High-level event addresses opportunities, challenges of reopening to Asian region, strengthening links with communities
Turkey on Wednesday hosted a virtual workshop to discuss the opportunities and challenges of reopening to the Asia-Pacific region, highlighting the country’s vital role as a regional mediator.
The two-day event was organized by Turkey’s Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB) and brought together bureaucrats, academicians, and experts in the field.
Speaking on the opening day, YTB Chairman Abdullah Eren said the relations Turkey has developed by playing a mediator role in the Asia-Pacific region show the country’s vital importance.
He said YTB is working to strengthen relations with cognate communities in different regions.
Noting that the Asia-Pacific region has a population of nearly 4 billion, and that there are 850 million Muslims in the region, Eren said that 47% of the Muslims in the world live in this region.
“While developing a strategy, the projects of China, India, and Japan need to be well studied and analyzed,” he said.
He underlined that students who are graduated with YTB’s Turkiye Scholarships program have reached senior positions in their home countries.
The scholarships, also known as Turkiye Burslari, offers a range of programs designed for each level of study, including undergraduate, graduate, research, and language education opportunities at Turkey’s most prestigious universities for international students and researchers.
“Student scholarships are at the core of attention. Nearly 7,500 students have been granted scholarships from the Asia-Pacific region since 1992. Some 1,444 students are currently studying in Turkey. We have 4,972 alumni from the Asia-Pacific region,” he added.
‘Important works to be done’
Serdar Cam, Turkey’s Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister, while speaking at the opening ceremony, said the Asian region with the largest Muslim population has been seen as geography “far from Turkey and outside of its knowledge.”
“I think there are very important works to be done for this geography, starting from our nearby geography and extending to Bering Strait, which connects the two worlds, East and West, at the other end of the planet,” he said.
Emphasizing that there is an “important change” and “transformation process” across the globe, Cam said there is a power interaction towards the Asian region nowadays.
Referring to China’s projects such as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the New Silk Road, as well as the breakthroughs of India and other states in the region, Cam said all global changes and transformations have gone into an integration.
He also stressed that is not enough for a researcher working in any region to be specialized in a certain area only, and urged the researchers to be familiar with other regions around the world.
“It is not enough for a researcher who goes to Africa to know only Africa, he needs to know Asia and China. He should also know America and Europe. Likewise, it is not possible for people in the West to stay away from the Far East,” he added.
The workshop also included discussions and presentations by academicians from several universities across Turkey, who stressed the importance of developing relations with the Asia-Pacific region by creating “win-win” approaches through trade, academic and diplomatic means.