AECR marked its third major conference with Centre-Right figures from the Muslim world in Antalya, Turkey on 18-19 March 2016. The conference was part of AECR’s continuing programme to bolster moderate conservatism in North Africa and the Middle East and oppose religious extremism.
This conference was focused on the challenges faced by Turkey, a NATO ally which guarded Europe’s flank against Bolshevik expansionism through the decades of the Cold War, and which is now in the front line against violent fundamentalism.
Delegates expressed solidarity with Turkey in the face of repeated terrorist outrages – the most recent of which took place in Ankara while the conference was underway. They offered strong support for the Turkish government in its struggle against both Islamic State and PKK terrorism. They also stressed the importance of maintaining civil liberties and an open society in the face of such provocations. The AECR Board expressed concerns about press freedom in Turkey, and reiterated the principles of the Reykjavik Declaration, to which all AECR parties must adhere, including freedom of expression.
The conference also discussed the tragedy in Syria and the consequent migration crisis. Turkey has coped heroically with the influx of more than two-and-a-half million refugees from that abominable conflict.
As usual, delegates focused, too, on the free market tradition within Islam, and on the role that the Centre-Right can play in building up secure property rights and the rule of law around the region: the only solid foundation for civil and political freedoms.