News / Middle East

Turkey Seeks to Be International Mediation Center

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (file photo)
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (file photo)
Dorian Jones

The Turkish foreign minister is seeking to make Istanbul a center for mediation in resolving international crises.  The initiative comes as Ankara seeks to resolve the conflict in Syria and tensions over Iran's nuclear energy program.

“Enhancing Peace through Mediation: New Actors, Fresh Approaches, Bold Initiatives," was the title for a recent gathering of foreign ministers, past and present, and leading academics.

The conference in Istanbul was part of an initiative in cooperation with Finland to establish Istanbul as an international mediation center.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the architect of the initiative, says his country is ideally placed.

"Why is it so important for Turkey, we are right at the center of all these earthquakes, in geo-political earthquakes from Balkans to Central Asia.  Turkey is right at the center.  And all of the crises were directly or indirectly, historically and culturally, were related to Turkey," he said.

The initiative has a threefold approach; raising awareness of the importance of mediation, increasing mediation capacity within the United Nations and on a regional level, and for Turkey to enhance its role within its own region.  The initiative has the strong support of the president of the U.N. General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.  Addressing the meeting in Istanbul, he said there is need for a more regional approach to resolve crises.

"The significant and increasing role of regional and sub-regional arrangements, it is all natural that these organizations know and better understand, the situation on the ground in their own regions.  The United Nations should therefore support regional actors and initiatives with a view to finding lasting solutions to disputes," Nassir said.

The ongoing bloodshed in Syria was very much in the forefront of the minds of those attending the meeting.  Turkey, which shares a 900-kilometer border with Syria, is taking a leading diplomatic role in seeking an end to the fighting.  Critics have said Ankara has failed to influence Damascus.  But Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal says they are still working for a diplomatic solution.

"Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, we have been trying to solve this issue by diplomatic means and we will continue these efforts, and of course since bloodshed continues we cannot stay idle to that situation.  The Arab League efforts failed, the U.N. Security Council resolution failed, that is why we have initiated a series of diplomatic efforts, which culminated in the Tunis meeting," Unal said.

The Tunis meeting, under the label "Friends of Syria," brought together countries supporting the Syrian opposition.  Political observers say the meeting achieved few tangible results, but next month Istanbul will host a second meeting.

Istanbul is also to be the venue of an international gathering on the region's other major crisis - Iran's controversial nuclear energy program.

Last year, Turkey's vote in the Security Council against U.N. sanctions on Iran strained relations with its Western allies.  But since then Ankara has come back into the fold by agreeing to participate in a NATO anti-missile defense system primarily aimed at countering Iran, and by its robust opposition to Damascus, a key ally of Tehran.

An international relations expert for the Turkish newspaper Haberturk, Soli Ozel, says despite strained relations with Iran, Turkey remains a dialogue partner for Tehran.

"Well basically shows no matter what your feelings are about Turkey it has to be part of any solution in Syria, for instance.  But it may be the solution that the Turks prefer, and Iran as well.  Iran still needs Turkey's good offices and it is the only country that really really tries very hard for a diplomatic solution.  And Iranians believe they can trust Turks more because we are so dependent on them on gas and stuff like that," Ozel said.

The mediation initiative by Turkey seeks to formalize the growing diplomatic role the country is carving out for itself in a region that is facing increasing instability and crisis.

You May Like

Video Biden Attends Services at Emanuel AME

Biden said he came to Sunday’s services because he and his family wanted to show solidarity with the families and the church More

Diverse Nation

Here's why minorities could become the US majority sooner than expected More

Rush of Same-Sex Marriages Follows US Supreme Court Ruling

But swift backlash from conservative groups foreshadows battles ahead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs