Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (AP/Yonhap)
By Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu
Istanbul recently hosted two separate, but interrelated and imperative, conferences on conflict mediation.
The Second Organization for Islamic Cooperation Member States’ Conference on Mediation on Nov. 29 analyzed the geography of conflict and our capacity for mediation as key regional stakeholders.
The Fifth Istanbul Mediation Conference on Nov. 30 discussed the connections between sustainable development, peace and mediation, as well as ways to strengthen the inclusion of both genders and the youth in the negotiation process. It also delved into the potential role of big data and artificial intelligence in conflict and mediation analyses.
These events cultivated a shared understanding of the pressing issues and created a road map for action.
Turkey, which also co-chairs the Friends of Mediation Groups at the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and OIC, is eager to share and apply the findings from these efforts.
The fact of the matter is that humanity now faces grave challenges of the 21st century, many of them man-made. Just when people thought the glass was half full with achievements in international law, good governance, democracy and the rule of law as well as free trade, the other empty half of the glass has become all the more apparent.
The present challenges of the world remain deep-seated, far-reaching and interconnected: geopolitical competitions, hegemonic proxy wars, failed states, trade wars, the exploitation of labor and rights, terrorism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, inequality, segregation and so on.
These predicaments are eating away the foundations of our achievements while closing down windows of opportunities into the future.
What will hold of our future?
The answer lies in how we effectively respond to these challenges, particularly how we -- as an international community -- can join our hands to tackle them.
One thing that is certain is that unless we begin to get our act together and seek a path of bold, humane action, the unthinkable will soon dominate our lives in every conceivable way.
The wait-and-see attitude is no longer tenable. Realistic policy options range from diplomacy to the actual use of force against terrorists and tyrants.
In Syria, Turkey’s innovative humanitarian approach liberated 4,000 square kilometers from terrorist organizations, the Islamic State, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, Democratic Union Party and People’s Protection Units. Had we not intervened, people living in Turkey would have continued to face the barrage of assault from the terrorists.
Out of our basic instincts of humanitarianism, Istanbul does its utmost to relieve the suffering of its neighbors. We have opened our doors to host more than 3.5 million Syrians -- the highest number worldwide -- and in the process spent the most money of any country in the world.
Turkey has also brokered agreements that saved countless lives, at the same time striving for an effective political and territorial solution to the Syrian tragedy. The Syrian case illuminates the importance of preventing a conflict before it engulfs into an uncontrollable fireball. The consequences are truly global, as even the lives of people thousands of kilometers away can be wrought by the threat of terrorism, onrush of migration, economic shocks or a scar on their conscience.
Vigilantly aware of the importance of prevention and peaceful resolution of any conflict, Turkey, as a co-chair of UN, OSCE and OIC mediation platforms, takes its job seriously. The two recent conferences in Istanbul were a wake-up call for the international community to forge a future of peace and progress together.