What should be done to eliminate the contradictions between Sunnis and Shiites?

First, we have to understand in an analytical way what the differences are between Sunnis and Shiites as proposed by the question. Historical reality and even today’s reality suggest that differences between these sects are either religious or political.

Considering religious aspect, we should emphasise that such divergence has never provided a ground for collision or fighting and never was used to justify prosecution and destruction for each other as happened in Iraq.

On the political ground, since the signature of Kars-ı Şirin Agreement in 1639 which put to an end the prolonged conflict between the struggling powers: Safavid Iran and Ottoman Empire who represented and also defended their sectarian interest, there was no more war pertaining to sectarian interests. This sectarian aspect has never taken an active role politically, in determining balance of power in the Muslim world until the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

For the first time in contemporary history a fight between Sunnis and Shiites erupted in Iraq due to sectarian constitutional regime set up by the invading power.

On those days I have tried to contain the fight and bring the representative of each sect to sign ten point agreement of reconciliation, which is known as the Mecca Accord. Signed in October 2006, in the holy month of Ramadan, the Accord opened a new page for a peaceful and harmonious relations btw two sects where all leaders were co-signers. Unfortunately, on the one hand, some neighbouring countries have utilized the sectarian dimension in their politics and on the other internal political rivalry begun to utilize sectarianism as a political instrument to seize power. The contradiction between the followers of two sects has reached its peak point when the influence of external players intervened. The on-going, devastating turmoil of inner fight and the proxy war using sectarianism both in Iraq and Syria have reached unprecedented level.

To overcome this turmoil, first we need to reach to state of peace and then the normalization process should start. Meanwhile, we have to re-invoke the Mecca Accord signed in 2006. In the long run, we should develop a comprehensive plan of establishing peace in the Middle-East which incorporates all local, regional and global players.

Since 1987 Turkey has been trying to join the EU. Why there is no result? Can we call it one of the manifestations of Islamophobia?

I think that Islamophobia is one of the major reasons in creating fear among European conservative population. Turkey has been a part of Europe for a long centuries and part of European politics since 18th century. Additionally, Turkey is a member of European institutions which were established after the World War II, even it were among the founders of some of these institutions.

The difficult relationship between Turkey and EU stem from different reasons. On the one hand, attitudes of political leadership in Turkey while handling the EU membership was not conducive to ensure the early membership at a time when Greece was accepted into the Union.

On the other hand, within last two decades development of Turkish economy and growth of population started to create new negative reactions against Turkey, because Turkey would have equal say like other major European powers inside the Union if it is accepted.

As for today situation, I need not to add that hostile rhetoric used by certain Turkish and European politicians are not helpful at all to smooth the tension, but unfortunately it hinders efforts to accelerate and develop good relationship between Turkey and EU.

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