İstanbul becomes ‘capital of peace’

Foreign policy meetings organized on the shores of the Bosporus in İstanbul in the past week were a concrete reflection of Turkey's growing influence in the region. There were signs that İstanbul, which was the capital of the region for 400 years, is starting to reassert itself in the region with its “order establishing” identity.
War between Turkey and Iraq is no longer a matter of discussion and in the last year and a half an “integration” and peace oriented discourse was adopted. A concrete example of this was the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council Agreement signed by Ankara and Baghdad last year. Ministers from both countries signed dozens of protocols yesterday in İstanbul to give life to the accord. Perhaps the real aspect of these meetings that presented Turkey's role as a catalyst for cooperation was the presence of the Syrian delegation in İstanbul. Both Turkey and Egypt have been working to eliminate tension between these two countries.

One leg of the Mesopotamian vision put forward by Turkey is Iraq and the other is Syria. The most important outcome of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's visit to Turkey this week was that an agreement similar to the one with Iraq was signed with Damascus as well. Ankara-Baghdad and Ankara-Damascus relations are, in the words of Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, “perfect.”

Over the last seven years, Turkey has managed to reach its “zero problems with neighbors” target and move on to “maximum cooperation.” The initiatives to resolve the Cyprus, Armenian and Kurdish problems have proven Turkey's sincerity in its peace-oriented efforts and the way it has improved its relations with Russia is clear.

For a very long time in Europe there were people who voiced the concern that “if Turkey becomes a European Union member, the problems in the Middle East will move to Europe.” While we still hear these concerns from time to time, those who take a look at how Turkey has developed its relations with its neighbors and realize its sincerity and effectiveness in its vision for peace in the region will be able to understand that the complete opposite is valid today.

It can clearly be seen that the EU will experience security problems, not if it accepts Turkey as a member, but only if it refuses to. A couple of days ago Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa spoke with the foreign ministers of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the Arab League and said: “All issues in our region are being handled by Turkey from now on. İstanbul has become a capital of peace.”

 The EU must come to see that Turkey will add value to it and help it jump to a higher class. It is Turkey's membership that will shift the EU from being a continental power to becoming a global power. If the leaders of EU governments' disregard the most recently published “wise men's” report prepared under the auspices of former Finnish President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari, then they should listen to the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana. The two leaders that are in a position to realize this but do not are French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. When we look at it from this perspective, then, as Davutoğlu told CNN Türk, “The nature of Turkey-EU relations is no longer a nature of technical negotiations but a nature of strategic vision.”

Whatever it is that a Nobel Prize winner and former European president can see, a former Arab foreign affairs minister who is currently the head of the Arab world's umbrella organization sees as well. Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama see it, too. If Sarkozy can't see what the entire world can see then how sad it is for France. Or do the French think no one else can see the danger that they see? If so, that means the situation is more serious.  

Gürkan Zengin