His Excellency Minister of State Dr. Mehmet Aydin, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Welcome to the Seventh Abant Conference in Washington, DC. I would very much have liked to be able to participate in this conference. However, my well known ailments have once again gotten in my way. On behalf of the Journalists and Writers Foundation, I owe you the debt of gratitude for your interest and participation in this worthwhile conference. Thank you all.
Turkey, a country with an overwhelming Muslim population, presents herself in her written constitution as a "secular, democratic and social State based on the rule of law." I am most confident that the question of how far Turkey has gone to reach this goal will be most effectively analyzed and answered by you, the most accomplished group of scholars in the area.
The brain storming in this international conference will not only help depict the progress Turkey has made, but at the same time it will shed light on its implications for the world – particularly the Muslim world. For the past several centuries, the Muslim World has been experiencing a severe crisis. Moreover, the current pronounced political, ideological, and religious polarization in the world has unfortunately been posing an increasingly serious threat to international peace and security. Turkey's experience offers some valuable lessons and suggestions to those seeking a way out of this international crisis, and it might even offer more.
A Turkey committed to Ataturk's vision of "Contemporary Civilization" and 'Peace at home, peace in the world," further integrated with the international community by resolving her tough domestic and foreign issues; a Turkey at peace with her neighbors and joined into the European Union, having bolstered her friendship with the USA, solidified her position within NATO, and crowned with an ideal interpretation of democracy, secularism and Islam, I am confident, will depict herself as a leading candidate for the role of building a bridge between civilizations.
It is nothing less than a great honor and privilege to be able to discuss these issues at an outstanding academic institution such as Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, pursuing with the traditional diversity and constructiveness of the Abant Platform.
At this time, I would like thank all those who unselfishly devoted their utmost efforts to make this conference a reality and a total success that, I am sure, it will be.
Once again, please accept my apologies for my failure to be with you and my wishes for a successful conference.
With the best of regards,
Journalists and Writers Foundation, Turkey