Resolving Russia dispute possible, necessary
When we examine the last 20 years, we see that the focus of Eurasian Economic Summits has been the rich opportunities and cooperation possibilities that are emerging in the region in areas including economics, trade, transportation and energy.
These opportunities and possibilities are still valid today. However, in recent years we cannot ignore the fact that there are serious obstacles to benefiting from these with full capacity.
We see from the examination of the agenda of the 19th Eurasian Economic Summit that this time, unlike earlier summits, the risks and threats come forward more than the opportunities.
Unfortunately, the obstacles we face today neither stem from causes that are out of our grasp such as natural disasters, nor come from remote geographies outside of our control.
Political problems caused by negligence, lack of political foresight or capabilities that emerge from time to time, or the sometimes selfish, irresponsible behavior of political figures in the Eurasia region – us - create these obstacles.
We need to see that the positive and prosperous economic cooperation atmosphere that we created together after the start of the 1990s in the region is breaking down as a result of these obstacles.
Therefore, finding a solution to political problems will ensure that Eurasia gets back to the prosperity and development track, and is prevented from falling behind the global developments.
You all know the political problems I’m talking about.
Rather than listing them, I’d like to draw attention to the fact that problems never remain isolated and create negative outcomes cumulatively.
If I were to give an example or two, the intervention in Ukraine’s political unity and territorial integrity caused the removal of the mechanisms that were built with major joint efforts between Russia and NATO, leading to serious security risks for all sides.
Similarly, it’s sad to see the decrease in the effects of cooperation instruments such as the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, for this reason.
This has prevented timely cooperation on problems between Russia and the other actors on Syria, Libya and Yemen, becoming one of the factors that caused these problems to grow like a snowball.
The expansion of these problems also meant efforts to solve a major issue such as the Palestine issue have been unavoidably weakened.
In recent months, the tension between Russia and Turkey has had a multifaceted effect - not just on both countries, but also on the region.
Meanwhile, the continued invasion of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region also damages peace and prosperity in the North Caucasus, which suffers from a number of frozen disputes.
In recent days, as we see in the incidents caused by Armenia’s aggressive actions, the Nagorno-Karabakh issue continues to create an increasing loss of lives as well as serious security risks.
On this occasion, I pray for God’s mercy and grace on the martyred Azerbaijani brothers, my condolences to the brotherly people of Azerbaijan and the martyrs’ relatives, and I wish for all those injured to recover quickly.
The existing situation, in which Armenia has kept one fifth of Azerbaijan’s territory occupied for nearly a quarter of a century, is clearly unacceptable.
The Nagorno-Karabakh issue should be resolved by taking the U.N. Security Council’s relevant resolutions into account in peaceful ways and on the basis of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
The recent ceasefire declaration is a positive development, but as long as the aforementioned occupation doesn’t end and Armenia doesn’t abandon its aggressive actions, the risk of similar clashes taking place against will persist. Turkey will continue supporting Azerbaijan in a brotherly way until this illegal occupation and seizure ends.
Meanwhile, in Europe, the EU member countries face a number of problems - from the financial crisis, the migration and refugee issues, terrorism, an increase in racism and hatred of foreigners, xenophobia and Islamophobia.
I think the EU’s problems are actually a reflection of global problems. This affects all of us, so we all need to contribute to the solution. For this reason, Europe needs to take the sensitivities of its periphery into account.
At this point, I want to commemorate the victims of recent terror attacks, from Ankara to Brussels, from Baghdad to Lahore.
I’m worried that pressure that is created by all of these problems and threats is causing some of our priorities to be ignored. For instance, I see with sadness that either in the most advanced Western democracies or in new democracies, political actors are trying to corrode contemporary values such as the strengthening of the free market, the liberalization of trade, the protection of fundamental rights and liberties, and pluralistic democracy on the bases of universal law and social welfare.
In fact, the values I’ve listed are the common values that humanity developed as a solution to their problems throughout the course of history.
These values are valid today more than ever before and are necessary for everybody. Sacrificing them to populism and short-term narrow interests will mean a step backward for humanity.
But the picture I have painted in this speech should not push you toward pessimism, because as modern societies we have the capacity and instruments to find solutions to problems.
Diplomacy, bilateral and multilateral cooperation, dispute-solving mechanisms and regional organizations should be activated in the most effective way.
I’d like to mention two good examples of this.
The first is the fact that the dispute over Iran’s nuclear file ended via diplomatic methods. In this successful process, bilateral and multilateral mechanisms and political and economic factors were skillfully evaluated in a win-win understanding.
The second example is the positive atmosphere created by Turkey’s constructive and creative suggestions to the EU on the refugee issue. This is an example of how a consensus based on legitimacy and shared interests between the two sides can affect a larger region.
Similarly, I hope that the sides taking part in the Syria peace talks use their efforts for an ultimate solution that is realistic, implementable and not maximalist.
It would be in everybody’s interest if the reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Syria end in a way that won’t cause new revanchist and irredentist reactions in the region.
Finally, as a statesman who personally worked on the transformation of Turkey-Russia relations into a multifaceted partnership, and who experienced the positive results of this on the two nations and on Eurasia’s welfare and stability, I’d like to make a call on this issue in particular.
I think that resolving the dispute that has unfortunately emerged in Turkey-Russia relations in recent months, and reclaiming the “status quo ante” – even carrying it to a further level with a new spirit – is both possible and necessary.
I believe that such a step would have results in terms of cooperation and stability over a very large geography, beyond the prosperity and friendship between the peoples of the two countries.
I’d like to end my words by restating my belief in the 19th Eurasian Economic Summit’s valuable contributions to efforts for prosperity and stability in the region.