Turkish prime minister talks of a new world order
During the speech, which was delivered in Turkish and simultaneously translated to audience members via individual earpieces, Erdogan said that today’s most pressing international matters require international cooperation that embraces a diversity of opinion while focusing on political, cultural, economic and legal issues.
“This global order should be an order which embraces everyone, which is ... based on sharing, which sees differences as social enrichment. And it should be an order which is based on trust,” Erdogan explained. “This political order should be just, equitable and participatory. We must understand world politics as a whole, and we must understand properly the dynamic relationship between different actors.”
Erdogan criticized the hypocrisy of world leaders and organizations who profess respect for all people and all viewpoints in documents like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but whose actions contradict their stated views.
“If you have the text, and you don’t have the practice, that of course is not really of any use to us,” he said. “In our country, we say that you cannot feel the sweet taste of honey in your mouth just by speaking the name of honey. You have to eat the honey to taste the taste.”
Turkey’s past experience dealing with economic recession, ethnic conflict and terrorism leaves it in a position to play an important role in international cooperation aimed at combating these issues, Erdogan said.
He explained, “When [my party] first came to power, we had many problems with countries surrounding us … had problems with almost all of our neighbors, and so much so that the situation was at times threatening, and we said that our goal is not to make enemies, but to make friends.”
Erdogan pointed to the specific examples of Turkish relations with Syria, Iraq, Iran, Russia and the Caucasus as evidence of his country’s successful foreign policy. “If one can remove prejudice and preconceptions,” he said, “it is not so difficult at the end of the day to make friends.”
President Tilghman, who introduced Erdogan, lauded Turkey as a key American ally and an important leader in Middle Eastern politics.
“Turkey occupies a critical place in the world, bridging as it does two continents, and not just geographically,” she said. “It looks both east and west … Its history has been inextricably intertwined with both the Christian and Muslim worlds.”
The alliance between Turkey and the United States is especially important in preventing terrorism, Erdogan explained. To do this, he cautioned, people must stop equating terrorism with Muslim religious beliefs.
“Islam never accepts terrorism,” he said. “The meaning of the word ‘Islam’ is ‘peace.’ It is a religion which believes in peace.”
While Erdogan acknowledged that much remains to be accomplished, he said he believes Turkey’s values and the will of its people will help guide the country. “We are trying to take the right steps based on justice and rights, and those steps are supported by our society, our people.”