- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Opens Crown-Belfer Middle East Series

| Winter 2010-11

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu opened the inaugural event of the Crown-Belfer Middle East Seminar Series in September.  The series is a joint venture between the Belfer Center and Brandeis' Crown Center for Middle East Studies.  Lester Crown and Robert Belfer, benefactors of the centers, were recognized during the event.

Foreign Minister Davutoğlu discussed Turkey's efforts to embrace its own multi-regional identity and carry out a "pro-active, peace-oriented foreign policy agenda." Specifically, he said, Turkey has focused on increasing stability in the region through four major avenues: 1) fostering contact between other leaders in the region, 2) showing equal respect for the security of different ethnic and religious groups, 3) integrating Turkey's economy with that of its neighbors, especially Syria and Iran, and 4) eliminating ethnic tension by encouraging regional, religious, and ethnic integration. Davutoğlu said he hopes that one day ordinary citizens will be able to drive from Tel Aviv to Damascus to Istanbul and beyond without difficulty or concern.

Davutoğlu's talk was followed by questions regarding Turkey's work in Iran, involvement in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and domestic reactions to the Gaza Flotilla raid.

Nicholas Burns, professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics and member of the Belfer Center's board of directors, introduced the event by highlighting the critical importance of the Middle East region, including current issues in Iran, Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories.  This is why, he said, Harvard and Brandeis wanted to bring Boston area experts together to discuss regional issues.

Turkey's foreign minister was the ideal leader to launch the series due to Turkey's increasing influence in the Middle East, according to Burns.

"Turkey is the only government [in the region] that can talk effectively with every other government," he said. "There is a lot to admire in the work that Turkey has done."

Shai Feldman, director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis co-chairs the series with Burns.  Coordinated by the Belfer Center's Middle East Initiative, the inaugural event was attended by more than 30 Boston-based scholars and journalists working on issues in the Middle East region.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Janka, Noelle. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Opens Crown-Belfer Middle East Series.” Belfer Center Newsletter (Winter 2010-11).

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