The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Erdogan’s Cairo Speech: Birthpangs of a New Middle East as Obama’s Cairo Moment fades

This must be read…. Erdogan’s speech – what should be called his Cairo speech. Turkey specialists, which I am NOT – I think would likely have much to criticize… as they should.

On the face of it, even with my limited grasp of the internal politics and history I can criticize:

1) There is obvious exaggeration bordering on hubris (always a part of political speeches during tense times? ANYWHERE? Perhaps?;

2) AKP has NOT followed through with these lofty goals on the Kurdish issue (although they argue otherwise), minorities etc…

3) Trillionaires! Well many of the main AKP folks are indeed billionaires NOW.

Nevertheless…. the contrast to Obama is fascinating

From a speech by Erdogan on Turkish NTV television February 1:

Not only in Turkey but everywhere in the world, the Justice and Development Party has shown no fear or hesitation in siding with the oppressed and the victim. It has always taken its position against the status quo and against pressure and oppression… Turkey is playing roles that can upturn all the stones in the region and that can change the course of history. My dear brothers, we are pursuing a foreign policy with character. Turkey is saying no to the oppressors. It is challenging what was blindly accepted until now. It is calling the murderers murderers. It is destroying taboos. Turkey is saying wait a minute to those who condemn others to poverty and to blockades. Turkey is shouting the truth and the just at every opportunity. Turkey is positing a strong will to help peace, stability, tranquillity, democracy, universal law, rights and freedoms to prevail in its region. We represent a mentality that seeks for its brothers whatever it wants for itself.

We have done all we could until today to make sure that the brotherly peoples and the neighbouring countries do not experience instability or are dragged to civil wars. We will continue to do that in the future.

We have always said this: Countries that cannot solve their internal problems, that cannot put an end to their internal conflicts, that cannot achieve a consensus within themselves, cannot achieve a bright future or defend their interests outside. That is why we called for a national consensus in Palestine. That is why we tried to help bring about a political consensus in Lebanon. That is why we made efforts for the establishment of a democratic consensus in Iraq. We always supported the regional countries’ internal peace, national consensus, unity and integrity, and democratic development. We always stressed the importance of all that. This group has recorded its name in history as the voice of the oppressed in Turkey, in the region, and in the entire world.

We must understand this well: There is no administration in history that remained in power by using oppression, intimidation, and fear. In all periods of history, sooner or later, human dignity has broken all chains, pulled down all walls, and the voice of the oppressed has been heard, even if slowly at first. Therefore, no government can remain indifferent to rights and freedoms. No government can remain indifferent to the people’s democratic demands.

In Turkey, too, the nation’s yearning for democracy was voiced strongly. In 1950, the nation shouted: enough, power to the people!…

No government can remain in power in spite of the people. The state exists for the people. It gains meaning with the existence, will, and support of the people. Our basic philosophy is this: The people must live so that the state can live.

As I just said, we want for our friends and brothers what we want for ourselves. If we want democracy, prosperity, justice, and freedom for ourselves, we want the same things for the brotherly peoples. Just as we want peace, security, stability, development, unity and integrity for ourselves, we want the same things for the brotherly countries.

From here, I would like to make a very sincere suggestion to Egyptian President Mr. Husni Mubarak and caution him: We are human beings. We are mortal. We are not immortal. We will all die and be questioned for what we have done in our lives. As Muslims, we will all end up in two-cubic meter holes. We are all mortals. What is immortal is the legacy we leave behind; what is important is to be remembered with respect; it is to be remembered with benediction. We exist for the people. We fulfil our duties for our people. When the imam comes to us as we die, he will not address us as the president, as the head of state, as the prime minister, or as the minister. I am now talking to the trillionaires: the imam will not address you as trillionaires. He will address us all as simple men or women. What will come with you will only be the shroud. Nothing else. Therefore we must know the value of that shroud; we must listen to the voice of our conscience and to! the voice of our people; we must be ready either for our people’s prayers or for their malediction. Therefore, I say that you must listen, and we must listen, to the people’s outcry, to their extremely humanitarian demands. Meet the people’s desire for change with no hesitation.

I am saying this clearly: You must be the first to take a step for Egypt’s peace, security, and stability, without allowing exploiters, dirty circles, and circles that have dark scenarios over Egypt to take initiative. Take steps that will satisfy the people.

In our world today, freedoms can no longer be postponed or ignored.

Elections that last months cannot be called democratic. We conclude our elections in 24 hours.

We hope that these incidents come to an end as soon as possible, without leading to great suffering, and that the people’s legitimate and sensible demands are met.

Egypt is a country of civilization. It is a country full of historical and cultural riches.

Therefore I call on our Egyptian brothers: During this entire process of resistance, stay away from arms, but stand up for your history. Stand up for your culture. Do not let them be wounded. Wage only the dignified struggle for freedoms. That is your most democratic right. Democracy and freedoms are not privileges but human rights.

I must also say the following most sincerely: If one life is lost in Egypt, be it that of a soldier, of a policeman, or a civilian, it is as if that life was lost from the Turkish nation. We do not want a single person to be injured in Egypt. It is our greatest wish to see that both the people and the government act with a similar sense of responsibility and with a dignity that befits the peoples of the region, to shoulder a change that will satisfy all sectors in Egypt, and that will carry the freedoms and democracy to the highest standards.

Turkey will continue to remain on the side of the brotherly peoples of Egypt and Tunisia, and to share their sorrow, joy, and hopes.

It is our greatest wish to see that in Egypt and Tunisia, reforms are carried out, peace and calm are restored quickly, and that unity and integrity remain unscathed.

We hope that in Tunisia, the new government will carry out democratic reforms in line with the demands of the Tunisian people, that it will enable the broadest possible political participation and representation, and that it will implement an effective economic development plan. Turkey will be on the side of Tunisia and the Tunisian people during this critical period….”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

February 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm


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