News & Media

December 7, 2012
Turkey and the Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities

On December 7, 2012, following the invitation of the Higher Institute of Political and Administrative Sciences at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, the Ambassador of Turkey to Lebanon, H.E. Mr. Inan Ozyildiz delivered a lecture entitled: “Turkey and the Middle East, Challenges and Opportunities”, with the presence of members of the University Council, professors and students.

The Assistant to the President, Director of the Higher Institute of Political and Administrative Sciences, Dr. Georges Yahchouchi, inaugurated the session and introduced the guest speaker.

H.E. Ambassador Ozyildiz began by stating that “… a new era started in the Middle East exactly two years ago and it presents both challenges and opportunities for the region as well as for my country”. Throughout his lecture, he tackled the main factors influencing foreign policy-making in his country, and analyzed these policies towards the Middle East.

He asserted that there are fixed elements and other factors that ensure the continuity of the policy, stating that “Geography is one of the most important of these elements… Turkey can be seen as a country situated in Asia, in the Middle East, in the Balkans, in Europe or in the Caspian region… As you may know from your courses, the immediate neighborhood of Turkey is known as crisis prone region of the world. Located in such a difficult geography, Turkey continuously exerts efforts to promote a zone of peace, prosperity and stability in the region.” He added that history and culture are two important elements as well: “The Turkish people today is a nation that has social, ethnic, religious, cultural links with every country and this is a good reason for it to be sensitive to the developments affecting this large geography. This is why Turkey is keen to promote peaceful co-existence, mutual respect, friendship…”

He continued: “Human potential and the economic power are two factors also influencing foreign policies… The population of Turkey has reached almost 75 million as of the end of 2011, and today the country stands as the 16th biggest economy in the world.”

The Turkish Ambassador explained about the political system which lies behind this foreign policy and said: “Our political system is based on democracy and secularism… Having protected the basic tenets of its republic, Turkey is now trying to transform it into a modern democracy, up to the level of the European democracies… We now have a history of 50 years and are a negotiating country for the membership in the EU in addition to our participation to the Customs Union of the EU…”

On the subject of the Middle East, Mr. Ozyildiz stated: “At the turn of the 21st century, Turkey started to use its growing economic power more effectively in the region. The main theme behind our widely known policies was the promotion of regional peace through increasing economic interdependency… Actually, my country has started immediately after the Cold War to appeal for a gradual democratization of the region to take place in a smooth peaceful manner.” He added that they always urge for reforms of the enrooted belief that democracy is the best guarantee for peace and stability everywhere in the world.

Finally, he moved to the relations between his country and Lebanon saying that they are excellent and “… we have untapped potential between our two countries. Our common past goes back to 10 centuries ago. Today, Turkey and Lebanon share a common vision for their region and they stand for the same principles in the international arena. The cooperation and solidarity between our two Nations at the UN Security Council, especially during the Presidency of Lebanon in September 2011, was a case point.” He added that Lebanon and Turkey are always thriving to promote their bilateral relation through an exchange of many significant visitors as well as many important economic agreements. As a result, the bilateral trade reached a record level in 2011 and tourism between the two countries is booming.

He concluded: “I believe that the relations between our two countries will continue to further develop in the years ahead and will be an example for the rest of the region.”
Holy Spirit University of Kaslik
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