David Foster, session moderator, introduced the key speakers Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Stef Blok who talked about stronger cooperation with regard to the humanitarian effort in Syria and what the future holds.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu began by highlighting the rise of social inequalities in our world such as terrorism, xenophobia, irregular migration, and poverty. Deliberating on the issue, he stressed on the importance of addressing these inequalities in order to attain social justice. Conflict resolution and conflict prevention are equally important for the prosperity of not only the Middle East but also the whole world. Indirectly addressing the United States of America, he stated that the pioneer in establishing the current international system is currently not only attacking this system but also attacking its friends and allies through trade wars. These policies further increase the inequalities gap in the world and this is why it is necessary to adopt a win-win approach and reform the rules of the international system as well as strengthen international institutions. He also added that reforms should be introduced to the United Nations in order to better respond to the global challenges and better serve humanity. He reiterated President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s saying that the “World is bigger than five” and concentrated on the importance of reforming the structure of the UN Security Council. Reform is essential to all the supranational and international organisations, including the European Union and the Council of Europe. FM Çavuşoğlu described that the principal tenet of Turkey’s foreign policy is enterprising and humanitarian foreign policy through soft power. He mentioned the recent Turkish-Russian deal in Idlib and how it prevented a humanitarian catastrophe and another mass flow of migrants to the Turkish border as well as towards Europe, paving the road for a full-scale agreement in Syria and the establishment of a constitutional committee. In terms of humanitarian and development assistance, he declared that in 2017, Turkey became the world’s most generous giver with $8.1 billion ranking first ahead of the US, which ranks second with $6.7 billion. He ended his speech by stressing on the importance of enhancing the Turkish-EU relations in order to solve inevitable problems such as illegal migration and terrorism.
Stef Blok, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, touched upon the challenge of achieving just peace in a fragmented world. He described the fragmented world as witnessing a shift in the economy towards the east and south while maintaining a multipolar order instead of the long-existing unipolar order. He also pointed to the growing influence of non-state actors such as ISIS. FM Blok expressed the Netherlands’ willingness to cooperate with Turkey on the refugee issue and help relocate refugees in Europe. He explained that cooperation is essential for attaining just peace and gave examples of the European Union and NATO. He noted the importance of nations working together to reach common goals. However, Mr Blok did not rule out military actions, explaining that in some cases it is necessary - such as in the case of ISIS. He also added that prevention and deterrence are effective as well. He reiterated his call for the UN Security Council to refer the most serious crimes to the International Criminal Court for it is an important instrument to end impunity and achieve accountability. He pointed to the instructive role Turkey played in highlighting the plight of the Rohingya, and thus urged Turkey to become a member of the International Criminal Court. He finally stressed upon the importance of reconciliation in a range of post-war settings such as in the Balkans, Colombia and Eritrea.