May 25, 2012

Turkish minister praises democracy as balance of security and freedom

Ahmet Davutoglu, minister of foreign affairs of Turkey, emphasized the importance of an inclusive approach in dealing with international conflict during a lecture at International House on Tuesday.

Before the speech, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the University and the government of the Republic of Turkey that will promote research, education, and exchange between the two institutions.

Mehmet Celebi, member of the Dean’s International Council at the Harris School of Public Policy, introduced Davutoglu as an academic turned diplomat who introduced diplomatic approaches such as freedom, trust, and cooperation into the Middle Eastern region.

“With the crisis of Arab spring, Dr. Davutoglu's vision came to pass as Turkey achieved a level of influence that the Middle East hasn’t seen since the Ottoman Empire,” Celebi said. “[His] ideas are an inspiration for the Arab youths.”

But Davutoglu also brought the lecture close to home, listing Chicago’s spirit of cooperation as an important attribute that ought to be a model for others.

He also explained his theory of three “earthquakes” that reshaped the global society: the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, 9/11 in 2001, and the economic-political crisis in 2011. He said that the problem of the Middle East today originates from an imbalance between freedom and security.

“If you sacrifice freedom for security, you have autocratic regimes. If you sacrifice security for freedom, you have chaotic regimes,” he said. “Turkey has proven that democracy brings stability rather than chaos, economic development, and can follow a much more assertive foreign policy with dignity than autocratic regimes.”

Even in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Davutoglu said, President Obama has taken a more inclusive, multilateral approach. Instead of using force to attain security, he said that, “today, the United States needs a Marcus Aurelius from Boston rather than a Caesar from Texas.”

He added that accepting and cooperating with other cultures can add to the stability, rather than threaten national security. “The inclusive nature of American society [is shown in that] it is hard to call yourself a Turkish German, but easy to call yourself a Turkish American,” he said. “This is the basis of America as a global power.”