UPDATE - Robust diplomacy is not option but obligation for Türkiye: President Erdogan
'We are in pursuit of protecting Türkiye's interests by employing all tools of diplomacy and all elements of hard and soft power,' Recep Tayyip Erdogan says
UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS OF TURKISH PRESIDENT
By Diyar Guldogan
ANKARA (AA) – For Türkiye, a country located at an important position geographically, it is a must for having a robust diplomacy, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday.
"Located at the heart of three continents, Türkiye cannot be an onlooker to developments. Being strong in the field and at the table is not an option for us; it is an obligation," Erdogan said in an address to Turkish ambassadors serving abroad and at home.
The ambassadors gathered in the capital Ankara for the 14th Ambassadors Conference to discuss regional and international developments, global trends, and recent challenges and opportunities.
"We are in pursuit of protecting Türkiye's interests by employing all the tools of diplomacy and all the elements of hard and soft power," Erdogan said.
Türkiye has become a "playmaker country" that has left its mark on international relations, whose involvement is sought in many crucial issues, and whose attitude is closely followed, he added.
Turning to the fight against terrorism, Erdogan said Türkiye did not take a step back in the face of terrorist groups, including ASALA and PKK.
"We did not tarnish our independence and future in the fight against terrorism," he added.
Türkiye's operations will continue until it eradicates the "terror scourge" that threatens the territorial integrity of Türkiye, as well as Iraq, Erdogan said.
Voluntary return of Syrian refugees in Türkiye to their country will be accelerated as Iraq and Syria stabilize, he added.
More than 3.7 million Syrians currently reside in Türkiye, making it the world's top refugee-hosting country.
- Black Sea grain deal
Türkiye is the "key country" in the settlement of Russia-Ukraine crisis, Erdogan said, adding Ankara follows a "balanced and fair" attitude since the first day to resolve the issue.
Ankara's talks with the parties are underway for the resumption of Black Sea grain deal, he added.
About his recent phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Erdogan said he had the opportunity to re-get information about Russia's demands and expectations first-hand.
"Putin, like us, is sensitive about the access of our African brothers to grain products. I believe we can find common ground on this issue," he added.
On July 17, Russia suspended its participation in the deal, which it signed in July 2022 along with Türkiye, the UN, and Ukraine to resume grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began in February last year. Moscow has complained that the Russian part of the agreement was not being implemented.
"Undoubtedly, the solution to this problem without further stalemate depends on Western countries fulfilling their promises," Erdogan stressed.
Türkiye, internationally praised for its unique mediator role between Ukraine and Russia, has repeatedly called on Kyiv and Moscow to end the war through negotiations.
- Fight against Islamophobia
On recent provocative acts and burning of copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, in some Western countries, Erdogan said Türkiye will continue its fight against Islamophobia.
"We need to make more efforts to combat Islamophobia, which has reached an intolerable level in some European states in recent weeks," he added.
Islamophobic figures or groups have repeatedly carried out Quran burnings and similar desecration attempts in Northern Europe in recent months, drawing outrage from Muslim countries and the world.
"It is the primary duty of all of us as Turks and Muslims to prevent attacks on the Quran and to ensure that the perpetrators of these hate crimes are punished the way they deserve.
"As a matter of fact, we became one of the countries that gave the strongest and most effective response to this barbarism, which is becoming more and more reckless day by day," Erdogan added.
In addition, he said, Türkiye strives to mobilize all international organizations of which it is a member in this regard.
"Türkiye will fulfill its responsibility of pioneering this struggle, as it has done for centuries," he stressed.
- 'Zone of peace, stability'
Ankara's goal is to establish a zone of peace, stability and prosperity around itself, Erdogan said, adding that dialogue and diplomacy will be the "most important tools" towards achieving this goal.
"We seek to increase the number of our friends even more. We have no unsolvable problems with anyone, particularly with our neighbors," he added.
The president also said that Türkiye has one of the five largest diplomatic networks in the world with its 260 representatives.
"We broadened the horizon of our foreign policy to cover the whole world. We have strengthened our relations by focusing on regions that have been neglected for many years, such as Africa, Latin America and Asia," he added.
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