Turkey has its role to play as a regional power

Balkans is not a place for zero-sum-game, and we must learn the lessons of World War One, Joel Rosenthal

Balkans is not a place for zero-sum-game, and we must learn the lessons of World War One, Joel Rosenthal

NEW YORK - There is a great opportunity for Turkey to project its power in the benevolent way, to promote the principles of peaceful coexistence, president of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, globally recognized foundation from New York said.

“This is the challenge for the future as we become a more connected and global world,” said Joel Rosenthal, in an exclusive interview for Anadolu Agency (AA).  

Rosenthal is focused on ethics in US foreign policy, with emphasis on war and peace, human rights, and pluralism. He is an author of the acclaimed book “Righteous Realists” (1991) – which is focused on realistic interpretation of the world and politics. Rosenthal is the president of Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs since 1995. 

“For Turkey to be able to play a role in facilitating this peaceful coexistence – seems to me like a great opportunity,” Rosenthal said. 

“In brief, it is my sense that Turkey is finding its way as a regional power.  As a great power, it will have to assume a set of responsibilities commensurate with its ability to project power.”

- Turkey and Balkans

Rosenthal commended on Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s words – from October 2012, that: After 100 years of wars -- Balkans should be zone of peace and prosperity in this 21st Century, and “not on the periphery of Europe” – Davutoglu stressed at the time.

“It is important to have that kind of goal, to have a sense of direction,” Rosenthal affirmed. 

“I commend that kind of vision as the goal.” 

He said -- the Balkans is the “classic case” of multiethnic, pluralistic society where communities must live among different communities.

And, “the experiences of the Balkans have universal significance – we all wrestle with the challenges of living with differences.”

Rosenthal said -- great powers have a regional responsibility, “and this is what makes you a great power.”

“But you also have a global responsibility as well. So it is the mixture of the two.” 

Rosenthal emphasized – he believes the best way for a more peaceful world is – “more of a great power concert.”

“Played wisely, one might hope for a reasonable modus vivendi, where states can align according to their own values and interests, cooperating where necessary and going their own way otherwise.  The Balkans do not have to become a zero-sum object of great power rivalry,” Rosenthal told AA.

- Lessons from 1914

Next month, Rosenthal will head the U.S. delegation of Carnegie Council at the June 25 to 29th central commemoration in Sarajevo to mark the centenary of the World War One that started in 1914. 

Rosenthal said - the world commemorates that date with hope of learning from history. And “the sense” that this is a moment to reaffirm universal principles of human rights and justice. 

And, in the light of current events in Ukraine, Rosenthal reminded that one important legacy of World War One is the principle of self-determination.

“This principle remains a bedrock of international law and ethics.  Of course, Great Powers have an interest in their spheres of influence.  This is a reality of geopolitics that one would be foolish to ignore.”

He said, the lessons of World War One remind us of the reality of unforeseen events.

“Leaders miscalculate. Emotions run high.  Escalation ensues.  This is the history, and it should be remembered,” Rosenthal noted.

“However, I hope that conversations about World War One will not focus on competing narratives of victimhood.  That would be a dead end.  Let’s remember victims – but let’s honor memory by pointing toward a positive future.”

In addition, Rosenthal stressed, that -- in his own view “forgetting is not an option.” 

“We must remember not only victims, but perpetrators – and the situations that gave birth to tragic and sometimes criminal outcomes.”

In Sarajevo, next moth - Carnegie Council will organize a special symposium on lessons learned form Balkans in the last 100 years. Rosenthal said capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina “remains the symbol.”

“We go to Sarajevo to remember not only the crisis of 1914, but to honor the legacy of pluralism that was once an example for the world and remains an ideal worth pursuing,” Rosenthal said.

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