Conference on "NATO Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) '13", 22 October 2013, Dubai

Şefik Vural Altay 22.10.2013

(Prof. Muthanna,)
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
Dear Participants and Students, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for the introduction, Chairman. It is a great pleasure for me to be part of this important event this afternoon. Therefore, at the outset, I would like to congratulate American University in the Emirates (AUE) as well as NATO Secretariat for having co-organized this Conference on Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), namely “NATO ICI 13”.

My special thanks also go to Prof. Firuz Demir Yaşamış, Interim Director, Security and Strategic Studies as well as Master of Arts in Diplomacy Program of AUE, for giving me the opportunity to take part in this last panel.

I am sure that the discussions that have taken place here today will contribute to further enhancing ICI partnership between NATO and ICI member countries from this important region of the world.

And on a personal note, being an Alumni of NATO Defense College and as a diplomat having dealt with NATO affairs in the past and having also served as the NATO Contact Point Embassy in Abu Dhabi between 2009-2010 during the first two years of my tenure in this brotherly country, it is good to be among some of the members of the larger Atlantic Community and members of NATO Secretariat on this occasion , here in Dubai. Welcome to UAE.

So, having said this, I have to confess of course, that being one of the last speakers of any Conference, like this one, is a difficult task and carries a lot of risks with it. Because, there is always the risk of repeating what has already been said by the previous distinguished speakers and panelists.

Therefore, I will try to refrain, as much as I can, from making this happen here today and approach the concept of “security” from a different perspective or angle, which is very important for this region. Namely Energy Security.

However, before I go into this, I would like to underline that we in Turkey are very proud and happy to give the name of our beautiful city of Istanbul to this important initiative (ICI), that connects some of the brotherly countries of the GCC to the Western Alliance, which Turkey is part of. We are glad to see that Saudi Arabia and Oman have also shown interest to join the ICI. As a long-standing member of the Alliance Turkey is ready to contribute to the development of closer relations between NATO and the Gulf countries, both in the framework of the ICI and on a bilateral basis. In this regard, increased participation of the ICI countries in the training activities offered by PfP Training Center in Ankara might be useful in their efforts towards enhancing their cooperation and promoting interoperability with NATO.

On a particular note, I would like to extend our appreciation to the Government of the UAE, as being the first Arab and Gulf Country to have a permanent mission at the NATO premises in Brussels, headed by Ambassador Mohammed Al Naqbi. The UAE Mission at the NATO HQ was inaugurated in April 2013, and we welcome this breakthrough in NATO’s relationship with the Gulf. This kind of an “embedded relationship” between ICI partners and the NATO HQ will pave the way for more integrated and closer contacts at all levels.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you all know, Turkey joined NATO back in 1952, almost 61 years ago. And since the very beginning, she has been contributing militarily to the security of the Western Alliance and the free world as a buffer zone between the Western and Eastern blocks. As the southern flank country of the Alliance, Turkey, having the second largest army within NATO after US, made immense contributions and a lot of sacrifices to protect the southern borders and territories of NATO, especially during the Cold War era.

The same situation is valid under today’s circumstances as well. Geographically, Turkey is the closest NATO member to the conflict zones in the Middle East. Unfortunately, nowadays we are witnessing very serious and grave conflicts in our region, especially in Iraq and Syria, which pose “a serious security threat” not only to Turkey and NATO, but also to all the other countries in the Middle East Region, including the Gulf. Arab Spring is far from being complete. There are a lot of question marks as to the future of the region. This necessitates much more closer cooperation and collaboration of NATO with regional countries, under different partnership programs and mechanisms.

In this respect, Turkey is no longer merely the flank country of Western Alliance or simply located on the edges of Europe and Asia or Middle East. Nowadays, we find ourselves at the epicenter of a widening geography by all possible terms.

Needless to say, Gulf Region is very important to Turkey. We have historical, cultural, political and economic ties with this region. The history of Arab-Turkish relations is that of two brotherly people, bound together by close cultural, social, religious and historical ties.

For centuries, our peoples lived side by side, shared a common destiny and contributed extensively to the world civilization.

During the last decade, we developed and diversified our relations with the GCC countries both on bilateral and multilateral levels.

Turkey-GCC High Level Strategic Dialogue Mechanism, which was established back in 2008, is the first mechanism that the GCC has ever established with a third country for consultations on regular basis. Strategic Dialogue with GCC aims at developing existing good relations between Turkey and GCC countries in a more structured manner. For this purpose, a regular cooperation consultation mechanism has been established to cover mainly the fields of politics, economics, defense, security and culture.

According to Joint Action Plan, which was approved in 2010, 11 joint working groups were established. I think, this much is sufficient about Turkey-GCC relations.
Let’s get back to “Energy Security”.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Energy security is one of the top agenda items of our times, because of the simple reason that energy is crucial not only for our lives but also for our countries and economies.

Affordable and uninterrupted extraction and flow of energy sources are of significant importance for the well-being of our peoples as well as for the economic development of our countries. In this regard, the issue of energy security lies at the heart of the security and prosperity of our populations and future generations.

When we talk about energy security, we have to underline that there are two sides of this coin. One side being the supply security, the other one the demand security. Needless to say, both are very crucial. From the supply security side, a stable and reliable energy supply, diversification of routes, suppl,ers and energy resources and the interconnectivity of energy networks remain of critical importance. Therefore, energy security is often associated with issues of foreign policy, national security, economic welfare and global stability. The developments in energy markets have an increasing impact around the globe as a consequence of the growing interdependencies among our countries. Because of this and under present circumstances, when we address this subject, we have to take into consideration the political and geopolitical conjuncture that surrounds us as well.

It is of particular importance and priority to maintain political stability and peace in our regions. We should aim at minimizing the negative effects of the developments in the energy markets through international cooperation.

GCC region is very rich in terms of energy resources, namely fossil fuels and renewable energy, starting with solar. GCC countries are amongst the biggest producers and exporters of oil and natural gas to the world markets. Beyond that , especially during the last period, they have also become big& large consumers of their own products , due to their growing economies and populations.

Energy sector is the main driving force behind their economies. They greatly contribute to the energy security of the globe. This will continue in the years to come as well. Therefore, security of the energy supply routes and means are very important. By that, I mean seaways and pipelines through which these products are transported. As you have heard during the 2nd Panel, which addressed “Piracy and Maritime Cooperation”, a lot is being done in this sphere. Continuation of this process is very important and vital for the global economy as well as for the individual economies of the region. As 20 %of Turkey’s foreign trade is carried through the region, the continuation of counter piracy efforts is of particular importance for my country too. As it stands now, Turkey contributes both to Ocean Shield and CTF-151. We also support exploring the ways in which action at sea could be enhanced. Navalforces remain relevant in the fight against piracy and NATO is well –equipped actor. On that basis we have been supporting both an enhanced mandate for the Operation Ocean Shield and the extension of its mandate until the end of 2014. We would like to see more rebust action on the part of the international community and in particular NATO to address root causes of piracy.
Back to energy security.

As you know, Energy Security entered into the agenda of NATO in 2006 following the crisis between Russian Federation and Ukraine, which negatively affected the flow of natural gas to Western Europe. Since then, NATO has been addressing this issue.

Turkey welcomes NATO’s progress achieved in this area since the Riga Summit in 2006 and we appreciate the work of the relevant NATO Committees and Bodies, which constitute an added value to the domain. Most recently, at the Chicago Summit in 2012, the Heads of States and Governments noted a progress report which outlined the concrete steps taken since Lisbon Summit and describe the way forward to integrate, as appropriate, energy security considerations in NATO’s policies and activities.
We will continue to support the role that the Alliance will play on energy security, based on the principles and the guidelines we agreed upon. Nevertheless, we think that any concrete role NATO could eventually play should be upon request, should aim at complementing the already existing national and international efforts and should be subject to a decision by the North Atlantic Council.

So I’d better stop here, hoping that I did not bore you with my long speech.

If you would have any specific questions I would be happy to answer them.

Thank you very much.

Pazar - Perşembe

09:00 - 16:00

Konsolosluk başvuru saatleri:
09:00 - 12:00
1.1.2019 1.1.2019 Miladi Yılbaşı
3.4.2019 3.4.2019 Miraç Kandili
5.6.2019 6.6.2019 Ramazan Bayramı
11.8.2019 14.8.2019 Kurban Bayramı
30.8.2019 30.8.2019 Zafer Bayramı
1.9.2019 1.9.2019 Hicri Yılbaşı
29.10.2019 29.10.2019 Cumhuriyet Bayramı
10.11.2019 10.11.2019 Mevlit Kandili
30.11.2019 30.11.2019 Anma Günü
2.12.2019 2.12.2019 BAE Milli Günü