Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that Turkey would determine its own foreign policy and such a foreign policy would not be determined by others.
Speaking at the Turkish-Arab Relations Conference in Sheraton Hotel in Kuwait, Erdogan said that Turkey determined her its foreign policy agenda.
"We do not know exactly when the Turks and Arabs met each other for the first time. Strong friendship between the Turks and Arabs was established after the Turks converted to Islam. Our relations are not merely limited to those of the Republic of Turkey and the Ottoman period. Turks and Arabs lived together during the Seljukian era and later. Turks and Arabs jointly defended these lands during the raids of the crusaders," Erdogan said.
Reminding that the eastern province of Erzurum was defined as the "Key of Islam", Erdogan said that many in the region shed tears when Erzurum was invaded.
We know that a mobilization was declared when Erzurum was invaded. We are individuals who fought together against the invaders. I will be very frank. In the last century, our countries may have experienced certain problems in relations. There could be entities feeling uneasiness by the development of Turkish-Arab relations. Yet these entities can not put a shadow on our joint history and brotherhood of a thousand years, Erdogan stressed.
Throughout my life, I have witnessed efforts that aimed at separating Turks and Arabs, Erdogan noted.
In the past eight years, we have witnessed this sneaky propaganda more openly, Erdogan said.
We are being criticized by certain people when we talk about Baghdad, Kabul, Gaza, Jerusalem and Palestine. The same individuals question Turkey's presence in the EU. No one should be insulted but we determine our own foreign policy. We make our own foreign policy agenda. The Arabs are our brothers and sisters. We are their brothers and sisters. Kuwait happens to be our brother. Regardless of what some say, we will continue to develop brotherhood and cooperation with our Arab brothers and sisters. On one hand, we will continue EU negotiations and, on the other hand, we will not turn our back to regions with which we have been sharing friendship and brotherhood for centuries. Our union is political, economic, commercial and cultural. We are members of the same civilization. We share a common history. We wrote our joint history together. We have no goals in this region other than brotherhood and mutual cooperation, Erdogan underlined.
When Kuwait was invaded (by Iraq), all in Turkey felt the pain. Turkey did everything possible to end the invasion in Kuwait, Erdogan said.
We considered the pain of the people of Iraq, of the Afghan people and Pakistan as the pain of ourselves. When any organ of a body feels pain, the whole body feels pain, Erdogan said.
"Likewise, when children in Gaza were massacred, we felt their pain as if our own children went through a massacre. Jerusalem's problem is our problem. Gaza's problem is our problem. We defend justice for all regardless of their language, religion or skin color. I strongly condemn the recent terrorist attack in Egypt and offer condolences to the families of the victims. We do not want to see pain in this region any more. We do not want to see blood, teardrops, wars, or terror in this region any more. Placing the word 'Islam' before 'terror' is disrespect to the Muslims. You can not place Islam next to terror. How can you associate Islam, which translates into "peace", with terror? Islam rejects terror and says that 'killing a single individual implies killing the whole humanity'. Therefore, we have to continue to make efforts that show that we are against terror," Erdogan said.
With its deep rooted culture, this geography deserves peace, welfare and stability. This region carries the potential to shape the whole world, Erdogan noted.
Through solidarity, we can overcome the Palestine problem and end the pain in Iraq and Afghanistan. We do not have to apply at others to help us. Yet, at foremost, we need to establish our own union. We can strengthen stability in Lebanon and prevent terror acts in Egypt. Through solidarity, we can overcome poverty in the region. This is Turkey's goal. We have established high level cooperation mechanisms with certain countries. We have established a cooperation mechanism in the Gulf region. We can establish a better tomorrow together. We do not need others to determine relations between our countries. We can take nice steps together, Erdogan said.
We wanted to open a new page with the Middle Eastern countries, as in other parts of the world, and succeeded in doing this. We have opened our hearts to you. We are in an effort to leave aside artificial discussions of the past and a history based on lies. Do not be separated and do not fall into discords, Erdogan said.
I am highly confident that more prosperous days in the region will arrive based on brotherhood in the region, Erdogan said.
When we came to power in Turkey eight years ago, Turkey's national income was 230 billion USD. Turkey's national income in 2010 exceeded 740 billion USD. This means that when you set up a goal, you can reach it with determination. Our exports were worth 36 billion USD only several years ago and reached a figure of 114 billion USD in 2010. Inflation in Turkey had been around 30 percent. Inflation in 2010 dropped to 6.4 percent. All of these show that, when you believe in something you are doing and work for it, you reach your goals, Erdogan also said.
The conference was attended by Kuwaiti Prime Minister Nasir al-Muhammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, Turkish State Minister Zafer Caglayan, Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz, Deputy Chairman of the Justice and Development (AK) Party Omer Celik, Deputy Chairman of AK Party Group Suat Kilic and other dignitaries.
Source : Journal of Turkish Weekly