Basmah Bint Saud Bin ABDUL AZIZ Opening speech

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Good morning everyone: your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.  
 
It gives me great pleasure to be back in Istanbul, and I carry with me fond memories from all the times I have had occasion to visit Turkey. So I must express my gratitude to the conference organisers for their efforts, and for the honour of inviting me to speak, among friends once again.
 
I would just like to say a few opening remarks.
 
The last time I spoke here, in October 2010 at Yildiz University, I closed my speech with the statement:
 
“Only when we fight for the underdog all around the world will we sleep peacefully each night, knowing that we contributed to easing misery rather than creating or sustaining it.”
 
And I added, perhaps somewhat optimistically, “Perhaps next time we meet we shall not be discussing conflict alone, but progress as well.”
 
So much for progress. It took barely six weeks from my last speech for the underdog to begin his fight back – in Tunisia, then in Egypt, and then right across the region. The underdog could see that no one was fighting for him, and so out of desperation, the tragic Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire on 17 December 2010, outside the governor’s office in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia. If only he could have known in life quite what his actions that day would trigger across the Middle East.
 
Are we gathered here again to discuss security in a region that has very little? It is a disheartening prospect. Last time, I touched with great interest and hope on Turkey’s much-cited foreign policy, ‘zero problems with the neighbours’. Sadly the experience today is of plenty of problems among all the neighbours.
 
But I think that as we discuss the varied and important topics that are on the agenda over the coming two days, it is essential to retain a sense of realism about what lies ahead, and to allow our expectations not to get ahead of themselves, but to be tempered by the frank appraisal of the scale of the problems we face today.
 
Last time, I also took the opportunity to quote Machiavelli’s Law of Reform, a quotation some 500 years old:
 
"There is nothing more difficult to manage, more dubious to accomplish, nor more doubtful of success . . . than to initiate a new order of things. The reformer has enemies in all those who profit from the old order and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit from the new order."
 
I return to that quote today to highlight that reform is not easy, but instead is a long and arduous road.
 
But at any rate, this is still preferable to the road taken in Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, and so on. I am pleased to hear talk of reformers, as opposed to revolutionaries. Enough blood has been spilt over the past few years, and any path forward we decide to take must be the peaceful one. The trick for us is to establish how we get to it. I hope we get a good deal closer to that over the coming days.
 
I wish you all a lively, challenging and fruitful conference. 
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