Column, Politics, Turkey

Turkey’s Quest for Peace in a World of Conflict

Since the host country of the Forum was Turkey, the speakers paid special attention to Turkey’s crucial role in providing peace and promoting democracy in its region. Instability in the Middle East is not a new phenomenon, and as was analyzed by some speakers, there are underlying social, economic, and cultural reasons behind it.

As one of the leading platforms for intellectual debate in Turkey, the TRT World Forum 2018 was held in Istanbul last week with the participation of prominent scholar, think-tankers, journalists, politicians, NGO representatives, and students. The main theme of the Forum was envisioning peace and security in a fragmented world. Participants discussed various dimensions of this theme on both regional and international levels.

The TRT World Forum is an emerging international platform for comprehensive analysis of ongoing problems in the world. Throughout the discussions and brainstorming sessions, the Forum enables participants to provide solutions for structural problems preventing peace in different parts of the world. Since it can be argued that conflict in today’s world arises due to 5 different issues, namely, sovereignty, ideology, security, independence, and identity, the TRT World Forum has been successful in paying attention to these issues and proposing alternative ways for understanding and solving ongoing crises on the national, regional, and international level.

During the opening and closing sessions, “transformations in the international system since WWI, the EU as a post-WWII project, the rise of the global south, regional players and the shifting security equation in the Middle East, the leadership role of women in a time of conflict, new media and trust formation and international cooperation in counter-terrorism” were the focus of discussions and proposed solutions.

Since the host country of the Forum was Turkey, the speakers paid special attention to Turkey’s role in providing peace and promoting democracy in its region. Instability in the Middle East is not a new phenomenon, and as was analyzed by some speakers, there are underlying social, economic, and cultural reasons behind it. Additionally, most of the speakers emphasized the changing concepts of conflict and peace after WWII.

Turkey has become a game-changer by designing and coordinating peace initiatives for ordinary people on a regional and international level. The humanitarian diplomacy is what differentiates Turkey from the rest of the world.

Indeed, in today’s world, defining violence, conflict, and peace, is not as easy as it was before. As one of the founding fathers of Peace Studies, Galtung’s conflict triangle differentiates structural, cultural, and direct violence. Gultang indicates that the non-existence of violence does not always mean that there is peace. He makes a differentiation between negative and positive peace and adds that if there is structural and/or cultural violence despite the non-existence of direct violence. This situation should then be called negative peace. Positive peace, on the other hand, requires the non-existence of structural and cultural violence in addition to the absence of direct violence.

As is emphasized by Galtung, the speakers at the TRT World Forum also attracted attention to the ambiguity of these concepts in post-truth times. Nevertheless, Turkey has become a game-changer by designing and coordinating peace initiatives for ordinary people on a regional and international level. This humanitarian diplomacy approach, as stated by speakers, differentiates Turkey from the rest of the world since Turkey also pays attention to building sustainable peace on a societal level.

Traditional methods of providing peace have been failed. Almost 300 peace agreements signed in the 1990s failed after a while.

Why does Turkey use different diplomacy tools for building sustainable peace in the world order? Especially after the 1990s, traditional methods of providing peace have failed. For instance, almost 300 peace agreements signed in the 1990s failed after a while. Additionally, most of the wars in this era ended with a victory of the one side and the ratio of full-settlement in these conflicts was very low. This data shows that traditional peace settlement and peace-building efforts do not provide conflict transformation successfully.

There is a need for transformative approaches in post-peace processes in order to ensure more sustainable results. Turkey, at this stage, is trying to build sustainable peace by including different actors and groups and is trying to increase the inclusivity and hybridity of peace initiatives.

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Hazal Duran conducted her B.A in the fields of Turkish Language and Literature and International Relations at the TOBB University of Economics and Technology in 2012. She completed her M.A in Modern Turkish Studies at Istanbul Sehir University. While continuing her doctoral studies at Bilkent University, she is currently serving as a Researcher at the SETA Ankara Directorate of Political Studies.