May 20, 2011

Then why do media in Turkey have similar problems to those in the West when it comes to the perception of Arabs, even though the country is predominantly Muslim? Again poor knowledge and a lack of information would be the immediate answer.

The government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spent the last decade building up a friendly relationship with Damascus by cultivating economic and political ties. Erdogan should to use some of that goodwill to convince Assad to halt the attacks.

What will make Turkey effective in the eye of new rulers and peoples in the Middle East will be its 80 something years of experience in democracy, European Union membership bid and creativity of its civil society.

At Erdogan's initiative, Syria and Turkey in 2009 abolished visas for their citizens traveling between the countries, held joint cabinet meetings and conducted small-scale military exercises. Turkish exports to Syria are booming. This type of integration has been the cornerstone of Turkey's much-heralded "zero problems with neighbors" policy.

Turkey, which was made aware of the sensitivity surrounding the Armenian issue throughout the world through attacks by the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), continues to be caught unprepared every year as to how to shape its approach towards the events of April 24.

The fire of the Arab awakening is now catching up with the Syrian youth. The streets of Arab countries, following a long period of oppression, are continuing to vent their anger until they attain freedom or the cold kiss of death.

Thanking trade counselors for their devoted efforts that have contributed to the growing of the Turkish economy, Erdoğan said these efforts were helping Turkey emerge as a soft power. “Soft power is now ahead of hard power. A country’s influence is no longer measured with its military power but with its economic and diplomatic power.”

“Five million Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan have become a beacon of light for the 35 million Kurds who live in Turkey, Syria, and Iran. That beacon of light is keeping us awake at night and is filling our hearts with hope.”
-Kani Xulam, Director of the American-Kurdish Information Network