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

    US Watching as North Korea Holds Biggest Political Meeting in 36 Years

    Workers' Party Congress set for Friday; Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    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.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora