Opening Speech of The 1st Turkish-African Congress
Süleyman ŞENSOY
Süleyman ŞENSOY
TASAM Başkanı / Chairman
Release Date : 1/30/2006

I would like to thank all the distinguished guests and in particular the Chairman of the African Union Commission His Excellency Prof. Alpha Omar Konare, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs His Excellency Abdullah Gul, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) His Excellency Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu for their participation in 1st International Turkish African Congress. The Congress is organized by our center and supported by concerned institutions.

In order to the save time for the visitors and leave much time for the presentations of the papers I will briefly address you under three titles; TASAM, Turkey and Africa.

It will be beneficial, in my opinion, to tell you a story rather than telling much about TASAM. I will try to explain common sense and perspective of TASAM by telling you a story, which took place under the administration of Suleyman the Magnificent who ruled the Ottoman Empire for 46 years.

As you know, historians will acknowledge, such narrated stories are partially true while partially just story. Suleyman has four sons who are the candidates for the throne. The Sultan killed one of them for some reasons, another one died of an illness and conflict breaks out between the remaining two sons, Selim and Bayazid for the throne. Apart from the central army, some small groups of soldiers gathered around the two sons fight in Kutahya (A city in Western Anatolia) and several regions. Under this circumstance the Sultan has two options; first one is to execute them for the upheavals they caused and for the crimes they committed against the state and he is mighty enough for this. Second option is to favor one of them so that he can replace the Sultan. If the Sultan punishes both, no son will remain for the throne. It is also very difficult for him to favor one of them because both are his sons.

Confused with this dilemma the Sultan consults his vizier (top executive officer in Ottoman Empire) and asks his opinions. “ What your sons are doing while you are still alive are totally immoral and unacceptable” says the vizier criticizing both sons and suggests their execution. While the vizier keeps on criticizing the sons and explaining why both should be executed the Sultan interrupts, “How nice you are talking, it is obvious that neither sons belong to you nor the state”.

In such a sensitive attitude we, as TASAM, struggle to serve our country, bear important fruits of thoughts, implement projects and in the context of international relations to contribute to the development and welfare increase of our country.

I would like to inform you of something. Currently we also implement another project including 9 countries from Turkic States of Central Asia and South East Europe. Our guests who came for this project are also in this hall. I would like to welcome them too.

With such common sense what kind of Turkey are we struggling for? We are struggling for a country where legitimacy is formed and distributed justly, therefore where no share conflict exists, a country where nobody is prosecuted or isolated for his/her statements and actions as long as he/she acts on the established legal basis and anybody can be punished again within the system even if they transgress their rights. Most importantly, considering where our people reached in Turkey and in the world and our experiences within last days we believe that we have to control our excitement and hostility because if we don’t control our excitement and hostility we don’t need an enemy. We can be drowned in our own excitement and hostility. Even those whom we regard as enemy don’t want our dissolution they come and rescue us in return of huge cost. What we are supposed to do both in Turkey and in the world is to control our excitement and hostility and to do our best in unity and brotherhood to get through these extraordinary days.
As to give brief information about TASAM, our activities on several strategic and significant topics include published 18 books, 12 reports, 3 symposiums, near 20 brainstormings and conferences, an activity with international cooperation and a number of projects with national and/or international cooperation. With the commentaries published in our website we reached a certain point. At the moment, according to results of research companies our website is number one in Turkey and twelfth in the world. The way we have taken is only small part of we will take in the future. Because our country and the surrounding region urgently need great services, increase in the number of think tank institutions and support of governmental institutions and private sector.

To say a few words on the subject of the congress, we argue that the future lies in Asia and Africa. Who says this? Everyone at the point where world sociology, technology, ecology and climate changes reached says same thing. Mostly our western fellows and allies say that the future lies in Asia and Africa. Since Asia and Africa will be major actors in the future Turkey who is in the middle of three continents is very important for our western fellows and allies too. All energy crossroads, promising countries, two third of the world population and bulk of the energy sources are in Asia and Africa. In this connection including our western fellows the entire world directed their attention to Asia and Africa. While new giants emerge from Asia new resources and new opportunities arise in Africa. Most importantly, Asia and Africa have billions of people who are needy for welfare and idealism. In this regard we start this by opening up to Africa. In coming months we will try to be in your presence with a project regarding Asia.
I also would like to give you a good news. His Excellency Alpha Omar Konare had a demand since his arrival. We have made a decision of restructuring of African Studies Group which functions under TASAM and to form African Studies Institute within the hierarchic structure of TASAM. Altogether with your support we will accelerate this process to do valuable and more detailed studies on Africa. And we hope to hold 2nd International Turkish African Congress in December 2006 again in Istanbul.

What is our role in an era where Asia and Africa are the major actors? Is it to get more shares from Asia and Africa? Is it solely material interests? Or is it to refresh the sorrowful experiences we had with Asia and Africa, since most of our land belongs to Asia? No. we as members of a civilization of whose essential pillar is belief in the eternal life hereafter, should behave, shape our life, see the world, develop technology from this point of view and have to cooperate along with mutual interests without misusing good will of each other.
I would like to sum up my speech with a final word. As you know the Ottoman Empire waged war at seven fronts. During the war when communities that are components of Ottoman society rebelled against the central administration prominent people of these communities told the representatives sent by the Ottoman administration on them the following; ‘you were mighty and just, therefore we were with you. But today we left you because your power and justice weakened (this is the observation they made that day, it doesn’t justify them). We also need the same thing again because today this is said for the dominant powers of the world. In an era where power and justice weakened those who have a perspective of a civilization need to have the power and civilization had in the right hands.

Our intention was to contribute to our relations with Africa with a congress. Turkey needs to deepen its political, economic, social and cultural relations by means of cooperation among universities, sports activities and cultural centers with this continent that consists of approximately 60 countries and 850 million people. We will also keep on contributing this within our framework.

To point out some issues and to utter some concerns in such open to public organizations is a communal duty for us. Not to take much time I won’t repeat of previous conferences. But regarding the subject of this congress there are two things that I would like to remind our country and administrators. These might be in their agenda as well but we would like to remind them. First, in connection with the ecological and strategic changes caused by the ambiguities in the demand for conventional energy resources and troubles in the means of access something has to be done about alternative energy resources. Secondly, in connection with the changing security concept in the entire world new theses should be discusses about our security both at home and abroad and if they are being discussed they have to be ripened. Because we reached such a point that even a small thing is associated to national security. In this context security concepts have to be revised.

I would like to thank you once again for your participation and for listening to me.

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