The following viewpoint from Abdullah Gul, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, is taken from the Oxford Business Group's latest publication, Emerging Turkey 2004. For more information on how to order a copy of the most comprehensive review of the Turkish economy to date, please write to us at email@example.com
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The Middle East, with its natural and human resources, has made fundamental contributions to the advancement of human civilisation. The peoples of this region have lived together in peace and harmony for centuries, fostering advancement in science, literature and the arts. The violence and desperation that we witness today is not inherent in the region. I am convinced that, peace, progress and prosperity can reign again in the Middle East.
Having rebounded solidly from a devastating economic crisis, weathered the storm of war just across our border and passed a series of important reforms as part of our integration process with the European Union, Turkey is in a position to play a leading role in the Middle East and international efforts to secure peace and prosperity throughout the region. In order to realise these ends, Turkey has focused its attention on Iraq, the peace process and promoting democratic reform.
The international community has a responsibility vis-à-vis Iraq to do what is necessary to return her as a reconstructed and respected member of the community of nations. Plagued by war and crisis for more than two decades, it is high time Iraq assumed its role of a cooperative, peaceful neighbour, generating welfare not only for its own people but also for the people of the region.
UN Security Council Resolutions 1511 and 1483 lay out how the international community can help make the Iraqi transition a smooth and swift one. These resolutions reaffirm the territorial integrity and national unity of Iraq and the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty in a timeframe to be worked out.
Turkey wishes to see peace, well being and stability restored in our important neighbour as soon as possible and is ready to support and contribute to the endeavours of the US and the international community in order to realise a democratic, stable and prosperous Iraq, along the lines spelled out in these resolutions.
Along with a rehabilitated Iraq, a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict is a sine qua non for lasting Middle East peace. Turkey supports the road-map, as laid out by the Middle East Quartet composed of the US, the Russian Federation, the UN and the EU.
Despite the ongoing violence, peace efforts must continue toward the goal of two states with recognised and secure borders. In this process, it is an urgent duty to solve the serious economic and social problems of the Palestinian nation, while putting a halt to violence and terror.
Turkey also believes that in addition to the Israeli-Palestine track, revitalising the Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese peace tracks are essential to provide a lasting, just and comprehensive peace in the region.
We see our role in Iraq and in the peace process as part of a wider vision for the Middle East, in which the following principles serves as a guide: full respect for the rule of law, an independent and effective judiciary, respect for individual rights and freedoms, the encouragement of political and economic participation for women and men alike, improvements in the quality of education, overcoming the urban-rural divide and the responsible use of resources.
The visions of Turkey and the US converge on the principles of democracy, freedom, human rights, transparency and free markets. We will continue to work closely with Washington in line with our mutual strategic interests. We perceive Turkey and the US as two indispensable partners. It is essential that both our countries act in line with this understanding.
The alliance between our two countries is rooted deeply in the past and we welcome its further deepening and broadening in the economic, commercial and technological fields. Turkey is an essential player in the region. As a Muslim and secular country, we are proving that a Muslim country can be democratic, transparent and comfortable with the modern world.
This is the mission of our party and the government. And that is our goal for the Middle East.