Ambassador of Turkey: Humanitarian Dimension of Turkish Foreign Policy

The Turkish Embassy in Lebanon issued a press release of the article written by Ambassador of Turkey to Lebanon, Hakan Cakil, which reads as follows:

The 95th anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey on 29 October 2018 provides a good opportunity to make a short assessment on the humanitarian dimension of Turkish foreign policy. It is especially meaningful in the context of the ongoing crisis affecting us all, be it at national, regional or international level, namely the Syrian tragedy, which now entered its 8th year and represents one of the most dramatic humanitarian catastrophes of the 21st century.

Thanks to the agreementbrokered in the Syrian province of Idlib in September with our regional partners, another potential tragedy could be prevented by saving around 3, 5 million people from a deadly military attack. Yet many challenges continue to face us all in terms of peace and reconstruction in Syria and the overall stability and security in the Middle East and the world.

The ongoing cooperation between Turkey, Russia and Iran through the Astana Process-, whichcomplements and facilitates the UN led Geneva Process, enabled the creation of de-escalation zones, thus permitting access to humanitarian aid and to some extent, the return of a number of refugees to their homeland. It raised hope for many people who started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Naturally, there are still serious challenges obstructing a final democratic and inclusive political solution but if this regional cooperation is backed by a stronger resolve and related means and capabilities by the international community, it will pave the way for national reconciliation, lasting peace and reconstruction, not only in Syria but also in the entire region.

In addition, when the conditions for a safe return of Syrian refugees are secured, many people missing their homeland and beloved ones would want to go back to their places. But this return should be based on their free will, coupled with internal guarantees for their security and fundamental rights.

Turkey has done even more than its share by welcoming and taking care of around 4 million refugees, by spending nearly 33 billion USDfor their essential needs such as accommodation, health and education since the beginning of the crisis.Therefore, we expect other regional and international actors to assume their part in this human responsibility.

The Syrian crisisis just one example and the top priorityover the last couple of years of Turkey's foreign policy based on humanitarian approach. Turkey has a recognized record in humanitarian assistance in other parts of the globe affected by conflicts, poverty or natural disasters, such as Palestine, Somalia, Sudan and Myanmar to name just a few.

Indeed, Turkey's humanitarian assistance has been diversified and significantly increased in recent years. According to the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2017, Turkey ranks the largest donor country worldwide with its 8 billion USD humanitarian assistance in 2017. Turkey is also the largest humanitarian donor when the ratio of official humanitarian assistance to national income is taken into consideration.

Furthermore, the Turkish Red Crescent Society (Kizilay), Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), and numerous Turkish NGOs are also very active on a global scale. Turkey's humanitarian contributions are not confined to bilateral assistance projects. Turkey aims to further increase its contributions to various international organizations, as well.

Drawing from its own experiences, Turkey is an ardent advocate of international solidarity and partnership with a view to building a safer world, saving human lives and protecting the environment, through a sustainable and collective strategy. Humanitarian crises are mostly triggered by the negative impact of insufficient development, environmental issues, conflicts, poverty and lack of infrastructure.

In any case, humanitarian assistance alone will not have lasting results. In order to reach tangible results, it will be even more important to address the root causes of crises and develop projects aimed at strengthening the resilience of people needing assistance, in full respect of their dignity and cultural heritage. National capacity and institution building are also indispensable tools of any development program.That is why development-oriented humanitarian assistance constitutes the core of Turkey's policies in its humanitarian response. Indeed, given the complexity of present crises, the humanitarian-development nexus needs to be strengthened to increase the resilience and capacity of recipient actors to respond to humanitarian crises themselves.

Such an inclusive approach will also best serve the realization of the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda. In order to assist further and to offer guidance to UN's humanitarian efforts, Turkey became a member of the OCHA Donor Support Group, which brings together leading humanitarian donors.

Source: National News Agency