26 Feb 2019 | Nor Aini Mohd Nordin
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Kuala Lumpur on 18th February 2019 organised for H.E. Dr Merve Safa Kavakci, the Ambassador of Republic of Turkey to Malaysia to give a lecture titled “ Paradigm Shift in Foreign Policy: Humanitarian Approach”. MiDAS was represented by Assistant Director of Non-Traditional Military Affair, Ms Nor Aini binti Mohd Nordin. The lecture title and its speaker have garnered interest among those in the foreign affair fora including the Ambassador of Egypt, Ukraine and Qatar as well as diplomatic officers from the embassies of France, Kenya, Indonesia, Italy and Iraq. Before her appointment as an ambassador HE Dr Kavakci is already internationally recognised for her work on humanitarian work and her legendary entrance into Turkish political fora.
Therefore it was apt that the lecture given focussed on Turkey Foreign Policy post-cold war to this date. According to Dr Kavakci the word shift may seem simple and speedy to some but in the world of international relation and foreign policy it means a work in progress and does not happen overnight. The lecture started with a statement that Turkey is now trying to move from a realist perspective towards humanitarian approach. During its realist perspective Turkey used Westernisation through power approach meaning that whatever is good or produced by Europe is accepted without question and replicated. Through this approach and being a secular country it has allowed Turkey to receive special treatment by the western world such as being a member of NATO. Not only that every action it has ever taken in order to maximise its power. Despite its realist perspective the Turkish militaries have been presence in Turkey politics, not only that every 20 years the militaries would intervene in its political sphere. These are among the reasons Turkish decided to move from realism to idealism and therefore humanitarian approach.
According to Dr Kavakci it is not to say that realism approach has not been effective for Turkey, in fact one example that the Turkish is proud of is being successful in democratising the Turkish minds. Through their existing approach and prudent policies in a world that has become a global village that is supported by multilateralism Turkey has now been ranked the 13th largest economic in the world. Obviously such achievement did not come without its own challenges, H.E. shared that back in 2002 when the Islamic Party won the election and came into power the secular sect becomes very jittery and there was even an intellectual discourse discussing on whether Turkey would eventually become Malaysia as at that point of time Tun Mahathir was one of the most influential figure on economic reform among the Moslem world.
Nevertheless Turkey has managed to pave its own way forward and today it has its own defence industry and established 70% of its own defence product with 5th generation aircraft manufactured. Healthcare system is also something that the Turkish people take pride in as it is rank first in Europe and third in the world. Dr Kavakci expressed that they are looking forward to work with Malaysia in this sector. She also informed the lecture that Turkey has been ranked as the top humanitarian donor in the world in 2017 with fund up to USD 8.07 billion, followed by the USA 6.5 billion, and Germany 3 billion in the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2018. She remarked that the Turks have been, for the past centuries, emulating and upholding the familial relationships between Ansar-Mujahirun in the Islamic tradition, in which humanitarian victims are treated as ‘guests’ rather than as ‘refugees’. She ends her lecture by quoting the Turkey President "To recognise problem you have to contextualise the problem and understand that in this world each one of us matter. Therefore in international realms this world matters more than the five”. The five in which the President was referring to are the members of UN Security Council.
The entire lecture has provided information to create opportunity for Malaysia to think of a way in which cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief can be establish between Turkey Armed Forces and Malaysia Armed Forces. Not only that we should extend it beyond the military fora as the situation Malaysia currently facing is oddly similar to that faced by Turkey especially in the context of refugees as well as other issues such as Palestine. These steps will support what our Prime Minister has said in his speech during the United Nation General Assembly 2018 and Malaysia Foreign Policy.