Erdoğan asks Singapore to mediate between Myanmar Buddhists, Muslims
|urkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after their speeches at the Istana presidential palace in Singapore (Photo: AFP)|
January 10, 2014
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while in the country as part of a tour of Asia tour, has asked Singapore to get involved in solving the conflict between the Buddhist majority and Muslim minority in Myanmar.
Pointing out that the majority of the population in Singapore is Buddhist, Arınç stated that Erdoğan personally asked Singaporean government officials to get involved in solving the conflict in Myanmar.
“Our prime minister kindly asked that Singaporean officials use their soft power and even if they cannot intervene militarily, they can at least use their influence and position in the Buddhist world to stop the bloodshed,” Arınç said.
Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million, is undergoing an immense political transformation after a half-century of brutal military rule. The minority Muslims are mostly the ones who are subject to attacks by Buddhists.
“As you know, Singapore is not as big as Turkey geographically with a population of 3 million; yet, in terms of the income that they generate, they are far superior to us. Singapore is a well-developed country and their biggest developments are in the fields of business and trade. We have zero problems with them and we want to maintain this in foreign relations as well,” Arınç said.
Arınç added that this has been the first high-level visit to Singapore by a Turkish prime minister since 1996.
“Relations between the two countries are so strong that distance should not be an issue. There is a couple billion dollars in trade volume with Singapore and this is below our expectations. We can sell many goods to Singapore, especially food. Singapore is an important gateway to South Asia and Turkey can play a great role in this region. They are also interested in Turkey and we can take advantage of this interest by increasing our trade volume,” the deputy prime minister said.
Arınç also added that Singaporean officials were curious about the current developments taking place in countries neighboring Turkey and how these have been affecting Turkey.