| Today's Zaman|
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Sunday opposed any foreign intervention into the countries going through political unrest in the region, saying nations should be able to determine their own future.
Davutoğlu's remarks came amid his calls for more democracy and freedom in Doha, Qatar, where he attended the sixth Al Jazeera forum to discuss recent political developments in the Middle East with other officials, bloggers, journalists, intellectuals and democracy activists.
The Turkish foreign minister delivered a speech with former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at a panel discussion and opposed any foreign intervention into countries whose people face imminent and sometimes violent suppression by their authorities as they demand change and reform.
The foreign minister stressed that Turkey does not want to see divided countries as a result of recent developments in Arab countries, and noted that Turkey wants to see these countries come out of these processes more powerful than before.
“There must not be foreign intervention into these processes. Nations should be able to determine their own future. Foreign intervention will only make things more complicated,” he said.
Davutoğlu, however, said leaders and intellectuals could become involved in these processes and that this should not be counted as foreign intervention, adding that regional countries share a history, and that intellectuals, leaders and journalists must come together to display solidarity with the process.
Davutoğlu later told reporters that he meant it was military interventions in particular that could prompt a reaction and complicate conditions domestically and that he thinks interventions like humanitarian aid or contributions are something that everyone should participate in. “We have to put all our efforts toward a peaceful transformation in the region,” Davutoğlu noted.
He said a transformation in the region was a social necessity and that no one should attempt to resist change in the region. “No leader can stay in power indefinitely,” Davutoğlu said, urging leaders to respect the changes sweeping across the region.
Davutoğlu said the theme of this year's Al Jazeera Forum, “Has the Future Arrived?” overlapped with recent developments in the Middle East. “Yes, the future has arrived,” Davutoğlu noted. The foreign minister noted that the advent of democracy had been delayed in the Middle East for various reasons, but he said “history should now normalize.”
“Everyone deserves democracy. People's demands should be respected,” he said, adding that young people and the people of the region do not want a luxurious life. “They just want to see respect.”
The Al Jazeera Annual Forum was launched in 2004 to provide an opportunity to discuss and debate the critical dynamics of the Middle East as part of a globalized world. The impetus for the forum grew out of the need for a journalism that can better capture how events and realities interact and play out on the ground in the region.
Davutoğlu also stressed the need to provide balance between freedom and security and said these notions are not substitutes for one another. “If you see people as a threat to a state, then the end of the state has arrived,” Davutoğlu underlined.
Davutoğlu said Turkey has strong relations with Middle East and North African nations and that Turkey is also facing similar problems and opportunities. He also noted that its fate intersects with many of the states in its region.
Davutoğlu said universal principles such as democracy, transparency, the rule of law and accountability are not alien to the region. He also lauded the Egyptian army for not targeting protestors and stressed that “the most powerful army in the world is the one that does not intervene in politics.”
Davutoğlu also said that the UN system must change and that a new order based on justice should be built, while Middle Eastern countries should contribute more to this process.
Speaking during the panel discussion, da Silva said there is no better system than democracy and that the world needs more democracy and freedom. Da Silva said everyone should work for a fairer system based on social justice and equal access to opportunities.
Davutoğlu held talks with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, following his speech at the forum and told reporters after his meeting that the forum was a fruitful event for intellectuals and politicians. Davutoğlu said he had expressed Turkey's vision and its point of view regarding the change in the Middle East during his speech at the panel discussion.
Noting that it was important to frequently send (positive) signals to the public in the region, Davutoğlu said he will also hold talks with politicians from Egypt and Tunisia. The foreign minister said he held a comprehensive meeting with the Qatari emir and added that there are parallel lines and joint approaches between Turkey and Qatar regarding all Middle East policies.
No readmission agreement without visa exemption talksDavutoğlu also traveled to Budapest on Saturday to attend the foreign ministerial meeting of EU member and candidate states. He held talks with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.
Along with bilateral relations, Davutoğlu also discussed Turkish-EU relations and visa exemption talks with the foreign ministers.
Davutoğlu reportedly told Juppe that insisting on visa exemptions is Turkey's legal right and that the bloc had promised visa exemption to Turkey. Davutoğlu also expressed to his French counterpart that Turkey's position in this is very clear and that the readmission agreement with the EU on the return of illegal immigrants could only be implemented simultaneously with the start of a discussion on visa exemptions for Turkish nationals traveling to the EU.
Davutoğlu told the Anatolia news agency that all sides at the meeting of foreign ministers agreed building necessary dialogue with Turkey is important for the EU to pursue an effective foreign policy with respect to the Middle East.