Turk-Arab Youth Congress: Middle East Needs Greater Regional Cooperation

Participants at the annual Turk-Arab Youth Congress (TAYC) in Istanbul, Turkey at the end of October called for a future in which Turks and Arabs work together at all levels for a better future of the region. 

The Congress emphasized the need for Turks and Arabs to recognize their common heritage as well as conform to their own standards instead of those set by the West. 

Since 2012, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Youth Assembly (IMMYA), a platform for Turkish youth, has held the Turk-Arab Youth Congress (TAYC). The congress is a platform in which Arab and Turkish youth and intellectuals can meet, talk about ideas and bring about a new vision for the region's future. The sessions and workshops are intended to create a comprehensive understanding for the participants and policy makers about the ground issues and challenges that region faces in order to explore new ideas and approaches for the present and future.

Logo of Turk Arab Youth CongressThe theme for this year's TAYC in Istanbul, Turkey, was “justice”, and the topics covered included: creating regional and global civil aid networks, and rethinking regional and global economic institutions. Young people belonging to 24 different Arab countries took part in the congress this year and zealously asked questions about their future, especially against the backdrop of uprisings and political unrest in the Middle East. The three-day (October 25, 2013 to October 27, 2013) program consisted of workshops, sessions and NGO presentations. 

The description of the Facebook page of Turk Arab Youth Congress stated the following goals:

1.To draw a vision for the future of the New Arabic World.
2.To create the platform for the youth to meet with the Arab & the Turkish intellectuals
3.To share and to document the “Street Experience” of the demonstrations from the people of revolution

Image courtesy Gulay Kaplan. From Turk-Arab Youth Congress Facebook Page.

Image courtesy Gulay Kaplan. From Turk-Arab Youth Congress Facebook Page.

On the first day, notable intellectuals and advisors to some political parties in Turkey delivered opening speeches. Panel discussion were conducted to explain the current scenario of the region and future implications.

The Twitter account (@Turk_Arab) of the Turk Arab Youth Congress (TAYC) shared a steady stream of opinions and statements from the speakers. Some noteworthy ones are:

Miss Summeyye Erdogan, Advisor to the Chairman of AK party, told young people to remain united despite the divides between them:

The Director and Coordinator of TAYC 2013, Oguzhan Mailmail (@Oguzhan Mailmail) welcomed the participants on the first day and explained the goals of the congress to them.

Dr. Kerem Kinik (@drkerem), President of Doctors Worldwide, gave a presentation on “togetherness” and suggested that young people share their pain and suffering and speak out against oppression:

@Turk_Arab @GenclikMeclisi said #R4BIA @r4biaplatform

Turk Arab Youth Congress (@Turk_Arab) tweeted:

Omar Salha (@o_salha), founder of Ramadan Tent and a doctoral fellow working on global diplomacy, conducted sessions on the intervention of international organizations in local conflicts and politics. He considered the interaction with the participants an insightful one:

Izzy (@islam_altayeb), a Middle East analyst, tweeted:

The “Economic and Financial Commission” was moderated by Muzammil Thakur (@M_A_Thakur), an advocate for the cause of Indian occupied Kashmir:

The economic and financial committee at the workshop

Merve Serire (@karakurukiz), who studied economics at Kadir Has University, Istanbul, Turkey, moderated the social, humanitarian and cultural commission:

The cultural and humanitarian and social committee at the workshop

As an example of the impact of the platform, Dorra Amara (@DorraAmara) from Tunisia and Merve Serire (@karakurukiz) from Turkey became close at the Congress. Amara tweeted this picture:

At the end of all the sessions and workshops, the participants were asked to devise solutions for the Syrian refugee problem. Representative from each workshop shared information with all the participants in an evaluation conducted on the evening of October 26 and October 27, 2013:

@Turk_Arab Assessment of second day sessions at Youth Congress. #tayc2013 #TAYC2013

A short video clip, highlighting the overview of the congress can also be viewed through the following link:

It is evident that events of such nature are giving the Muslim youth a chance to channel their energies in the correct direction. They are discussing their future as they alone can better understand the dynamics of their respective countries. Apart from political harmony and unity, people across the borders can interact with each other. This is significant for Arab region that is going through disharmony and uncertainty.

Thumbnail image by author. Translations by Amira Al Hussaini & Baran Mavzer.

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