New Jersey- Before we (participants in the Abant Platform) leave the U.S., I would like to make one last appraisal of the Abant meeting that was held in the U.S. capital, Washington.
Turkey’s intellectuals have been coming together since 1998 in Abant. In these meetings they try to reach agreements on basic issues, particularly those that are a cause of tension in society. The concluding declarations, issued after each meeting, are a culmination of compromises reached throughout the meeting.
Undoubtedly, this is very important for our country. However, even more important is that the meetings bring together people from different beliefs, thoughts and life styles. Even if these people of intellectual courage do not talk about anything, just by being together, sitting next to each other and shaking hands in the Abant Platform, each of them is a pioneer or even a hero of dialogue and tolerance. I do not want to mention their names one by one; history has already noted them. If there is a spirit of Abant, atmosphere of Abant and attitude of Abant today, it is because participants of Abant Platform are the ‘representatives of our nations’ broad conscience. Perhaps the greatest gain of our intellectual life over the last two centuries is the Abant Platform. The dialogue and tolerance that winds from Abant to Anatolia’s provinces and towns excites our people. The torch lit at Abant still shines just as bright since it actually enlightened Anatolia. The seeds of tolerance and dialogue planted in Abant develop into huge sycamores that are planted all over Anatolia.
Abant Platform has a value that transcendence all others since it allowed us to reclaim the values that our nation has in our genes and moved our own dynamics. Abant Platform is a course in learning to integrate ourselves into the world. Abant is accepted since it responds to society’s deep expectations. Our nation now knows that there is a way out from the polarization and the tension that it brings upon itself. It teaches about loving each other, respecting each other’s position, instituting dialogue and tolerance as a social ethic and caring about human rights, social justice, the universal values of democracy and the rule of law. Like Mr. Mete Tuncay said, “To show everyone that we meet, we can meet at one point.”
It was not only us, but also Americans participating in the Abant meeting in Washington that said this as well. For example, Jenny White from Boston University said: “There are factors that bring Turkey to a middle road; Ozal’s performances, economic development, investigating the malpractices… but we should not forget that the Abant meetings have also had role in coming to this point.”
The Abant Platform is the real indicator of our intellectual experience. Politicians have participated in Abant meetings, but the Abant Platform has never been politicized or become a political ground. It has gained distinction because of this.
I would like to convey an anecdote that Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Mr. Kemal Dervis told during the Abant meeting in America:
“I worked in Bosnia-Herzegovina for six years. We were sitting with Mufti and the Chief Rabbi together in Sarajevo one day. The Chief Rabbi said: ‘There is a very important book for us Jews that tells about the Jews that emigrated from Spain to Sarajevo. During the Second World War, Nazis searched everywhere for this book. The Chief Rabbi at that time gave our book to the mosque’s Imam since he trusted him very much. The Imam returned our book after the war.’ What the Chief Rabbi said proves that Ottoman and Turkish traditions were the same.”