Turkey to ask EU’s bid to keep Arab Spring alive

Turkey to ask EU’s bid to keep Arab Spring alive

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey to ask EU’s bid to keep Arab Spring alive

President Abdullah Gül (C), Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu discuss the Egyptian crisis in Ankara. AA photo

With concerns that the Egyptian coup could reverse the Arab Spring movement that raised hopes for democracy in the Muslim world, Turkey is preparing to launch a fresh diplomatic move with its European partners aimed at protecting the achievements of the Arab Spring.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is scheduled to meet his Italian, German and British counterparts this week to discuss developments in Egypt and how to keep the hopes of the Arab Spring alive, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

So long as there are no last-minute changes, the Turkish foreign minister is expected to meet German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, British Foreign Minister William Hague and Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino on Aug. 22 and 23, just one day after the European Union is set to assess events in Egypt. Meetings have been decided on following recent phone conversations between Davutoğlu and the aforementioned foreign ministers.

The timing of Ankara’s move is critically important, as European countries have recently begun to toughen their positions vis-à-vis the interim government in the aftermath of brutal crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood protestors.

Davutoğlu’s talks with his European counterparts will focus on two areas. As an immediate urgency, restoring stability and ending the bloodshed in Egypt through the creation of an environment for political dialogue that would also include Mohamed Morsi and other political camps is likely to be at the top of Davutoğlu’s agenda. He will seek to discuss how to put further pressure on the interim government to announce inclusive elections as early as possible, as well as how to fully implement a road map for the normalization of the political climate in Egypt.

Alongside the immediate Egyptian case, Davutoğlu’s face to face talks with his counterparts will also pave the way for a broad discussion on how to secure the continuation of the Arab Spring movement across the Middle East.

Gül-Erdoğan summit focuses on Egypt

Davutoğlu’s diplomatic traffic will follow a series of internal high-level meetings with President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s summit on Tuesday, just a day before the National Security Council (MGK) was set to convene. Accompanied by Davutoğlu, the Gül-Erdoğan meetings focused on the Egyptian crisis and Turkey’s position vis-à-vis developments in the northern African country. There was no statement following the meeting that lasted nearly two hours.

Hours before the meeting, Gül urged mobilization for the restoring of democracy in Egypt, saying there could be no “backward step from democracy,” especially since the Egyptian people are now familiar with the notion of democracy.

“Everybody should be mobilized to prevent more casualties,” he stressed.

“What must be done in Egypt is to create very quickly an environment in which nobody is excluded from elections, ensuring that representatives are elected by the free will of the people of Egypt and ending this bloodstained environment in Egypt, ending the arrests immediately. I think this is the way out of this deadlock,” Gül said, speaking at a joint press conference following talks with visiting Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič.

“It is a fact that Egypt has once recognized democracy. After a long authoritarian regime, it passed to a multi-party system, had elections, in which people voted. You cannot keep such a country outside of democracy for long,” Gül added.