Our concern in Europe, "racism coupled with crisis"
Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Thursday said that "racism, anti-Islamism and xenophobia, coupled with the economic crisis, began to be a source of serious concern in Europe".
Speaking at a symposium titled "Migration, Islam and Multiculturalism" in the Turkish capital of Ankara, President Gul underlined that "the votes of political parties who cite immigrants as the main reason for security problems, unemployment, crimes and poverty are on the rise".
President Gul thanked the Migration and Political Researches Center of Hacettepe University, Oxford Islamic Researches Center, International Organization for Migration, UNESCO Turkey and members of the Turkish Parliamentary EU Harmonization Committee for making today`s symposium in Ankara possible.
"Migration is a fact as old as the history of humanity. Migration has changed the fate of societies, states and continents in every period of history," Gul stated.
"As such, it would not be possible to write the history of humanity without referring to the history of migration," Gul stressed.
"In a world which has become a global village, migration is an important fact facing us," Gul noted.
"If we were to describe the 20th century as an era of `population boom` and `urbanization`, then it is highly likely to describe the 21st century as a period of `aging population`, `societal diversity` and `international migration`," Gul indicated.
"Due to such reasons, I have taken this symposium under my guardianship. The issue of migration must be handled as a sociological concept," Gul noted.
Scientific researches indicate that humanity spred to the rest of the world from Africa and its surrounding region, Gul emphasized.
"In this case, a great portion of the world`s population is made up of societies who migrated in one period of history. One of those geographies who witnessed the migrations in question is no doubt Anatolia. It is Turkey again today which has opened its doors to thousands of neighboring Syrians and hosted them. As a traditional source of migration and transit cite, Turkey has become a country receiving migrants with its growing economy," Gul stressed.
Turkish Parliament on April 4, 2013 adopted a draft law on foreigners and international protection that was prepared by the Turkish government in order to be able to respond to the problems of migration which have gained a multidimensional character, Gul stated.
"I have reviewed this law and approved it and sent it to the Official Gazette for publication on Wednesday. The law became effective as of Thursday," Gul expressed.
-Legislation which answers current needs-
With the new law on foreigners and international protection, we now have legislation which answers the current needs in migration and asylums, Gul stressed.
With this new law, a "Directorate General of Migration Administration" would be established within the Turkish Interior Ministry so that this unit can work in all fields pertaining to migration, Gul said.
Humans get forced to migrate from the lands they were born in due to wars, poverty and natural as well as environmental disasters, Gul emphasized.
"We may be predestined to meet with `ecological migration` in the upcoming term due to global warming," Gul said.
"For thousands of years, the fate of nations, countries and continents have always been subject to changes. Many peoples, who may have created prosperous civilizations in history, may have fallen behind with time. We can not guess today the fate of currently strong and prosperous countries after hundreds of years. We can not make guesses on today`s large cities and their situation after hundreds of years as there were cities in the past with large populations living in prosperity but have either vanished or turned into ruins," Gul indicated.
"We need to look at the issue of migration from the perspective of human dignity and democratic values and keep this in mind while trying to solve the problem of migration," Gul said.
"While values such as democracy, rule of law and human rights were born in Europe and had global reflections, we witness that extremist views can gain ground in the West by seeing differences as reason for clashes," Gul underlined.
"Racism, anti-Islamism, and xenophobia, coupled with the economic crisis, began to be a source of serious concern in Europe. The votes of political parties who cite immigrants as the main reason for security problems, unemployment, crimes and poverty are on the rise. Tough measures taken by governments against migration and the reactions made by political parties to migration may be other reasons for concern. Racism and intolerance against different cultures and life styles seem to be an illness of Western societies. While this illness may be kept under control during eras of prosperity, it appears again during periods of economic crisis," Gul noted.
Such illness in Europe reappears generally against the members of a certain religion, Gul underlined.
"I do not want to remind you about the incidents of the past which stand as black marks in the collective memory of humanity. Our wish is to see that such painful incidents do not get repeated," Gul stated.
"Around five million Turks living in Europe become the targets of racist movements. In a similar way, other Muslims living in Europe face crimes of hatred and physical attacks," Gul noted.
"It is always possible to see extremist political movements in pluralist democracies. Such marginal groups may use the freedoms provided by democracies for their ill intentioned works," Gul emphasized.
We must utilize legitimate methods in the fight against such radical ideas, Gul said.
"It is important not to be labelled `wrong` when you are actually `right`. Muslims residing in Europe must show the real face of the racist politicians by utilizing democratic and legal mechanisms. Racism and discrimination are the enemies of democracy. We must overcome this threat by putting into force the reflex of democracy to protect itself. I invite everyone in Europe with a `common conscience` on humanitarian and democratic values to fight against radical movements," Gul said.
-Age of societal diversity-
If we were to give a name to the period we are living in, "societal diversity" would probably be one of them, Gul stressed.
This process is related to the increase in social mobility in a globalized world and the rise in migrations due to various reasons, Gul stated.
"The populations of developed countries are getting old rapidly. In order to find a solution to the problem of aging, international migration appears as an economic factor. Rising cultural, religious and ethnic differences may be cited as reasons for new divisions and tensions. Such differences especially in societies with socioeconomic problems are being shown as the source of difficulties experiences and add a complex dimension to the issue," Gul stated.
It is one of the most crucial characters of modern democracies to manage such diversity and differences, Gul noted.
We must make efforts so that a social culture which sees cultural, religious and ethnic differences as richness rather than as weakness prevails, Gul stated.
-Islam is a reality of Europe-
A political tongue which embraces all carries high importance for the integration of migrants and different religious communities, Gul indicated.
"When politics begin marginalizing a certain segment of the population, migrants and minorities get alienated from the country and society they live in. As was seen in history, those countries who could facilitate societal and cultural diversity in unity and harmony have always been at the forefront of all nations. In contrast, those countries who tried to abolish societal and cultural diversity through various fears or by placing pressure have lost their human resources and failed economically and politically," Gul noted.
Islam and migrants have been a part of the European reality for centuries, Gul stated.
As long at the European continent does not approach those different from the majority with tolerance, the possibility of new inquisitions, holocausts, or incidents reminding Srebrenitsa are high, Gul underlined.
From this perspective, every country is responsible to respect multiculturalism, Gul stated.
"I make a proposal to the international community to boldly walk on common problems so as to establish a happy future. Experiences have shown to us that, if certain problems are not dealt with, they could become chronic," Gul said.
-"Our culture mandates us not to sleep with a full stomach when our neighor is hungry"-
Problems in a globalized world can not be solved as a single entity, Gul stated.
We must work together to make sure the swamps get dried, Gul said.
"We must work together against unfair distribution of income, poverty, global warming, wars and clashes which are the sources for problems like migrations, unemployment, discrimination, xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism," Gul noted.
"We have a culture which mandates us not to sleep with a full stomach when our neighbor is hungry. As such, we can not be merely spectators when humans are facing poverty in a region of the world or innocent people are getting killed in clashes. This may be what makes Turkey different and righteous in the eyes of its friends. This is the main understanding on which our policy on Africa and the peoples of Arab Spring is built on," Gul stressed.
Following the symposium, President Gul and Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay opened an exhibition of cartoons published in some of Europe`s most important newspapers and magazines.
Thursday, April 11, 2013