Arab media personnel who follow Turkish foreign policy believe Turkey adopts a “firm moral stance” in support of oppressed people worldwide.
Journalists from across the Arab world took part in a forum in Istanbul to discuss the Turkish point-of-view on the Middle East, the Muslim World and Turkey’s looming June 24 elections.
Jaber al-Harmi, CEO of Qatari daily Al-Arab, said Turkey had adopted an “honorable” foreign policy in support of Islam, the Muslim nation (the Ummah) and oppressed people everywhere.
Emphasizing that Turkey plays an important role in the region, he said: “Turkey has become a significant player worldwide; not just in the Middle East and the Arab world.”
“Every achievement Turkey accomplishes, is a success for Qatar too,” al-Harmi added.
“Turkey’s upcoming presidential election will help Turkey advance to another level, regionally and internationally,” he said.
“The U.S. and the West are trying to thwart Turkey’s progress,” al-Harmi asserted. “Turkey occupies a strategic position vis-à-vis the Arab and Islamic world and Jerusalem.”
Ahmed Mansour, an Egypt-born producer and presenter at Qatar’s Al-Jazeera television news channel, recalled how he met with Erdogan in 1995 when the latter was serving as mayor of Istanbul.
Noting the large amount of global media attention the upcoming Turkish elections were receiving, he said: “I believe the presidential poll will be a turning point for Turkey.”
“Turkey will not be the same as before; President Erdogan has a great vision for change," he said, going on to stress Turkey’s “centrality” in the Middle East region.
“Due to its lengthy border with Syria, more than three million refugees are now resident in Turkey,” Mansour said.
Nesrin Abu Saliha, a presenter at Jordan's Al-Ruya television channel, said Turkey was very close to the Middle East in terms of religion, culture and language.
Noting that Turkish contained numerous words of Arabic origin, she said: “In Jordan, one can see many artifacts that remind one of Turkey, like the old Hejaz Railway, which linked Istanbul to the holy places [in Saudi Arabia] in the early 20th century.”
Abu Saliha underlined the fact that Turkey had played a crucial role safeguarding Jerusalem and the Palestinian cause.
"Turkey calls on all Arabs, Muslims and Christians of conscience,” she said. “It has adopted an admirable stance regarding U.S. President Donald Trump's decision [last December] to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital — which, unfortunately, wasn't the case with many Arab countries.”
Abu Saliha went on to assert that Jordanian journalists would keep a “close eye” on the June 24 polls.
Organized by Turkey’s Istanbul Municipality, Monday’s journalists’ forum was attended by 60 journalists from 18 Arab countries, including Egypt, Syria Libya, Sudan, and Tunisia.
*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara