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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development 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.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid