The public agenda in Turkey was busy with three main topics over the last week.
The first was the annual Antalya Diplomacy Forum that started on Friday, initiated by the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
The second topic was the HDP office building shooting in Izmir, which resulted in the death of a citizen.
The third topic was the NATO Summit, which began last Monday and was attended by President Erdogan.
Antalya Diplomacy Forum
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with numerous top diplomats and heads of international organizations on Saturday on the occasion of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum (ADF) in southern Turkey.
The forum has seen a high turnout from the leaders and foreign ministers of different countries, with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu holding more than 50 bilateral meetings.
Cavusoglu held various meetings with participants, including with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Congo Jean-Claude Gakosso, TRNC Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertugruloglu as well as his Moldovan, Afghan and Malaysian counterparts, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
His bilateral meetings moved on over the second and third day of the forum, which kicked off on Friday afternoon.
Two dinners, one reception, and three cultural events were held at Antalya’s NEST Congress and Exhibition Center, located in a 16,000 m2 area.
256 young people in total, including undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students from more than 50 universities, attended the forum. Two youth forums were organized.
As the first international forum since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Antalya Diplomacy Forum began in full compliance with protective measures, an average of 8,000 tests being conducted every day.
Those participating had to undergo PCR tests at their hotels before they could enter the conference hall to discuss regional peace and cooperation issues.
Around 2,000 participants attended the prestigious forum.
The “diplomacy tunnel” about events and people that are cornerstones of diplomacy in the history of Turkey and the world, had 85 chapters and a 6-minute video.
A total of 1,500 photographs, each telling a different story, were used at the special exhibition at the convention center.
Commenting on Turkey’s Asia Anew initiative during the forum, Cavusoglu said: “Asia has once again become the center of economic power in the world. The balance of the economy is shifting rapidly towards Asia”.
He said Turkey currently has good relations with Russia. “Just as other states within NATO, we also develop diplomatic relations with other countries.”
Welcoming Russia’s recent decision to resume full-scale air traffic with Turkey, Cavusoglu said Turkey’s healthy tourism measures and certification process “set an example to the world.”
“Countries like us, which are not only regional but also global actors, have to maintain good relations with different countries at the same time. One should not be seen as an alternative to the other. It is important to be principled and transparent,” he said.
About the ongoing tensions in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, Cavusoglu said Turkey restarted consultative talks with Greece.
Referring to both president- and foreign-minister-level meetings held between the two countries, he said: “I hope that this determination and sincerity will continue for both sides.”
Cavusoglu also urged the Greek side to “give up provocations” during the summer such as carrying out drills in the Aegean during the tourism season as it is agreed on. He also referred to other “provocative steps” Greece often takes, such as violating the disarmament status of the islands.
In his closing speech of the three-day high-level event, Mevlut Cavusoglu said the forum became one of the first and biggest international events during the pandemic and was held under compliance with all health measures.
“I think it will be a model for events of this scale in the future,” Cavusoglu added.
Thanking all participants “who enriched this forum with different perspectives,” he said: “Our goal during the forum was not to repeat the spoken words, not to repeat what is known. We wanted to go beyond our ‘speech notes’ in terms of diplomacy.”
HDP Office Building Shooting in Izmir
Gunman Onur Gencer stormed the office building of the HDP in Izmir on Thursday.
In his statement to the police, Gencer claimed that he did not have any connections with any group and that he carried out the attack because of his hatred towards the PKK, which is known to be affiliated to the HDP.
Gencer, a former health worker, told the police that he scouted around the building before and thought there would be several people in the office when he launched the attack.
Deniz Poyraz, who was murdered at the office, was covering the shift for her mother Fehime Poyraz, an office woman at the HDP office building.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned an attack, labeling it a “provocation.”
“We are condemning this provocative assault in the strongest terms and will do so in such possible attacks in the future,” Erdogan said in a speech in the southern province of Antalya on Saturday.
“We believe the culprit will receive the highest punishment and all his connections will be unveiled,” the president added.
“We are working to protect every single citizen of this country, whoever they are. Turkey has the power, determination and capacity to fight against such provocative attacks, terror groups and crime organizations,” the president said.
Leader of Vatan Party Dogu Perincek said that this attack was provoked to label the Turkish state as a “public massacrer” and was an operation to revive the popularity of the PKK affiliated party, while noting that former chief of NATO-Gladio Turkey Branch has previously told that there would be “assassinations”.
Aydinlik Newspaper published the attack as its cover story, outlining 5 possible objectives, which would benefit the Western powers:
1- To create the perception of “murderous state”: Just after the assassination of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, a campaign to label “patriotic groups as murderers”, began being conducted across social media.
2- To revive the HDP: A saving hand is being stretched to the HDP, as it is cornered with the elimination of the PKK, and is facing the risk of being shut down due to its terror affiliation.
3- To prepare a suitable environment for so-called ‘creative Chaos’: another cause is being fabricated with the goal of carrying the unrest brought by economic hardships into the streets.
4- To put pressure for an early election: “early elections” are attempting to be brought about by those claiming that “security of the citizens are not guaranteed”, those who think “Turkey is not being properly administered”.
5- To accelerate Biden’s Plan: The patriotic war which Turkey is currently engaged in is trying to be circumvented via Biden’s plan of bringing the opposition to power. Turkey is trying to be brought back under the influence of the US.
President Erdogan in NATO Summit
The NATO summit gathering heads of member states and governments began on Monday in Brussels.
Including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leaders of 30 member countries were welcomed one by one by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meeting.
A traditional gathering photo was taken with the leaders. Erdogan posed between US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The leaders discussed a wide range of issues, including the main themes of the NATO 2030 initiative: how to reinforce the alliance’s unity, broaden its approach to security, and contribute to safeguarding the rules-based international order.
Transatlantic relations were among the topics as the US attended the summit under the new Biden administration.
Since Sunday evening, the leaders were holding bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit and those meetings will continue to be held until the end of the summit.
US President Joe Biden described his first face-to-face meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan as “positive and productive,” saying both countries will make progress on bilateral relations.
Speaking at a news conference in Brussels after several talks with NATO member states’ leaders, including a one-on-one meeting with Erdogan, besides talks between the Turkish and US delegations, Biden said he and Erdogan had detailed discussions about how to proceed on a number of issues.
“Our teams are going to continue our discussions and I’m confident we’ll make real progress with Turkey and the United States,” said Biden.
Earlier, Erdogan said Turkey and the US agreed to use direct channels of dialogue effectively and regularly.
“There is no issue that cannot be resolved in Turkey-US relations,” said Erdogan, adding “the cooperation areas are wider and richer than problem areas.”
The one-on-one meeting at the NATO headquarters lasted for 45 minutes. The two leaders met for the first time since Biden took office in January.
Erdogan told his US counterpart that Ankara would not change course on F-35 fighter jets or Russian S-400 missile defense systems on Thursday.
“I told (Joe Biden), don’t expect us, as Turkey, to take a different step on either the F-35 or S-400 issue because we did our part on the F-35s,” Erdogan told reporters in the Azerbaijani capital Baku, referring to his Monday meeting with the US president at a NATO summit in Brussels.
On the US stance towards the fight against terrorism, especially in northern Syria, Erdogan also underlined that it was a “historic mistake” for a country to favor terrorist groups that its ally is fighting against, instead of siding with its ally that is being targeted by terrorism.
Referring to the US support for YPG/PKK, Erdogan said “Those who support terrorist groups and encourage them will sooner or later realize what a big mistake they made.”
Erdogan told how he presented a book on Turkey’s counter-terrorism efforts to the leaders he met at the NATO summit, saying Turkey has once again conveyed its fight against the YPG/PKK, Gulenist Terrorist Organization (FETO), and ISIS at the highest level to its counterparts.
“We will continue our fight against terrorism. We do this for our country, our region, for global peace and justice. Terrorism is a universal challenge,” he underlined.
Turkey has proven its power in Syria and Libya with its armed forces, and security forces, and will continue to do so, said Erdogan, while adding: “I spoke about this very clearly with Biden.”
He also added that Moscow was being “helpful” on the opening of the Zangezur corridor between western Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Region, and said he would soon meet again with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“This route will naturally provide great opportunities for Azerbaijan. Likewise, it will provide great advantages to Armenia. Russia also has a positive view on this issue,” he stressed.
It is an important corridor, he said, adding: “I hope that it will add considerable wealth to the agriculture of the region.”
Turkey is one of the countries that make the most efforts for stability and peace in Afghanistan, Erdogan said.
“We will continue to make contributions to the establishment of a sustainable environment of peace in Afghanistan, where we are with the NATO mission,” he added.
After the US decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, Turkey can take on much more responsibility there, he underlined.
“I believe that we will make the peace process permanent with the constructive contributions of all parties in Afghanistan and the countries of the region,” he said.