Statement by H.E. Ambassador Baki İlkin, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN as Chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Group at the UN, at the Session Held in Memory of Pope John Paul II

Baki İlkin 06.04.2005
Mr. President,
Madame Deputy Secretary General,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Colleagues,

As Chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Group at the United Nations, I would like to express the heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies of the peoples of our Member States on the passing away of Pope John Paul II. Indeed, the international community as a whole, has lost one of the most respected religious leaders of our time, who was a symbol of peace, humanism and compassion.

During his tenure as Head of the Vatican and the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II personified peace, brotherhood, tolerance, righteousness and co-habitation of all the religions. His tireless efforts to change our world for the better and his preaches for cooperation and solidarity in the face of challenges before humanity have won the respect and affection of all peoples around the globe.

The Secretary-General of the OIC also paid tribute to the late Pope for his policies based on devotion to peace and rejection of wars, irrespective of their objectives. He said, "With his death the world has lost a great spiritual leader who has always held fast to noble values, a great statesman who had courageously stood in defense of justice and rejected injustice and oppression."

Pope John Paul II was an exceptional and exemplary spiritual leader who had a full commitment to dialogue among religions, cultures and civilizations. His dedication to multi-culturalism was reflected through the many meetings held at the Vatican, under his leadership. He had always expressed feelings of friendship and compassion toward the Muslim world and to its leaders on all Islamic religious occasions. It is noteworthy that he was the first pope to visit a mosque. He had also been warmly welcomed by all the Member States of the OIC Group which he had visited.

Mr. President,

The passing away of Pope John Paul II is a significant loss for the entire humanity. On this sad occasion, we share the deep sense of loss of all our Catholic brothers and sisters and express, once again, our sincere feelings of condolences and sympathies to the whole Christian world.

Thank you, Mr. President.