Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday that the meeting of foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) today ahead of the 12th OIC Leaders' Summit was taking place at a very critical juncture.
Speaking at the meeting, Davutoglu underlined that "our meeting today, in the historical melting pot of civilizations in Cairo, takes place at a very critical juncture, not only for the OIC countries, but also for the whole world. In this context, we welcome that this Summit has been set to focus on 'the Muslim World: New Challenges and Expanding Opportunities'."
"We are witnessing a great, historic transformation, both at the regional and global level, along with ongoing humanitarian tragedies, such as the ones in Syria and Palestine, still bleeding under fierce aggression that has no mercy and no patience. How shall we, then, seize the opportunities of the great transformation we are witnessing? And how can we overcome the insurmountable challenges that come in our way?", Davutoglu noted.
"At our meeting in Djibouti last November, I suggested three tenets of Islam, conscience, solidarity and compassion that will guide us through the testing times, in order to uphold human dignity. But our method, the way we see and act, also matters when we apply these principles to issues that matter to us. When seizing opportunities or facing challenges, we need prudence, integrity and sincerity," Davutoglu indicated.
"Today, many of the conflicts in the world are actually taking place around the Muslim World. The main issue is to uphold our own problems ourselves. We, members of the OIC, should focus on them first. We must work on them. We should find ways to solve and we should not lose time. Waiting for others to solve our problems is not an option. We should address all developments concerning us and the future of our generations," Davutoglu noted.
"For this reason, we also need to focus on the decision making mechanisms of the international community. Decision making process of the UN Security Council should not prejudge our own issues, since we would be affected by the outcome of this process. That is why, the Muslim countries, as responsible members of the international community, should work on the UNSC reform more," Davutoglu said.
"I believe we have all the abilities and resources to face all the challenges in the most effective manner. What is needed, is to be able to mobilize our abilities in an organized and effective way. I believe the OIC can pass this test," Davutoglu stated.
"Let me continue by renewing our strong desire and commitment to host the Thirteenth Islamic Summit in Turkey. I regret to remind you that although it is a founding member, Turkey has never had the opportunity to host his brothers and sisters at an Islamic Summit. We expect the widest support of all brotherly member countries for our bid to host the next Summit Conference," Davutoglu expressed.
"A unified and firm stance by the Muslim world is crucial in the success of the Palestinian cause. We are going through yet another critical time for our Palestinian brothers and sisters. On the 29th of November last year in New York, I had the honour to personally witness the historic moment when the UN General Assembly decided on the 'non-member observer state' status of Palestine with an overwhelming majority. I would like to congratulate Palestine's able leadership for its successful bid. Our support to our Palestinian brothers and sisters should not waiver until Palestine's admission to the UN as a full member and until the Palestinian flag will be raised in the UN Hall," Davutoglu underlined.
"Reconciliation among our Palestinian brothers has now gained utmost significance with the recognition of Palestine as a state in the UN. We welcome the recent initiatives reached by the parties to implement Cairo and Doha Agreements and a timetable toward this end. We sincerely hope that these efforts will bear fruit soon with the establishment of a strong unity government in Palestine," Davutoglu said.
"Meanwhile, we strongly condemn Israel for its continued expansion of illegal settlements. Time, and again Israel have proven that it fails to read the change happening not only around it, but also in the way its actions are perceived by the international community. The latest report by the UN Human Rights Council qualifies the illegal settlements as a 'creeping annexation' of the Palestinian land. As it did after the recognition of Palestine as an observer state by the UN General Assembly, Israel has rejected again this report and attempted to depict it as another 'unilateral action' by the Palestinian side. The fact, however, is that Israel has now been rendered by the international community a 'pariah' status for its expanding illegal settlements," Davutoglu noted.
"Israel must stop its provocative and unlawful settlement policy and accept revitalization of the peace process, which will yield freedom and sovereignty to the State of Palestine on its pre-1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital forever," Davutoglu stated.
"Another crisis which tests our conscience is the great tragedy taking place in Syria. Since our last gathering in Djibouti less than three months ago, the figures on the dire consequences of the destruction have almost doubled," Davutoglu said.
"The monthly average of the death toll surpassed 5 thousand, bringing the total number of casualties to more than 60 thousand. 4 million people inside Syria are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. We have 3 million IDP's. Those figures explain themselves. But each number here represents a human life," Davutoglu stressed.
"This brutal dictatorship must leave the scene as early as possible to open up the way for democratic transition in accordance with the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. This is the only way to prevent the ongoing violence and to bring security and stability to the country and the region," Davutoglu said.
"The humanitarian aspect of the crisis is deteriorating further. The number of Syrians we accommodate only in the camps is now 170 thousand. And until now, around 2,700 babies were born in these camps. In addition, more than 70 thousand Syrians are living in the cities in Turkey. Our expenditure in this regard has exceeded 500 million dollars. But we will do everything possible to help our Syrian brothers and sisters," Davutoglu stated.
"Our doors will remain open for our Syrian brothers and sisters. However, contribution of the international community still stands far below the expectations," Davutoglu indicated.
"In this context, I would like to express our gratitude to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation as well as its member States for their efforts to assist the neighboring countries," Davutoglu said.
"We are deeply concerned by the growing tensions within the Syrian society which would lead to unbridgeable divides on ethnic and religious fault lines," Davutoglu noted.
"Since end of the regime is near and inevitable, we should focus on the transition. The Syrian National Coalition, as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people, has made considerable progress in presenting itself as a credible alternative to the Assad regime. It is now time for us to fulfill our obligations by supporting and empowering the opposition," Davutoglu said.
"Mali is another hot spot which calls for our close attention. We support territorial integrity and national unity of Mali. In this vein, we will continue to support the ongoing UN and African-led processes. As such, we are pleased to see the mobilization of AFISMA authorized by the UN," Davutoglu said.
"The Donors Conference organized by the African Union in Addis Ababa last week was a step on the right direction. Turkey also participated in the Conference and will contribute to AFISMA and Malian defence and security forces," Davutoglu stated.
"We also always have to keep in mind that Mali and all of its neighbors have seriously been affected from the developments taking place in this brotherly country. All neighbors of Mali are OIC countries. Therefore, OIC has the responsibility to act in the hard times faced by its member states," Davutoglu underlined.
"The OIC should support the people of Mali by financial means including seeking ways to set up a Fund as well. We shall discuss this among ourselves. I would like to propose to set up an OIC Contact Group for Mali, in order to follow the developments in this member country and contribute in restoring the stability in Mali," Davutoglu said.
"2013 is the 50th year of the emergence of the Cyprus problem. The last UN negotiation process for a comprehensive settlement initiated in 2008 did not yield a result simply because of the unwillingness and intransigence of the Greek Cypriot side, despite the dedicated efforts of the Turkish Cypriot side," Davutoglu stated.
"Like the Turkish Cypriots, Turkey as a guarantor state, remains committed to the settlement aim. I would like to express our gratitude to the distinguished members of the OIC for their clear message of support to the rightful cause of the Turkish Cypriot people," Davutoglu noted.
"Kosovo proved itself as a reliable partner both for the region and the international community, now recognized by 95 countries all over the world. Once the status issue is solved, the eventual membership of this country into this Organization would strengthen our solidarity. I met with the President of Kosovo yesterday at the Munich Security Conference," Davutoglu said.
"Turkey's vision towards the South Caucasus aims at the establishment of a long-lasting, comprehensive and sustainable peace and stability in the whole region," Davutoglu indicated.
"A peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, can be only found on withdrawal of Armenia from the occupied Azerbaijani territory and restoration of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity," Davutoglu said.
"Central Asia constitutes one of the high profile regions of the OIC. As a founding member together with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, we would like to see cooperation between the Turkic Council and the OIC is enhanced in all areas," Davutoglu said.
"Afghanistan presents another major challenge for the Muslim world. The OIC Member States must support the people and Government of Afghanistan in their efforts to successfully implement transition and reconciliation by sustaining their solidarity with Afghanistan in the post-2014 period," Davutoglu underlined.
"The Jammu and Kashmir issue has been awaiting a just solution for 65 years. This solution should come through peaceful dialogue, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and be acceptable to all parties. We reiterate our strong support in reaching an enduring peace for the brotherly people of Kashmir," Davutoglu noted.
"The Turkish Muslim Minority in Western Thrace in Greece continues to encounter serious problems in terms of minority rights. In violation of international agreements to which Greece is a party, as well as universally recognized norms, they cannot elect their imams and muftis, run their foundations, express their identity or enjoy equal opportunities in education, employment or political participation. Likewise, Turkish Muslim minority living in Dodecanese, on the other hand, does not only face similar difficulties, but cannot either enjoy the minority status," Davutoglu said.
"Speaking of Muslim minorities, let me also touch upon the situation of the Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine (Arakan) region of Myanmar. The re-eruption of violence directed against the Rohingya Muslims in October 2012 confirmed our concerns about the severity of the situation in the region. I previously had the opportunity to present to you my personal testimony regarding the situation from my visit to Myanmar in August 2012. Turkey continues to provide humanitarian aid to the needy in the region with all its means including donations collected from the Turkish people," Davutoglu stated.
"We believe that the OIC and its member countries should continue to urge the Government of Myanmar to be vigilant against future provocations, and to work for finding a lasting solution to the plight of the Muslim Rohingya people. In that regard, we welcome the recent initiative by the Secretary General to organize a joint visit by the OIC Contact Group Foreign Ministers and expect the Myanmar authorities to respond positively to this initiative as soon as possible," Davutoglu said.
"As for the Muslim minorities in the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, we are pleased to observe certain encouraging developments. We welcome the Framework Agreement concerning the Muslims in southern Philippines which was signed in October 2012. We congratulate Malaysia and other countries for this success. We support the proposed observer membership of the Philippines to the OIC. We note the improvement in the conditions of the Muslims in southern Thailand and support the continuation of a constructive dialogue between the OIC and Thailand, which is an observer state to the OIC," Davutoglu expressed.
"Our need for solidarity in development and reconstruction is growing every year. Despite huge natural and human resources, as indicated in the concept paper of the Secretariat, our combined GDP represents only 8.3 percent of total world output. Unfortunately 21 out of 57 OIC members are considered as the least developed countries, whereas 42 OIC members are classified as food deficit countries. Our efforts on trade financing and facilitation yielded only a 3 percent increase from 2004 (14.4%) to 2011 (17.7%)," Davutoglu said.
"Our Dear Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him) said that 'He who sleeps with a full stomach while his neighbor is hungry is not one of us.' This has been our departure point in reinvigorating the COMCEC with a new strategy last year. We are confident that COMCEC will now be more effective in actively promoting our solidarity in trade and development. We shall be ready to work with all members to make that happen," Davutoglu stated.
"The rising trends of Islamophobia, xenophobia and discrimination against Muslims in the West are cause of great concern for us. We condemn all sorts of incitement to hatred and religious discrimination against Muslims and people of other faiths," Davutoglu noted.
"As I have suggested in Djibouti, the international community has to find a balance between protecting the rights of an individual or group to free expression and protecting the right of another individual or group to not to become the target of hatred, and emotional, incited or psychological violence," Davutoglu stated.
"The initiatives such as the 'Alliance of Civilizations' and the 'King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue' are important and complementing steps in forging mutual understanding and fighting intolerance," Davutoglu said.
"Acknowledging the role of media in addressing this particular challenge, I would like to reiterate Turkey's already filed application and readiness to host the 'OIC Journalists Forum' which will be established upon the decision taken at the 9th Session of the Islamic Conference of Information Ministers," Davutoglu indicated.
"As you all know, Turkey has announced its candidature for non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council for the term 2015-2016. We are relying on the full support of all our brothers here. What we accomplished and stood for during our Security Council membership in 2009-2010 is a testament to what we can contribute in 2015-2016. Turkey will certainly provide a strong voice for the OIC member states within the Council including the issues of Asia, Africa and the Middle East," Davutoglu said.
"I also would like to reiterate our request for your support for our candidacy to host EXPO 2020 in Izmir," Davutoglu noted.
"While concluding, I would like to share my strong conviction that we will be working harder to mobilize the great potential that we have. We should continue reforming our ways and means in the OIC. Since its inception in 2005, many positive steps have been taken in the OIC, including the adoption of a new Charter. We should not forget that the challenges may be daunting at times, but the opportunities are also abundant. With all these thoughts in mind and heart, I would like to extend to you all my heartfelt thanks for your kind attention," Davutoglu also said.