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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/25/11

Turkey and the Middle East: Carpe diem

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"Turkey understands the region better than others precisely because it is part of the region," but the people of each country must lead the way. "There should be regional ownership. This is our region." However, like his prime minister, he stressed that Turkey was not necessarily a model for any country, that "change depends on both individual cultures and universal values". He seconded Yazici's claim that "Totalitarian regimes not based on social legitimacy have no place since the fall of the Berlin Wall ."

Davutolgu criticised the term "Middle East" as an Orientalist term, connoting conflicts and underdevelopment. "But our region has been the centre of civilisation for millennia in which multicultural environments flourish," and there are "sufficient economic resources today to make our region a global centre of gravity".

The foreign minister urged his listeners to seize the day, to use the new openness in the region to reject violence and dismantle "barriers between countries, societies and sects". To increase economic interdependency, political dialogue and cultural interaction. Just as visa walls are coming down between Turkey and its neighbours, so Turkey has opened 18 new embassies in Africa in the past decade, even as European countries shut theirs down. Davutoglu endorsed Erdogan's call to eliminate visas, envisioning a day "when people can pass from a free Palestine through Istanbul to London. That's our vision. Not building walls around Turkey, but opening up to share with our neighbours. In Cairo , we are the Middle East, in Europe we are Europeans. We must shape history with all the nations around us."

He added that this applies to the West too, that following the international financial crisis of the past three years, "we need to develop an economic order based on justice, and a social order based on respect and dignity." Middle East developments today hold out the promise of showing the way towards a "global, political, economic and cultural new order".

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Eric writes for Al-Ahram Weekly and PressTV. He specializes in Russian and Eurasian affairs. His "Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games", "From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization" and "Canada (more...)

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