Remarks by H.E. Baki İlkin, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, on the Occasion of the Group of Friends Meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations

Baki İlkin 22.06.2009
Distinguished Permanent Representatives,
Dear Colleagues and the Friends of the Alliance,
Special Advisor of the UN Secretary General
Director and members of the Alliance of Civilizations Secretariat

I am happy to be with you once again at another meeting of the Group of Friends. I welcome you all.

In his absence, I would first like to thank High Representative President Sampaio for his extensive video briefing on the progress of the Alliance of Civilizations and for his tireless efforts for the realization of his vision for the Alliance. I would also like to thank the Director of the Alliance of Civilizations Secretariat, Mr. Marc Scheuer, and his dedicated collaborators for the excellent work they are doing to carry the Alliance forward.

Our Alliance, which all started with the initiative and sponsorship of the two countries has now become a major global initiative. And it is an initiative which produces concrete and tangible results in bringing together or closer different cultures, civilizations and religions thus contributing to tolerance, better understanding and harmony in the world.

Today the existence of more than 100 members in the Group of Friends, is a manifestation of the strong confidence in the Alliance and its ability to demonstrate our collective determination to create a better future for all.

For those of the Friends who were not present at the briefing we held on 22 April, on the Istanbul Forum, I want to underline once again that Forum has been highly successful and result oriented. It has indeed built on the success of the First Forum held in Madrid in 2008 and has further expanded the scope and impact of the Alliance.

Over the course of the İstanbul Forum, the participants had the opportunity to exchange opinions, establish new contacts and hear different views on a wide range of issues. The Forum reflected the strategic synergy of the efforts of a large number of partners: i.e. civil society organizations, academia, media, the corporate sector and faith-based organizations. In addition to those launched in Madrid Forum, a series of new projects were launched such as: Dialogue Cafe, Alliance Fellowship Program, and Restore Trust and Rebuild Bridges initiative just to name a few.

The Forum gave us confidence that the future of cross-cultural relations in the 21st century is bright. The Forum demonstrated that the international community is indeed capable of surmounting cultural and religious barriers whenever there is the will.

The next Forum will be held next year in Rio, Brazil. We believe that after those in Madrid and İstanbul, the Rio Forum is going to carry the spirit and work of the Alliance even further. As two co-sponsors we thank the government of Brazil for hosting the next forum.

Distinguished Members of the Group of Friends,

The Alliance has progressed substantially building on the concrete projects that have been developed and adopted at the First and Second Forums. As pointed out by High Representative President Sampaio in his video message it is now the time to consolidate the results achieved so far by the Alliance. We have to carry forward the Madrid outcomes and at the same time try to fullfill commitments stemming from the İstanbul Forum. The Alliance is expected to and will deliver more on the ground.

In the meantime, the Group of Friends must also be consolidated and enlarged in order to achieve a global outreach. Members of the Group of Friends should assume even more the ownership of the Alliance. They should actively pursue the projects and activities of the Alliance in their own countries and regions, in addition to implementing and fulfilling their national programs.

As the İstanbul Forum demonstrated once again, we are confident that the Alliance has a bright future and a very important role to play. Within this framework, we believe that it is also high time for the Alliance to enjoy the political backing of the General Assembly through a consensus resolution. My distinguished colleague Permanent Representative of Spain H.E. Juan Antonio Yanez-Barnuevo will brief you on this aspect. As the two co-sponsors we know that we can again count on the Group of Friends for this.

Thank you.