And Israel has alienated itself from such a country through these policies. We are not — we — therefore, it should be understood properly. And if there was no attack that 31st of May, 1st of June, we would have a meeting, an appointment here with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss what could be the next stage of Syrian-Israeli talks.
But we cannot tolerate. Of course, we are working zero problems with neighbors, with all these ideas. We want to have political stability in the Middle East. Of course, the rights of Palestinian people should be respected. We cannot tolerate civilians — women, ladies, children — being killed by such attacks using some special weapons. This is unacceptable. We cannot tolerate any country to violate international law, killing innocent civilians in international waters. This should be understood properly. If you look ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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at this process analysis, you can read that this is not a policy against Jewish people or a policy against people of Israel, citizens of Israel. Even not with all the Israeli governments, but it is — we are criticizing the existing government because of the policies which are — which is not compatible with our regional peace and stability.
On Armenia, okay you can raise what about the protocols? Again, make a picture and I will process that. Ten years ago in Turkey you wouldn’t have an environment to discuss Armenian issue in a free manner. Today we have. Everybody is talking, and — but you don’t have that freedom in France or in some European countries. As a Turkish intellectual, you cannot defend your version of history.
Again, five years ago there was no protocol which was signed. Today we have this. There is a gradual improvement of our relations and we are optimistic. We are hopeful. That we will improve our relations with Armenia, with Armenians wherever they are, and also we’ll be able to establish a political order in Caucasia through peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia. These are compatible. And we are optimistic and we will continue to work. One day we will start — re-start Israel-Syrian direct talks. We will try to help Middle Eastern peace process, but that should be done only if we see the respect from Israel to the rights of our citizens. And that’s — the way it’s clear, apology and compensation. Thank you.
MR. TAŞPINAR: Thank you, Foreign Minister.
What we’ll do now is to open up to questions. Please wait for the microphone, identify yourself, and instead of making a statement please ask a question.
SPEAKER: Arsen Khaturian from Voice of America’s Armenian Service.
DR. DAVUTOĞLU: Armenian Service.
SPEAKER: As you just finished with Armenia, let’s go with Armenia ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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DR. DAVUTOĞLU: Okay, go ahead.
SPEAKER: Do you — while your lecture and speech manifested the duality of your personality, the identity of academician and politician, so my first question will be to the academician. I will talk to, and second to the politician.
You mentioned two important transformations in Ottoman history: Tanzimat in 1912 or 1908 revolution, later republic creation. What was the impact of Armenians on that creation, if at all, because you didn’t talk actually about Armenians of that period.
And the second question will be about the protocols. You, as well as President Gül and Prime Minister Erdoğan have been constantly mentioning importance of progress in the Minsk Group negotiations. And just today, earlier in Bern, President Gül announced that unless there is progress there, there is not going to be a progress in the protocol site. Now, many in Washington, D.C., have been speculating that the protocols will go forward in Turkey after the elections. You as a politician — do you see that as an obstacle and will they go forward after the elections, and what do you exactly mean under the progress in the Nagorno Karabakh issue? Thank you.
DR. DAVUTOĞLU: Thank you. Again, look at this long transformation. Turks and Armenians live together ten centuries, from 10th century until 20th century. Even 21st century now we are together. And if we have a long-term analysis, nine centuries plus nine and a half centuries there was not any tension between Armenians and Turks in Anatolia or anywhere. We have all Ottoman archives. If you look at, for example, the tensions between two common tribes in Anatolia, are much more frequent than any tension between Turks and Armenians. So, therefore, this is the difference ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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between Jews having genocide in Europe, because Jews were — had this oppression because of an original sin, let me say. Being Jew was something — not — I don’t mean now, but in Europe, in Spain, or in 14th, 15th century or later. Therefore, they were oppressed in ghettos, lived in different places, and then genocide. They were not seen like equals. But I had many Ph.D. students. I asked them to study shared existence, especially about the inheritance, and there you can see the most rich people in all the neighbors in Istanbul, whichever century you can take, whichever neighborhood you can take — in any city. The richest people are either Armenian or Greek. And they didn’t tell you — you don’t tell any Armenian or Greek quarter isolated from this. They live together. They live together. In all the cities. This is our history.
Why did we have problem? It was not because of Armenians, because of Turks. It was the solution of Ottoman empire — an imperial structure where people were living, but the new rising sense of belonging was nationalism. And only after 1870s, not even beginning of 19th century, we had these tensions. Even despite of that, Armenians in 1914, one year before, there were Armenian ministers in Ottoman’s government. There were Armenian ambassadors in European capitals. And Armenians in Ottoman archives were called as (inaudible), which means the loyal nation which live together peacefully with the Turkish people.
Why I am giving you these details. If we want to restore Turkish-Armenian relation, what I call, we need to have a just memory. Not just — not memory of one small part of our history and not only from Armenian or Turkish perspective. We are ready to share our pains. 1915 is symbolic year for Armenians, yes, but we need to know 1915 is the year of Gallipoli, as well, where only in one front in Çanakkale 250,000 Turks were killed, and one of them was my grandfather. In Yemen, in Balkans, this is like the — ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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an organic society was divided, like you are taking the body out of the context. I don’t want to justify any mistake. If there are mistakes, we need to share. We need to discuss and share these. But if you ignore nine centuries and just focus on time when there was no political order anywhere in Ottoman territories, then we may face problem. If this is a starting point of all dialogue, then all nations will ask revenge from another nation. I can — I don’t want to give, but, for example, I mentioned how many thousand — hundred thousand Bosnians, Albanians, Turks had to migrate from Balkans, were killed in Balkans. How many Caucasian Turks — I mean Abkhazians, Chechens, Georgians were killed and had to migrate to Anatolia? This is an unfortunate event. Did we, all of us, did we remind each other this painful part of our history, or did we remind the good side?
Now, before there was one-sided — maybe from our side as well — we were denying — I mean, denying — nothing happened — no, something happened. But something happened to us as well, to all of us. Now it is time to restore. Therefore, it is a just memory. Ready to discuss everything. Otherwise, all nations will accuse each other of genocide: red Indians here, Mexico for Spain. Oh, there are — there is — unfortunately, there was no zero problem at that time. (Laughter) Now we need to restore my dear friend. This is our approach. Therefore, we sign protocol with this understanding.
DR. DAVUTOĞLU: Hmm?
DR. DAVUTOĞLU: I’ll come. I will come. Don’t worry about it. I don’t forget anything. I am ready for any challenge. (Laughter)
And I signed myself and I prepared a speech. Unfortunately, later my ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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counterpart, Mr. Nalbandian, didn’t want. We didn’t make it. I was referring to this just memory. We want to start a new history.
Unfortunately, the Constitution Court of Armenia made an interpretation about these protocols and nullified the content of the Historical Commission. The Historical Commission is important. We don’t want to have just two — it was a policy, a strategy of three objectives: normalize our relations between Turkey and Armenia as two nation states neighboring; normalize our relations between Turks and Armenians wherever they are — here in Washington, California, Boston, wherever, Paris; and bringing original stability in Caucasia. These were three legs of our approach. And all these three should be together. They are still defending protocols. They are not giving up. I never give up. And one day Turkish-Armenian relation will be having a new paradigm. But I know from our experience between Syria and Israel — we learn in practice — if you don’t have regional context of the peace, that peace cannot be sustainable. When Syrian-Israeli indirect talks started one week before that, I had meetings with two delegations and I put just one condition. I said to both that during our negotiations Gaza and Lebanon must be quiet, because I was knowing very well that if there’s a tension in Gaza that process cannot continue, or in Lebanon. Lebanon was for Syria; Gaza was for Israel. And although everything was going very well, a crisis in Gaza collapsed all the process between Syria and Israel. Similarly, even if there is a normalization between Turkey and Armenia, if the Armenian occupation in Azerbaijani territory continues — I don’t mean only Karabakh, I mean also the other similar regions — and if there is a tension there, next day we have to close that border again. Therefore, what we did to have a comprehensive vision of Caucasian peace. Therefore, you need to have a simultaneous process between Turkey and Armenia and Armenian-Azerbaijan ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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so that we can achieve both original peace and a full and sustainable normalization between Turkey and Armenia. It is not a matter of election. It is more a matter of intention. Our intention is to achieve both. But if Armenia says we want to normalize our relations with Turkey only, we don’t want to normalize our relations with Azerbaijan, and we keep Azeri territories under occupation, that intention cannot be prevailing. Here I don’t question the intention of our Armenian colleague. I know that they also want peace. We hope that one day we will achieve these together. And I am optimistic. You will see we will achieve this together with Armenians and other as it is together, and that will be restoration of our relation as well for each country of 9 century without any problem.
MR. TAŞPINAR: What we’ll do is to take two questions. I know we’ll have to wrap because you have another speech, so we’ll have to finish basically in 10 to 15 minutes maximum. So, two more questions.
One there and then there.
SPEAKER: Foreign Minister, it’s a privilege to listen to you here. Thanks so much for your presentation.
MR. TAŞPINAR: Could you identify yourself please?
SPEAKER: Sorry. (inaudible) for Hürriyet Daily News (inaudible).
MR. TAŞPINAR: Hürriyet Daily News.
SPEAKER: Hürriyet Daily News.
MR. TAŞPINAR: Hürriyet Daily News.
MR. TAŞPINAR: I was expecting a question from Greek. (Laughter) Yes, okay.
SPEAKER: Sir, you talk about restoration process, different restorations ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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in your speech, and you talk that traditional democracy actually goes back to early decades of 19th century, and also as a final restoration process you talk about the last decade when your administration started to rule Turkey. Economic and political component or development of the latest restoration is obvious made Turkey much more democratic than before, and most of the areas. Turkey became, first of all, start accession talks at the EU, and thanks to your administration for that. My question is there is one area that Turkey seems that its ranks increase sharply in the freedom of the press. When your administration started, Turkey was 99th place and now it’s 138th out of 175 countries. My question is why is freedom of the press a problem that cannot solve in Turkey or could you please elaborate on that why we just cannot catch up with the Western countries in this (inaudible). Thank you.
MR. TAŞPINAR: And we’ll take one more question over there. Yes.
MR. MAHMETLI: Badir Mahmetli with U.S. Azeris Network. I have a quick question. Mr. Davutoğlu, how concerned are you with the most recent transfer of uranium from Armenia to be sold to an Al-Qaeda representative? I’m not sure you heard about the recent arrest that was made in Georgia, in the capital Tbilisi. There Armenian citizens were trying to sell uranium to undercover Georgian special agent, but they were discovered —
DR. DAVUTOĞLU: To which special agent?
MR. MAHMETLI: Georgian special agent.
DR. DAVUTOĞLU: Georgian.
MR. MAHMETLI: Special officer. No, it was never on the news, so they were trying to sell uranium. It was exported from Armenia to — was designed to be sold to Al-Qaeda representative but that was an undercover Georgian special officer. ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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DR. DAVUTOĞLU: Okay.
MR. MAHMETLI: Are you concerned about this news?
DR. DAVUTOĞLU: About freedom of press. Freedom of press is one of the basic character of any modern democratic society. And if we need to do more, we need to say that we need this more, and there is no perfectability in the process of democratization. There is always some room for improvement. But at the same time, many of this press — freedom-of-press issues are two sided, and the press also needs to improve the standards of media ethics. But we need both, and we have to be open minded to discuss this. If we have a question of media ethics or a question of freedom of press, this will deteriorate the situation on both sides and a decline in freedom of press will deteriorate the situation of media ethics and vice versa. We are ready to discuss, but if you look at the — in last eight years, we made several reforms in freedom of press. The press law — I think it was in 2004 — has enlarged the freedom of expression. And you can take any critical issue and those statistics that are different criteria, but in your daily practice in Hürriyet or in academic life, today you cannot compare the situation with 10-year cycle. There is no taboo anymore. There is a huge discussion on many very sensitive issues. But it depends how you deal with this.
I can give you now tons of examples how we need to — how we face the problems of media ethics. I don’t want to mention, but there are many.
They are a dynamic society, and we have many challenges. Freedom of press and media ethics are two important challenges at the same time, and we need to deal with both. If there is more established media ethics, there will be less discussion on — and less restrictions. I don’t mean — I don’t try to justify any restriction, but the actions and the discussion on media — even in foreign policy issues, it is surprising. For ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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example, recently, there was a press report regarding a statement of Iraqi president — President Talabani — which created some problems in foreign policy between Turkey and Iraq. It was taken to the press as a headline in one very respected Turkish newspaper. After a few days, President Talabani made a statement saying that this is not correct, it was not correct quotation of my speech, that it was not headlined, it was a small note in 20 or 21st page. You see? Then you lose respect of the press. And we are freezing so many problems regarding it. This is when foreign policy on individual respect as well.
You know, the columnist — the most experienced person in Turkish press — which type of phrase type of phrase he used for leading Turkish politicians, and he had to resign from Europe journalist. Then of course he created tension, a discussion on press. I don’t blame — I don’t say that this — we are perfect. There are many things to be done, but there are many things to be done in both fronts. Once we have established code of conduct, we will be having also, once we have established principles of freedom of express, we will have a much better situation than today. We need to work together. I don’t say we don’t have any problem, but we have to understand the source of the problem as well in all sense.
About these, of course, if the second I don’t have intelligence report in my hand and we doubt any such report or verification, that it is difficult for us to make any comment. But assume that without any report, just say in principle, if somebody from country B sells or gives uranium or anything dangerous to a terrorist organization in country C, we think that it’s a threat. We don’t accept that. But without a verification of these, it is difficult to accuse, but if there is such verification, of course we have serious concern and in Caucasia especially we have to be very careful not to create new problems. ANDERSON COURT REPORTING
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Okay, thank you very much.
MR. TAŞPINAR: Foreign Minister, you are a busy man, and thank you very much for making time for us at Brookings. Thank you very much for a great lecture. Will the audience please remain seated as the official party departs? This will take only 60 seconds.
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I, Carleton J. Anderson, III do hereby certify that the forgoing electronic file when originally transmitted was reduced to text at my direction; that said transcript is a true record of the proceedings therein referenced; that I am neither counsel for, related to, nor employed by any of the parties to the action in which these proceedings were taken; and, furthermore, that I am neither a relative or employee of any attorney or counsel employed by the parties hereto, nor financially or otherwise interested in the outcome of this action.
/s/Carleton J. Anderson, III
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