Statement by H.E. Ambassador Mr. Rafet Akgünay Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkey at the Ministerial Meeting on Foreign Policy and Global Health

Rafet Akgünay 27.09.2007
Dear Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my distinct pleasure to participate in this meeting today and address such an esteemed audience.

As you are all very well aware, in the era of globalisation and interdependence, there is a need to broaden the scope of foreign policy. We must encourage new ideas, seek and develop new mechanisms for innovative tools of cooperation.

I believe health security is not only a common concern, but also a new area of interdependence and cooperation today.

Moreover, considering current trends, no country can contain itself from cross-border risks and threats to its national health security.

Foreign policy decisions in conflict and crisis, security, trade, environment and human rights have direct impact on national health as well as global health security.

I am of the belief that the timely launch of the "Global Health and Foreign Policy Initiative" in September 2006 marks a departure from traditional foreign policy concept.

As the second step of this initiative, the Oslo Ministerial Declaration of last March opened up a new and comprehensive agenda for action.

Dear Participants,

It is not a coincidence that three of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be achieved in 2015 are directly related to the health issues; namely the reduction of child mortality, the improvement of maternal health and the combat against HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

I am sure you will agree with me when I say the world does not have much time to reach these ambitious goals, designed to make it a better place to live.

International Health Regulations, which entered into force in June 2007, are major global steps towards a more proactive strategy to stop potential health risks at their inception.

I sincerely hope that these regulations are properly implemented so that a visible change in terms of scaling up national capacity, information sharing and containment of possible international health threats can be achieved.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To conclude, I would like to underscore the fact that Turkey, as a responsible member of the world community, is determined to fulfill its share in this task ahead of us.

To this end, Turkey, which is becoming a major donor country in terms of humanitarian assistance, includes medicine and medical supplies in its donations to countries in dire straits.

Furthermore, Turkish Ministry of Health and the Turkish Red Crescent Society have built and operated many hospitals abroad, most recently in Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan. These hospitals give hope not only to sick people, but also to thousands of children who would otherwise not dream of a bright future.

On the other hand, it gives me pleasure to state that Turkey's response to cross-border epidemics such as avian influenza has always aimed at taking intensive and coordinated measures in solidarity with the international community, including the World Health Organization and the European Union. Sharing data and information with our partners in a transparent manner has been our utmost principle in the fight against this disease and others.

With a view to raising awareness vis-a-vis the hurdles we have to overcome in the near future, Turkey selected "The new routes to a better world and health for all" as the theme of EXPO-2015 to be held, hopefully, in Izmir-Turkey.

Having this opportunity, I would like to reiterate our request of support for the candidacy of Izmir, for this significant event to take place in Turkey in 2015.

Thank you very much.