Gül says diplomacy, military preparedness necessary in fragile neighborhood

April 06, 2012, Friday/ 00:00:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Turkish President Abdullah Gül has said Turkey must maintain its diplomatic activism and military preparedness in the face of escalating tensions in neighboring countries.

Gül, speaking to graduating officers at a military school in Ankara on Thursday, said despite Turkey's upbeat expectations for the future, there are great risks and threats in its vicinity. He pointed to violence in Syria, political instability based on sectarian discord in Iraq and the possibility of war over Iran's nuclear standoff as sources of a potential cold war in the region.

He added that there is a high probability that possible full-fledged wars or civil wars would result in new chaotic situations in the region, underlining that Turkey does not have the luxury of remaining a spectator if such events unfold in its vicinity. Gül added that while Turkey is preparing for negative scenarios, it is also necessary to benefit from all the opportunities presented by diplomacy.

The president said diplomatic activism and military preparedness are not simply options for Turkey but necessities. He added that Turkey's security strategies are bound to change in the face of such threats and risks in the region Turkey is located.

Gül urged the establishment of economic, security and human rights umbrella organizations in the region that would help transitions in neighboring countries. He pointed to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), NATO, the Council of Europe and the European Union as institutions that have helped consolidate democracy and enhance security and prosperity in the West.

He blamed the Israeli-Arab conflict for being one of the major impediments to peace in the Middle East and said it is necessary to establish an OSCE-like security organization in the Middle East that would help clear the region of nuclear weapons and enhance overall security. He also urged the creation of regional human rights mechanism that would help develop democracy, the rule of law and human rights in the region.

The Turkish president also urged Israel to carefully analyze developments in the Middle East and learn lessons from ongoing political transformation in its vicinity. Noting that an overwhelming majority of the population has supported democracy in the Middle East, Gül said this is a significant development and that democracy will sooner or later be consolidated.

Gül also expressed the idea that history has repeatedly shown that real, fair and enduring peace can only be secured by the public, not by elites. He said

demographic trends in the region run contrary to Israel's policies.

He underlined that if Israel doesn't allow the creation of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, the country will truly be an apartheid regime in 50 years. He also said Turkey has always called on Israel to end its strategic myopia, carefully analyze the situation, act with the next 50 years in mind and take steps for peace and real security.

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