University signs educational understanding with Turkey, hosts minister of foreign affairs
The University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy Studies and the Center for Strategic Research in the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs have signed an agreement to mutually promote research and educational exchanges.
“We are delighted to be able to collaborate with the government of Turkey in forwarding both our enthusiasm for engagement across the world and also their enthusiasm for exchanging with us researchers and students who will come here to visit at the University of Chicago,” said Colm O’Muircheartaigh, dean of Chicago Harris, before signing the understanding with the consul general of Turkey in Chicago, Fatih Yıldız.
The agreement preceded Chicago Harris’ distinguished 2012 King Abdullah II Leadership Lecture given by Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish minister of foreign affairs, in May.
Davutoglu, in Chicago for the 2012 NATO Summit, used his visit to the University to talk about Turkey’s place in the global society and the external challenges facing his country, much affected by Turkey’s unique geography bordering several regions.
“Turkey is a Balkan country; Turkey is a Caucasian country; Turkey is a Middle Eastern country; Turkey is a European country, an Asian country,” he said. “This is our geography. We don’t have the luxury to choose.”
According to Davutoglu, three major global challenges, or “earthquakes,” have fundamentally affected Turkey in the past 20 years, transforming it into a regional power: the geopolitical earthquake of the 1991 collapse of the USSR; the security earthquake of September 11, 2001; and the global economic/Middle Eastern political earthquake of recent years.
He stated that much of Turkey’s success is due to it having embraced democracy and achieved an internal equilibrium that has evaded its Middle Eastern neighbors.
“Today in the Middle East, the problems originate from the imbalance between freedom and security,” he said. “If you sacrifice freedom for security, you have an autocratic regime. If you sacrifice security for your freedom, you have chaotic regimes.”
“The Turkish case has proven that democracy brings stability rather than chaos, economic development, and a democratic Turkey can follow a much more assertive foreign policy with dignity than an autocratic regime,” he continued.
Davutoglu, who was an international relations professor for years before joining the Turkish government, said that visiting UChicago, with all its Nobel laureates, was a pleasure for him. His nickname among government colleagues is “hoca,” Turkish for scholar, something he sees as an important part of his identity.
“Being an academician, a hoca, is permanent. Being in a ministry is temporary. You can only be minister for a while but once you become hoca, you are hoca forever.”
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