The audacity of change

During a speech given at Al Jazeera's Sixth Annual Forum, Ahmet Davuto?lu, Turkey's foreign minister, urged leaders in the region to respect their people's demand for democratic change.

    Has the future arrived in the Arab world? "Yes", in fact it has been "delayed", according to Ahmet Davuto?lu, the Turkish foreign minister and pioneer of the "zero problems with neighbours" policy.

    He said a transformation in the region was a social necessity and that no one should attempt to resist the changes sweeping north Africa and the Middle East.

    "No leader should think that they could rule forever," Davuto?lu said in his address at Al Jazeera's Sixth Annual Forum "Winds of Change in the Arab World" session on Sunday.

    His words received nods of agreement from the activists and bloggers from the recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as much of the audience.

    Addressing a room full of journalists, analysts, academics, traditional and new media experts, Davuto?lu urged leaders of the region to respect people's demand for democratic change.

    "Everybody deserves democracy. People's demand should be respected. We are witnessing a natural flow of history because there was a need for change," he said.

    'No foreign intervention'

    Davuto?lu opposed any foreign intervention into the countries going through political unrest in the region.

    "Now, more than ever, the time has come to take a definitive and unified stance. We are already divided enough. We need more unification and more unity now. There should be regional ownership. No foreign intervention. This is our region.

    "We have to put all our efforts toward a peaceful transformation in the region," he said.

    Davuto?lu added it was military interventions, in particular, which could further complicate an already fragile political situation.

    Since his speech, more than 1,000 Saudi troops and 500 police officers from the United Arab Emirates have entered Bahrain.

    A move that has further polarised the tiny island nation and marks the first time Arab nations have intervened in another country's affairs amid sweeping unrest in the region.

    However, as more people feel empowered to challenge the status quo, eventually leading to grassroots uprisings aimed at ousting dictatorships in the region, the ultimate objective of young Arabs is deliberative democracy, freedom, and the change they have yearned for.

    "What we are facing is a political tsunami and we should react to it as such. The sense of common destiny is everywhere, and no one can ignore it," Davuto?lu said.

    He also paid homage to Ali Hassan Al Jaber, an Al Jazeera cameraman who was killed in an ambush near the rebel-held city of Benghazi in eastern Libya on Saturday.

    "I would like to extend my sincere and deepest condolences to Ali Hassan Al Jaber’s family and to all the family at Al Jazeera over the loss of a great journalist.

    "He will be one of the symbolic names in the future of those who we will remember in the historic turning point of our region."

    As the session came to a close, excitement filled the air as the participants possess a new sense of purpose and direction, eager to ride the winds of change.

    "Those who are now leading the process of change in their countries, these young leaders will be saying and contributing more to the emergence of a new global order and they have the power to do so," Davuto?lu said to rapturous applause.

    And if the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt are any guide, then it is these debates, stemming from unprecedented generational change unfolding concurrently with a modern media revolution, that will surely continue and be the indicator that defines history in this region.


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