İstanbul Kültür University

Arab – Turkish Dialogue Forum

Arab – Turkish Dialogue Forum, held between 21-22 November 2009, in Istanbul, was a joint initiative of Istanbul Kultur University – Global Political Trends Center (IKU/GPoT), Centre for Arab Unity Studies (CAUS) and Arab Democracy Foundation.


Arab – Turkish Dialogue Forum, held between 21-22 November 2009, in Istanbul, was a joint initiative of Istanbul Kultur UniversityGlobal Political Trends Center (IKU/GPoT), Centre for Arab Unity Studies (CAUS) and Arab Democracy Foundation (ADF).



The Forum aimed to bring prominent opinion leaders, diplomats, journalists, academicians across the Arab countries and Turkey to critically evaluate the main parameters and dynamics that influence the relations. The Forum also intended to elaborate the economic, politic, military, cultural and social aspects of bilateral relations between the Arab countries and Turkey, through a series of sessions during the two full days.



The Forum identified six pillars for sustainable relations between the relevant parties:



Ø Strategic perspectives for Arab-Turkish relations;


Ø Political cooperation and coordination in regional and international spheres;


Ø Future horizons of Arab – Turkish economic relations;


Ø The question of identity;


Ø Religious trends; and


Ø Military and political authority.



For each identified pillar, the participants have examined the status quo and looked at the potential areas of cooperation in the upcoming period. The participants also identified the core problems in the relations so as to discuss the alternative reform paths and possible suggestions for the future. In this way, it was possible to share best practices and success stories from different countries.



During the sessions, the theme of the “regional ownership” role of Turkey regarding the problems in the Middle East region was frequently emphasized by the participants as an important parameter for the relations. Although the contributors acknowledged on the impossibility of changing the history of identities, the opportunity to open a new page in relations and to show greater understanding and sympathy for each other was welcome across the board. The problems regarding the water resources and the energy were also underlined, while the positive evolution of the problem-solving mechanisms in these fields was emphasized.



The role of civil society on the bilateral relations was another important parameter that was mentioned. The cooperation between Arab and Turkish universities was suggested as an innovative way of furthering relations.



Another common denominator between the participants was the necessity to ensure the spill-over effect of such Forums on neighbouring areas, such as economic forums (with the participation of business circles), and cultural initiatives (already deepened via the Turkish series widely followed by Arab people). The strategic cooperation was an important point of reference during the sessions. For instance, the newly-formed High Level Strategic Cooperation Councils between Turkey-Syria and Iraq were mostly welcomed. In other terms, due to the interlocked regions in the Middle East, it would be necessary to facilitate the relations between the parties on a multilateral basis by benefiting from all possible channels of action.



Research studies on identity as well as on collective memory, screening of history books to remove mutual prejudices, and learning of each other’s languages were other suggestions brought up during the brain-storming sessions. It would also be of utmost necessity to establish links between the State and the civil society for ensuring the sustainability of such cooperation.





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