13 January 2014
A strong democracy is a must in pursuing an active diplomacy, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutođlu said at the opening ceremony of the sixth annual ambassadors’ conference in Ankara on Jan. 13, adding that representing a country became easier when rights and freedoms were maximized.
“Democracy cannot be consolidated by forcing individuals to think in certain ways,” Davutođlu said, adding that fighting against “bans, corruption and poverty” had been the main philosophy of the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) administration. He also insisted on the accountability of the executive.
“The executive should be accountable at all times. It should not avoid rendering accounts for the authority that it uses. In this meaning, we have not avoided rendering account [on anything] in the last 10 years,” Davutođlu said.
The conference, which is focusing on “strong democracy,” comes as the AKP government is battling a corruption probe which has implicated former Cabinet ministers.
Davutođlu stressed the AKP’s economic success throughout its rule. “The rate of our citizens who earn less than $4 a day has decreased from 30 percent in 2002 to less than 3 percent today,” he said, while noting the special role of High-Level Strategic Councils with countries such as Russia.
Davutođlu highlighted the ties with Moscow and Athens as examples proving that the “zero problems with neighbors” policy was still intact.
“Our foreign trade with Russia multiplied almost by 10 in the last years. There is not one year during which the Russian president has not visited Turkey since 2004. Is this a ‘zero problems policy’ in crisis?” he said.
Within the context of the conference, Davutođlu will meet with police officers who were wounded in an attack last year on Turkey’s embassy in Somalia and the families of those who were killed in the incident.
He is also expected to meet with the daughter of Enver Ţimţek, who was killed in a neo-Nazi attack in Germany, and German citizen Andreas Heuler, who provided first aid to Ţimţek in the wake of the attack, as well as with Turkish citizens who were kidnapped and released in 2013.