[Viewpoint] Turkey’s rising aspirations

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[Viewpoint] Turkey’s rising aspirations

Turkey put its imprint as one of the world’s most influential countries not only on 2010, but on the first decade of the third millennium.

At the start of the new decade, Turkey’s geopolitical position, rich historical heritage, cultural depth, well-educated young population, ever-strengthening democracy, growing economy and constructive foreign policy make it an indispensable country in a world transformed by rapid globalization. By making use of all of its assets, Turkey is contributing to regional stability and peace and working towards a global order based on justice, equality and transparency. As an emerging power, Turkey will continue to realize its own potential and simultaneously contribute to global peace.

The chaotic conditions of the post-Cold War world have made civil wars, occupations, nuclear armament and human trafficking chronic problems. While globalization offers new opportunities, it also causes new global problems and deepens the inequalities embedded in the world order. It is no longer possible to sustain the current world order, which, based as it is on a skewed notion of center-periphery relations, merely produces injustice and inequality.

Turkey seeks to contribute to regional and global peace by facilitating democratic reforms domestically and implementing a principled foreign policy. As a NATO member, Turkey aims to become a full member of the European Union and establish cordial relations with all of its southern and eastern neighbors. Turkey’s posture - looking both East and West - is neither paradoxical nor inconsistent. On the contrary, Turkey’s multidimensional geopolitical position is an asset for the region. There are few countries that can play such a critical role. Turkey constitutes a new synthesis because of its ability to link such diverse qualities and backgrounds.

Indeed, this capacity is essential because we need to leave behind the Manichean disagreements, conflicts and fears of the Cold War era. Those who see the world through those old, fearful lenses have difficulty understanding Turkey’s rising profile and dynamism. But the realities of the 21st century necessitate a multi-dimensional and inclusive political perspective.

Acting on these principles, Turkey is following a proactive foreign policy stretching from the Balkans to the Middle East and the Caucasus. This geography is Turkey’s natural historical and cultural hinterland.

Turkey cannot remain indifferent to this geography, for it stands at the center of it. History clearly shows that it is impossible to establish and sustain global peace without ensuring peace and stability in the Balkans and the Middle East. Due to our recent efforts, the wounds of the Bosnian war are being healed, facilitating peace and stability among Balkan peoples.

Moreover, we are helping to facilitate political stability in Iraq and helping the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

Today, Turkey is following a policy that represents a sense of justice in the Middle East, and it is working toward the removal of artificial borders and walls among the region’s peoples. We desire to live in a region where the dignity of every person is respected.

We know that it is not possible to attain global peace unless we establish sustainable peace in the Middle East, which requires resolving the Palestinian question.

Motivated by these principles, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and I showed through our Alliance of Civilizations Initiative in 2004 that cultural, historic and religious differences are no reason for conflict. As a result, we stand firmly opposed to discrimination against any society, religion, sect, culture or country.

Besides its cultural, historic and diplomatic values, Turkey’s vibrant economy has become a source of stability and welfare. When my party took office in 2002, the Turkish economy totaled around $250 billion. Today, Turkey’s annual GDP has reached $800 billion, making it Europe’s sixth-largest economy and the 17th largest in the world. It has also been one of the least impacted by the global economic crisis, with growing foreign trade, a strong banking system and diverse and prospering small and midsize enterprises.

All of these qualities have transformed Turkey into an attractive place for business, media, artists, diplomats, students and non-governmental organizations from around the world.

The impact of globalization has brought about a rebalancing of power, but the demand for justice, transparency and legitimacy remains constant. That is why we are following a proactive policy in multilateral institutions to facilitate an equitable sharing of our world’s resources.

Turkey will continue to work toward a just and equitable global order in 2011 and beyond.

*The writer is Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey.

By Recep Tayyip Erdogan
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