Ambassador's Speech to the Rotary Salmaniya Branch

Hatun Demirer 28.12.2016
Turkey’s posture (with regard to some issues in the region)

Distinguished Members of Rotary Salmaniya,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a real privilege for me to be here today.

I thank Mrs Amira Ismail for inviting me to your regular meeting.

I apologize for the last minute program change two weeks ago. It was beyond my control.

You Rotarians are very active in Bahrain and are constantly engaging in charity and awareness raising activities which I personally follow with admiration.

With this general observation, I believe that you are also following the developments related with Turkey.

I specified my topic as “Turkey’s posture” which gives an impression of an open ended speech. In fact, I will be quite brief and focus on where Turkey stands on some issues;

-more specifically: a little bit on Syria and Iraq related matters
-our fight against terrorism (ISIS, PKK and PYD/YPG)
-and the recent coup attempt in Turkey

I will also have some words about the recent status of Turkey-Bahrain relations.

Following this short introduction, before diving into the matter, I feel obliged to make a general comment: Anyone who would like to understand Turkey and its policies properly should better have a clear idea about its geography, history and culture.

Having said that, Turkey is a geographically blessed country. It is a European, Balkan, Caucasian, Mediterranean, Asian and Middle Eastern country.

This means that Turkey has many faces and multiple identities. That's why it is historically and culturally so rich and so dynamic.

As geographical location may be a blessing for a country, it may also be a source of concern too.

Our region, in that sense, is never short of troubles.

Yet, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries and good neighborly relations have always been the basic pillars of the Turkish foreign policy.

For decades, we have been trying to establish an environment of sustainable peace, security, stability and prosperity in the region.

For realizing this goal, apart from establishing close bilateral relations with countries, we also developed different cooperation mechanisms with the regional countries.

The latest scheme was the establishment of strategic dialogue mechanisms, some of which still works with success but some others are on halt due to the regional developments beyond our control.

Most unfortunately, since 2010 a serious turbulence in ongoing in the region.

It is mainly concentrated in Syria and Iraq (if we leave Libya apart due to its different dynamics).

Inevitably, neighboring countries are directly affected of the results of this turbulence.

The first negative result has been the flood of millions of Syrian refugees.

We have quite long land borders with both Syria and Iraq, and whatever happens in those two countries, we are also affected.

Yes, we have no choice, but abide by what our geography dictates us.

Yet there is always a human dimension of any crisis as well and Syrians and Iraqis living at other side of our borders are our brothers and sisters.

That’s why, we do not have the luxury of being indifferent, nor can we stand idle, as some distant countries could easily do.

As a result, today in Turkey, we have around 3 million Syrians who fled their country to save their lives. This is the biggest refugee number so far in one single country according to the UNHCR.

As would be guessed, hosting huge number of Syrians is not the only result that my country had to face since 2010.

Second and more damaging result of the regional turbulence is the rise of evil ISIS terrorism which became a global threat.

Against this threat, we are alerted more deeply than any other country. We lost many innocent lives in different terror attacks in 2016.

But we are a very resilient country and have a very resilient nation against any terror attack. We will continue our fight against it and are determined to eradicate ISIS from our borders and beyond.

With that aim, Turkey is an active member of the international anti-ISIS coalition since its inception. Turkish airspace and military bases are used by international coalition fighter jets chasing the terrorists.

Lately, we also started “Operation Euphrates Shield” to clear ISIS from the north of Syria. This operation is in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter and carried out with the support of the international coalition.

Its objective is to push terrorists away from our borders and so far, it has been quite successful.

In fact, as Turkey we are against any terrorist group. We don’t want any of them to take root in our close neighbourhood.

In that sense, PKK is another notorious one which is officially recognized as a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and the EU. PKK and its Syrian offshoot YPG’s bloody terrorism target both civilians and security forces in Turkey.

That’s why we often ask international community not to be hypocrite and remain at equal distance to all terror groups and organizations. So far, honestly, we do not see that.

At this point, lately, you may also come across with some media reports alleging Turkey’s interference into other countries’ affairs. We are not interfering into anybody’s affair.

As all sovereign countries in the world, Turkey has every right to protect its own national security and national interests. Unity and territorial integrity of neighboring countries are an integral part of our national security. That’s why we are fiercely defending the protection of territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq.

And under the current developments, eradication of all kinds of terrorism regionally and globally is a must and that’s where our focus is.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I also would like to have some words about the recent internal developments in Turkey.

As you know, last July my country faced a coup attempt which was the biggest threat so far we had to cope with. A clandestine faction led by Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation attempted to overthrow the democratically elected government, our President and the constitutional order of Turkey.

Turkish people resented it by means of taking the streets and changed the course of history not only in Turkey but also in the region.

Confessions of the coup plotters have proven that the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation has penetrated into all state mechanism in a conscious and organized way in order to seize the state and change the constitutional regime.

But they could not succeed. Turkish nation proved that democracy is both indispensable and non-negotiable in Turkey.

Yet, there were and are hidden cells within the state mechanism. Turkish security and judicial authorities are working hard to clean them. Therefore, I ask you to disregard one-sided and prejudiced stories about Turkey.

In Turkish we have a saying: you recognize your true friends in bad days. July 15 was such a day for us.

Despite some countries’ hesitance to condemn the coup attempt, this noble country, Bahrain, was one of the first standing by us from the first moment on.

His Majesty the King paid an official visit to Turkey last August and showed his direct support to the democratic and constitutional legitimacy in Turkey. HM was the first leader from the region and the Arab world paying an official visit to Turkey after the coup attempt and we will always be grateful to him and the people of this lovely country.

Turkey and Bahrain have always had close and friendly relations. Following HM’s historical visit, you may expect more dynamism in our relations in all fields in the coming days.
Distinguished members of Rotary Salmaniya,

For concluding my speech, I will summarize what I tried to focus on:

-Turkey has multiple identities as a blessing of its geographical location. However, geography can also have source of concern too.

-Since 2010 a turbulence in the region is on-going and mostly concentrated in Syria and Iraq. Due to our direct land borders, Turkey is at the frontline of absorbing the negative side-effects of the turbulences in its geographical vicinity.

-Huge number of refugees is the first negative result of the turbulence. Turkish nation has never been and will never be indifferent to the sufferings of Syrian and Iraqi nations. Existence of about 3 million Syrians in Turkey is a testament to my words.

-Turkey has no hidden agenda in the region.

-We just want peace at home and peace and stability in our region. That’s why unity and territorial integrity of our neighboring countries are an integral part of Turkey’s national security.

-We fight against all kinds of terrorist organizations including ISIS, Al Nusra, PKK, YPG, etc. We expect all countries, especially our allies and neighbors, to act accordingly too. We also want to see the support and solidarity of international community as well.

-And at this very specific point, we know that this lovely Kingdom is there for us and we are proud of that.

While concluding my words, I thank you all and wish you a more peaceful year in 2017.

Thank you.

Kemal Demirciler Ambassador
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08.30 - 16.30 / 08.30 - 16.30

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