The Foreign Service Institute’s Mangrove Forum on International Relations hosted the Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, H.E. Prof. Ahmet Davutoğlu’s talk on “Pillars of Turkish Foreign Policy and the Asia Pacific” last 17 November 2014 at the DFA’s Bulwagang Apolinario Mabini from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
According to Prime Minister Davutoğlu, Turkey’s unique geographic location, being in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, gives it access to strategically important regions in the world. Due to the dynamic character of this neighborhood, Turkey had to adjust its foreign policy to respond to the challenges and problems in this region. He added that Turkey’s foreign policy is proactive and progressive.
Turkey has opened relations with Africa, Latin America and East Asia, regions that are considered strategic to Turkey’s interest. Turkey’s dynamic economy led to an increase in investments in Africa. Turkey has also established relations with Latin American countries, opening seven new embassies in the region. Turkey targets East Asia for economic relations and wants to take advantage of the economic transformation in the region, being the world’s focal point for international trade and economic development.
To date, bilateral trade between East Asia and Turkey amounts to 50 billion USD. The target by 2023 is to increase this present figure to 150 billion USD. Furthermore, Prime Minister Davutoğlu noted the multicultural character of Asia, where people of various religious, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds live together. He said it is the “future of global culture”.
In 2010, Turkey signed a Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with ASEAN strengthening the partnership between the two countries. With regard to the Philippines, Turkey offered a strategic partnership agreement to the country, citing similar partnerships with other countries such as China and South Korea.
In the open forum, Prime Minister Davutoğlu was asked his opinion on the impact of Turkish foreign policy on the Mindanao peace process. According to the Prime Minister,this is a domestic process between the Philippine government and the MILF. If requested,Turkey will help, as a dutiful member of the International Contact Group (ICG), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the international community. He emphasized that the process has a long way to go and that both parties should have patience and empathy. Prime Minister Davutoğlu cited Turkey’s proactive policy in resolving conflicts, referring to its successful mediation efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and between Israel and Syria. He also emphasized the need for inclusive politics rather than oppression to prevent radicalization and terrorism. Prime Minister Davutoğlu commended the Philippine government’s effort in working towards peace in Mindanao.
Prime Minister Davutoğlu stated that it is more difficult to make peace sustainable, thus, there is a need for socioeconomic transformation through the provision of a developmental package for Mindanao. Turkey is ready to contribute to the Bangsamoro, the same way it assisted the Philippines in the relief efforts following the Supertyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda.
On lessons the Philippines can learn from the growth of the Turkish economy, Prime Minister Davutoğlu said that nations havetheir own conditions for growth, thus, it is difficult to follow the same path of another. However, he enumerated three preconditions that have to be met in order to achieve economic development namely: 1) political stability based on democratic principles; 2) macroeconomic stability; and 3) transformation and reforms in the economic sectors.
On Turkey’s role in the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, a global forum and the most comprehensive international initiative to peace in the UN system with 114 countries and organizations as members, Turkey contributes to several projects that aim to prevent cultural tensions among civilizations and help achieve global peace and harmony.