Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkish University Awards Nobel Prize Winner Honorary Doctorate

Costa Rican President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Oscar Arias Sanchez was awarded an honorary doctorate from Bahçeşehir University on Tuesday in recognition of his personal achievements toward creating peace.

His speech was preceded by the signing of an agreement of cooperation between Bahçeşehir University and Costa Rica’s University of Peace to create a new Center for Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies in Istanbul.

Sanchez spoke to an audience of professors, deans, students and members of the press about the challenges of creating peace in the world and the specific need to focus on students. “Preparing students who not only understand what peace and freedom mean but also live these values in action should be the goal of every teacher and every classroom,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez also took the opportunity to promote global initiatives for peace that he is working on, including the Arms Trade Treaty, currently under consideration at the United Nations, which aims to regulate the flow of arms through trade.

“The destructive power of the 640 million small arms and light weapons in the world, 74 percent in the hands of civilians, is one of the primary threats to our shared security,” Sanchez said. “We must ensure that this treaty reaches the end of the journey it has begun.”

Offering Costa Rica as an example, Sanchez said in 1948 his country was the first in history to voluntarily abolish its army. He compared this with Atatürk’s vision, citing his quotation, “Yurtta barış, dünyada barış,” or, “Peace at home, peace in the world.”

Sanchez also spoke of his hopes for the future, announcing his dreams in bold, declarative phrases: “Victory of tolerance over cruelty. Victory of wisdom over violence. Victory of peace in our time.”

Turkish President Abdullah Gül welcomed his Costa Rican counterpart Oscar Arias in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Wednesday. Gül received Arias with full military honors at the Çankaya Presidential Residence. The two leaders are set to hold a tete-a-tete meeting before appearing at a joint press conference later on.

Transatlantic Academic Cooperation

The rector of the University of Peace, John J. Maresca, spoke briefly of his hopes for the new joint initiative between his university and Bahçeşehir. “We believe in peace, we believe it can be built,” said Maresca.

Article 2 of the agreement signed between the two universities outlines steps that will be taken to enhance cooperation. It includes student exchange, visiting professor exchange, joint research projects and the establishment of the Center for Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies, the details of which will be worked out between the University of Peace’s International Law and Human Rights Program and Bahçeşehir’s Faculty of Law.

Bahçeşehir University Vice President Erol Sezer told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that programs for student exchange can be put into practice very quickly. Five places at the University of Peace have already been reserved for Bahçeşehir exchange students with the signing of today’s agreement.

“The Center for Conflict Resolution can be established in the very near future because it is in our interest and we have experts like Vamık Volkan,” Sezer said. “Bahçeşehir would be a perfect place to establish such a center.”

Sezer hoped that a few international relations graduate students or law school graduates would take advantage of the program beginning next year. Costa Rican students from the University of Peace will also be able to take advantage of the program starting next year.

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