ANKARA: Turkish foreign minister addresses OIC meeting oninternation

Turkish foreign minister addresses OIC meeting on international issues

Anatolia news agency, Ankara
14 Jun 04

Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul has
said in the opening of the OIC summit in Istanbul that the world is
“at a very crucial time” and has mentioned Arab-Israeli conflict, Iraq,
terrorism, Africa and economic deprivation as the main problems needed
to be sorted out. Pointing out that all Islamic countries are directly
affected by these issues, Gul said that it is the OIC mission “dictated
by common heritage and deep sense of history” to rise to the present
challenges. He asked the OIC to develop and increase institutional
relations with other regional organizations in order to “strengthen
global harmony and the settlement of regional disputes. On Cyprus,
Gul also asked the OIC member states to support the Turkish Cypriots
“materially and politically”. The following is the text of report in
English by Turkish news agency Anatolia

Istanbul, 14 June: Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister
Abdullah Gul said on Monday [14 June]: “As the Islamic countries, we
must take strength from our common heritage which offers a rational
and humanistic understanding of the world.”

Speaking at the 31st session of Islamic Conference of Foreign
Ministers in Istanbul, Gul said: “We meet again at a very crucial
time. The Arab-Israeli conflict with the question of Palestine at
its core is bleeding hopes away. Iraq has yet to show a genuine sign
towards stability. Africa’s problems remain to be solved. Terrorism is
expanding its scope and intensifying in ferocity. Sense of security
is fast diminishing. The continuing political, social and economic
deprivation is bringing greater instability. Those preaching clash of
civilizations are winning more attentive ears. Prejudices, fanaticism
and discrimination are everywhere. And, insecurity is now threatening
a global economic downturn.”

“We, as the Islamic countries, are affected by all these issues
directly. Therefore, we need to rise to the challenge. This is not
a matter of choice; it is a mission dictated by our common heritage
and our deep sense of history. Our task may be difficult. However,
we must not fall to desperation. We must take strength from our common
heritage which offers a rational and humanistic understanding of the
world. This quality of Islamic culture and tradition has produced
remarkable achievements in the past. But it is not enough to content
ourselves with the old times. Our present challenge is to work for
similar achievements today and in the future,” he said.

Gul noted: “It is gratifying to see that many fellow OIC members feel
the need for improved quality of political and social standards. Even
within the past one year, we have witnessed individual and collective
efforts towards this end.”

“There has been an increasing interest both in the West and the
East in Turkey’s experience in harmonizing contemporary values with
the traditional identity. Indeed, human rights, gender equality and
realization of universal standards including the European political
criteria by a Muslim society has been welcomed by all,” he stressed.

Gul listed common values as, “the sovereign nations that make up
the OIC are determined to further the political, economic, social
and cultural progress of their societies; equality and freedom
of their citizens is their cherished principle; transparency and
accountability are guiding principles of good governance; broadening
the representative nature and democratic practices of government is
a constant objective; providing contemporary education to all its
citizens is an essential function of the government; and sustainable
economic and social development should be pursued vigorously and
efforts should be deployed in reducing poverty.”

He enumerated collective efforts as “the OIC members should assist
each other in their efforts for progress and reform; the OIC,
as an institution, should devise ways and means for supporting the
reforms in a collective framework; also for the purpose of shouldering
these tasks, the OIC needs to make a determined effort to adapt its
secretariat to the growing demands of today”.

“The OIC should develop and increase institutional relations with
other regional organizations such as the Arab League, the Economic
Cooperation Organization, the D-8, the Gulf Cooperation Council,
the African Union, the ASEAN, the European Union (EU), the Council
of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, for the purpose
of fostering intra and inter-regional cooperation and for drawing
expertise and resources for the OIC members’ national projects. These
institutional relations should also help strengthen global harmony
and attract meaningful interest in the settlement of the regional
disputes,” he said. Gul added: “I also look forward to the convening of
the second OIC-EU joint forum in Istanbul next October. This meeting
will take place at a time when the need for cooperation and mutual
understanding becomes more important than ever.”

Gul continued: “Now it is high time for the international community
to give full backing to the Turkish Cypriots by engaging in direct
economic, commercial, social and cultural contacts with them.” Gul
said: “the United Nations Settlement Plan was overwhelmingly rejected
by the Greek Cypriot side on 24 April 2004, while the Turkish Cypriots
approved it with a clear majority. This vote has fundamentally changed
the circumstances in Cyprus. The international organizations and many
countries expressed regret over the Greek Cypriot attitude. They all
welcomed the Turkish Cypriots’ determination for the settlement.”

“OIC Secretary-General Dr Belkeziz reported that the international
community, and the Muslim countries in particular, should work together
to address the plight of the Turkish Cypriots by supporting them
materially and politically. Also, the first ever official visit of the
OIC secretary-general on 28 May 2004 to the [self-proclaimed] Turkish
Republic of Northern Cyprus was most timely and meaningful. I commend
this action of solidarity with the Turkish Cypriots,” he stressed.

Gul noted: “The United Nations secretary-general, in his recent report,
calls on all states to cooperate both bilaterally and in international
bodies to eliminate restrictions and barriers that have the effect
of isolating the Turkish Cypriots and impeding their development.”

“Now it is high time for the international community to give full
backing to the Turkish Cypriots by engaging in direct economic,
commercial, social and cultural contacts with them. The EU and the
United States have already taken some steps with a view to putting
an end to the isolation of Turkish Cypriots,” he emphasized.

Gul added: “Our current meeting is an opportunity for this organization
and the Islamic World to extend full support to Turkish Cypriot Muslim
brothers, so as to put an end to their isolation.”

Gul continued: “Iraq remains insecure and volatile. Violence and
terror in Iraq need to be dealt with. This is essential for the
transformation and the rebuilding of the country.”

Gul said: “Iraq now has an interim government that will assume
sovereignty by the end of this month. We wish this government to be
successful. We wish they prove to serve the collective interests of
the Iraqi people in their entirety. We wish they remain conscious
that the source of legitimacy of this interim government ultimately
lies with the people.”

“I commend Mr Lakhdar Brahimi, the Special Adviser of the United
Nations secretary-general, is helping move forward the transition in
Iraq. I hope the United Nations will be able to play its independent
and effective role in assisting the Iraqis in institution-building
and election preparation in the months ahead,” he said.

Gul stressed: “Iraq meanwhile remains insecure and volatile. Violence
and terror in Iraq need to be dealt with. This is essential for the
transformation and the rebuilding of the country. The international
community should support the Iraqi people in this process. It is a
moral obligation for us. It is also an investment for regional peace
and stability. In this respect, we welcome the unanimously adopted
UN Security Council Resolution No 1546.”

“The neighbouring countries of Iraq have supported this country’s
free and peaceful future since the onset of the Iraqi crisis. This
continuing joint initiative is a great asset for the integrity and
the stability of Iraq,” he said.

Gul added: “The OIC has a meaningful role to play in Iraq. Furthermore,
UN Security Council Resolution No 1546 calls upon international and
regional organizations to contribute to Iraq’s stability. Therefore,
we should elaborate on ways on how to assist the political process as
well as the humanitarian needs in Iraq. Turkey, during its Chairmanship
of the ICFM, will pay particular attention to this point.”

Gul said that he believed that full support would be given to Prof
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu for office of OIC secretariat-general. Gul
continued: “Ihsanoglu has long been a household name for our
organization as the successful director general of IRCICA. I do not
need to repeat here what we all already know about this professional,
academic and administrative credentials. I am confident that the will
have more to offer as the secretary-general of the organization.”

“My government has an increasing interest in revitalizing the OIC
and its Secretariat. The OIC needs to continue to move forward as an
institution. We want to contribute to this in every possible way we
can. It is in this spirit that my government has decided to nominate
a candidate for the post of secretary-general of the OIC,” he noted.

Gul said: “Turkey will do its utmost over the next year as the chairman
of the ICFM to rise up to the challenges facing the organization. We
are confident that we can count on your full support.”

“The question of Palestine has become even more acute over
the past year. Violence claimed many more innocent lives. The
destruction brought by the policies of Israel deprived thousands
of more Palestinians of even minimum requirements for living. The
Palestinian [National] Authority remains mainly incapacitated. Turkey
has all along stated that the employment of terror, suicide missions,
targeted assassinations and deliberate destruction can bring no good
to any party either now or in the longer run. I would like to draw
the attention of the international community once more to the urgency
of the solution of this problem which, coupled with the situation in
Iraq, continues to undermine global peace and harmony,” Gul noted.

Abdullah Gul stressed: “In this regard, I commend the initiative taken
by Malaysia, the OIC summit chairman. The special ministerial meeting
held last April has led to a well-organized diplomatic activity. The
OIC ministerial delegation, including Turkey, has thus far met three
of the four Quartet partners. Our message to the sponsors of the
road-map has been clear. The OIC will actively stand behind genuine
movement towards settlement, and the OIC will be watchful of all
concerned parties.”

He said: “Inspired also by the Arab Peace Initiative, based on the
wise ideas of Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the OIC can
oversee the process to achieve the two-state solution between Israel
and Palestine. We can do the same for Israel’s peace with Syria and
Lebanon, based on Security Council Resolutions Nos 242 and 338. This
can be achieved through the OIC mechanisms already available. Thus,
the OIC, from its political and moral high ground, can offer full
normalization and cooperation in the region.”

Gul said: “Africa needs our particular attention. The long-standing
problems of economic development, health and famine continue to
undermine the nations of this continent. Regional conflicts make their
challenges even more difficult. The need to support sustainable
development and social progress in Africa is an international
responsibility of which we need to take our share.”

“Concerning Afghanistan, we are pleased that the Bonn process is
being implemented successfully despite difficulties. Adoption of the
new constitution is an important step towards the establishment of a
new political structure in Afghanistan. With the upcoming elections
in September, a new chapter will be opened. To maintain the pace
of this progress, Afghanistan needs the continued commitment of
the international community. Turkey will continue its support to
Afghanistan,” Gul noted.

Foreign Minister Gul said: “We remained concerned by the ongoing
situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Its people have already suffered
greatly. This question undermines the stability of the whole
region. We look forward to a peaceful solution to this question
through dialogue, on the basis of international legitimacy. The human
rights of the Kahsmiri people should be fully respected and their will
honoured as mandated by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
The recent moves made by both Pakistan and India and the process of
“composite dialogue” have increased our hopes. We commend Pakistan
for its continued efforts to sustain this dialogue. We wish to see
these efforts will be crowned with success this time.”

Gul stressed that the Azeri-Armenian conflict still stands as
one of the principle obstacles to regional stability, prosperity
and cooperation in Southern Caucasia. The time has come to find a
peaceful solution to this conflict within the territorial integrity
of Azerbaijan. The Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories
has to be brought to an end. This is in the interest of the regional
countries as well as the international community. Turkey is ready to
play its role in settling this issue.

“International terrorism is widening its reach and increasing
in ferocity. It continues to claim lives and hopes around the
world. Terrorism has not religion, ethnicity or culture. It is an
affront to the humanity. Therefore, it must be fought back resolutely,”
he pointed out.

“For many years, the OIC has been monitoring the conditions of
the Turkish Muslim minority in Western Thrace. This minority has
vested rights based on bilateral agreements and international
instruments. However, they are not yet able to enjoy these basic
minority rights to the full extend. The OIC therefore needs to
continue to follow the Turkish Muslim minority’s plight closely. I
hope my government’s improving relations and dialogue with Greece
will also contribute to the betterment of this minority’s conditions,”
Gul stated.

“The economic and commercial activities of the OIC constitute one
of the main pillars of our cooperation. The Standing Committee for
Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC), chaired by the president
of Turkey, has been a highly effective instrument in this respect. And
this year marks the 20th anniversary of its inception. A special
meeting of Ministers of Economy and Trade will be organized to mark
this and to evaluate the perspectives of further economic-commercial
cooperation among us,” Gul said.

Gul emphasized: “This year, we are also pleased to see the Framework
Agreement for the Trade Preferential System among the Member Countries
of the OIC coming into force. This is indeed a landmark. The Trade
Negotiating Committee formed under this agreement has also held its
first meeting recently in Turkey.”

” In this respect, I would also like to express my government’s
continued support for the activities of the two successful subsidiary
organs of the OIC hosted by Turkey, namely IRCICA and SESRTCIC,”
he noted.

Gul said, “I tried to address a number of major issues for our
organization. Many more vital matters constitute part of our agenda.

Dealing with these requires year-round dedication and hard work. That
is where the role of the Secretariat becomes crucial.