Middle East Democracy and Security Considered at 11th Abant Platform

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The 11th meeting of the Abant Platform, a leading civil society initiative, focused on the future of the Middle East. Platform participants gave weight to the issues of security and democracy, emphasizing that the region could not be united and stabilized without settling the Israel-Palestine crisis.

A change will take place in the Middle East. But who will provide this? … We [the Islamic world] should reconcile with our religion, history, and people.

Ali Bulac, journalist and author

Issues such as globalization and the development of democracy were discussed during the two-day meeting, titled “Global Politics and the Future of Middle East.” The event was organized by the Journalists and Writers Foundation on July 14-15, 2006, in Bolu, Turkey.

The journalists and academics who spoke in Saturday’s session, which was titled, “Reflections of Globalization: Conflict-Challenge-Harmony,” stressed that the whole world should work hand-in-hand in order to end the war in the Middle East.

Speaking at this session, which was chaired by Professor Mehmet Altan, journalist and author Ali Bulac termed the Middle East geography as the “straight jacket” that the Islamic world was forced to wear.

Explaining that the region was exposed to cultural alienation and that the global system did not want to incorporate Muslims, Bulac said, “A change will take place in the Middle East. But who will provide this?” He asserted that the change would not take place as it was foreseen in the Greater Middle East Project (GMEP), remarking that there would not be a guided democracy in the region.

Bulac admitted that the change in question should take place via the dynamics of the Islamic world itself. “We should reconcile with our religion, history, and people,” he said.

Professor Benny Morris from Ben-Gurion University in Israel defended the two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict. “The territories having a dominant Arab population may be given to Arabs and those having a dominant Jewish population may be given to the Jews. The problem can be solved in this way,” he explained.

Journalist and author Cengiz Candar noted that the US would continue maintaining its presence in these territories as long as the richest oil resources of the world were in this region. Because of this, he said, it was nothing more than a dream for this region to stabilize until oil was replaced by another energy source in the near future.

Candar also claimed that the Israel-Palestine issue had actually been solved; however, the fuss over it would continue for another five years. Showing evidence for his claim, Candar said the Arab world accepted the two-state solution and the Greater Israeli Project had ended.

Dwelling on the situation in Iraq and GMEP, Candar added, “The US was stuck in Iraq. The GMEP was blocked. We should not indulge in dreams.”

Professor Fuat Keyman from Koc University said that there would be more chances for peace settlements in the Middle East as long as Turkey was oriented toward the European Union. Keyman claimed that there was a vicious circle in the Middle East, yet this could not be sorted out with wars or digital interventions. Instead, Turkey’s growing relationship with the EU would lead the Middle East to reformation and democratization.

By Emre Soncan, Abant
Published: Sunday, July 16, 2006 @ zaman.com

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