TURKEY, which has had a very happening 2014, saw the swearing in of a new president in early August followed by the taking over of a new premier in the latter half of the same month. Ahmet Davutoglu, an astute politician, is now set to serve Turkey as its prime minister for the next four years.
During his tenure as the foreign minister, Davutoglu laid strong emphasis on the principle of “no problems with neighbors.” In every sense of the word, Turkey emerged as a model for change in the region and strengthened its ties with Russia in the East and with the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) in the West. The same period saw Turkey forging strategic partnerships with Atlantic, African, East Asian, Pacific and Latin American countries and joined almost all strategic alliances across the world.
Handling of foreign affairs is a tricky game especially when the entire region is undergoing drastic changes and sometimes forces a country to make tough decisions. Some commentators have described the weakening of Turkey’s relations with some of its neighbors in recent years as a “failure.” As a matter of fact, it would be unfair to call those ups and downs as failure. These could neither be foreseen, nor prevented.
In his first public address as the new premier last week Davutoglu said, “A country that was treated as a ‘sick man’ 12 years ago has now risen to its feet. A nation that encountered difficulties in many areas has now recalled its historic mission and embarked on a sacred journey.” These terms are significant in terms of our ability to understand the age. Davutoglu touches on a very important point in speaking of a nation that “has now recalled its historic mission and embarked on a sacred journey.” Turkey has a historic mission and a very important duty to stand up for all peoples, not just its own and to bring security to the Middle East.
In the days ahead, Davutoglu will enter a new era with a new Cabinet and new ministers. Nobody is expecting any surprises. However, there will obviously be some changes. If Turkey is to maintain its mission of being a model for the Middle East in particular, these and other progressive changes in Turkey must include the whole region. For that reason, a “Ministry of Quality” — that the Middle East needs urgently — must first be established in Turkey.
The region, home to the Ottoman Empire and other deep-rooted civilizations in the Middle East, actually had a very lofty conception of quality. However, the collapse of these civilizations brought with it architecture and concrete blocks devoid of art and beauty and a soulless urbanization. Various values indicative of humanity, such as clothing, language, behavior and respect became increasingly insignificant. Shabbiness, raggedness and a lack of care surpassed quality. The spread of a fanatical conception of religion turned societies away from art and science. One manifestation of that phenomenon is the way women are being regarded as valueless and unimportant. Kindness was replaced by anger and violence. The angry societies that emerged began fighting and abandoned love and care. Rather than creating beauty, they regarded destruction as a virtue. Intense bigotry in the name of religion laid the foundations for repressive and restrictive societies and freedoms were destroyed. Distorted, unhappy societies seeking their own needs and interests instead of beauty emerged. Of course there are exceptions to this general rule in the Middle East and people with a lofty understanding who delight in quality, but, sad to say, such people are a minority.
Yet quality is a vital matter for a country. Importance can only be attached to quality through education. It is therefore a matter of urgency to provide that information and set up a ministry devoted to raising quality in all areas of life, such as attitude, art, science and urban planning.
If there is no desire to improve quality in a country, then it is hard to build love: Politics are also of no value without quality. This is one of the main reasons why the West ignores the sufferings of people in the Middle East and perceives the deaths in this region nothing more than statistics.
Quality is the use of the mind, not spending money. Someone with no money can also create a work of art and care on a humble dining table. Quality does not mean renouncing one’s past and traditions; thinking that one’s own history and folklore and all that is local are devoid of quality is an idea deriving from the mistaken desire to emulate the West. Of course the West has much that is of high quality that should be adopted as model, but quality is also to be found in a country’s own culture. It is, therefore, important to select and implement quality wherever it may be.
Looking at in from the Turkish perspective, there is clearly a quality problem in various areas in Turkey, if not everywhere. We need to understand and appreciate the phobia about lack of quality on the part of the EU, which Turkey has been striving to join for many years. EU countries have selected quality as the most important factor in a great many spheres and have constructed their systems accordingly. The importance attached to people in particular, followed by art, beauty, manners, civilization, women, liberty and democracy will therefore be very different to that in the Middle East.
Raising quality is important for Turkey as a democratic Islamic country and as a strategic and ethical mediator and partner. That will inevitably have a knock-on effect on all countries in the Middle East, and the question will even arise of implementing the “Ministry of Quality” concept in other countries. Turkey, therefore, needs to be a pioneer in this matter, make room for this new ministry in its Cabinet and initiate an intensive program of education on the subject. Let us remember that, in the same way that lack of quality annihilates love, quality brings with it love and respect. Raising quality is therefore one means of quieting the violence that has unfortunately become the norm in the Middle East.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Arab News & Riyadh Vision: