By Fakhri al-Arashi
The Republic of Turkey is one of the leading countries providing critical support to see a safe and stable Yemen. These efforts are represented by the recent visit of Arshad Harmozlo, a senior advisor to the President of Turkey, in which he met with President Hadi and other high ranking officials in Yemen’s government. National Yemen had the opportunity to discuss political, social and economic issues with Arshad Harmozlo in the following interview.
National Yemen: Would you please tell us about yourself and the nature of your visit to Yemen?
Arshad Harmozlo : I am the Middle East senior advisor for the President of Turkey. I came to Yemen as a personal envoy of the president to convey a personal message of congratulations to President Hadi. I am also here to discuss all the things related to the bilateral relations between the two countries and the developments taking place in Yemen. I have discussed all these things with the president and other ministers in Yemen’s government.
NY: What is the purpose of your visit?
TK Envoy: I am here to confirm the full commitment of Turkey including its leaders and people who are ready to stand by Yemen and its people. We will stand by Yemen to help it economically and socially prosper and will devote all our abilities and experience in these fields in order to help the country over come its current challenges.
NY: What type of experience can your country bring to help Yemen?
AH: The experience I am talking about is related to all fields including politics, economy and industrial fields. We envision a stronger cooperation with Yemen and I confirm that Turkey will have a strong presence in the Friends of Yemen conference in Riyadh next month. We are ready to provide Yemen with the help it needs to prosper again, for that my President sent his regards to the Yemeni President for traversing such a difficult stage in Yemen’s history with the success of the presidential election.
NY: What would be the role of Turkey in the new Yemen?
AH: We greatly depend on improving the economy in Yemen. What we care about is the prosperity of the country that will lead to a big change, development and simultaneously lead to stability in the political situation. Turkey encourages Turkish investments in Yemen especially in the fields of tourism, industry and health. Lastly, the Turkish organization of cooperation TIKA started establishing dialysis centers in three governorates and is looking to establish a number of hospitals. Also, we are going to have an agreement for establishing an industrial zone in Hodeida, which was unfortunately suspended due to the political crises in Yemen. Here, I would like to say that the private sector should take a huge part in all of these projects at different levels.
NY: Well this looks fine to many people, but what is the working plan schedule?
AH: As you know the Republic of Turkey was observing the situation in Yemen very closely and have blessed the political movement that happened in the past few months. We agreed on a new road map outlines our previous initiatives that were postponed due to the sorrowful events of the last year in Yemen. Here we hope that the wisdom of Yemeni people will lead to the success of the National Dialogue so that Yemen can restore its prominent role in the region. As we told all those who conducted an interview with us, Yemeni identity should be the prevailing notion in the dialogue and everyone should be loyal to Yemen. The dialogue should include a political process that satisfies all or at least the majority of the Yemeni people. There should be instant decisions for improving the economy and speeding up in the process of development so that Yemeni people feel secure about their future.
NY: We noticed at the beginning of the youth revolution in Yemen that Turkey did not take any positions. However, we observe an active presence of Turkey after the successful transition plan. How do you justify that? Is it about political deal with other international players?
AH: There were no political agreements at all. In fact, there is an important principle for the Turkish authorities to have an equal relation with all parties on power conflicts. Therefore, we were supposed to have talks with all concerned parties in Yemen. Turkey supports the peaceful transition of power to move step a head in creating a democratic life. We want Yemen to overcome and pass the transition period with no disputes that may lead to bloodsheds, from this point, the policy of the Turkish authorities was clear and actively called to dismiss violence.
NY: Do you call what happened in Yemen a peaceful transition of power? Also, do you envision a period that may be more violent than the previous period?
AH: We feel good and optimistic about the future political process in Yemen. Yemen was known for the wisdom of its people. For me, I met with a lot of Yemenis who were very smart either in politics or business. Therefore, I hope that Yemen avoids fighting for personal disputes so that it can improve and develop again. We know that the National Dialogue will be a good and suitable basis for the whole parties to converse and agree with each other.
I told all those I met that we in Turkey focus on changing the way of thinking rather than focusing on changing laws. It won’t be good for the Yemenis to go back to the stages of disputes and conflicts when they are getting close to the future.
Yemenis should know that as soon as the country stabilizes, there would be large investments by Turkey and other countries. They should understand that Yemen has a strategic location that it can enable it to be one of the best developing countries in the area. The stability of Yemen affects on the stability of neighboring countries.
How does Turkey view the Unity of Yemen when many are afraid that Yemen may fall apart?
Turkey stands with the unity of Yemen. Simultaneously, we believe that regulating the political process and the regime is an internal affair. We believe that decisions should be made by Yemen and this is why we see that there is a consensus about holding the National Dialogue.
Do you think that former president had peaceful reasons to led Yemen to its current situation?
I do not want to go through things that won’t be part of the National Dialogue. Yemenis are supposed to meet together and look for the positives of the future and not the negatives parts of the past.
In your opinion, do you believe that the National Dialogue will have a positive role in Yemen’s future?
All concerned parts seem to have a great interest in the success of the dialogue. This makes it clear that Yemeni wisdom and identity will prevail and solve many of Yemen’s problems. All participants should prevail on any disagreements. They should be focusing on the rule of law and establish a better role for the governmental institutions and will consequently result in economic and social prosperity.
Does the Turkish government believe that the stability of Yemen will be maintained with the presence of the former President and relatives or with their evacuation?
Such decisions should be taken by the Yemeni people and no one should interfere in such things. Yemenis should decide their leaders’ fate. Such issues should be discussed with a full transparency that will lead to the future. We all wish Yemen to have a safe future.
At the end of this interview, how would you describe those you met during your visit like Houthis? Did you meet supporters of southern movement or was your meetings limited to Yemeni officials?
As I was mainly assigned to come and convey a message to the Yemeni president from the president of Turkey, it would be possible to have other meetings that are out of the frame of this assignment. However, I simultaneously met a lot of officials, leaders and ministers in Yemen when the opportunity arose. I met with many leading officials and visited a number of NGOs like the Union of Yemeni Women.