Recep Tayyip Erdogan: The road to Middle East democracy

From an address by the Turkish Prime Minister, given at Harvard University
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The Independent Online

When I say that the Middle East must be democratised, I am not expressing merely my own personal wish. There exists an unmistakable demand in the Middle East and in the wider Muslim world for democratisation.

The Muslim world and its subset the countries of the Middle East have been left behind in the marathon of political, economic and human development. For that, there is a tendency to blame others. Yet, it is healthier to seek both the problem and the solution foremost within themselves. I trust that I can make this point in confidence as a politician who has assumed the government of a country which belongs both to the West and the Muslim world.

If the countries of the Middle East perceive the advice to democratise and the emphasis on regional processes as ill-intentioned foreign intervention, they would be mistaken. For the development of some of the most advanced democracies, third countries and international institutions have made essential contributions. In fact, the democratic community is constantly monitoring democratic standards. One of the positive sides of globalisation has been the protection accorded by the democratic community to the democratic ideal.

As I consider Turkey's own democratisation process, I clearly see the benefits of our interaction with the outside world, notably with the US and the EU. Even if we take for granted Robert Kagan's thesis that "Europeans come from Mars and Americans from Venus", we should nonetheless underscore that both are part of the same solar system. Europe and the US are part of the same value system. This community of shared values stands tall not on the foundations of any religion. It's built on adherence to democratic values.