Friday October 17, 2003 12:40 AM


H.E. Dr. Mahathir Mohamad,

Prime Minister of Malaysia,

Your Majesties,

Honourable Heads of State and Government,

Distinguished Ministers,

Distinguished Delegates,

It is an honour to be in Putrajaya and to address you on the occasion of the 10th Summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. First of all , I would like to. extend my sincere thanks to our host Malaysia for the successful organization and warm hospitality, and convey the best wishes of the Turkish people to the brotherly and friendly people of Malaysia. I would like also to congratulate Amir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa A1 Thani of the State of Qatar for his successful OIC Chairmanship since our 9th Summit Conference.

Since the end of the cold war, the world is going through a process of transformation. We are witnessing together the positive and negative consequences of this process. The positive consequences are democratization, the rule of law, transparency, good governance, tendencies toward reform, developments in the field of rights and freedoms, efforts for regional and global unification, improvement of information technologies and access to information. At the other side of the token are terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, massive political and economic problems, regional conflicts, ethnic nationalism, tendencies toward radicalism and the widening gap of wealth between the north and the south.

On the other hand, at a time when geographical distances are no longer relevant, problems are gaining a global nature. Since, seeking individual solutions to problems is overdue, the necessity to find global solutions to problems has come to the forefront.

In this connection, international and regional organisations in particular the United Nations, are under the spot and solutions are sought in these forums. However, the fact that the common will of these organizations should reflect the common will of its members is being ignored.

I believe that what I have said applies also to the Organization of Islamic Conference. Up until now, our Organization has fulfilled useful functions, it has encouraged Islamic solidarity and has gained several assets. However, our common desire continues to be the further development of the respectability, credibility and effectiveness of our Organization, and to ensure that it can further contribute to solving problems of the Muslim world and the international community in general.

Could we reasonably assume that, being one of the most representative institutions of the world in terms of the number of its members and their population, our Organization is able to play the role that it is designed for? Do the decisions we take, the suggestions we make and the reactions we show yield the desired results ?

It is a fact that we have difficulties in giving a positive answer to all these questions. Indeed, there is a widespread view that our Organization has not been able to reflect fully its potential strength and enhance its visibility adequately.

Under these circumstances, what we need to do as member states and the Organization, is to put our house in order and to do our homework. We believe that, without loosing sight of our own values, we should collectively find the methods which will enable us not to lag behind and even help shape our world.

We believe that we can achieve that through a serious overhaul and reform process. Today, at varying levels, the winds of reform are blowing in almost all countries and regional and international organizations. Those who make use of the blowing wind are moving ahead, and the gap with the others is widening.

A basic choice is facing us. We will either fail to do our homework and be content with our current situation, or take brave decisions and raise the bar of the Muslim World by questioning ourselves.

Bearing in mind our moral values, we believe that it is incumbent on us to take brave decisions. The steps to be taken will be an investment of the OIC for global peace, freedom, equality, democracy, stability, coexistence, tolerance and wealth.

Mr. Chairman,

Our Summit meeting coincides with a critical period for the Muslim World. The Middle East is at the threshold of a new era. In the search for a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we expect both parties to immediately take the necessary steps, and establish effective cooperation to end fighting, terrorism and violence, in accordance with the agreed Road Map.

It is of vital importance that necessary measures are resolutely enforced in order to eliminate all obstacles standing in the way of the Road Map, including acts of terror and the use of force. This important opportunity to resolve the conflict should not be missed. The realization of the vision of two states living side by side in an environment of peace and security, under recognised borders, will be decisive in establishing lasting peace.

As in the past, Turkey is ready to cooperate with all the parties for a peaceful, stable and prosperous future in the Middle East.

Developments related to the decision in principle of the Israeli Security Cabinet to expel the President of the Palestinian National Authority Mr. Arafat, and the Israeli air strike against Syria are sources of concern to us. As we have stressed in several occasions, under the prevailing circumstances, it is highly important that all parties act with utmost restraint.

Mr. Chairman,

Since our last gathering in Doha, important developments have taken place in Iraq. The process following the military operation carried out by the coalition forces concerns all of us very closely.

Ensuring security and public order in Iraq, safeguarding Iraqi lives and properties and the provision of their basic needs are among the most urgent issues. Iraq should recover and the Iraqi people should regain its full sovereignty as soon as possible.

Parallel to the establishment of security and public order in Iraq, sovereignty should be gradually transferred to the Iraqis.

In this process, the preservation of the territorial integrity and political unit of Iraq are Turkey's fundamental principles. All segments forming the Iraqi population should unite around these basic principals. This is of major importance for the stability of the region and Iraq.

A united and democratic Iraq which has ensured its territorial integrity, has left behind alt its sufferings and enjoys peace, stability, freedom and wealth will make a major contribution to regional and international stability. To this end, Iraq's neighbours and regional countries bear a special responsibility.

Turkey has become one of the main arteries through which considerable amount of humanitarian aid is being transported to Iraq. Everyday thousands of trucks travel between our country and Iraq, carrying goods. Furthermore, Turkey has started to supply electricity to Iraq.

As a neighbour of Iraq and a friend of the Iraqi people, Turkey will continue to assist in Iraq’s reconstruction process. Our support to stability and to the preparation of a new era in Iraq will continue in a variety of fields. These contributions will be concrete reflections of Turkey's basic vision for Iraq. Turkey's vision for Iraq is the collective vision of the Iraqi people and international community. Our vision does not involve any special agenda.

The international community, particularly the United Nations, should undertake and play an active role at this very difficult moment for the Iraqi people. Turkey views the ongoing deliberations in the United Nations Security Council within this context. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, of which Iraq is a member, should take an active stand vis-a-vis the developments in Iraq and it should find the ways and means of helping Iraq and its people.

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to refer now to Afghanistan which is one of the most important crossroads of the Asian continent. The Bonn Process shaped by the common will of the international community has been implemented successfully so far. However, we observe that Afghani state institutions are still devoid of necessary resources, capacity and power. The success of the Bonn Process depends to a great extent on the extension of the central government's authority to all parts of the country. In this connection, the international

community should continue its support and assistance to Afghanistan. As a close friend of the Afghan people, Turkey will also continue to fulfill its responsibility in this respect.

The Nagorno-Karabakh problem and the ongoing Armenian occupation of one fifth of Azerbaijani territory constitutes. the most important dispute in the southern Caucasus and it hampers cooperation processes in the region.--As a neighbouring country , Turkey is a member of the OSCE Minsk Group, which has been set-up to resolve the problem through peaceful means. In this framework, we hope that this problem, which is bent towards ossification, will be resolved in the foreseeable future on the basis of mutual agreement, and thus an era of cooperation and friendship in the whole region will start.

Keeping in mind that efforts exerted in order to solve this problem have come to a certain level of maturity, Turkey hopes that new openings and initiatives will follow. We believe that, as it has been the case so far, the members of this Organisation will spare no effort in achieving a just and lasting solution of this problem.

Turkey regrets that since 1947 Jammu and Kashmir continues to be a source of dispute between Pakistan and India. The people of this region have suffered a lot. We are for the resolution of this conflict on the basis of international legitimacy and dialogue. In this connection, recent mutual openings between Pakistan and India, have led us to hope that the much needed dialogue may start. The resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute will contribute significantly to peace and stability in the sub-continent.

Our world is facing a serious threat which is gradually affecting all human beings. This threat is international terrorism and it is a cause for concern to all of us. Having been a target of terrorism for many years, Turkey actively takes part in all bilateral, regional and international efforts in combating this scourge. Terrorism is not bound by any religion and nationality. The international community must continue fighting terrorism in a unified manner, irrespective of its form and how it emerges, and terrorism should not be condoned whatsoever.

Mr. Chairman,

Turkey seeks a just and viable sett7ement in Cyprus, which maintains peace and safeguards the undeniable rights of the Turkish Cypriots. With this understanding, we continue to support the good-offices mission of the United Nations Secretary General and his efforts in this respect. Two peoples and two states with distinct languages and religions exist in Cyprus. With ail its institutions, including its independent judiciary, established democracy and modern education system the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus benefits from the structure of a growing and developing state. A viable partnership in Cyprus can only be established between the two equal peoples and on the basis of the realities on the island. A settlement should safeguard bi-zonality and the Turkish-Greek balance on the island.

In order to overcome the existing crisis of confidence between the parties, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has ensured through a unilateral decision the free movement of people and goods from the north to the south and from the south to the north of Cyprus. However, progress toward a settlement cannot be possible by steps taken solely by one of the parties. Despite these openings, the Greek Cypriot side continues its negative stance. Nevertheless, as a result of the steps taken by the Turkish Cypriot side, a more favourable atmosphere has emerged on the island. Therefore, hoping to facilitate a comprehensive settlement in the island, the Turkish Cypriot side is continuing to take good-will measures. We believe that confidence building measures will significantly contribute to a comprehensive settlement and to efforts in this respect.

On the other hand, since 40 years the Moslem Turkish Cypriot population is subject to embargoes and restrictions on travel, trade, economy, science, culture and even on sports. This is an anomaly which contradicts the very reasons of the search for a settlement. All ernbargoes on the island of Cyprus must be lifted. For its part, Turkey has taken concrete steps in order to redress this situation. We believe that the support of friendly and brotherly countries to the Turkish Cypriot people and to their constructive steps will contribute to facilitate a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement.

As an observer of the OIC since the 1970's, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has a rightful expectation of becoming a full member.

However, the Moslem Turkish Cypriots who have established their own State 20 years ago are able to take part in the OIC meetings under a "community" label, a label which is not even used by the United Nations any longer. Now the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus should take the place it deserves in the OIC.

Mr. Chairman,

Moslems living in non-member states have been one of the main areas of interest of this organization.

The Moslem Turkish Minority of Western Thrace is not able to fully benefit from individual and minority rights foreseen under bilateral and international agreements. This question deserves serious consideration. Notwithstanding the verdicts of the European Human Rights Court in various cases, the recent decision of the local authorities to sentence Mr. Mehmet Emin Aga, the elected Mufti of Western Thrace Turks once again on charges of "usurping the title of Mufti" is regrettable. It is also unfortunate that the practice of the Greek authorities of controlling minority foundations in Western Thrace by directly appointing members of the executive boards is still continuing.

Therefore, it is of great importance that our Organization continues its close interest and support aimed at the recognition of the basic minority rights of the Turkish Muslim Minority of Western Thrace.

Mr. Chairman,

One of the main subjects of our cooperation in OIC is increasing collaboration on economy and trade between Muslim countries. It is gratifying to see that trade among OIC member states is continuously developing.

In this connection, I have the pleasure to announce that the 19th Session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of Islamic Conference (COMCEC) at Ministerial level, which is the most important joint forum to improve economic cooperation projects and trade between member states, will convene in Istanbul on 22-23 October 2003, following a two days Preparatory Meeting of High Level Experts.

As the Chairman of COMCEC, once again I would like to express my belief that COMCEC will continue to be the widest forum of solidarity and cooperation aimed at developing joint economic cooperation projects and trade.

Mr. Chairman,

Finally, I would like to stress that we will do our utmost to make next years 31st Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers Meeting in Turkey a successful event.

I would like to extend my best wishes and regards to all of the distinguished participants.

Thank you.