Statement by H.E. Y. Halit Çevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, at The UN Alliance of Civilizations Group of Friends Meeting

Yaşar Halit Çevik 14.02.2013
High Representative His Excellency Nasser,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by thanking High Representative al-Nasser for the new vision he envisages for the Alliance. I believe that this new vision will further contribute to the success of the Alliance.

I also would like to thank the Secretariat for the statement delivered on behalf of President Sampaio.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a privilege for me to address the Group of Friends as the Turkish Permanent Representative for the first time. I am glad and honoured to see that the Alliance of Civilizations initiative has made a significant progress both in scope and outreach in such a short time. The support it has been receiving is a sound evidence of the desire for further tolerance, respect, dialogue and diversity worldwide. Through its regular Forums, meetings, campaigns and activities, the Alliance has been playing a crucial role in promoting dialogue and culture of peace. We can comfortably say that as the Alliance grows stronger; extremism, intolerance, polarization and fear will be weaker. In this context, please allow me to portray this Initiative as a conflict prevention mechanism per se.

Dear colleagues,

There is a strong interaction between socio-economic development and dialogue and mutual respect. The Fourth Global Forum in Doha highlighted the importance of this interaction by clearly emphasizing the link between the Alliance of Civilizations and the MDGs.

We believe that the Vienna Forum will also open new avenues as such. The Forum and the preceding Youth Event will underline the importance of the new generations in promoting dialogue and cross-cultural understanding. It will also highlight the freedom and diversity with reference to law, media, migration and education. These new areas of exploration will certainly contribute to the culture of peace and dialogue. We particularly welcome the special emphasis of the Forum on the role of responsible leadership in promoting pluralism, freedom and diversity. At a time of significant transformation in many parts of the world with an increasing demand for democracy and respect, the theme “Responsible Leadership in Dialogue and Diversity” cannot be more relevant and appropriate. In this regard, we welcome President Sampaio’s draft Vienna Declaration and we believe that its adoption by high-level representatives of our countries will form another milestone for our common efforts.

I wish to stress here that respect for the right to freedom of opinion and expression plays a crucial role on strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance. I also would like to highlight that this right brings along special duties and responsibilities. In this context, let me recognize the action taken by President Sampaio last September, condemning the unacceptable attacks on diplomatic premises as well as hate-oriented speech and expression targeting sacred values. The campaign to denounce such violence and denigration was an exemplary demonstration of responsible leadership. I am sure that Vienna Forum will further promote such examples and consolidate the importance of responsible leadership.

In addition, the Forum’s emphasis on regional partnerships and similar outreach efforts will further contribute to the expansion of the Initiative’s universal values. As a country that has been increasingly enhancing its outreach by increasing the number of its diplomatic missions and by promoting commercial, economic and cultural relations in its neighborhood and beyond, Turkey is a staunch supporter of the Alliance’s engagement at the regional scale throughout the globe.

I would also like to emphasize the importance Turkey attributes to the Partners’ events, which are crucial for the Alliance’s sustainability. We hosted the first such event last year in Istanbul, and the outcome was both positive and encouraging. The next Partner’s event will take place within the framework of the Vienna Forum. We expect this event, titled as “Partners’ Assembly” in the program, help consolidate the momentum achieved in Istanbul, and provide the Alliance with a solid and reliable financial foundation to build upon.

With the additional thrust to be generated in the Vienna Forum, I am convinced that the Alliance will continue to flourish in scope and outreach.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before concluding my remarks, I would like to highlight the remarkable leadership demonstrated by President Sampaio in strengthening, solidifying and advancing the Alliance of Civilizations. We are thankful to him for the relentless and unforgettable efforts he has shown during his tenure. I also would like to congratulate His Excellency Mr. Nasser for assuming the post of High Representative. We are looking forward to working with him and his team.

I also would like to sincerely thank the outgoing Director Mr. Scheuer for his work and congratulate Mr. Hodes for his new duty as Director.

Finally, I would like to convey our gratitude to the Government of Austria for hosting the Fifth Global Forum.

Thank you.