Speaker of Turkish Parliament to the “PUIC”:

- Common Solutions to our Common Problems
- Towards a More Democratic and Fair World Order
- Parliamentary Diplomacy Materializes will of people
- Action to avert linking Islam with Terror and Violence
- PUIC an Important Forum for Joint Islamic Parliamentary Action

PUIC Bulletin No.16 Winter 2015

Photo from turkeyHis Excellency Mr. Cemil Çiçek, Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, and President of the 10th Session of the PUIC Conference, addresses several crucial issues which are of concern to Muslims at all levels. Chief among such issues are outstanding challenges that face the Islamic World and how to face them; solidarity among Muslims, obstacles on the way and how to overcome them; parliamentary diplomacy and its role in shaping a new world order; and dialogue among cultures and religions: bases and conditions. His Excellency’s ideas and perceptions of these issues have been expounded in the interview which he has kindly granted to the PUIC. Following are the excerpts:

PUIC: How do you evaluate the PUIC experience in joint Islamic Parliamentary Action?
 
Mr. Çiçek: It is of vital importance that members of parliaments representing their people from various parts of the World gather and exchange views. In this context, I attach importance to the PUIC as a platform through which members of parliaments of the Muslim states gather and share the joy of achievements as well as sorrows.
If the West dominates the global system in this age, this is a result of their diligence and ability of common action. We also should improve the ability of common action and effort as well as the art of joint decision making so as to increase the prosperity of Muslim states, establish peace and stability in our region, make our voice more effectively heard in international fora and eliminate Islamophobia and the prejudiced and hostile attitudes towards Islam and Muslims. To this end, the PUIC has additional importance.
PUIC has an important potential to establish more effective cooperation and coordination among our parliaments to find common solutions to our common problems. However, this requires the PUIC to have a more effective functioning.  
 
PUIC: In what way may PUIC work be developed in order to realize the objectives for which it has been established?
 
Mr. Çiçek: First of all, we should consider the PUIC as an institutional umbrella. We should support it systematically. Institutionalization should be the primary issue, in this respect. The function of the PUIC should not be degraded only to the speeches delivered in the Conference. Good practices should be examined for the institutionalization and, if necessary, joint studies with other parliamentary assemblies and international organizations should be conducted.
Taking a look at the resolutions adopted by the PUIC, we see that same resolutions are adopted again and again each year. However, globalized political, economic and social structures do not tolerate the notion of “repetition”. We are in such an age that you should keep running to remain where you are. In that sense, it is necessary to follow a more dynamic agenda. Adopting a resolution alone does not mean much; therefore, it is essential to implement the resolutions and follow up the implementation of the resolutions. To this end, the PUIC should be strengthened with respect to institutionalization and, if need be, supported by effective mechanisms. I believe that meetings with dynamic agendas including fewer items will be more fruitful. As for the implementation of the resolutions adopted, follow-up mechanisms and presentation of follow up reports can be prescribed. To implement this, new mechanisms can be established in coordination with the OIC. Moreover, as the member states, we should share knowledge and good practices. We can take a step by establishing a “Joint Information Center” to this end.
 
PUIC: In your view, what are the most outstanding challenges that face the Islamic World today? How is it possible to address such challenges?
 
Mr. Çiçek: We all witness that radical problems rooted in the history as well as new threats dominate the Islamic World. However, I think that we should adopt a more self-critical and in-depth approach to understand the emergence of the problems or the deadlock in their resolutions.
It is for certain that one of the biggest challenges that Islamic World faces is the political disputes. In this context, danger of sectarian violence increasing by every inactive day is of great importance. These disputes inhibit the solidarity as well as it results in association of Islam with terror and violence. In face of the presentation of Islam with a negative image, crucial responsibilities fall to each individual and statesmen. Fully understanding and adopting Islamic values and their transformation to deeds rather than words is also an important element of this responsibility. Additionally, it is necessary to engage in a joint effort with concord and consultation and to insist on this effort.
Another challenge is the underdevelopment and underperformance disproportionate with the Muslim population which makes up the one third of the world population. This underdevelopment constitutes a contrast with the achievements which Islamic World inherited from its past. I would like to underline the importance of following the economic developments in a broadminded manner and establishing just and effective economic systems under the light of these developments to overcome this problem. It is also essential to design economic policies by taking country based conditions and global economic developments into account, to exchange experience within the Islamic World and to establish stronger economic ties and links in order counter under-development.
Social inequalities are also challenges before the justice and prosperity, which should be surmounted. I would like to recall that elements like race, sects and gender are sources of richness not inequality. Likewise, unjust income distribution and social status inequalities originated from unequal income distribution brings about social discontent in the medium term, which will affect the performance in every field adversely. We observe that social inequalities exist not just in certain countries but also among the members of the Islamic World. In this context, I would like to express that neither unjust income distribution nor domestic violence has a place in Islam. In order the dissolve these inequalities, it is necessary to increase awareness through education and revise social and economic policies by taking the importance attached to justice in Islam into account.
 
PUIC: Islamic solidarity is still facing some obstacles, what, in your view, are the most significant obstacles and how can they be overcome? What are the necessary steps to build Islamic solidarity on proper and firm foundations?
 
Mr. Çiçek: There exist 1.6 billion Muslim population and 57 countries with Muslim-majority population on five continents. Each of these countries has specific cultural and economic features as well as priorities. Consequently, it is normal to have divergent opinions on some issues. However, this diversity and divergence should not hinder the solidarity in the counteraction against our common problems. Herein, increasing the interaction among countries, keeping the door of dialogue, leaving the prejudices aside, reinvigoration of the understanding of unity and solidarity, maintaining the vision of justice and equality in the discussion and solution of the problems and remaining open-minded should constitute the essence of the approach to be adopted against the challenges before the solidarity. On the other hand, institutionalization of bilateral and multilateral relations among states and discussion on more effective mechanisms will also contribute to overcome the challenges.
 
PUIC: How do you perceive the role which parliamentary diplomacy may play in shaping a new world order which is more fair and beneficial to all peoples of the World?
 
Mr. Çiçek: Acquaintance and convergence among peoples may be actualized through many ways. Parliamentary diplomacy, one of these ways, offer opportunities to know each other and share our joys, sorrows and goals. In this respect, importance and influence of parliamentary diplomacy increase day by day. Improvement of the works conducted at the levels of parliamentary assemblies, inter-parliamentary friendship groups among parliaments and standing specialized committees is of vital importance. Interaction should not be confined to just acquaintance but it should contribute to discussion and solution of the matters. In that sense, parliaments can play role in the increase in mutual understanding through parliamentary diplomacy and later they can be affected positively by this mutual understanding.
The process of designing international relations has been carried out by multiple actors including businessmen, prominent figures, NGO’s and members of parliament. Just like in many other fields, multi actor structures replaced the former centralized, single actor and rigid structures. At that juncture, parliamentary diplomacy, which enables members of parliament to discuss the matters that are not addressed by the conventional diplomacy, offers opportunities.
Moreover, parliaments are crucial mechanisms in order to conciliate the will of people and the policies, including the foreign policy. Parliaments can serve as the most effective mechanism to monitor the foreign policy which has been treated as a field not to be interfered in. International organizations acting based on the decisions taken on the side of parliamentary institutions can contribute to formation of a more democratic international system. At a time when the legitimacy of international organizations is questioned, contribution of the parliamentary organizations will help to bridge the deficit of legitimacy.
 
PUIC: Dialogue among cultures and religions is deemed very relevant to contemporary human society. How do you envisage the bases and conditions of such a dialogue to be effective and fruitful?
 
Mr. Çiçek: All the communities have been becoming dependent on each other in the globalized World. It is necessary to form a joint will to transform this interdependency into worldwide togetherness. To this end, it is essential to cope with biases, misperceptions and polarizations.
People belonging to different religious groups are unfortunately in a clash. However, this is not a clash that everyone agrees on. Clashes, continuation of which is desired by the radical currents, minor in numbers, unfortunately affect the majority who is in favor of peace and dialogue. Especially Islam became a religion which has been misperceived because of the negative image associated with it despite the fact that it is a religion which articulates moral values highly. Muslims have their own responsibility in this misperception, however, our efforts can contribute to eradicate it.
Endeavors of the Islamic World to invalidate the self-fulfilling prophecy of the clash of civilizations should have certain terms. Firstly, we should leave aside our prejudices in our attitudes towards against interlocutors and in certain events and we should give prominence to our commons and regard our diversity as richness. In this context, the Alliance of Civilizations Initiative developed and initiated by Turkey and Spain is quite important.
As a universal religion, Islam sets forth a human oriented sense of the World and this sense requires acceptance of other cultures. In this framework, an environment free from violence and conflict will enable to express core values of Islam and display an exemplary behavior by maintaining a life in compliance with Islam. Consequently, I believe that such an environment will contribute to improve of dialogue among cultures and take a common stance against common problems.
 
PUIC: In your view, what role can parliaments play in guiding their respective governments to adopt right economic policies according to latest scientific achievements and local conditions? Especially those parliaments have deep relations with the people and more information about the local conditions.
 
Mr. Çiçek: As we all aware, national economies are recently affected by a more dynamic global economic structure and rapidly changing technological developments, yet, local conditions maintain its importance on economic policies.
Parliamentarians, thanks to their personal contacts with the people, can identify the economic structure, needs and problems of their constituency and generate effective and feasible solutions. In this context, parliamentarians as representatives vested with a deep knowledge on local conditions are actors who can inform and influence their governments about the matters that should be taken into account while forming economic policies.
As parliamentarians, it is our responsibility towards citizens to follow global developments, to inform our governments for formation of economic policies by taking these developments into account and blending it with national conditions and needs and to contribute to formation of these policies. Additionally, important duties fall to parliamentarians regarding the scrutiny of economic policies within the framework of giving account of policies financed by taxes.
In addition to these, I would like to express that political trust is one the prerequisites of the economic growth. Regardless of the market type adopted, establishment of political trust, disallowance to corruption and transformation of economic growth to development through proper policies are the responsibilities of politicians and parliamentarians who are the representatives of people to monitor the fulfilment of these responsibilities.